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Mariners nearing deal with Chris Iannetta

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This hot stove is already heating up.

Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners are nearing a contract agreement with free agent catcher Chris Iannetta. The club has also been tied this week to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Iannetta carries a poor reputation defensively and he batted just .188/.293/.335 for the Angels in 2015, but the 32-year-old has mashed left-handed pitching in the past and would give Seattle an alternative to former top prospect Mike Zunino, who has struggled to find his footing in the major leagues.

The big fish in this year’s free agent market for catchers is Matt Wieters, but the lower-tier guys are not waiting for that domino to fall. A.J. Pierzynski just re-upped with the Braves on a one-year deal and Saltalamacchia appears close to finding a new home. John Ryan Murphy was traded from the Yankees to the Twins on Monday in exchange for outfielder Aaron Hicks.

And That Happened: Thursday’s Score and Highlight

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Yeah, singular. Other than those ESPN Sunday Night games that opened the season for several years until recently I can’t remember a regular season day or night with only one game scheduled. I also don’t much like it, but no one asks me these things.

Cubs 9, Cardinals 6: The Cardinals led 3-1 heading into the Cubs’ half of the fifth, at which point Chicago went off for five runs, with Ian Happ hitting a two run homer and Jason Heyward, Antony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist each knocking in a run. St. Louis would continue to score but each time they did the Cubs answered, never trailing again.

Heyward had three hits on the night, Happ had that dinger, Rizzo had two doubles and Victor Caratini, giving the just-returned All-Star Willson Contreras an extra day off, had three hits and scored three times.

As for pitching, check out this usage pattern from Joe Maddon:

I guess everyone was fresh after the break, though, so why not?

We get a full slate of 15 games today. As God and Nature intended.