Royals have interest in re-signing Greg Holland

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Reliever Greg Holland underwent Tommy John surgery in early October, which will keep him out of action for the 2016 season. Understandably, the Royals non-tendered him in December rather than pay him a raise through the arbitration process.

The Royals still have interest in re-signing the right-hander, GM Dayton Moore said, as Rustin Dodd reported for the Kansas City Star.

“He’s a home-grown player,” Moore said. “We’ve always believed in him. He’s been a very successful part of our team. We would love to be able to have him here as part of our future.”

Holland, 30, was hampered by the damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. He lost more than 2 MPH on his average fastball velocity from 2014 to ’15. With that, his strikeout rate declined by more than 12 percent and his walk rate increased more than five percent. All told, in 44 2/3 innings, he saved 32 games with a 3.83 ERA and a 49/26 K/BB ratio. He was a shell of the pitcher who posted a 1.80 ERA or lower in three of the previous four seasons.

Still, with a year to recuperate from surgery, Holland may be able to reclaim some or all of his previous magic and the Royals seem to be happy if he would do that wearing their uniform.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).