Mariners shift Mike Montgomery to the bullpen as insurance

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With lefty reliever Charlie Furbush still battling soreness in his left shoulder, Mariners manager Scott Servais has decided to shift southpaw Mike Montgomery to the bullpen as insurance just in case Furbush isn’t ready when the regular season begins. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times has the report. Furbush hasn’t thrown off a mound in nearly a week.

Montgomery, 26, made 16 starts last season and flashed good stuff at times, like when he threw back-to-back shutouts at the end of June. Overall, he compiled a 4.60 ERA with a 64/37 K/BB ratio over 90 innings.

Montgomery is a bit of an odd candidate for the bullpen, as he displayed a reverse platoon split last season. That means that same-handed hitters performed better than opposite-handed hitters, which bucks the trend. Lefties compiled an .841 OPS against him while righties had a .725 mark. That being said, the sample is relatively small at 100 and 295 plate appearances, respectively. Montgomery, however, also isn’t particularly great at inducing swinging strikes with only a 16 percent strikeout rate last season.

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).