Tag:Chipper Jones
Posted on: March 29, 2011 9:05 pm
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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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Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Pepper: Rites of spring


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every spring we get excited and pick winners for every division, count out teams, give a couple of other teams a free ride to the World Series and then sit back and are surprised when it doesn't happen.

The thing is, in baseball and in life, things change quickly and can change drastically.

Since the start of spring training games -- a little less than two weeks -- we've seen the Cardinals and Brewers lose some of their luster in the NL Central and the Phillies go from 110 wins to a struggling offense. We've even seen Carlos Zambrano be the calm, collected, sane member of the Cubs staff.

It's a rite of spring to project and to then react and overreact to anything we see on the field in these four weeks of meaningless games. And even when meaningful games start, there's enough time for injuries to happen, players to return and players to emerge to really know what's going to happen at the end.

And that's the fun of it. We don't know. You never know.

Sure, we can all expect a Red Sox-Phillies World Series, but there's no guarantee that'll happen. But if it does, I guarantee the road there will be completely different than we all imagined. And that's why this game is so great. You just never know, even if you think you know.

FEELING 'HITTERISH': Nationals über-prospect Bryce Harper has been nearly as entertaining off the field as on it, as he coin a new term on Wednesday.

From the Washington Post:

"I feel really confident in myself. There's guys who are going to come after you. I want to hit right now. I'm feeling hitterish. I'm trying to go up there and get some hacks in. I'm not going to be here for a long time. I want to try to go up there and get my hits in."

So, what's the definition of "hitterish" Adam Kilgore asked?

"You wake up in the morning, and you're feeling hitterish, you're going to get a hit that day," Harper said. "That's what it is. If you get a hit every day, you're feeling hitterish, for sure. Wake and rake."

Harper had an RBI single in his only at-bat on Wednesday and is hitting .357 this spring (in 14 at-bats).

BELTRAN BETTER: Carlos Beltran won't play in a Grapefruit League until next week, but he does feel "a lot better" and has not been "shut down." He took batting practice and played catch on Wednesday.

The Mets are looking at Willie Harris and Scott Hairston in right field if Beltran can't go, and are also giving Lucas Duda extra work in right field to prepare him to play there if needed. (New York Daily News)

GARLAND GROUNDED: Dodgers starter Jon Garland is expected to start the season on the disabled list after leaving Wednesday's game with a  strained oblique muscle on his left side. He had an MRI on Wednesday and the team is expected to announce the results today.

The team has already lost starter Vicente Padilla for at least the first month of the season after surgery to repair a nerve below his right elbow.

The injuries mean the once-pitching rich Dodgers are down to four starters, although the team won't need a fifth starter until April 12. John Ely and Tim Redding would likely be candidates if Garland and Padilla are still sidelined. (Los Angeles Times)

GOOD ADVICE: Maybe the Dodgers could get that old guy to take the mound -- the one working with Ted Lilly on Wednesday. That guy was Sandy Koufax.

"He still loves to watch baseball, loves the art of pitching," Lilly told MLB.com. "You know he was great. But he's also smart, he's passionate about pitching, he understands and sees things. Sometimes they are little things.

"I enjoy learning about baseball and talking about it with someone like Sandy Koufax, and I enjoy talking about it with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland. There are always ways to move forward, even if they are small."

ZOOM GROUNDED: Tigers manager Jim Leyland is planning his bullpen to start the season without Joel Zumaya, who has been sidelined with pain in his surgically repaired right elbow this spring.

"I don't think right now, from within camp or by trade, that you can replace a healthy Joel Zumaya -- and I emphasize a healthy  Joel Zumaya," Leyland told MLB.com. "So you have to just keep looking and try to come up with somebody, mostly from within."

The Tigers did go out and spend a lot of money on a set-up man, Joaquin Benoit, so the path leading up to closer Jose Valverde isn't barren. Ryan Perry is expected to handle seventh-inning duties, which he was expected to shoulder with Zumaya.

SALAZAR IMPROVING: Several Braves players said they feared for the worst after minor league manager Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a foul ball on Wednesday. 

"A ball hit that hard, at that short a distance, can certainly kill somebody if it hits them in the right spot," Chipper Jones told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm so glad to hear that he's conscious and breathing on his own."

Salazar was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann and was airlifted to an Orlando hospital. MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures, but did not suffer any brain damage. He was able to interact with family members later Wednesday night.

D-BACKS COACH BREAKS FOOT: While not nearly as serious as Salazar's injury, the timing does take away several light-hearted remarks I could make, but Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams may miss the beginning of the regular season with a broken foot.

Williams took a line drive off the foot while throwing soft toss to his son, Jake, on Monday. He's expected to miss two-to-three weeks. (Arizona Republic)

FIRST AT FIRST: Indians catcher Carlos Santana played his first-ever professional game at first base on Wednesday.

Santana cleanly fielded all nine chances he got at first and also had a double in the Indians' 9-2 loss to the Padres.

The Indians are searching for ways to keep his bat in the lineup and keep the young catcher healthy. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

PILING ON: A New York  storage company is joining in on making jokes about the city's easiest target -- the Mets.

In an ad on the city's subways for Manhattan Mini Storage, it says, "Why leave a city that has six professional sports teams, and also the Mets?" (New York Times)

WHEN HIDEKI MET RICKY: New A's slugger Hideki Matsui has connected with team icon Rickey Henderson, whom Matsui admired growing up in Japan -- and the feeling is mutual. (MLB.com)

HIGH PRAISE: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says 19-year-old left-hander Manny Banuelos is the best pitching prospect he's ever seen.

"I like everything about him," Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com. "The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitchers, he has the ability to do that."

WHITE RETIRES: Former West Virginia and Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White has retired from baseball.

After White was released by the Dolphins last September, White signed a minor-league contract with the Royals and played in the Fall Instructional League. On Wednesday, the team said White did not report to spring training.

The Dolphins drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. He was also drafted by the Angels, Reds and Yankees. (Associated Press)

RISING WATER: It's been raining here in Cincinnati, but check out just how much -- this photo from Reds assistant media relations director Jamie Ramsey gives you a big-picture view of just how high the water is on the banks of the Ohio River.

He adds another picture of flood gates set up around Great American Ball Park. (Better Off Red)


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Posted on: March 9, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:48 am
 

Pepper: Davis finding his way



By Matt Snyder


Chris Davis may finally be ready.

In a straw poll of Rangers management, the Star-Telegram found Davis was easily the most impressive player thus far in camp. He's flashing power, hitting for a high average and playing solid defense. This follows a good season of winter ball, so it could be a harbinger of things to come in Texas.

We know the power he possesses. He hit 17 home runs in 295 at-bats in 2008 and then 21 in 391 in 2009. Of course, the problem is that his OBP deteriorated to a dreadful .284 in 2009 and his contact rate was embarrassing. He struck out 238 times in those two seasons -- which is a strikeout once in less than every three at-bats.

Most everything got worse last season. Davis hit only one home run in 120 at-bats. He struck out 40 times. He hit .192/.279/.571, good for a 54 OPS-plus.

The funny thing is, Davis has always destroyed minor-league pitching (.939 OPS) and is still only 24.

In terms of how the current Rangers roster is constructed, however, Davis may actually be blocked. Assuming Adrian Beltre is healthy and Michael Young doesn't get traded, there really isn't a spot. You've got Mitch Moreland at first base, Beltre at third, Young in the backup DH/1B/3B role and Mike Napoli also a DH who can fill in at first.

Maybe Davis gives the Rangers further incentive to offload Young? That might even mean eating a good portion of his remaining contract, but a powerful Chris Davis makes it easier to justify. That's just speculation, but it's entirely possible.

SOME TOMMY JOHN STATS: In an article about how the Reds are expecting Edinson Volquez to return to form this season, we're given a stat that 96 percent of the pitchers who undergo "Tommy John" surgery return to the same level of competition they were before the procedure. It makes sense. As long as the rehab and throwing programs are done properly, the newly inserted ligament should actually be stronger than the natural one was before the injury. This article notes that prior to injury, the ulnar-collateral ligament has likely been slowly deteriorated over time, so when the surgery happens, it's like a brand new ligament. There's a lot more interesting stuff in there, and it's a highly recommended click-through. (SI.com )

ON THE OTHER HAND:
Also in SI.com , Tom Verducci talked to a "leader in the field of pitching biomechanics," who said that Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg has a problematic delivery. Specifically, the contention is that Strasburg lands his front foot too early in his pitching motion, which puts in undue amount of torque on both his elbow and shoulder. When you considering how hard he throws, that's an excessive amount of pressure on those two body parts. There is also a moment in his delivery, according to the article, where Strasburg's elbow raises higher than his hand -- which switches the order of how the kinetics of a pitching motion are supposed to happen. This, again, puts a ton of pressure on his elbow. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, Nationals fans. I'm just passing along the info.

ONLY IN THE SPRING: Spring is a slow news time. You've got injuries and positional battles, sure, but otherwise it's mostly meaningless at-bats and killing time looking ahead to the regular season. Thus, Chipper Jones garnered some fan fare for bringing back and old-school look a few weeks ago when he pulled the bottoms of his pants up to knee-high. Of course, this only worked for Chipper with low-top shoes and he wasn't comfortable. So he returned to high-tops and, with those, had to bring the pants back down to ankle-length. (Atlanta-Journal Constitution )

ONLY IN THE SPRING, PART II: The Rays had a longest drive contest. Yes, with golf clubs. The four finalists were Johnny Damon, Cesar Ramos, Andy Sonnanstine and B.J. Upton. Who ya got? Go check it out, as there is video. (TampaBay.com )

SAY WHAT? Try to figure out this quote: "I don't ignore them because I've got to answer them. But I ignore them." That comes courtesy of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who is frustrated that the MLB Network questioned his team's outfield defense -- even though he apparently ignores them, or doesn't. Whatever. Any defensive metric you see says the outfield defense for the Cardinals will be pretty atrocious. Matt Holliday is fine in left field, though not spectacular. According to Fangraphs.com's ultimate zone rating, only two center fielders were worse than Colby Rasmus last year, who is certainly better suited for a corner spot. In right, they've got Lance Berkman, who was moved to first base in Houston due to becoming too slow for the outfield. He's 35 and hasn't been completely healthy for a full season 2008. To all this, La Russa would likely give the same response he did to MLB Network, "What do people know about our outfield defense?" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

TALKIN' BASEBALL: Willie, Mickey and the Duke. Those words were immortalized in Talkin' Baseball , a song written in 1981 by Terry Cashman. With the recent passing of the Duke, Cashman looks back on writing the song. (MLB.com )

STILL COOL CARLOS: While one Carlos on the Cubs sparred with a teammate over an error this spring, Carlos Zambrano has been a saint in Cubs camp. Tuesday, a defensive miscue allowed the leadoff man on base, but Zambrano never batted an eye. Of course, he won't say he's a changed man -- even though he said earlier in camp he was "cured" -- "Nah, I'm the same, bro," he told reporters. (Chicago Sun-Times ) Really, it's not just the spring, though. Zambrano has been a different man since re-entering the rotation last August 9. He went 8-0 with 1.41 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 11 starts and hasn't had an issue with teammates or management. The guy we're seeing this spring isn't just being good because it's spring. It's a carry over. Of course, with Zambrano, things could turn at any moment.

MEETING THE CHAMP: The White Sox met with Muhammad Ali and his Athletes for Hope foundation Tuesday. He was given a No. 40 jersey with the "Champ" on back, instead of Ali. (Chicago Tribune )

TAKE A BOTTLE, DRINK IT DOWN, PASS IT AROUND: One of the best pastimes of baseball -- for fans, that is -- is having a frothy cold one at the ballpark. Big League Stew breaks down the top 10 beers available at major-league ballparks. If you prefer a simple domestic macrobrew, well, there's something for you in every stadium.

BRADLEY HEARING WEDNESDAY: There will be a private hearing with Milton Bradley, his wife and the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office to attempt to resolve their differences without taking any charges to criminal court. Bradley was arrested for alleged domestic violence and threats against his wife last month. (Seattle Times )

 

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Posted on: March 5, 2011 6:48 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down for 3/5: McClellan fights for spot

By Matt Snyder

Ah, another day of relatively meaningless spring games. Of course, there are guys fighting for a job -- like our top entry here -- otherwise we need to keep the date in mind. Skills are being honed and the results often aren't important at all, just the work that was done.

3 UP

1. Kyle McClellan, Cardinals. If the Cardinals don't go outside the organization to fill the rotation spot vacated by Adam Wainwright -- and it looks like they won't -- the best option would seem to be McClellan. The 26-year-old right-hander worked three scoreless innings Saturday against the Astros, allowing only two hits and striking out three. Another outing or two like this, and the audition for the job will be closed.

2. Chipper Jones, Braves. The veteran connected for his first home run since August 6 of last season. More importantly, he reported to Saturday being the first day he didn't feel any pain in his surgically repaired knee. Needless to say, this day mattered to Chipper, when normally a March 5 at-bat couldn't be more meaningless.

3. Bryce Harper, Nationals. The teenager got his first RBI of the spring, and it came against his childhood favorite team to boot. He's taking small steps forward seemingly with each game. It doesn't mean he's going to make the team or even play in the bigs this year, but he's gaining confidence at the professional level, which is all that really matters at this point.

3 DOWN

1. CC Sabathia, Yankees. The big man was shelled by the Nationals. His line couldn't have looked more brutal: 2 2/3 innings pitched, six hits, five earned runs, two walks, one strikeout. Of course, it doesn't matter. It's spring training and he's still a horse. Reading anything into it would be folly. In fact, I noticed a tweet today that said something like, "if CC is the one reliable member of the Yankees' rotation, what does that tell you?" My answer: absolutely nothing. It couldn't mean less.

2. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox. He was just as bad as CC, coughing up six hits, seven runs (five earned), two walks and a wild pitch in three frames. You don't wanna draw too many conclusions based upon this, but he's always struggled with command -- or been way too much of a nibbler, depending upon your point of view. So, no worry yet, but he'll need to get things together within the next three weeks.

3. Johnny Damon, Rays. Apparently this was the AL East version, by total accident. Anyway, Damon went hitless, dropping his spring batting average to .182 and also dropped a fly ball in the outfield. Hardly a banner day but, again, hardly a worry at this point. If he does go on to have a disappointing campaign, it will be due to his age -- not a bad spring.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/3: Jones returns to third base

Jones

By Evan Brunell

3 UP

1. 3B Chipper Jones, ATL: 2 AB, 1 R, 1 H. For the first time since tearing his ACL, Chipper Jones played first base in a game Thursday, and things turned out just fine. Jones has made a rapid return from surgery and is trying to get used to playing the field again. He fielded a grounder flawlessly and also caught a popup in his four innings of work.

2. SP Brett Cecil, TOR: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Quite an impressive game for Cecil, even if it is spring training. The youngster is gearing up for his first full season in the majors and is excited to see manager John Farrell allowing him to throw 60 pitches. "The way I see it, [60 pitches] is just a glimpse of the future of how [Farrell] is going to let us pitchers go deeper into the game," Cecil told the AP. Even though we got a little bit of a high pitch count, I'm extremely happy."

3. SP Neftali Feliz, TEX: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not a bad start for Feliz, who is attempting to convert from closing to starting. The AL Rookie of the Year churned out 36 pitches but is still working on feeling out how much effort to expend with each pitch to ensure he can go deep in games. "I need to find my pace so I can go longer," Feliz said via a translator according to the AP. "I don't know how hard to go so that I can go longer."

3 DOWN

1. SP Randy Wolf, MIL: 1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Yuck. Not a pretty start for Wolf, but it's still very early and he's likely still rounding into game shape. He's no longer being looked at to top the rotation with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum along with the ascension of Yovani Gallardo, but the Brew Crew still needs a strong season from the lefty in the quest for the division title.

2. SP Troy Tulowitzki, COL: 2 AB, 0 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 K. Tulowitzki was forced to leave the game after whiffing on an awkward swing to end the fourth inning. He was later diagnosed with a bruised right heel, but any injury -- no matter how slight -- to the Rockies' new multi-millionaire and face of the franchise is nothing to feel good about.

3. RF Elijah Dukes, FAIL: Hit pregnant ex-girlfriend. OK, so it was a bit humorous earlier this offseason when word surfaced that Dukes had "retired" from baseball and was intent on a new career as a rapper named Fly Eli. But will Dukes ever learn? He's fathered multiple children by multiple mothers, has a history of violence and threw away a career in the majors. Has he learned? Nope. Will he ever learn? Doesn't look like it. Unfortunately, it may be time to write Dukes off as a redeeming member of society.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 12:49 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Chipper returning to the field

Chipper JonesPosted by C. Trent Rosecrans

Showing up is half the battle in the first week of March, and Chipper Jones showed up in the Braves' lineup at third base for the first time on Thursday. The Braves host the Tigers today at 1:05 p.m. with Jones playing a game in the field for the first time since he tore his ACL on Aug. 10.

Before coming into the clubhouse on Thursday morning, Jones thought it wouldn't be until tomorrow that he made his debut in the field. However, both manager Fredi Gonzalez and Jones felt he was fine to try his surgically-repaired left knee.

"It was the manager's decision," Jones told MLB.com. "I'm ready. One day isn't going to make any difference. I could come in tomorrow with my knee blown up and be scratched. I feel fine today. I was actually going to talk to [Gonzalez] about doing it today. He made the decision for me." 

Jones didn't play in Wednesday's game, but he has seen action in three games as a designated hitter, with two hits in eight at-bats.

UPDATE: Jones played four innings in the field and had a single and a run in two at-bats.

"It was like riding a bike," Jones told ESPN during the telecast of the game. "It was good to get that first ground ball, maybe not the first popup, where I looked like I'd been out seven months."

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 26, 2011 12:52 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Pepper: No Millwood for Cards?

Posted by Matt Snyder

Kevin Millwood
WAINWRIGHTED: Let's face it, things are kind of (read: really) slow during the early weeks of spring training. We've got beat writers tweeting play-by-play of intersquad scrimmages, people making fun of people overreacting to Tim Lincecum's outing (though, at this point, I'm not sure anyone takes these early outings seriously) and one of the biggest news stories is a free agent for next season.

So when a star starting pitcher goes down injured, the aftermath is sure to linger. To the point that Kevin Millwood is a wanted man.

And rightfully so.

The Cards appear to be dead-set on Kyle McClellan entering the rotation. Manager Tony La Russa looks at him as a "real weapon" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch ) and notes he's paid his dues. Which he kind of has, but the flipside is that, in the process, McClellan has become one of the better set up options in the majors. He posted a sparkling 2.27 ERA last season in 68 appearances. Removing him from the bullpen in favor of the rotation leaves a gaping hole in the late innings.

That is why plugging in a veteran like Millwood -- who Dave Duncan could surely make work -- seems like a logical move. Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz makes a really good case for Millwood. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch )

In other Cardinals' rotation news, it appears Chris Carpenter -- the remaining ace of the former pair of bullets -- could be traded and wouldn't necessarily block a deal. Obviously the Yankees would be in on it, but a nugget from this post is that the Yanks have "told their scouts to bear down on several teams they think could have starters available" before the trade deadline, including the Cards, Braves, A's, Angels and White Sox. (NY Post )

SETTLE DOWN, HE'S FINE: Another effect of the early preseason is the reactions to injuries. Brian Roberts has missed several workouts with neck stiffness. Since there's nothing else going on, it's big news for Orioles camp -- I mean, really, how much could you be following the Felix Pie vs. Nolan Reimold battle for a roster spot? -- but Roberts is actually OK. In fact, he said if it was the regular season he'd be playing. (MLB.com )

THE ON-BASE MACHINE: MLBTradeRumors.com reports that Nick Johnson is working out and expecting a call anyday now, because several teams are "monitoring" the oft-injured 32 year old. He has a career OBP of over .400, so he could help someone's lineup.

FEELIN' CHIPPER: Chipper Jones has been having issues with his surgically repaired knee this spring. He even needed fluid drained after inflammation as recently as Thursday, but Friday was a good day. In fact, he may play in a Grapefruit League game Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

TO-MORROW: Brandon Morrow is as talented as almost any pitcher in the league. We've seen evidence on the diamond, like when he shutout the Rays August 8 with 17 strikeouts and only allowed one hit. Or his 12 strikeouts in six innings against the Yankees. This season, he's looking to achieve "new heights." If he does, watch out, AL East. (Toronto Star )

NOT SATISFIED: With an OPS-plus of 130, Nick Swisher had arguably the best season of his career last season. His .288 batting average and .511 slugging percentage were both career highs for the 30-year-old veteran. Still, it wasn't enough for Swish. He wants more. (NY Daily News )

CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL: Mike Stanton is strong. We know that. He hit 22 home runs last season in 359 at-bats. In 324 minor-league games, he hit 89 bombs. The potential is there for an elite power hitter. And Friday, he put on a "show" in batting practice. (Palm Beach Post )

CHICKS DIG DEFENSE? Designated hitter Jack Cust is most certainly not known for his fielding prowess, having played only 16 games in the field in 2010. But he flashed the leather this week in practice, to the point that teammates were impressed. (MLB.com )

DURBIN SIGNS: As expected, Chad Durbin has signed with the Indians. The Tribe's rotation is far from set, so one would figure he's going to be prominently in the mix. The righty hasn't started a game since 2007 for the Tigers. (Jerry Crasnick via Twitter )

BEATING WITH THE BRAIN: Are the Cubs smarter in 2011? They think so. (Chicago Sun Times )

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