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Tag:AL Central
Posted on: March 17, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: March 17, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Pepper: Chavez was on Hall of Fame path

Chavez

Eric Chavez was once headed to the Hall of Fame.

At least, that's what Athletics GM Billy Beane believes.

"If you take a look at those seasons, understand that he was just 26 and extrapolate it to a 12-, 13-year career, you are talking about a guy who is going to end up with 400 or so homers and 10-12 Gold Gloves," Beane said.

Up through the 2004 season, Chavez was one of the better young third basemen in the game with three Gold Gloves on his resume along with a career .277/.354/.502 line with 163 home runs in 3,507 plate appearances -- posting a career-high 29 home runs in 2004 despite playing in 125 games. Chavez was extremely durable at the time, appearing in over 150 games from 2000-03 and would hit 160 games played in 2005. Beane studied data that showed players who hit the majors early and produced (such as Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter) would go on to have a long career.

Thus, Beane inked Chavez to a six-year, $66 million deal and eschewed long-term deals for Miguel Tejada or, later, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito

"Up to that point, he had been very healthy," Beane said. "And if you take away the injuries, he would have been in the conversation [for the Hall of Fame]."

Now, Chavez is looking to extend his career at age 33, a shell of his former self and one who had to turn down more playing time with the Dodgers for fear that his body wouldn't hold up. He is currently on track to make the Yankees' roster as a bench player. (New York Post)

White Sox PICK WINNING: ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf revealed that Chicago chose to spend money in free agency rather than rebuild. "We just could not see where the players we would have remaining were going to bring us the talent we needed to get better in 2012,"  Reinsdorf said. "So that just left us looking into what do we have to do to get better than Minnesota." (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

I'LL STAY, THANK YOU: It's not often you hear of a star indicating he wants to stay in Kansas City, but that's exactly what 26-year-old Joakim Soria wants to do. Even the prospect of a brutal 2011 doesn't faze him, with the closer indicating he believes in what the Royals have done so far and sees a bright future. The Royals, for their part, have no interest in trading a player expected to be a linchpin of the next contending K.C. club. (Kansas City Star)

A MAN AMONG BOYS: Joe Posnanski spins a story of the best offensive players on a World Series team, and it isn't close. George Brett tallied up 8.0 wins above replacement for the 1985 Royals, with the offense as a whole contributing 8.9 WAR. Also: Should Brett have won 4 MVPs instead of one? (Joe Blogs)

MUSIC TO BASEBALL'S EARS: Check out this really cool picture (and video, if so inclined) by a musician in the National Symphony Orchestra. What's cool about it? The musician is playing a violin made out of a baseball bat. (Fangraphs.com)

SNEAK PEEK? This season, the Tucson Padres will adorn what may eventually be the San Diego Padres' uniforms. The Padres president indicated in the past that the club may go to a more retro feel in the future, which Tucson certainly has while keeping San Diego's current color scheme. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BE REAL: That's what Dusty Baker says in an interview, Esquire-style. A great look into the mind of one of baseball's more successful managers of the past two decades. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

TEN MORE YEARS IN PALM BEACH: A deal has been reached that could keep the Marlins and Cardinals in Palm Beach, Fla. for the next 10 years provided the spring training stadium is upgraded. Both teams can opt out of the agreement in 2017 if less than four teams remain in Southeast Florida, which would complicate travel. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: The Royals' reassigned top prospects Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to minor league camp in order to get at-bats and turn the focus at the major-league level toward getting Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit and Kila Ka'aihue ready for opening day. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:01 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/16: Super Nova

Ivan Nova

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Ivan Nova, Yankees -- The right-hander competing for a spot in the Yankees' rotation showed he could handle AL East competition on Wednesday, dominating the Orioles. Nova didn't allow a hit in six innings, and just two O's reached base. Nova hit Robert Andino to lead off the game and Adam Jones reached on an error in the fourth inning. Nova faced 19 batters, one over the minimum, throwing 59 pitches, 41 for strikes.

2. Elliot Johnson, Rays -- Competing for a spot on the Rays' bench, Johnson -- who has mostly played at second base -- made his spring debut in center field, and made quite the impression. Johnson stole three bases -- including a steal of home in the sixth inning, also had a double and as ingle, two runs and two RBI.

3. Joe Mauer, Twins -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer made his spring debut on Wednesday and singled on the second pitch he saw. Mauer served as the team's designated hitter and is expected to catch on Thursday in a minor league game.

3 DOWN

1. Tyler Clippard, Nationals -- The reliever coughed up his team's four-run lead by walking the first two batters he faced, then giving up two doubles, a triple and an RBI single to score the winning run.

2. J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks -- Another reliever, another disaster. Putz faced five batters and didn't retire one. He did, however, get credit for 1/3 of an inning because Erick Aybar was caught stealing. He walked three, gave up two hits and four runs. He also added a wild pitch to boot. But hey, he was throwing 92-94 mph, so there's that.

3. Daniel Schlereth, Tigers -- Well, while we're at it, why not make it a trilogy? Lefty Daniel Schlereth faced four batters Wednesday against the Cardinals and walked all four of them. Coming into Wednesday's game, he'd walked just one batter and hadn't allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 12:01 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/16: Super Nova

Ivan Nova

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Ivan Nova, Yankees -- The right-hander competing for a spot in the Yankees' rotation showed he could handle AL East competition on Wednesday, dominating the Orioles. Nova didn't allow a hit in six innings, and just two O's reached base. Nova hit Robert Andino to lead off the game and Adam Jones reached on an error in the fourth inning. Nova faced 19 batters, one over the minimum, throwing 59 pitches, 41 for strikes.

2. Elliot Johnson, Rays -- Competing for a spot on the Rays' bench, Johnson -- who has mostly played at second base -- made his spring debut in center field, and made quite the impression. Johnson stole three bases -- including a steal of home in the sixth inning, also had a double and as ingle, two runs and two RBI.

3. Joe Mauer, Twins -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer made his spring debut on Wednesday and singled on the second pitch he saw. Mauer served as the team's designated hitter and is expected to catch on Thursday in a minor league game.

3 DOWN

1. Tyler Clippard, Nationals -- The reliever coughed up his team's four-run lead by walking the first two batters he faced, then giving up two doubles, a triple and an RBI single to score the winning run.

2. J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks -- Another reliever, another disaster. Putz faced five batters and didn't retire one. He did, however, get credit for 1/3 of an inning because Erick Aybar was caught stealing. He walked three, gave up two hits and four runs. He also added a wild pitch to boot. But hey, he was throwing 92-94 mph, so there's that.

3. Daniel Schlereth, Tigers -- Well, while we're at it, why not make it a trilogy? Lefty Daniel Schlereth faced four batters Wednesday against the Cardinals and walked all four of them. Coming into Wednesday's game, he'd walked just one batter and hadn't allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 12:34 pm
 

Pepper: Sign spring's end is near



By Matt Snyder


How can you best tell when spring is winding down and the real Major League Baseball season is nearing? Well, a few things. The snow finally stops falling. I guess, though this year who really knows. It's liable to snow at some places into May at this rate. Another good sign is watching the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS (shameless plug alert). How about baseball teams starting to name -- or get close to naming -- a fifth starting pitcher? That's a pretty good one, and it's happening in a lot of different places right now.

We've already passed along that Mark Rogers has been demoted, which leaves Wily Peralta the Brewers' likely five . We've also noted Michael Pineda being in Seattle's driver's seat as well. But there are plenty more.

Esmil Rogers looks like he's opening up a lead over John Maine and Greg Reynolds for the Rockies, after working five innings Tuesday and only facing the minimum 15 batters. (Denver Post )

Brandon McCarthy has gotten in the good graces of manager Bob Geren for being "impressive" and "consistent" in looking to win the A's fifth starting job behind a pretty underrated top four of Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez. (San Francisco Chronicle )

Ever since Adam Wainwright went down with injury and the Cardinals said they were going to look internally, Kyle McClellan has been the front-runner to take the remaining spot. And every outing since then, he's gotten rave reviews and been tabbed as the front-runner. Thus, it would be pretty shocking if he didn't get the job. Still, the word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is that McClellan is merely "closer" to getting the nod.

Speaking of shocking, it would be just as shocking if Randy Wells doesn't win one of the Cubs' two remaining rotation slots. He's throwing well this spring and has the past experience. It also appears that former first-round pick Andrew Cashner is putting some distance between himself and the rest of the field as well. We'll get back to Cashner in a second. (MLB.com )

Of course, there is one team a bit behind the curve here. The Texas Rangers, your defending American League champs, still have a whopping seven guys in the mix for two spots. If a decision is made to start Neftali Feliz, one that seems increasingly likely with each passing day, that narrows the field to six guys for one spot. Those six: Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Michael Kirkman, Alexi Ogando, Dave Bush and Eric Hurley. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram )

THE PROFESSOR: Of the two nicknames you see listed for Greg Maddux on baseball-reference.com, I always preferred "the Professor," even though it's nowhere near mainstream. He was so much more cerebral than his opposition, seemingly getting guys out just with his mind. Thus, it's only fitting he's passing along some knowledge to Cashner in Cubs camp as a special assistant. His latest nugget? "Walks are overrated." It's not surprising, coming from a guy who probably never walked someone by accident in his prime. Those who remember watching him in the mid-90s are nodding in agreement. You could feel when Maddux was walking someone on purpose; otherwise it didn't happen. Oh, and if Maddux's wisdom isn't enough, Kerry Wood has also taken Cashner under his wing. (Chicago Tribune )

RUSSELL THE MUSCLE: Hey, someone has to fill the void left by Mark Reynolds -- both in terms of power and strikeouts. Despite his lackluster defense -- which is reportedly a concern for manager Kirk Gibson -- Russell Branyan is turning heads by killing the ball this spring, to the tune of a 1.274 OPS. And don't scoff. While Branyan has a bad batting average and strikeout issues, his career OPS-plus is 115 and he averages 31 home runs over the course of 162 games. He need only hold off Juan Miranda and once-big prospect Brandon Allen. (MLB.com )

NO WORRIES: Clayton Kershaw was torched Tuesday by the Rangers, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn't worried about his likely ace. Nor should he be, considering it's only the spring and Kershaw entered the game with a 0.00 ERA through 11 1/3 innings. (Los Angeles Times )

SWITCHBACK: Prior to the ALDS last year, the rules for the dreaded catwalk at Tropicana Field were altered, but now those rules are reverting back to where they were in the regular season of 2010. Check out the complete list on St. Petersburg Times .

GETTING GRADY BACK: Sunday could be the day. Grady Sizemore hasn't seen game action in about 10 months, but reportedly he has a real shot to play Sunday. Obviously huge news for the Tribe. (Cleveland.com )

KEEPING DICE-K: There's been a lot of talk about the Red Sox trading Daisuke Matsuzaka of late. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe makes a good case to fans that Dice-K is actually a pretty average major-league pitcher and that, as the fifth starter, that's really all the team needs. Put the absurd salary aside and just enjoy the good Red Sox team, he pleads. I tend to agree. (Boston Globe )

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Fun with closer stability vs. turnover

By C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder

So while Trent was looking at the Rangers' closer situation if Neftali Feliz moves to the rotation, he first thought that it would at least be the fourth year in a row Texas had a different closer, and then looked at the list and noticed it would actually be the seventh consecutive year the team had a new closer (if you defined a team's closer for a season as the guy with the most saves.)

He found that pretty amazing, so on chat asked Matt if he knew who was the last player to lead the Rangers in saves in back-to-back years. Matt guessed John Wetteland. Nope. C.J. Wilson? Nope.

After given the hint that this guy was still a closer and has been an All-Star for two teams other than the Rangers since he left, the answer became quite easy. It was Francisco Cordero, who had 49 saves in 2004 and 37 in 2005 before being traded during the 2006 season along with Julian Cordero, Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix for Nelson Cruz and Carlos Lee.

And the research project was born.

Some fun trivia questions are abound here. You could quiz your friends on any individual team, specifically, who is the last player to lead the team in saves for two consecutive seasons?

You could also go for the big fish: There are three pitchers who are the answer to the question for two different teams. Who are they?

Two are pretty well known these days, which are Francisco Cordero and Jose Valverde. But the possibly tricky part is Cordero isn't the answer to the Brewers' question and Valverde isn't the answer to the Tigers' question. The third? Bob Wickman.

See, we told you this was fun.

There are 16 teams who have had a single closer lead the team in saves for at least the past two seasons. Some are merely the past two, some are a long, long time (ahem, Mariano). Here they are:

New York Yankees (Mariano Rivera, 14 years)
Boston Red Sox (Jonathan Papelbon, five years)
Chicago White Sox (Bobby Jenks, five years)
Kansas City Royals (Joakim Soria, four years)
Philadelphia Phillies (Brad Lidge, three years)
St. Louis Cardinals (Ryan Franklin, three years)
Cincinnati Reds (Francisco Cordero, three years)
San Francisco Giants (Brian Wilson, three years)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Brian Fuentes, two years)
Oakland A's (Andrew Bailey, two years)
Seattle Mariners (David Aardsma, two years)
New York Mets (Francisco Rodriguez, two years)
Florida Marlins (Leo Nunez, two years)
San Diego Padres (Heath Bell, two years)
Los Angeles Dodgers (Jonathan Broxton, two years)
Colorado Rockies (Huston Street, two years)

Interesting to note, but totally coincidental, is that of the nine teams in the West divisions, only two haven't had closer stability for at least the past two years.

Now, the aforementioned Rangers are actually tied for the longest streak of having a new pitcher lead the team in saves, with six, and they'll still be tied for first after this season if Feliz moves to starter. The chain goes Feliz, Frank Francisco, C.J. Wilson, Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka before Francisco Cordero led the team in 2004 and 2005.

Their cohort is the Rays. Tampa Bay has a chain that goes from Rafeal Soriano to J.P. Howell to Troy Percival to Al Reyes to Tyler Walker and finally to Danys Baez, who led the team in 2004 and 2005.

Here's the rest of the league, in order of the most consecutive years with a new guy (closers listed chronologically from most recent to last man that led the team in at least two straight years):

Toronto Blue Jays (5): Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, B.J. Ryan, Jeremy Accardo, B.J. Ryan
Cleveland Indians (5): Chris Perez, Kerry Wood, Jansen Lewis, Joe Borowski, Bob Wickman
Milwaukee Brewers (5): John Axford, Trevor Hoffman, Salomon Torres, Francisco Cordero, Derrick Turnbow
Arizona Diamondbacks (4): Juan Gutierrez, Chad Qualls, Brandon Lyon, Jose Valverde
Atlanta Braves (4): Billy Wagner, Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez, Bob Wickman
Washington Nationals (4): Matt Capps, Mike MacDougal, Jon Rauch, Chad Cordero
Chicago Cubs (4): Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster
Detroit Tigers (3): Jose Valverde, Fernando Rodney, Todd Jones
Baltimore Orioles (2): Alfredo Simon, George Sherrill
Minnesota Twins (2): Jon Rauch, Joe Nathan
Pittsburgh Pirates (2): Octavio Dotel, Matt Capps
Houston Astros (2): Matt Lindstrom, Jose Valverde

As for the correlation to success? There pretty much isn't one. Note some franchises like the Braves, Rays and Cubs that had multiple playoff appearances with new closers while teams like the Yankees and Red Sox keep winning with the same guy. On the flip-side, some bad teams have had stability, like the Royals.

But that's not what we were trying to do here anyway. Go take the info and stump your buddies.

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Posted on: March 14, 2011 10:55 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:54 am
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/14: Pie's day

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals -- Lohse has been a weak, expensive link in the Cardinals' rotation the last two years, but is impressing this spring. On Monday, Lohse allowed just one hit over six innings against the Braves. This spring, he's allowed just two runs in 13 innings.

2. Matt Cain, Giants -- In his first start since the spring opener, Cain pitched three hitless innings against the Brewers on Monday. Cain hadn't pitched since Feb. 27 because of inflammation in his right elbow.

3. Felix Pie, Orioles -- The outfielder had a hit in four at-bats Wednesday, but he's here because it was his day, Pi Day (3.14). Sure, it's a stretch, but it's just spring training.

3 DOWN

Andrew McCutchen

1. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates -- Not only did McCutchen lose his glove trying to catch a home run by Baltimore's Randy Winn, in the same inning he was thrown out at the plate and complained that Orioles catcher Matt Wieters didn't avoid contact as much as he should in spring training (pictured).

2. Bruce Chen, Blake Wood, Jason Kendall, Royals -- One of the best days of spring is the one scheduled off day. For players (and reporters) the one day without a game in March is the prize of six weeks in Arizona and Florida, who go without a day to themselves from the middle of February until April. The Royals trio all had to show up to work on Monday, Chen and Wood worked in a minor-league intrasquad game, while Kendall continued his rehab from shoulder surgery.

3. Chris Sale, White Sox -- The 21-year-old lefty was good last season after being called up at the end of the year, but has struggled this spring. Chicago's first-round pick in the 2010 draft allowed three runs in the fifth inning of Monday's game against the Padres. He has a 7.36 ERA in five appearances this spring.

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Posted on: March 14, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:18 am
 

Pepper: Nationals may leave spring-training home

Viera

By Evan Brunell

LONELY ROAD: The complexion of spring training has changed drastically over the last couple decades. There has been a seismic shift with central- and west-based clubs flocking to Arizona where the weather is friendlier and the commute between spring training homes shorter. 

Meanwhile, in Florida, the eastern coast is struggling to keep its business with only the Mets, Cardinals, Marlins and Nationals its occupants. The other clubs are based in west Florida and the Nationals are one team weighing its options on relocation. Although Washington's lease on its spring training complex in Viera, Fla., runs through 2017, that is not expected to be a major hurdle should the club deem its time in Florida untenable.

The major issue at hand is transportation, as Washington routinely requires over 1 1/2 hours of travel time to get to other spring complexes for exhibition games. Those missed hours all add up significantly in expenses as well as lost time. (FloridaToday.com)

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal steps into the time machine and revisits the Yankees' occupation of Fort Lauderdale as spring training home from 1962-95. The one unfortunate byproduct of time marching on is sometimes it forces us to abandon places with great historical weight, such as Fort Lauderdale or the Dodgers' famed -- and now abandoned -- spring training home of Vero Beach, Fla.

I AM NO. 5: With the news that Aaron Cook will miss extended time due to injury, there is a battle for the No. 5 spot in Colorado. Felipe Paulino is out of the race, as he is now being converted to a reliever. That leaves two favorites for the spot in Esmil Rogers and Greg Reynolds. Despite Reynolds' strong season, it may be prudent to keep him in Triple-A for now. (Denver Post)

HEY, WHAT ABOUT ME? Yesterday, all attention was on Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan for alleging his hit-by-pitch in Sunday's game was on purpose for a dustup last season. But lost in all this was Danny Espinosa also being plunked, this one in the head. Espinosa turned out fine, but admitted to being surprised. (Washington Times)

PRETTY BOY: You won't find Eric Hosmer in Hollywood any time soon. The first baseman is jockeying with fellow teammate Mike Moustakas for title of best hitting prospect in the Royals system and is already on manager Ned Yost's good side. "The thing that I like about [Hosmer] is that being pretty is not high on his list of priorities," Yost said. (MLB.com)

FLOWERS BLOOMING: Count White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen among Tyler Flowers' fans. Flowers was once a top catching prospect whose luster wore off in recent years, but a strong spring training has Guillen excited about the future. (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

RUN GRADY, RUN: Grady Sizemore ran the bases successfully Sunday and is on track to play in a spring-training game in several days. It will mark his first game since May 16, so will need some time to get acclimated. He is not expected to be ready for Opening Day but could be ready to go shortly thereafter. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

PLAY OR GO HOME: Braden Looper hopes to make the Cubs after taking a year off. The former closer and starter appears to have a good shot of making the club and is drawing interest from other teams. One issue: Looper isn't interested in playing anywhere but Chicago and will go home to his family if he doesn't make the Cubs. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ONE IN, TWO OUT: Reds manager Dusty Baker appears settled on Chris Heisey making the team as a backup outfielder. That would leave Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida on the outside looking in. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

SURGERY DEFERRED: Braves minor-league manager Luis Salazar will undergo eye surgery (again) Tuesday. This is a delaying of surgery originally scheduled for Sunday as doctors wanted to wait for swelling to go down. He is expected to make a full recovery after taking a line drive off the face last Wednesday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

NOT DONE: So, has the 48-year-old Jamie Moyer changed his mind about coming back to baseball after undergoing Tommy John surgery? Nope. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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Posted on: March 13, 2011 11:12 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/12: Mo of the same

Mariano RiveraBy C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Mariano Rivera, Yankees -- In his spring debut, Rivera struck out all three batters he faced -- the Twins' Jason Kubel, Matt Brown and Luke Hughes. Rivera got to spring training late because of his family's bout with the flu. The 41-year old is expected to pitch against on either Wednesday or Thursday.

2. Chipper Jones, Braves -- Jones went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer against the Astros and is now hitting .353/.421/.647 this spring. Not too bad for a guy many expected to be sitting at home this spring instead of coming back for another season with the Braves.

3. Danks brothers, White Sox -- Chicago starter John Danks allowed just one hit in five innings against the Dodgers on Sunday, while his younger brother Jordan was 2 for 5 with a grand slam in a "B" game against Cleveland. 

3 DOWN

1. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals -- Garcia was perfect in his first two innings on Sunday, but then gave up four runs in his third, three earned. Garcia's struggled this spring. In his three starts, he's pitched nine innings, allowed 18 hits, 10 earned runs, walked four and struck out four.

2. Joe Nathan, Twins -- Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Nathan hadn't given up a hit or a run in his first four one-inning appearances of the spring. Sunday, he made up for lost time, getting just one out and allowing six runs. He allowed five hits and one walk and a three-run homer by Delmon Young. He did say his elbow felt fine afterward.

3. Tommy Hunter, Rangers -- Fighting for a spot in the Rangers' rotation, Hunter has struggled all spring. It wasn't any better on Sunday, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits and 3 2/3 innings against the Giants. After his outing, Hunter put it plainly: "This spring stinks."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com