Athletics, Jake Smolinski avoid arbitration

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The Athletics and outfielder Jake Smolinski have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal worth $775,000, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors reports.

Smolinski, 28, was eligible for arbitration for the first of three years. He missed most of the 2017 season after undergoing shoulder surgery and hit a meager .259/.310/.296 in 29 trips to the plate.

Smolinksi has a career .682 OPS but hits lefties well, owning a career .877 OPS against them. He can also play all three spots in the outfield, making him a flexible platoon option.

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).