Thursday, March 4, 2010

Huff Debuts in Style with Giants; Hughes' 4 RBI Lead O's

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 3, 2010 American League Rhyne Hughes blasted a pair of two-run homers as the Baltimore Orioles cranked six balls out of the park in the first Spring Training game, a 12-2 win over Tampa Bay. Hughes, a rookie looking to catch on with the O's at first base, got a little revenge over his former team. He spent 2008 and 2009 in the Rays' organization, but only got into 2 games and was 0-for-3 at the plate with Tampa Bay. National League Conor Gillaspie’s bases-loaded single to left drove in the winning run in the 10th as the Giants overcame a rough outing by Tim Lincecum to drop Seattle, 8-7. Aubrey Huff, who will probably be somewhere in the Giants' starting lineup when the regular season opens, smacked a home run and drove in two. Huff, a ten-year veteran with Tampa Bay and Baltimore, will try to make a go of it in the National League with the Giants. MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox As usual, the Red Sox will be geared up to beat the Yankees and capture the AL East title after finishing in second with the wild card last season. But, like last season, it's a tall order. The Yanks are loaded again and Boston is in the midst of major changes. The Sox let Jason Bay go to the Mets, after he did a swell job replacing Manny Ramirez, but Boston didn't seek out another power hitter, which could make David Ortiz a little less ferocious in his usual cleanup or #3 slot in the batting order. Instead, the Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre to take over at third base and Mike Cameron to patrol center field, shifting Jacoby Ellsbury over to left, though still in the leadoff spot. John Lackey joins a solid rotation. Boston signed him as a free agent from the Angels, and he's a good fit for Fenway. A power pitcher who seldom makes major mistakes, Lackey will give the Red Sox plenty of innings. With Josh Beckett and Jon Lester ahead of him in the rotation, he'll be in good company. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz will likely take the #4 and 5 slots. The Red Sox will not be as explosive offensively as they've been in the past and the bottom of the lineup - Beltre, Cameron and shortstop Marco Scutaro - may turn out to be their Achille's heel. Of course, they do have one of the best closers in the league, Jonathan Papelbon, who will probably see more save opportunities than he did last year. Overall, the prospects for the 2010 Red Sox are not that great. They've put together a National league-style team, relying on pitching and defense, in one of the most offensive-minded divisions in baseball. But they do have plenty of experience in players like Kevin Youkilis, Victor Martinez and Dustin Pedroia to rely on through the long season. Vegas has Boston at 5-1 or 6-1 to win the World Series, though that seems a bit short for a team without major power strokers. Red Sox nation may be longing for the days of Ramirez and Ortiz before the all-star break. Boston will be lucky to grab the wild card as Baltimore will be improved and Tampa Bay could bounce back to challenge the Yankees. A finish at third or even fourth place in the division is a possibility.

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