Tag:Tony Campana
Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:59 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:06 pm
 

New Cubs manager Sveum puts together bunt tourney

By Matt Snyder

As the Cubs franchise strives to do a complete makeover, fundamentals have been reemphasized in camp this season. More attention is reportedly being paid to baserunning and pitchers' fielding, for example. Also: Bunting.

And in the spirit of the upcoming March Madness -- watch the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS! -- new manager Dale Sveum has devised a 64-man bunting tournament that will begin Thursday. With there only being 62 players in camp, Sveum threw himself in the bracket along with strength coach Tim Buss (via Chicago Tribune). Tribune beat writer Paul Sullivan has posted a picture of the entire bracket on his Facebook page.

Sveum made setup man Kerry Wood a No. 2 seed -- and if that's an accurate ranking, it's a good thing the Cubs are refocusing on bunting considering Wood hasn't had a big-league plate appearance since 2007 -- and put himself against Wood in Round 1 as a 15.

Sullivan reports the players' consensus is that starting pitchers Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells are the favorites, though speedy outfielder Tony Campana named himself the man to beat.

Having seen many Cubs games the past several seasons, I'd be shocked if anyone beats Dempster -- not that the winner really matters. And my reaction to seeing Alfonso Soriano as a 15-seed? How are there at least four worse bunters in camp?

Two things here do matter, though:

1. The focus on fundamentals.
2. Having fun. It's a long spring training and exercises like these help bring the team together. If you scoff at that notion, note that Joe Girardi had the 2009 Yankees compete in a billiards tournament in spring training as a team-building exercise. Obviously these Cubs don't have the same level of talent as the eventual '09 World Series champions, but the point remains that Sveum has his head in the right place.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 7:58 pm
 

10 finalists for Hutch Award revealed

By Matt Snyder

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has revealed 10 Major League Baseball players as finalists for the 2011 Hutch Award.

The award is given to a "player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication of legendary baseball player and manager Fred Hutchinson" -- who played 10 seasons for the Tigers from 1939-1953, missing a chunk due to service in World War II. He also managed the Tigers, Cardinals and Reds during a 13-season managerial career. He then died of cancer in 1964 at the age of 45 and the research center was founded by his brother.

Here are the 10 players nominated for the Hutch Award this season, as chosen by the research center's national committee:

Billy Butler, Royals
Tony Campana, Cubs
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Torii Hunter, Angels
Justin Masterson, Indians
Brian McCann, Braves
Jake Peavy, White Sox
Josh Willingham, A's

Last season's winner was Tim Hudson of the Braves. The first winner was Yankees great Mickey Mantle back in 1965. A full list of past winners can be viewed by clicking here. The winner of the 2011 Hutch Award will be revealed in February.

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 6:51 pm
 

Reds' Alonso left in positional limbo

Yonder AlonsoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The moment Yonder Alonso was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2008 draft, the questions about where he'd play began. Alonso played first base at Miami and looked like he'd be limited to first base.

That's fine and good, except for when you have the reigning MVP at first base already and that player's just 27. 

Last spring the Reds started trying Alonso in left field and he played 30 games there in 2010 between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville, but still played the bulk of his time at first base, logging 96 games there. This season with his bat ready for the big leagues, he was given more time in the left field, where he played 62 games in left compared to 21 at first base.

Since the left-handed hitting prospect was called up to the big leagues when Jonny Gomes was traded, he's started three games in left and none at first. The first part is going to change, the second may not.

Alonso's latest position may be third base after he struggled in two games in left at Wrigley Field this past weekend, playing one ball into an inside-the-park home run for Cubs rookie Tony Campana and then misplaying another ball for a crucial error in Saturday's loss.

When asked on Monday when Alonso would play left again, Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters, "not in the near future," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Alonso took ground balls at third base -- his main position growing up, he's said -- but Baker said he doesn't expect Alonso there anytime soon.

"You don't want to do it in the big leagues," Baker said, according to Fay. "But that's the position he started at. It's a mirror image of first base, really. You get more plays. Most first baseman are at first because they're left-handed or they don't have the arm to play third.

"We'll see. We're trying to find the best place to get his bat in the lineup."

Yonder AlonsoWhile Alonso's looked shaky in the field, he's been locked in at the plate, where he's started the season 8 for 16 with two doubles and a homer. The Reds called up another prospect, Dave Sappelt, on Sunday when Chris Heisey went on the disabled list and Sappelt will likely get a chance to play quite a bit in left and center. Sappelt had a hit leading off in his major-league debut on Sunday. Fred Lewis is starting in left on Monday.

Finding a spot for Alonso is tricky. The Reds thought he was the best hitter available when they took him with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 draft and he's shown it in the minors, where he's combined to hit .293/.370/.466. He was hitting .296/.374/.486 with 12 homers when he was called up. Although he's 4 for 7 as a pinch-hitter so far this season, going forward he's going to be too valuable for filling just that role.

The Reds and Blue Jays reportedly talked about a blockbuster sending Joey Votto to his native Toronto in exchange for Jose Bautista, opening a spot for Alonso. Although that deal didn't go down, it does show how much the team values Alonso and feels he can be an impact player in the big leagues.

Votto is under contract through 2013, so he's in the team's immediate future but could be too expensive when he reaches free agency. Alonso would be a lower-cost alternative.

Alonso could also finish the season strong and be a more valuable trade piece in the offseason because of his early success in the big leagues. 

Physically, Alonso looks more like a first baseman -- or DH -- than third baseman, but he says he feels comfortable there. He didn't play third at Miami because current Twin Danny Valencia was at third base when he got there. The Reds have a need at third base. With Scott Rolen on the disabled list (and at 36), the Reds are using a combination of rookie Todd Frazier and veteran Miguel Cairo to man the position. Rolen is under contract through next season and the team's top prospect at the position, Juan Francisco, has been hurt this season and unproductive in a couple of big-league stints.

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Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 11:34 am
 

Pepper: No rule change needed at 1B

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: There may not be a more interesting division in baseball than the American League Central. While the surprising Indians lead the Tigers by a game, the White Sox and Twins linger. Can the Twins, now just 6 1/2 games out, continue to get themselves in contention? Will Jake Peavy be able to stay in the White Sox's rotation? NESN.com's Tony Lee joins our own Lauren Shehadi to discuss.

RULE CHANGE NEEDED?: And just yesterday, I was going to make a sarcastic joke that I was surprised I hadn't heard Giants fans complain about safety at first base after the Albert Pujols injury.

For weeks after Buster Posey's injury we heard long discussions about changing the rules for plays at the plate and how the catcher had to be protected. Scott Cousins was vilified and scapegoated. Well, Wilson Betemit was taken off the hook when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa put all the blame on the shoulders of rookie Pete Kozma, even though in both cases the injured player deserves much of the blame for being in a  poor position (and I'm not saying either deserved to be hurt, just that they put themselves in a bad spot and got hurt -- it happens).

Anyway, the New York Times is the first (and only that I've seen) to start up the change-the-rules-at-first-base bandwagon. My response? In a word: no.

LUDWICK ON THE MOVE?: Ryan Ludwick was moved last July from one contender to another -- from St. Louis to San Diego (in a three-team trade that brought Jake Westbrook to St. Louis); he could be on the move again.

The Phillies, Marlins and Reds have all reportedly asked about Ludwick's availability. Ludwick is hitting .255/.322/.393 with a team-high nine home runs this season, but is hitting .279/.324/.419 away from Petco Park.

The Padres could also move some of their relievers, with the Phillies and Cardinals having already checked in on the availability of Chad Qualls and Heath Bell.[FoxSports.com]

SHIPPING HANLEY?: Are the Marlins better off without Hanley Ramirez? Ramirez is in the third year of a six-year, $70 million contract that pays him $46.5 million over the next three years and does not include a no-trade clause. [Palm Beach Post]

MADDON APOLOGIZES: Joe Maddon didn't intentionally pull the wool over the eyes of umpires Monday by not having Sam Fuld face a batter after warming up in the eighth inning, it's just that Bob Davidson was behind the plate, and he didn't know the rule any better than Maddon did. Maddon apologized to the umpires and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke. [Tampa Tribune]

FAUSTO FLOUNDERING: One Ohio team has already demoted its opening-day starter to the minors, and the other team may soon be sending its opening-day starter to the bullpen if he doesn't get it together. Cleveland's Fausto Carmona is 4-9 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 starts this season and is 1-6 with a 9.73 ERA over his last seven starts. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

ESCOBAR IMPROVING: Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar has seen his batting average rise nearly 50 points in the last two weeks, and his glove was already playing at a high level. Is the one big-league player the Royals got from the Zack Greinke trade beginning to show why the Royals thought he could be part of their next wave of talent? [Kansas City Star]

HEADED HOME?: The Hanshin Tigers are scouting Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome if either Japanese player decides to return to Japan after the season. Fukudome would be a better fit for the Tigers, who play in Japan's Central League. Like in MLB, NPB has one league with the DH (the Pacific League) and one without (the Central League). [YakyuBaka.com]

GREEN LIGHT: The Rangers' Craig Gentry is pretty fast. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

RESPECT: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sometimes goes out of his way to tweak the Cubs and Cubs fans, but not when he's talking about the other Chicago team's shortstop, Starlin Castro. Guillen calls Castro "amazing." Guillen gave some encouraging words to Castro after Monday's game, and that meant a lot to the young Cub. [Chicago Sun-Times]

TURNING 20: Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez celebrated the 20th anniversary of his big-league debut Monday. The 39-year-old Rodriguez has 13 Gold Gloves and an MVP since he came up as a 19-year-old with the Rangers. [MLB.com]

NICE PICK: With the Yankees in town, the Cincinnati Enquirer caught up with former Reds first-round pick Chad Mottola, who was taken with the pick before the Yankees took Derek Jeter. Mo Egger of ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati breaks down why Mottola wouldn't have played for the Reds even if they picked him. Hint, his name is Barry Larkin.

ARMS SALE: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times looks at what the Mariners could get for Jason Vargas or Doug Fister, two guys who are having pretty decent years.

COMPELLING CAMPANA: A great story in The Tennessean about Cubs outfielder Tony Campana. As a kid in Franklin, Tenn., Campana battled Hodgkin's disease and couldn't play baseball, but was still in the dugout with his teammates, cheering them on. His coaches at the time didn't think he'd survive, much less be in the big leagues.

WORTHY CAUSE: There's a petition online to have Vin Scully call one more World Series. Scully hasn't called a World Series on TV since 1988 and is still one of the best. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

CUTTER CUT: The Jays have told recently demoted Kyle Drabek to shelve his cutter for now. The team wanted him concentrating more on his fastball, but he kept going back to the cutter more than the team liked. The Jays hope he gains confidence in his fastball and lessens his reliance on the cutter. [National Post]

NO CHANGE IN POSTING: The posting system for Japanese players coming to the United States won't change, NPB Tracker passes along (since I can't read the original Sanspo report).

GOLDEN GROOMING: You may have missed the Golden Groomer Award, a monthly award given to the baseball player with the best facial hair. The last winner was Reds minor league catcher Corky Miller. [OMGReds.com]

LOGO FUN: Check out this really cool graphic of all the team's cap insignias since 1950 (including batting practice). Hat tip to the fine folks at the UniWatchBlog, which had a cool thing worth reading about spotting baseball fields from the sky.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: June 15, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: June 15, 2011 10:53 am
 

Pepper: Danks discovers cut-fastball


Justin Verlander nearly pitched another no-hitter on Tuesday. NESN.com's Tony Lee joins Scott Braun on Baseball Today.

By Evan Brunell


NEW CUTTER: John Danks is finally on a roll, turning around his 0-7 start by winning his last two games. Danks pitched far better than his record indicated, but couldn't seem to figure things out and cited his cut fastball as one pitch he was struggling with.

"I play with grips a lot," Danks said. "My last game, I finally had a good one and was encouraged. Whenever I'm throwing a good one, I'm throwing it out front. That makes sense. I tend to not get on top of it and get around it, and it doesn't do anything for me. My focus is throwing it out front."

Danks is using a grip taught by batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey and has also experimented with other grips, including Mark Buehrle's.

"I will continue to work on other grips in case I lose it in a game so I have something to fall back on," Danks said. (Chicago Tribune)

ALL JETER, ALL THE TIME: Nick Swisher, for one, is tired of the Derek Jeter hoopla. Here's his response to a question about Jeter after taking out the Rangers:

"We just played a great game and you ask me that? I don't even know exactly what happened. A strain? Well, obviously, everyone knows what he's going up for, and he's the captain, we're going to miss him a lot, but then again we're trying to pick up where he left off. Gardy did a great job leading off for us tonight. I know he's excited about the opportunity to lead off for a little bit. But definitely when he's ready, we'll be ready for him to come back. He's a great player, definitely an elite, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. The show goes on.''  (ESPN New York)

BEST PLAYER IN THE GAME: How did Jose Bautista come about to be one of the -- if not the -- best players in the game? This fantastic feature explains it all, and no, steroids aren't part of it. (Yahoo! Sports)

BLANK THE GOAT: Cubs players created a stir Monday when they revealed new team shirts that read "F--k the Goat!!!" Predictably, questions arose as to whether the Cubs players are tempting fate.

"I have news for you. When you take the field, nobody is thinking about the goat, whether they're wearing the T-shirt or not," manager Mike Quade said. (Chicago Tribune)

YOUNG MILESTONE: Michael Young is now the Rangers' all-time leader in games played after Monday, passing Rafael Palmiero with 1,574 games. (New York Times)

FASTEST MAN ALIVE: Tony Campana believes he's the fastest man in the league, and manager Mike Quade concurs. Wonder if Michael Bourn might take exception to that. (Chicago Tribune)

HATED: This may come as a surprise, but the Yankees are one of the most hated teams in the game. But has anyone ever wondered who the 10 most hateable Yankees are in Rangers history? Probably not, but now you know. (Dallas News)

CLOSER IN L.A.: It appears as if Javy Guerra is quickly grasping the Dodgers' closer role. The rookie has been getting more and more late-inning, high-leverage outings lately and appears to be de facto closer, even as manager Don Mattingly refused to put a label on Guerra. (MLB.com)

BARNEY HURT
: Darwin Barney strained his right knee and will hit the disabled list for it. The second baseman leads all NL rookies in batting average with a .294 mark. (ESPN Chicago)

KAZMIR NEARING END? Scott Kazmir got raked once again in a minor-league rehab start, leaving him with a 17.02 ERA in 15 2/3 innings over five starts. It's likely that L.A. will now release Kazmir, who has a career 5.31 ERA with the Angels in 35 starts, one of the bigger busts in recent memory. (Los Angeles Times)

SECOND OPINION: Freddy Sanchez will receive a second opinion on his dislocated shoulder in the hopes of avoiding season-ending surgery. Sanchez is hoping to heal the shoulder on his own. (MLB.com)

SANDOVAL BACK: Pablo Sandoval was thrilled after his first game back from injury, saying he feels great and the surgery to repair his right wrist went well. The team, too, seems to be relieved that Sandoval has returned. (San Jose Mercury News)

GRANTED: Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers on the field, but off the field he runs a charity that grants various amounts of money to Philadelphia schools to help them educate children in the face of budget cuts. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:39 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 7:59 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Local boy does good

Kyle Phillips

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Kyle Phillips, Padres -- Coming into Monday's game, the San Diego native was hitting just .138/.242/.172. So he was hardly Bud Black's first choice off the bench as a pinch-hitter, but Phillips hit the first homer of his big league career to lead off the 10th inning, leading the Padres to a 3-2 victory over the Braves.

Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks -- Johnson finished a single short of the cycle, hitting two homers. He accounted for 13 total bases -- four more than teammate Justin Upton, who went 5 for 5. Johnson hit for the cycle last season.

Tony Campana, Cubs -- On his 25th birthday, the Cubs rookie stole four bases. Coming into Monday, the Cubs as a team had stolen 10 bases all season. Starlin Castro led the team with four stolen bases before the day started.


Sean Rodriguez, Rays -- The Rays hadn't committed more than one error in a game all season -- until Monday when Rodriguez took care of that all by himself, making three errors in the game. The shortstop tied the Rays record for errors in a game, joining five others. The Rays' 52 games to start the season without more than one error is a major league record.

Jake Arrieta, Orioles -- The Baltimore right-hander gave up two runs in the first to the Mariners, but it was the fourth inning that did him in. Arrieta gave up back-to-back walks with the bases loaded in the third inning of the team's 4-3 loss to Seattle. Arrieta has now given up 16 walks in his last 24 innings. He was pulled after the two walks -- including a 12-pitch at-bat by Adam Kennedy and then another full-count walk to Miguel Olivo.

Jon Lester, Red Sox -- Going for his big-league best eighth victory, Lester was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits in just 5 2/3 innings. Still, he needed 127 pitches to get to that point, the second-most he's thrown in his career after the 130 he threw in his no-hitter in 2008. In two starts against Chicago's two teams, Lester has given up 20 hits and 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 9:59 am
 

Pepper: Peavy, Posada, Pudge and More



BASEBALL TODAY: What should White Sox fans expect from Jake Peavy tonight? Will Jered Weaver get back on track in Seattle? Tony Lee of NESN.com joins Lauren Shehadi with the latest edition of CBSSports.com's Baseball Today.

By Matt Snyder


MORE POSADA-GIRARDI FEUD: Evidently, the Jorge Posada-Joe Girardi issue Saturday night had been brewing for some time -- at least according to the New York Daily News. Reportedly, Posada and Girardi began to butt heads back in 2005 when Girardi was the Yankees' bench coach and Posada was the everyday catcher. Girardi was "heavily involved" in the game-planning in terms of how to work opposing hitters, but reportedly Posada would routinely deviate from the plans during games. So then Girardi would call Posada out, which made Posada angry.

"Jorge felt everything he did behind the plate was being second-guessed by Girardi on the bench," the Daily News' anonymous source said. "The way Jorge called a game was a big issue for Girardi."

The source went on: "Girardi couldn't wait to get him out from behind the plate," the source said. "He hated the way he called a game."

Whether or not this is true, I'm just ready for it to all be in the past. Permanently.

ON THE FLIP SIDE: With the whole Posada drama in New York, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post takes the time to point out that Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez could have very well done something similar considering his role has been severely downgraded this season as Wilson Ramos has taken over as the starter. It hasn't been lost on Rodriguez's teammates, either. “He comes in here, they hit him eighth, he doesn’t say a thing,” one Nationals player said, motioning toward Rodriguez. I believe the difference is that Rodriguez has had to bounce around from team to team, so he's had the chance to be humbled and avoid a sense of entitlement. But that doesn't make Posada right. He could learn a thing or two from one of the best catchers to ever play the game. (Nationals Journal)

SHAKEUP COMING: The Giants' offense is getting to be more and more of an issue with each passing day, as they've now scored the least amount of runs in the National League. There's talk of a shakeup coming with the starting lineup, specifically the infield, in an attempt to get more offense. In fact, the Giants might recall Brandon Belt, play him at first, and then move Aubrey Huff to third base until Pablo Sandoval is healthy again. That's a drastic move defensively, since Huff hasn't played third in a few years and wasn't good there to begin with. It's just how desperate they're getting for more punch. (Mercurynews.com)

MORE JOHNSON, LESS BRIGNAC: Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Elliot Johnson is likely to see the majority of the playing time moving forward at shortstop while Reid Brignac will play less. Considering Johnson is a switch-hitter and Brignac swings lefty (with the majority of opposing starters being right-handed), it won't be a straight platoon in the least. "I don't want to be committed to that. You're going to see more of Elliot. Let's put it that way," Maddon said. "I think he's done a nice job." (TampaBay.com) Johnson is 3-7 with two home runs and a stolen base in his past two starts. Brignac is hitting just .179 with a dreadful .402 OPS this season.

GUT FEELING: The Mariners are about to receive a shot in the arm -- both offensively and defensively -- Wednesday, as Gold Glove center fielder Franklin Gutierrez will finally be activated from the disabled list. He'd been sidelined since the middle of spring training with a stomach ailment that had bothered him a good portion of 2010 as well. Expect Gutierrez to immediately take over in center for Mike Saunders, who has been fine in center but brutal offensively (.171/.222/.265). Gutierrez is superb in the outfield and a capable hitter. He hit .245 with 12 home runs and 64 RBI last season, but remember, he was plagued by the stomach issue. In 2009, he hit .283 with 18 homers, 70 RBI and a .764 OPS. (MLB.com)

REMEMBER ME? Dallas McPherson was once a top-20 prospect in all of baseball. He was the Brandon Wood of the early-to-mid 2000s -- expected to be a big power source for the Angels, only to flop several times before the Angels finally gave up on him. The difference was McPherson could blame some of his woes on injuries and he wasn't near as bad, sporting a .755 OPS in 117 games for the Angels in parts of three seasons. Still he hadn't been in the majors since 2008 ... until Tuesday night. McPherson is now a member of the White Sox and got a hit in his big-league at-bat in three seasons. It has been a long road back through a back surgery and lingering problems. "I've got to be honest, I wasn't sure I'd hear those words again," he said in discussing his promotion back to the majors. (Chicago Sun-Times)

FLASHBACK CAPS FOR SALE: The Angels are going to wear four different throwback jerseys this season on Friday home games, in what they're calling "Flashback Fridays." Well, the lids will be available for sale, which is sweet. I'd love to get the one with the lower-case "a" with a halo over it. Awesome. (The Ballcap Blog)

HIGH PRAISE: It's become pretty common knowledge at this point that Brandon Phillips is the best defensive second baseman in baseball, but that doesn't mean it hurts for him to hear the words from a former Reds second baseman -- one who is in the Hall of Fame. "He's unbelievable to me, with his range and everything," said Joe Morgan. "I think he's the best defensive second baseman in the game. He's athletic and he's willing to take chances, which I think is what separates him." (Cincinnati.com)

DREAM COME TRUE: Tony Campana grew up in the Cincinnati area and was able to make his major-league debut Tuesday night in Cincinnati -- only it was for the Cubs. He didn't disappoint his reported 50-plus friends and family in attendance, either, as Campana picked up an RBI double in his first big-league at-bat. He scored the go-ahead run an inning earlier when he had entered as a pinch-runner. "It's pretty much a dream come true, other than the outcome of the game," Campana said. "I couldn't be happier to come out, get a hit, score a run and get an RBI." Oh, yeah, that outcome. The Cubs blew the game again. This time in the eighth. (MLB.com)

RAIN DELAY FUN: All kinds of stuff happens when baseball players are waiting out rain delays. Here's a great video of some jousting with bats, courtesy of college teams Radford and High Point.



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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