In a ceremony today at the White House for winners of the Presidential Medal Of Freedom, President Obama described Cardinals legend Stan Musial as "an icon, untarnished, a beloved pillar of the community, a gentleman you would want your kids to emulate." Congratulations to Musial for adding this prestigious award to his overflowing list of lifetime achievements.
Let's look at the middle of the baseball map for news from the NL and AL Central divisions…
- Tony La Russa is facing sharp criticism over his comments that the MLBPA was pressuring Albert Pujols to sign a record-setting contract. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports calls La Russa's statement "excessive and nonsensical." Agent Scott Boras, speaking to Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on MLB Network Radio today, said La Russa's comments were "really not well thought out" and lacking in evidence.
- Boras noted that he hasn't spoken "at length" with his client Matt Holliday about Holliday's recent statement that he would consider deferring money from his own contract if it meant St. Louis could keep Pujols. "Matt is very generous and Matt really wants the best for his team and he wants to win," Boras said. Thanks to Andrew FitzPatrick of SiriusXM for providing a transcript of Boras' interview.
- Ed Wade discussed Hunter Pence's leadership abilities, his club's bullpen depth, Brett Wallace's opportunity to win an everyday job and other Astros topics in a media Q&A session. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart has the partial transcript.
- Braden Looper tells MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he would've retired if he hadn't been signed by the Cubs, since he and his family live in the Chicago area. Looper expressed his interest in pitching for the Cubs last winter and sat out the 2010 season after not finding an acceptable contract.
- Chris Antonetti says the chances of the Indians acquiring another starter are "slim," tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Also from Hoynes, Orlando Cabrera's deal with the Tribe will become official once the infielder passes a physical over the next two days.
- Daniel Hudson talks to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune about the deal that sent the young right-hander from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks last summer.
- The Royals finalized their $300K contract with Dominican pitcher Darwin Castillo, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The team has yet to determine if the 6'5" right-hander will go to the Arizona Rookie League or pitch for the Royals' Dominican academy.