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MLB Roundup: Motte, McCann to miss opener; Verlander sets contract deadline

The SportsXchange

The St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves will start the season with injuries to key players, while Justin Verlander is giving the Detroit Tigers until Wednesday to finalize a contract extension.

The Cardinals announced Saturday that closer Jason Motte will start the season on the 15-day disabled list with a mild flexor muscle strain in his right elbow. Right-hander Mitchell Boggs will close games in Motte's absence. Righties Fernando Salas, Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal will also contribute in the bullpen.

Meanwhile, Braves catcher Brian McCann could be out through April as he continues to slowly recover from shoulder surgery.

After having surgery in mid-October, he was expected to be back by April 16 -- exactly six months after the operation. However, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that McCann will not be able to start a minor league rehab assignment until at least that date, meaning he could miss the first month of the season.

Gerald Laird will serve as the regular catcher in McCann's absence.

As for Verlander, CBS Sports reported that Verlander will not talk about a contract with the Tigers after his next spring start because he wants to concentrate on the season, which starts April 1.

Verlander's current deal runs through 2014. The team is aware of his position.

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said he does not publicly discuss contract negotiations, but that there is time to work out a deal.

Verlander is coming off a 17-8 season with a 2.64 ERA and 239 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings pitched. He is making just over $20 million this year but could seek a deal similar to the five-year, $175 million contract that the Seattle Mariners have discussed with their ace, Felix Hernandez.

--Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo returned to the Cincinnati Reds' lineup against the Texas Rangers after missing nearly a week with back spasms.

Choo struggled with injuries in 2011 and was limited to 313 at-bats in 85 games. He bounced back last year with 598 at-bats in 155 games and batted .283 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI with the Cleveland Indians.

--The New York Yankees announced that they signed right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year minor league contract.

Wang was impressive in the World Baseball Classic with Chinese Taipei. He did not allow a run in 12 innings of work.

Wang, 32, spent the last two seasons with the Washington Nationals. He was 2-3 with a 6.68 ERA last season. He missed the 2010 season after having shoulder surgery. He also pitched for the Yankees from 2005-09, going 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA.
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