Central Notes: Beltran, Lopez, Astros

On this day in 2005, Rick Ankiel of the Cardinals collected a base hit in his first Grapefruit League game as a position player after beginning his career as a pitcher. He'd later make it back to the Majors in 2007. On with a few links from MLB's Central divisions …

  • Carlos Beltran drew interest from several teams this offseason but ultimately signed with the Cardinals because he wanted to play for a winning team with a grass home ballpark, and because the Redbirds offered him a no-trade clause, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Beltran was conflicted as to which team to sign with, writes Goold, but he ultimately settled on the Cards when his wife urged him to go wherever he'd be happy.
  • Indians utility man Jose Lopez is impressing so far in camp and likes his odds of making the big league roster out of Spring Training, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Lopez signed a minor league deal with the Tribe this offseason and had offers from other teams: "A couple teams asked me to sign with them," Lopez said. "Cleveland had more opportunity. … They're giving me a chance, and now I'm fighting for a spot."
  • The Astros have two players in camp under the scrutiny of being a Rule 5 picks in Marwin Gonzalez and Rhiner Cruz, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. The chances of both players lasting on Houston's 25-man roster all season is pretty slim, something GM Jeff Luhnow touched on: "You lose a lot of flexibility by keeping the Rule 5 guys and that's something you have to put into the equation. … To keep two is something very few teams are able to do."

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