Ian Kennedy will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract

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Royals’ right-hander Ian Kennedy will not opt out of his contract, according to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. It’s a no-brainer for Kennedy, who mulled over the decision in September and eventually told reporters, “It would be pretty stupid if I did [opt out].” He still has three years and $49 million guaranteed with the club, which would take him through his age-35 season in 2020.

There’s little incentive for the right-hander to test the free agent market after putting up some career-worst numbers in 2017. After weathering a hamstring strain and some lingering shoulder tightness, Kennedy finished the season with a 5-13 record in 30 starts, earning the unenviable distinction of earning the fewest wins in the most starts since the Orioles’ Kevin Millwood posted a 4-16 record in 2010. (Granted, pitcher wins mean next to nothing, but this still isn’t a club you want to find yourself in.) That wasn’t just the result of the Royals going 80-82 in 2017, however — he also racked up a 5.38 ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 7.7 SO/9 through 154 innings with the team.

The Royals have yet to confirm the report.

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).