Carlos Martinez to return to Cardinals’ rotation on Friday

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Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Nationals with what was described as a minor back issue. The decision was really more about limiting the 23-year-old’s workload, which is something the Cardinals are now doing with 24-year-old righty Michael Wacha. Proof of that is Martinez getting clearance to return to the rotation Friday in St. Louis’ big series opener versus the Pirates.

J.J. Bailey of KMOV says Martinez will go Friday, Jaime Garcia will take Saturday, and John Lackey will pitch Sunday. This means Lance Lynn is going to get some extra time to rest his rolled right ankle.

St. Louis opened play Tuesday with a six-game lead over Pittsburgh in the National League Central standings. Martinez boasts a 2.91 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 154 2/3 innings this season.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.