The Cardinals have tabbed Michael Wacha to begin the season as their fifth starter, tweets Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. That’s not particularly surprising, as St. Louis optioned one of Wacha’s competitors, Luke Weaver, to Triple-A on Saturday after he showed poorly over five spring training innings. The other contender for the Redbirds’ last starting role, former closer Trevor Rosenthal, fell behind the 8-ball when he dealt with right lat muscle soreness earlier this month. Barring an injury, the other four-fifths of the Cardinals’ season-opening rotation will consist of Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake and Lance Lynn.
- Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright finally seems to be putting his long bout with right shoulder bursitis behind him, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Wright, a 2016 All-Star whose season ended in August after he injured his shoulder as a pinch-runner, threw three hitless innings against the Twins on Saturday. The 32-year-old indicated afterward that he’s “in good position to be ready for Opening Day.”
- Ernesto Frieri served as a more-than-capable reliever with the Padres and Angels from 2010-13, when he combined for a 2.79 ERA, 12.28 K/9 and 4.36 BB/9 over 229 1/3 innings, before he flamed out over the next two seasons with the Halos, Pirates and Rays. After taking 2016 off to repair his mechanics, the 31-year-old Frieri believes he’s poised for a career renaissance with the Yankees, per Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. “Before, I was a thrower,” Frieri said Saturday. “I’d just throw fastballs and I got away with that, too. But I had that deception. And now I have that deception back.” Frieri, who’s attempting to make the Yankees’ roster after signing a minor league contract Thursday, threw two scoreless innings for Colombia during the World Baseball Classic and touched 95 mph. His average fastball velocity in 2015 was 91.2.
- Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will throw live batting practice for the first time this year on Wednesday, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Ross, who’s on the mend from October surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, “has met all checkpoints on time or early so far,” Grant adds. The expectation when the Rangers signed Ross in January was that he’d be ready for major league action by May or June.