NL Central Notes: Ozuna, Shaw, Hader, Maddon

Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup after experiencing pain in his torso, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Goold further tweets that Ozuna is headed for an MRI tomorrow, and manager Mike Shildt expressed some concern about a potential intercostal strain. It’s a frustrating development for both team and player, as Ozuna was hoping to bounce back from an injury-marred 2018 season in which ongoing shoulder issues hampered his swing. The Cardinals, meanwhile, were hoping that a healthier Ozuna could pair with offseason acquisition Paul Goldschmidt to bolster the middle of the batting order. If Ozuna needs to miss time, Tyler O’Neill could step into a larger role with the club, and Jose Martinez (who started in place of Ozuna today) could get some additional at-bats as well.
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More from the NL Central…

  • In light of the recent wave of extensions throughout Major League Baseball, Adam McCalvy of asked a few Brewers players about their thoughts on some recent deals and their own willingness to engage in discussions. Third baseman Travis Shaw stated that he’s “open for business” when it comes to talking about a potential long-term deal to keep in Milwaukee beyond the 2021 season (currently slated to be his final season of team control). Late-inning terminator Josh Hader, meanwhile, suggested that his current focus is more on playing baseball than thinking about that side of the game. “If they feel they want to do an extension, then that’s the business side of it,” said Hader. “They control that.” The 24-year-old Hader has not yet even accumulated two full years of Major League service time and remains under club control through the 2023 season. Milwaukee president of baseball ops David Stearns added to McCalvy that while he’s not closed off to extension talks during the season, “there’s a reason” most deals are completed before Opening Day.
  • Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said Wednesday that the two-year extension signed by managerial peer Terry Francona doesn’t have him thinking about his own contract status (link via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times). “I’ve been treated more than well,” said Maddon. “So I don’t lament or worry about things like that.” Maddon added that he’s not in the business of comparing himself to other skippers throughout the league. Wittenmyer, however, notes that Maddon’s current $6MM salary is substantially higher than the rates at which the influx of younger managers are being paid throughout the league. That, certainly, will be a factor in negotiations with the Cubs (or any other club, if he is not retained).

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