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Category:MLB
Posted on: March 3, 2012 6:19 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 6:29 pm
 

Injury roundup: Wright, Marcum, Gordon and more

By Matt Snyder

Mets third baseman David Wright was scratched from the lineup in an intrasquad game Saturday due to soreness in his left side. Per the Associated Press, he has stiffness near his ribcage, something he felt back on Monday. He has been limited in workouts this week, but it's nothing to worry about just yet.

"If it was a real game, obviously I would be playing," Wright said (Associated Press). "But they wanted to try to take it slow, especially this early in the spring."

The Mets are looking for Wright to play in their Grapefruit League opener Monday night.

Other minor injury news and updates from Saturday:

• Hopefully this doesn't become a daily thing, but we have another Carl Crawford update. The Red Sox left fielder had a setback Friday with swelling in his surgically repaired wrist, but Saturday he reiterated his goal is to be ready for opening day. He's taking anti-inflammatory medication and the swelling has already decreased. (BostonHerald.com)

Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum threw Saturday and reportedly indicated he felt "much better." His shoulder soreness is going away and he's scheduled to pitch his first spring game March 10. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via Twitter)

Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon took a bad hop to the mouth Saturday. He received "several stitches to close a gash on his lip." (MLB.com)

• Remember Kiko Calero? CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports that Calero is "considering Bartolo Colon surgery as he weighs a comeback." Colon had surgery that placed fat and bone marrow stem cells into his elbow and shoulder, helping him get his career back on track with the Yankees last season. Calero, 37, last pitched in 2009 for the Marlins. He had a 1.95 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 60 innings.

Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was one of several starting pitchers to go down with lower back stiffness early on in camp, but he threw from 105 feet Saturday and will back up to 120 feet Sunday. He will then hit the mound either Tuesday or Wednesday, as his back is feeling better. (CSNBayArea.com via Twitter)

• Mets outfielder Scott Hairston was removed from Saturday's intrasquad game with an apparent side injury. Remember, Hairston ended the 2011 season on the disabled list with a strained oblique. (ESPN New York)

• Giants reliever Dan Runzler has left camp and will fly to see Dr. James Andrews for an examination on his left shoulder and lat area. An MRI showed the left-handers' rotator cuff, but surgery hasn't been ruled out. It really doesn't sound good, as even a strained lat muscle would put Runzler out for around six weeks. (CSNBayArea.com)

Padres infielder Logan Forsythe fractured a sesamoid bone in his left foot Saturday and will be out for anywhere from two to eight weeks. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:48 pm
 

Ortiz, Gonzalez experiment could happen again

By Matt Snyder

The experiment lasted a mere 13 innings last season. Adrian Gonzalez made two starts and played 13 innings in right field for the Red Sox during interleague play, in order to get David Ortiz into the lineup at first base -- where he also appeared in just 13 innings.

At the time, both sluggers joked about their defensive "prowess" in the unfamiliar positions.

"I told [second baseman Dustin Pedroia], 'Anything up there [in the air] is yours ... and anything on the ground is yours, too,'" Ortiz said (via Danny Knobler's blog last season). "I just have to make sure I catch the balls they throw to me."

"[Pedroia] is going to have to cover first base and right field," Gonzalez said (Knobler blog).

Fast-forward to this spring, and new manager Bobby Valentine appears serious about getting the two more comfortable. In an exhibition game Saturday night, Ortiz will start at first. Sunday, Gonzalez is scheduled to workout in right.

“Right now, (Ortiz) is conditioned to do it,” Valentine said (BostonHerald.com). “If, in fact, during the interleague play, it’s determined that he should play in the field, I think he should have these reps on his resume so that he feels that he’s done it before this year and that he can do it again. This isn’t just to get his at-bats. This is because I’ve talked with him and Adrian and there might be a situation during the year where he’s going to be a first baseman.”

So it doesn't sound like Valentine is pushing for this to be a full-time situation during interleague play, but it's definitely on the table again.

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Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:47 pm
 

Marlins' Morrison, Petersen star in Internet show

By Matt Snyder

The Miami Marlins enter the 2012 season as the one team in Major League Baseball you cannot ignore for many reasons. And here's yet another one: "The Petey & Lomo Show."

Logan Morrison -- already established as a big-league goofball in addition to being a good, young player -- and his buddy Bryan Petersen give us over four minutes of ... well, something. Some will think it's awful; some will think it's hilarious. Whatever it is, it's purely Miami Marlins -- you can't look away.



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Posted on: March 3, 2012 12:03 pm
 

Darvish shows good stuff against teammates

By Matt Snyder

Taking anything substantive from spring training games is an exercise in futility, for many reasons. Taking anything from practice is even worse. Still, with Yu Darvish's transition to America, little bits and pieces (small sample alert) might be of interest to some.

Friday, Darvish faced All-Star teammates Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre. The results overall were good, but there were some issues. Via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Darvish threw 21 pitches, 11 for strikes and retired three of the four hitters he faced, with the lone exception a walk on five pitches to Hamilton. Darvish also fell behind the first three hitters, and twice was behind 3-0.

Kinsler popped to left field on a 3-2 slider, and Andrus followed and became Darvish's only strikeout of the inning. Hamilton walked on five pitches, and Darvish dominated Beltre, who hit a roller to second base.
The Star Telegram also reports that Darvish's fastball hit 96 while his curve was as slow as 66. The players who hit against him seemed to think his stuff was really good.

"The ball moved tremendously," Hamilton said (Star-Telegram.com). "Overall, he looked great. He looks very confident on the mound, and that will continue to grow the more games we get into."

I'd say overall this is good news for the Rangers. Command is an issue, but it's March 3. That can get better as the season approaches. Stuff is what matters now, and Darvish has it. Of course, let's reiterate it's March 3 and this couldn't have been a smaller sample size.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 3, 2012 11:42 am
 

Alfonso Soriano leading off is a possibility

By Matt Snyder

I thought this ship had sailed a few years ago.

Instead, multiple Chicago papers have stories up Saturday morning about Alfonso Soriano being a possibility to lead off for the Cubs this season on occasion.

I'd be lying if I said only one word came to mind, but one word was most prominent: Why?

You can say the Cubs don't have a bonafide leadoff man, and that's true. But there are many better options than Soriano. In fact, he might be the worst option on the entire club. We're talking about a guy who hit .244 with a .289 on-base percentage last season. He struck out 113 times while walking 27. He had two stolen bases. He only scored 50 runs in 508 plate appearances.

Amazingly, with a putrid OBP, Soriano still managed 88 RBI and a .469 slugging percentage, due to his 27 doubles and 26 homers.

Basically, Soriano's only value is that he gets an extra-base hit every once in a while, which helped him drive home those 88 runs last season. That's not a guy you bat leadoff. Ever.

Fortunately, manager Dale Sveum's comments seem to be of a political nature, as to not dismiss anything.

‘‘During the season, a lot of things can come up to where, yeah, it can happen,’’ said Sveum (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘You really want Soriano just to be in an RBI spot. That’s what you really want.’’

Unfortunately, Soriano batted leadoff in an intrasquad game Friday. So it appears the possibility is realistic.

I can hear the collective groan from Wrigleyville already.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:41 pm
 

Spring primer: Philadelphia Phillies



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 Phillies sported an MLB-best 102-60 regular-season record, but then lost a heartbreaking Game 5 in the NLDS, 1-0, to the eventual World Champion Cardinals. Rubbing salt in the wound was slugger Ryan Howard tearing his Achilles tendon on the final out of Game 5. He's expected to miss around two months. With him missing time, the Phillies aging stars a year older and a much tougher division in 2012, is the window of opportunity for another World Series title starting to close with this nucleus? It's certainly not closed, but it may be headed that way.

Major additions: RHP Jonathan Papelbon, OF/IF Laynce Nix, IF Ty Wigginton, 1B Jim Thome
Major departures: OF Faul Ibanez, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Roy Oswalt, RHP Brad Lidge, OF Ben Francisco

Probable lineup
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Hunter Pence, RF
5. Jim Thome/Ty Wigginton/Laynce Nix, 1B
6. John Mayberry, LF
7. Placido Polanco, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C

Ryan Howard will obviously man 1B and slide in the lineup at cleanup when he's ready to take the field, but it doesn't sound like that's happening until late May, if not later.

Probable rotation
1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
3. Cole Hamels
4. Vance Worley
5. Joe Blanton

Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings if someone goes down.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Set-up: Antonio Bastardo

Important bench players

C Brian Schneider, OF Juan Pierre and whoever isn't starting at 1B (see lineup above)

Prospect to watch
Domonic Brown isn't a prospect anymore and much of the Phillies top prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors, so it's slim pickings here -- as to be expected with an elite, veteran club. I'll go with Phillipe Aumont, a relief pitcher headed for Triple-A. The 23-year-old had a 3.18 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings once he was promoted to Triple-A last season. Control was an issue, as he walked 14 guys, leading to a 1.54 WHIP, but he certainly has the strikeout capability to contribute to the bullpen later in the season if he gets things figured out. Considering the Phillies are counting on the likes of Jose Contreras, Chad Qualls and Dontrelle Willis in the bullpen, the chances an injury or underperformance open up a spot in the 'pen after a few months are pretty good.

Fantasy bust: Hunter Pence
"Before you hop aboard the hype train and ride it all the way to crazy town, you might want to remind yourself that theonly aspect of his game that changed for the better last year was his batting average. He didn't gain any power. He didn't walk more or strike out less. He didn't fundamentally change as a player. He simply got better results, putting together a .361 BABIP instead of his usual .305 or so. It wouldn't be the first time. He had a .377 BABIP as a rookie in 2007, when he hit .322. But the peripherals suggested it was too good to be true then, and they do now as well. Pence is an asset in Fantasy because of his job security and 20-homer power, but he's a .280 hitter who can't take a walk." - Scott White [Full Phillies fantasy team preview]

Fantasy sleeper: John Mayberry
"General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made the comparison. Manager Charlie Manuel has made the comparison. It's Mayberry's identity now: the next Jayson Werth. For the Fantasy owners who have played long enough to remember when Werth rose from obscurity to put together a 20-20 season in 2008, that's cause for celebration. But is it a reasonable expectation? Hey, Mayberry is more of a certainty now than Werth was then, having hit 15 homers in 267 at-bats last year. Like Werth, he's a former first-round pick who, like Werth, didn't begin to meet his potential until his late 20s. And like Werth, he happens to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage." - Scott White [Full Phillies fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
World Series champs. By now, anything less is a disappointment for a group with so much talent and postseason experience.

Pessimistic outlook
The offense badly struggles without Howard -- who falls behind in his rehab and misses three months -- with age declines limiting production from the likes of Utley, Rollins and Polanco. Worley comes back to Earth after his insane 2011 season and Blanton continues to struggle with injuries. Even with all that, the Phillies would still be good enough to be a playoff contender, even in the mighty NL East, due to the new two-wild-card playoff format. It's hard to envision enough things going wrong to have them finish below the Braves, Marlins and Nationals. Maybe two of the three -- in a worst-case scenario -- but not all three.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 8:20 pm
 

Injury roundup: Lee, Freeman, Crawford and more

By Matt Snyder

As happens every single spring, the minor little injuries are starting to pop up all over the place. It's bound to happen when guys first start hitting the field after a long offseason, especially with older players like 35-year-old Carlos Lee.

Lee, the Astros' first baseman, has already been scratched from Saturday's lineup due to a mild right hamstring strain. (Ultimate Astros)

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman had his kneecap briefly dislocated earlier this week, but he had an encouraging jog Friday.

"I feel great," Freeman said (MLB.com). "Hopefully, they will let me start hitting [in batting practice] again tomorrow or Sunday."

Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford is aiming for an opening day return from his offseason wrist surgery -- which he had in the middle of January -- but he had a small setback Friday. There was some inflammation in his wrist and he didn't end up taking any swings.

"I'm always concerned when there's a setback. I don't know how bad it is. But according to the doctor it doesn't look that bad," Crawford said (Boston.com). "I was feeling real good, too. I wasn't expecting this."

• Sticking with the Red Sox, closer Andrew Bailey has been limited with a lat strain, but he's "inching closer" to pitching in a spring game, after a 20-pitch bullpen session Thursday. (BostonHerald.com)

Mark Trumbo of the Angels is making progress in his recovery from a stress fracture in his right foot, to the point that he's been able to get into "more intense" workouts at third base -- where he's attempting to transition.

"We haven't been able to find out [how well he can play third], because he looks fine in some of the baby steps, but his hurdle is going to come when the game comes to full speed, [when the] ball off the bat becomes full speed," manager Mike Scioscia said (MLB.com). "We haven't been able to get close to that because of trying to fit in his rehab. He's done as much as he can, outside of the things that we're going to need him to do to evaluate him. Although those things are encouraging, the test for him is going to be much deeper as he moves on to see if he's going to be a Major League third baseman."

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley isn't necessarily injured, but after the past few seasons, the Phillies are bringing him along slowly this spring to make sure he's fine come opening day.

"It might be a little while before I play him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said (Philly.com). "I want him to keep doing his regular workouts. Right now, I'm in no hurry to play him as long as we can have him ready when the season starts. We just want him to feel good about where he's at with his practice and hitting."

• The Rays have several smallish updates. Evan Longoria will return to likely action Monday from his bruised hand. Phenom pitcher Matt Moore doesn't have lower abdominal discomfort any longer. Designated hitter Luke Scott and outfielder Sam Fuld will be delayed before appearing in any spring games. Scott had shoulder surgery last season, so it's just the club taking it slow. Fuld is in a similar situation of patience, as he had an injury in the tendon of his right wrist late last season. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:51 pm
 

Video: Fish now in aquariums in Marlins new park

By Matt Snyder

One of the many unique features in the new Miami Marlins ballpark are the aquariums behind home plate. And it's now a live tank, because the fish are in there, swimming around. Here's the footage shot from a fan in a private tour Feb. 29, via YouTube:



The aquariums are made of fiberglass with clear acrylic panels over an inch thick and are said to be unbreakable. About a month ago, first baseman Gaby Sanchez wanted to "test" the aquariums by throwing a baseball against them. The Marlins let him.

“We had Gaby Sanchez here and he threw a ball as hard as he could against the tank and it didn’t even make a mark and nothing moved inside the tank," said club president David Samson (Fish Tank blog). "We have an extra layer of glass in front of the glass that’s in front of the fish."

Hat-tip: Hardball Talk

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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