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Cardinals near a deal with IF Alex Cora

The Cardinals are close to a minor league contract agreement with versatile infielder Alex Cora, according to

While Cora, 36, doesn't hit much anymore with a .224 batting average last year and a .210 mark the year before and one home run since 2008, he can play all four infield positions well enough to justify a major league roster spot.

He would do much at all for the offense. But Cora will allow the Cardinals to more freely move around their other parts or pinch hit since he can hold down an spot on the infield.

Don't expect the former Dogers, Red Sox, Mets, Indians, Rangers and Nationals lefty batter to accept a longterm stint in Class AAA Memphis. He was offered a coaching job earlier this off-season and declined in hopes of playing one more year in the majors. So if the Cardinals don't want to keep him in the big leagues, I would expect that he would opt to try to find a team that would.

Of course, with two weeks to go before spring training camps open, that might not be an option. But a guy with 14 MLB seasons under his belt just doesn't seem likely to accept a hitch in the bus leagues.

Cora was primarily a shortstop in his younger days. He is best known for a 14-pitch at bat against the Cubs when he was with Los Angeles in 2004. Facing Matt Clement. Cora fouled of 14 consecutive pitches before hitting a home run. It was one of only 35 homers he hit in 3,408 career at bats.