Cardinals closing in on Molina deal

The Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said he’s “hopeful” to have a new contract for Yadier Molina before opening day but said a deal was “not done” as of Friday.

Molina homered in a game against St. Louis’ top minor league affiliate while reports surfaced that he’s nearing a new contract agreement. Fox Sports reported during the game that Molina and the Cardinals are finalizing a three-year deal worth between $55 million and $65 million.

“We’re optimistic. We’re hopeful,” Mozeliak said. “But it’s not complete yet.”

Molina has said he wants a contract finalized before the season opens Sunday night. He said “nothing’s done” after the game but expressed optimism.

Philadelphia Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Rookie outfielder/first baseman Brock Stassi had an emotional reaction after being named to the Philadelphia Phillies’ opening day roster.

Video shows the former University of Nevada star tearing up and calling making the team “a dream come true” after six years in the minors.

The 27-year-old was a long shot to make it to the big leagues after being the 1,021st player picked in the 2011 draft.

Stassi’s younger brother, Max, is a catcher in the Houston Astros organization. He tweeted Thursday that his brother “truly earned everything to get to this point in his career” and has spent time in the offseason working as a substitute teacher.

Brock Stassi hit .333 with 6 home runs in 57 at-bats for the Phillies this spring.

Philadelphia opens the regular season at Cincinnati on Monday.

Stassi was a standout two-way player for Nevada who was the Western Athletic Conference’s 2010 pitcher of the year and earned first-team All-WAC honors at first base in 2011.

He was drafted in the 44th round as a pitcher by the Cleveland Indians in 2010 but returned to school and was picked in the 34th round as a hitter by the Phillies with 1,021st overall pick the following year.

Seattle Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. — Seattle Mariners starter Drew Smyly will begin the season on the disabled list and could be out up to two months because of a strained left elbow.

General manager Jerry Dipoto said Friday that Smyly likely will miss six to eight weeks. He will rehab the injury and surgery is not expected, but he likely will get a second opinion.

Smyly was slotted to be Seattle’s No. 4 starter. He was impressive early in spring training and in his one start for the United States during the World Baseball Classic. But Dipoto said Smyly did not seem the same after returning from the WBC and further examination revealed the injury.

Ariel Miranda will take Smyly’s spot in the rotation.

Baltimore Orioles

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed the son of Cal Ripken Jr. to a minor league contract.

First baseman Ryan Ripken signed with the Class A Aberdeen IronBirds, the team announced Friday on Twitter.

The 23-year-old Ripken was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 15th round of the 2014 Major League draft. He batted .205 over three seasons, hitting three home runs in 145 games.

He will participate in extended spring training before the IronBirds open play in the New York-Penn League in June.

Cal Ripken Jr. grew up in Aberdeen and played with the Orioles from 1981-2001. He set a major league record by playing in 2,632 consecutive games and was a first-ballot entrant into the Hall of Fame. Ripken’s brother, Billy, played with the Orioles and their father, Cal Sr., was a manager and coach for Baltimore.

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