Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cody Ross Bolsters Boston Attack; Albert Pujols, Torii Hunter Lead Angels

Players of the Day for Friday, March 30, 2012

Grapefruit League

Cody Ross
Boston's off-season acquisition of outfielder Cody Ross is looking like one of the shrewder moves moves of the winter, as the lefty hitter has displayed nice power to all fields and should have a fun time in tiny Fenway once the regular season begins.

Ross cracked a pair of two-run homers - his fifth and sixth of the spring - and drove in four runs to help the Red Sox overcome the Twins, 9-7, on Friday, improving to 13-11 as exhibition baseball winds down.

If Ross can carry his spring training form into the regular season - he's batting .366 and has driven in 15 runs - the Red Sox should have one of the more formidable offenses in the AL.

Albert Pujols
Cactus League

The Angels are starting to look like the offensive juggernaut they envisioned when they signed Albert Pujols this past winter.

Torii Hunter
Pujols went 2-for-3 and socked his fifth home run to help the Angels overcome Arizona, 9-2, improving their exhibition record to 17-10, good for second place in the Cactus League behind the Oakland A's.

Torii Hunter continued his torrid spring with a double and two singles in three at-bats. Hunter is batting .347 and looks forward to his fifth year with the Angels after an illustrious career as the center fielder for the Minnesota Twins.

The Angles open the regular season with a three-game home stand against Kansas City, beginning on April 6.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Albert Pujols, Eric Hosmer Star in 11-8 Shoot-out; Brian Dinkelman Lead Twins over Pirates

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 29, 2012

Grapefruit League

Because of last season's injuries to stars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer, a last-place finish in the AL Central and off-season trades - particularly that of Michael Cuddyer, which sent the OF/DH to Colorado - the general perception around the Minnesota clubhouse is that there is open competition for a lot of positions.

Brian Dinkelman
That's why any number of minor leaguers are getting extended looks, like utility infielder-outfielder Brian Dinkelman, who spent most of last season in AAA Rochester (NY), but batted a respectable .301 with the big club in a 23-game look-see.

Coaches got an eyeful in Minnesota's 11-4 rout of the Pirates, as Dinkelman was stationed in left field and went 3-for-4 at the plate, with a pair of singles and his first homer of the spring. Dinkelman drove in four runs and scored twice as the Twins pounded five Pittsburgh hurlers for 15 hits.

Even with all the moving parts, Minnesota is having a pretty good exhibition season. They are 16-12 in Grapefruit League play and are 11-4 on the road.

Albert Pujols
Cactus League

In Thursday's slug-fest special, the LA Angels and Kansas City Royals combined for 32 hits, including 14 extra base hits, of which six cleared the fences and the bases.

Eric Hosmer
At the end of it all, the Angels, which had 20 of the base knocks, came out on top, 11-8, with Albert Pujols going 4-for-4, with a double, three singles, four RBI and a run scored. The three-time NL MVP is batting .388 with four home runs and 14 RBI this spring, after signing onto a monster deal with LA in the off-season.

For the Royals, Eric Hosmer continues to impress. The second-year pro socked his fifth homer of the spring, along with a single and double in a 3-for-4 effort with three RBI and a pair of runs.

Hosmer is having an all-star kind of exhibition season, batting .418 with five long balls and 23 RBI. As a rookie with the Royals in 2011, Hosmer belted 19 home runs and drove in 78 runs while batting a solid .293 in 128 games.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Oakland Comes Back, Tops Mariners on Yoenis Cespedes HR, Bartolo Colon's 8 Strong

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 29, 2012

American League
Yoenis Cespedes

Oakland center fielder Yoenis Cespedes cracked a long home run to left center field in the bottom of the seventh inning to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-0 advantage, leading the A's to their first win of 2012, a 4-1 victory over Seattle.

Bartolo Colon
Seattle had taken the lead in the top of the inning on Justin Smoak's solo home run off A's starter Bartolo Colon. After Josh Reddick's solo shot following Cespedes' blast put the A's up 3-1, Colon returned for the 8th inning, setting down the A's in order to complete a stellar first performance as an Athletic, allowing just three hits and one earned run over eight full innings. Colon, traded to the Mariners from the Yankees in the off-season, struck out six and walked one.

Jonny Gomes socked a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth to complete the scoring before Grant Balfour came on to pitch a perfect 1-2-3 inning to earn the save.

Cespedes, a rookie, had his first major league homer in just his sixth at-bat. He finished the day 1-for-3 with two RBI.

The game was the second in an MLB opening series played in Tokyo, Japan. Seattle won the opener, 3-1, on Wednesday. The two squads will return to the states and back to their spring training facilities in preparation of the American opening day, which begins next week.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Backyard Inspiration

Thanks for the article from Rubin Osborne

With spring in the air, my husband and I have big plans for focusing all our energy on the great outdoors. We have been watching TVByDirect on Saturday mornings and their programming is so inspiring! We had been trying to decide what we could do to our backyard that is a challenging shape. It is long and narrow and is nothing but grass. We saw a beautiful backyard re-do that would work perfect for us. Instead of having all the grass that no one uses we decided to turn the entire narrow space into one large garden area divided into three sections. One right end is flowers and shrubs with meandering paths of pebbles and stepping stones. The middle is a relaxing fire pit and swing with perfectly placed landscape lighting. The furthest end with the most sun is getting a small pool and patio for us to enjoy for many months in the South’s hottest months of the year. We begin breaking ground next week to create just the right nooks and crannies and we will install a sprinkler system for all those gorgeous flowers. Who knew one show could inspire such a remarkable makeover. It’s going to be quiet an adventure!

Mariners Win Opener (in Tokyo) on Dustin Ackley's Single in 11th

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 28, 2012

American League

Dustin Ackley
The regular season opened for the Mariners and the A's, as the two battled into the 11th inning in Tokyo, Japan, with the Mariners coming out on top of a 3-1 score.

Somehow, it just doesn't seem right that the MLB season opener should occur outside the US, but name something that isn't wrong with this country these days.

In any case, the game counts and the Mariners are 1-0 and in first place in the AL West, the 0-1 A's in the basement.

Dustin Ackley singled home Brendan Ryan with the go-ahead run, then promptly stole second and scored on Ichiro Suzuki's single, his fourth hit in five at-bats.

Ackley, the Mariners' second baseman who hit .273 in 90 games last season with Seattle, also blasted a solo homer in the fourth of A's starter Brandon McCarthy, but the A's evened the score in the bottom of the inning with a run off Mariner ace, Felix Hernandez.

Brandon League allowed a hit, but struck out two in the bottom of the 11th, earning the first save of the season.

There were no National League games. Most teams are still in Arizona or Florida, rounding out their spring training schedules.

The A's and M's go at it again tomorrow in Tokyo. Game time is 5:10 am EDT.

The National League opener is still a week off, when the Marlins host the Cardinals on Wednesday, April 4, at 7:00 pm EDT. Regular season gets under way over the next few days after that with seven games on Thursday, nine more on Friday and a full slate of 15 games on Saturday, April 7.

Freddie Freeman Knocks Out a Pair as Atlanta Downs Mets; Brent Morel Leads White Sox Past Indians

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grapefruit League

The Atlanta Braves haven't had the best of springs, going 8-14 in the Grapefruit League before winning a 7-5 game over the Mets, a squad that has had an even worse exhibition season, at 6-15, after the loss.

Freddie Freeman
Atlanta's pitching staff is young, and should make strides as the regular season progresses, but their lineup has some significant bats sprinkled about it, including rising star Freddie Freeman, who poked a pair of long balls in the win over the Mets - a two-run job and a solo shot - in two at-bats. Freeman was issued free passes in his other two plate appearances, and he scored three runs and drove in three for the game.

Showing signs of future stardom in his first full season, Freeman batted .282 with 22 home runs and 76 RBI and is expected to be the Braves' middle-of-the-lineup power hitter for years to come, a quality find for Atlanta, especially since Chipper Jones has announced that 2012 will be his final season.

Cactus League

Brent Morel
White Sox third baseman Brent Morel socked a two-run, sixth-inning home run and singled and scored in three at-bats as the Sox topped the Cleveland Indians, 7-1, at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

The homer was Morel's first of the exhibition season, an encouraging sign for the second-year pro who figures to be Chicago's regular at the hot corner. In 2011, Morel cracked 10 homers and drove in 41 runs. His .245 batting average was a bit of a disappointment, but Morel is likely to become more of a contact hitter than a power specialist, so the upcoming regular season should be a proving ground as the White Sox intend to contend in the AL Central.

Batting .326 this spring, Morel is showing signs of becoming a fixture at third base for the White Sox for years to come.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Scott Feldman, Michael Young Lead Rangers past Reds; Jon Lester Tosses Seven Scoreless for Red Sox

Players of the Day for Monday, March 26, 2012

Grapefruit League

Lester: 7IP 2H 10K
The Boston Red Sox got their Grapefruit League record above the .500 mark (11-10) with a 6-0 blanking of the Phillies, though most around the clubhouse were probably more impressed with the work of starter Jon Lester, who, at 2-1, with a 3.50 ERA appears to be about as ready for the regular season as any pitcher in either league.

Lester breezed through seven innings of scoreless ball, displaying pinpoint control as he allowed just two hits while fanning 10 without walking a batter.

Pivotal to Boston's chances of winning the AL East and beyond, Lester's performance in the regular season - and especially against long-time rival New York - will have great bearing on the Red Sox season. In 2011, Lester went 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA, capping six straight seasons without a losing record. Lester's career record is a remarkable 76-34, among the best winning percentages of any major leaguer.

Cactus League

Despite playing this spring in Arizona, a climate very similar to their home games in Arlington, Texas, the reigning AL champion Texas Rangers aren't looking very much like world beaters as they won for just the sixth time against 16 losses, defeating Cincinnati, 12-2, at the Rangers' spring home in Surprise, AZ.

Scott Feldman
Springtime victories are hardly the concern, however, as players hone their skills for the regular season that is now just a week away, and the Rangers have a number of bright spots heading down the Cactus League stretch.

Young: .441 BA
Starting pitcher Scott Feldman shut out the Reds on three hits over six innings, nabbing his first W of the exhibition season, striking out nine Reds' batters and walking none. Feldman threw 54 of 79 pitches for strikes. Feldman started just two games for the Rangers in 2011, but appears to have regained the stuff that made him a rising star when he went 17-8 in 2009.

Michael Young, one of the most consistent hitters of the past decade, rapped out three singles in three at-bats and scored three times. Young is having a solid spring, batting .441. Young hit .338 in 2011, third best in the AL, his best showing since winning the AL batting title with a .331 average in 2005.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Roger Bernadina, Stephen Strasburg Down Mets, 12-0; Brewers' Scooter Gennett Hits for Cycle

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grapefruit League

Stephen Strasburg
Fives were wild for Washington phenom Stephen Stasburg, as the Nationals shut out the Mets, 12-0, in exhibition action in Melbourne, Florida.
Roger Bernadina

Strasburg worked five scoreless innings, allowed five hits, but struck out five batters, for his first win after racking up three spring losses with sub-par performances.

The win will serve as an emotional boost for the 23-year-old Strasburg, who will be back in the Washington rotation after missing most of last season due to injury. The righty fire-baller went 1-1 in 2011 in five late-season starts with the Nats after going 5-3 in 12 starts as a rookie in 2010.

While Strasburg and three other Washington hurlers were keeping the Mets off the scoreboard, Nationals' hitters banged out 17 hits, including a 3-for-3 effort from center fielder Roger Bernadina, who singled twice, cracked his first homer of the spring and drove in four runs.

The victory snapped an 11-game losing streak for the Nationals, who are 6-13 in Grapefruit League play.

Cactus League

Minor league prospect Scooter Gennett hit for the cycle as Milwaukee downed Kansas City, 7-3, in Surprise, Arizona, Sunday.

Gennett, a second baseman who will likely start the season with the Brewers' AA affiliate, Huntsville, in the Southern League, capped his feat with a two-run homer in the 8th inning, sealing the win for the Brew Crew.

Gennett got the toughest of the cycle hits, a triple, in the first inning, doubled in the second and singled in the sixth, going 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs. Gennett, who is not on the Brewers' major league roster, has a .500 batting average (5-for-10) this spring.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Aroldis Chapman Goes Five Scoreless for Reds; Justin Morneau, Luke Hughes Power Twins in 19-4 Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grapefruit League

Justin Morneau
Due to a variety of injuries, concussion symptoms and operations, Minnesota's Justin Morneau, the AL MVP in 2006, played in just 81 games in 2010 and 69 in 2011. In Saturday's 19-4 wipeout of Tampa Bay, Morneau had his all-star swing working as he belted a two-run and a three-run homer in his two at-bats, his first two wall-clearing shots of the spring.

Luke Hughes
Morneau, who normally hasn't produced much in terms of hitting or positive outlook in his previous spring seasons, is still batting just .154, but the power stroke seems to be coming back.

Luke Hughes, a utility infielder who played sparingly for the Twins in 2011, is looking more like a keeper for the major league club after going 5-for-5 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI.

Primarily a second baseman, Hughes played both second and short in Saturday's breezy win.

Minnesota banged out 18 hits - 10 for extra bases - against the Rays, pounding starter Jeremy Hellickson for 11 hits and 10 earned runs in three innings.

Cactus League

Aroldis Chapman
Cincinnati is hoping to fit flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman into their starting 2012 rotation and after Saturday's 6-0 whitewash of the Padres, that plan appears to be on track.

Chapman started and pitched five innings of shutout ball, allowing four hits while fanning five with a walk. His pitches were clocked in the mid-to-upper 90s, offering San Diego hitters little chance at the plate.

In 54 appearances last season with the Reds, Chapman went 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA and 71 strikeouts. Control has been a concern for the hard-throwing lefty, whose pitches have been occasionally clocked at over 100 MPH since he exploded onto the scene with the Reds in 2010. Last year he issued 41 walks in 50 innings, but through four appearances this spring, he's issued only two free passes in 12 innings.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Matt Kemp Looks Ready for Regular Season; Quintin Berry Leads Tigers with Grand Slam

Players of the Day for Friday, March 23, 2012

Grapefruit League

Down 2-1 to Pittsburgh entering the ninth inning, the rampaging Detroit Tigers were in jeopardy of losing their fourth exhibition game.

Quintin Berry
For the power-stroking Tigers, no problem. Fleet outfielder Quintin Berry, a speedster who was acquired by the Tigers from the Reds in the off-season, showed off a little power of his own with a grand slam that capped a six-run ninth and led to the 7-2 win.

Berry, who has toiled through six seasons in the minors under various organizations, isn't likely to make the Tigers' opening-day roster, even though he's having an excellent spring, batting .391 with seven RBI, a couple of steals, and now, a game winning grand slam. In Friday's game he singled and stole a base before his final inning blast, going 2-for-2.

With the win, the Tigers remain in the hunt for the Grapefruit League title. Though they have the best winning percentage (.8240 with a 14-3 record, they trail the 17-4 Blue Jays by one game. Toronto has won five straight and the 12-6 Cardinals, winners of six straight, have snuck into third place, 3 1/2 behind Toronto.

Cactus League

Matt Kemp
Last year, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp had the kind of season most players only dream about, flirting with a triple crown while leading the NL with 39 homers and 126 RBI. His .324 batting average was good for third in the league, but short of the triple crown, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since Carl Yasztremski did it for Boston in 1967.

From the looks of Kemp in spring training, the Dodger outfielder is ready for another assault on the record books. He's batting .333 with two homers and nine RBI in 39 at-bats, reasonable warm-up stats.

In Friday's 17-4 rout of the White Sox, Kemp went 3-for-4, with a single, double, home run, four RBI and two runs, gearing up for the start of the regular season, which, for the Dodgers, starts on April 5th, with a four-game stint at San Diego.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Jaime Garcia Fans Nine in Cards' 9-0 Win; Dunn Smashes Two HR, Drives in Six for Sox

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grapefruit League

Garcia: 5IP 3H 0ER 9K
The St. Louis Cardinals won't miss Albert Pujols' bat much if their pitching staff delivers on its enormous upside. With Adam Wainwright returning from a season missed due to injury and Chris Carpenter being his usual dominating self, the Cards have one of the best one-two pitching punches in the league.

Add in Jaime Garcia, who allowed just three hits over five innings and fanned nine in St. Louis' 9-0 win over the Nationals, and the Cardinals could be looking at a serious number of series sweeps during the regular season.

Garcia picked up his first win of the spring with the solid outing in which he allowed no runs and issued no bases on balls. Last year, when Wainwright went down before the season opener, Garcia filled the void admirably, going 13-7 with a 3.56 ERA and was a huge aid to St. Louis' late season run to the NL wild card and eventually the World Series, though he was 0-2 in the post-season.

Cactus League

Dunn: 2HR, 6RBI
Unfortunately for KC starter Bruce Chen - and possibly a whole bunch of other AL hurlers - Adam Dunn seems to have rediscovered the home run stroke that was sorely missing last year, his first with the White Sox.

Dunn knocked two out of the yard against Chen in a 16-4 clobbering of the Royals. The free-swinging lefty smashed a two run bomb and a grand slam for a six RBI day at the plate.

The homers were Dunn's third and fourth of the exhibition season. Through 11 games, that's one more than he hit in 21 2011 spring games. His RBI total of 12 has also surpassed last spring's total of seven. Dunn is batting .333, compared to .224 last spring and while he fanned 27 times last spring, he's only struck out once this year, all good signs pointing to a potential rebound from his disastrous 2011 campaign.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tim Stauffer Tosses Six Scoreless for Padres; Luke Hughes Helps Twins Down Tigers

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grapefruit League

Things seem to be heating up in Florida's Grapefruit League. A casual observer might even believe that some teams are a little annoyed that the Detroit Tigers have traveled around the state beating the heck out of the other squads with an air of smug contentment.

Luke Hughes
That may or may not be the case, but the Minnesota Twins gave Detroit a bit of their own medicine with a 7-3 win Wednesday, knocking around their first two pitchers for seven runs in the first five innings.

Luke Hughes, a AAA Rochester farmhand who played 96 games - mostly at second base - for the Twins in 2011, singled, socked a home run, stole a base, drove in three runs and scored twice in three at-bats to pace the Minnesota batters.

Hughes has toiled in the minors since 2003 and will probably be delegated back to the triple-A Red Wings once the regular season begins, unless Alexi Casilla, the regular second baseman, gets injured again, as in 2011.

The win pushed Minnesota's record to 12-8, though they still trail the 13-4 Tigers in the standings by three games. St. Louis and Toronto are also in the hunt for Grapefruit glory.

Cactus League

Tim Stauffer
The Padres took it to the Dodgers, 3-0, in Cactus League action as Tim Stauffer had a very solid outing for San Diego, a team that was out of the pennant picture as early as June last season.

If the Padres intend to compete in the NL West, they'll need a good season of work out of Stauffer and their other starters in the pitching-rich division.

Stauffer worked the first six innings of the game, allowing just three hits and no runs while fanning two batters. He demonstrated great control in not allowing a single walk, getting his first win of the spring.

Stauffer started 31 games for San Diego in 2011, compiling a 9-12 record with a 3.73 ERA. His most recent stint was easily his best showing of the exhibition season.

The Padres are a respectable 11-8 in Cactus League play.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Delmon Young Continues Hot Pace; Carlos Peguero's 4 RBI Power Mariners

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grapefruit League

Delmon Young
Justin Verlander, winner of the American League Cy Young and MVP awards last season, struggled though five innings of work, giving up a pair of runs on five hits and two walks, striking out four, but still earned his first win of spring in Detroit's 7-2 victory over 5-13 Atlanta.

The win kept red-hot Detroit in first place on the Grapefruit circuit at 13-2. The Tigers scored in the first, second, third and fifth innings, knocking around Atlanta starter Jair Jurrgens for all seven runs, six of them earned.

Ryan Raburn socked his sixth home run of the exhibition season, a two-run shot, and Delmon Young continued hitting at a blistering pace, going 2-for-3 with a home run (his 4th) and three RBI.

Young is having the Springtime of his dreams, batting .485 (16-for-33), with four doubles, four homers and an astounding 18 RBI.

Cactus League

Carlos Peguero
If Carlos Peguero stays healthy this season, he could help the Seattle Mariners stay competitive in the rugged AL West. For the present, Peguero is having the kind of spring the Mariners expected from him.

In Seattle's 8-1 win over the Reds, Peguero went 2-for-5 with four RBI, smashing his fourth homer which helped Kevin Millwood pick up his second win.

Peguero played in 46 games early last season with Seattle but a strained right calf kept him sidelined the rest of the way.

Seattle is 12-7 in Cactus League play, good for fourth place.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carlos Beltran Homers for Cardinals; Chris Sale Throws Six Scoreless for White Sox

Players of the Day for Monday, March 19, 2012

Grapefruit League
Carlos Beltran

When Albert Pujols took the free agency route out of St. Louis after winning the Wold Series last year, the Cardinals knew they needed to try to fill the offensive void created by acquiring another strong hitter, so they picked up Carlos Beltran the oft-injured slugger from the Mets.

In Monday's 4-3 win over Atlanta, the Cardinals' new right fielder belted a solo home run and singled in three at-bats, giving St. Louis fans some hope that there was life after Albert Pujols.

Even though it was Beltran's first homer and first RBI of the season, the Cardinals understood what they got when they signed Beltran: a career .283 hitter with 302 home runs and 1186 RBI in 12 major league seasons.

Cactus League

Sale: 6 IP 0 ER 6 K
Despite losing a 1-0 decision to the Cincinnati Reds, White Sox fans and management have to be encouraged with the performance of one of their bright young hurlers. Chris Sale worked the first six innings of the game, allowing just two hits, striking out six without walking a batter. Zack Cozart was the only Red to reach base off Sale, with a single and a double. Otherwise, Sale was dominant, retiring the final eight batters he faced.

Sale worked as a reliever in his first two seasons with the Sox, appearing in 21 games and posting a 2-1 record with saves and a 1.93 ERA in 2010. Last season, he appeared in 58 games, threw 71 innings and cashed in on 8 of 10 save opportunities.

Moving from the bullpen into the starting rotation, Sale will have to continue improving and going deep into games if the White Sox plan to be competitive in the AL Central, which looks like it may be a matter of chasing the Tigers in 2012.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Brandon Moss Powers A's over Arizona; Francisco Liriano Sharp for Twins

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 18, 2012

Grapefruit League

Liriano: 5 IP 0 H 6 K
Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano had an effective tune-up in the Twins' 10-0 blanking of Pittsburgh in Sunday's South Florida exhibition action.

Liriano, who posted a disappointing 9-10 mark last season, was razor-sharp in five innings of work, fanning six Pirate batters and walking one without surrendering a hit. It was Liriano's fourth appearance of the spring and the longest for the left=hander. Through 13 innings, Liriano has struck out 18 batters and is carrying an ERA of 2.77.

The Twins improved to 10-8 in Grapefruit League play.

Moss: 3-3, HR 4 RBI
Cactus League

The Oakland A's were a model of efficiency in their 11-2 victory over the Diamondbacks Sunday, cashing all 11 runs on 11 hits, stranding just six base-runners.

Outfield prospect Brandon Moss went 3-for-3 with a pair of singles and a home run. The lefty slugger, whose longest major league stint was 133 games with the Pirates in 2009, drove in four runs and is batting a brisk .526 this spring with 10 hits in 19 at-bats.

The A's won their 8th road game and lead the Cactus League with a 13-4 record.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jake Peavy Goes 5 Hitless for White Sox; Delmon Young Powers Tigers over Cardinals

Players of the Day for Saturday, March 17, 2012

Grapefruit League

Young: 2B HR 4 RBI
The Detroit Tigers may want to consider moving to Lakeland, Florida, their off-season home, on a more permanent basis. Following Saturday's 10-3 pounding of St. Louis, the Tigers are 10-1 in exhibition play.

Outfielder Delmon Young belted a home run - his first of the year - and a double, driving in four runs for Detroit and raising his spring batting average to a robust .519. Prince Fielder went 3 for 3 with a pair of singles and a triple. Ryan Raburn hit his fifth homer of the spring. The Tigers scored all of their runs in the 4th through 7th innings.

Young, a right-handed slugger with ample power, came to the Tigers mid-season via Minnesota. He began his career with the Rays and spent two years with Tampa before heading to Minnesota in 2008. In 40 games with Detroit last season, Young socked eight homers and drove in 32 runs. A .288 career hitter, Young will likely platoon in the outfield or as a DH in Detroit's power-laden lineup.

Cactus League

Peavy: 5 IP 0 H 5 K
White Sox starter Jake Peavy had it going on from the mound in Chicago's 5-0 blanking of Seattle.

The right-handed hurler tossed five innings of hitless ball at the Mariners, whiffing five with one walk, to earn his first win of the spring after a couple rough outings in which he allowed 12 hits and nine earned runs over 4 1/3 innings.

Peavy, the national League 2007 Cy Young Award winner, spent seven seasons in San Diego before arriving with the White Sox on a mid-season trade in 2009. suffering from injuries the last two seasons, Peavy went 14-13 with the Sox in 2010 and 2011, though the team hopes he can regain his previous form this year.

In 2007, Peavy led the NL in wins (19), ERA (2.54) and strikeouts (240).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ricky Romero, Felix Hernandez on Schedule for Jays, Mariners

Players of the Day for Friday, March 16, 2012

Grapefruit League

Ricky Romero
Things are looking up for Ricky Romero and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Romero blanked Tampa Bay over the first four innings of Toronto's 5-0 whitewash of Rays, walking two batters while fanning four without surrendering a hit.

It was Romero's thrid start of Spring and his first win. Over three starts and nine full innings, Romero has given up just two hits and two walks, striking out 8 and keeping opposing hitters to a minuscule .071 batting average.

The Blue Jays have won 12 of 14 Grapefruit League games, and are the best team in the Florida league behind 10-1 Detroit.

Romero is getting set for his fourth season with the Blue Jays, having compiled an enviable 42-29 record with a 3.60 ERA in his first three seasons.

Cactus League
Felix Hernandez

Seattle's Felix Hernandez put in his longest mound stint of the Spring, working six scoreless innings in the Mariners' 6-1 win over Milwaukee, in which the Brewers mustered only two hits.

Hernandez allowed just one of those hits, while striking out six Milwaukee batters and walking one. It was his third start, and his second win against one loss.

The 2009 Cy Young award winner, when he was 19-5 with a 2.43 ERA, Hernandez suffered through 2011 with a pedestrian 14-14 record, a 3.47 ERA, though he did manage to finish 4th in the league in strikeouts with 222.

Hernandez has a career record of 85-67 in seven seasons, all with Seattle.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jemile Weeks, Cliff Pennington Lead A's; Garrett Jones, Alex Presley Part of 19-Hit Pirate Attack

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 15, 2012

Garrett Jones
Grapefruit League

Alex Presley
Pittsburgh scored ten times in the first inning and banged out 19 hits en route to a 17-6 trampling of the Twins, at Minnesota's Springtime home in Fort Myers, Florida.

Garrett Jones was the rudest of the guests, going 3-for-4 with a single, double and his second home run of the season. Leadoff hitter Alex Presley also singled, doubled and homered in four at-bats, driving in a pair and scoring three times. A rookie, Presley is vying for the Pirates' center field position and is having a solid Spring, hitting .429 through nine games.

Jones is also off to a strong start, batting .400 with eight RBI.

Cactus League

Jemile Weeks
Cliff Pennington
Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks socked a pair of home runs and shortstop Cliff Pennington went 4-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two singles and two RBI as the A's topped the Rangers, 11-7, in exhibition action.

Both of Weeks' home runs - his second and third of the Spring - were solo shots, the first blast led off the game. He later singled and scored as the A's pounded out 14 hits against seven Texas hurlers.

The 1-2 batters in the lineup, Weeks and Pennington are batting .419 and .464, respectively.

Pennington is back for his third full season with the A's after batting .264 last year. Weeks returns following a successful rookie campaign in which he hit .303 and swiped 22 bases in 97 games.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Edwin Encarnacion Homers Twice in Blue Jay Win; Albert Pujols, Howard Kendrick Combine for 7 RBI in Angel Loss

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grapefruit League

Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion hit two home runs in Toronto's 7-5 win over the NY Yankees and may have put one of New York's starters out of the rotation for a while. Encarnacion was at the plate when Yankee starter Fredddy Garcia opened the fourth inning, smacking a sharp comebacker that hit Garcia on his pitching hand. Encarnacion was credited with a single, but Garcia left the mound and the game. X-rays were negative, but, according to reports, the hand swelled up significantly.

Back at the ballpark, Encarnacion scored on JP Arencibia's two run homer and an inning later, in the fifth, he belted a three run banger, to go with the solo shot he had off Garcia in the second.

For Encarnacion, it was an excellent day at the plate; 3-for-3, two homers, four RBI and three runs. For Garcia and the Yanks, not so much.

Cactus League

The LA Angels lost another Spring exhibition game on Wednesday, losing to the White Sox, 9-7, but the XXX paying customers at Chicago's Glendale, Arizona pre-season home got a glimpse of Albert Pujols' awesome power.

Pujols: 2 HR, 4 RBI
Pujols socked a three-run homer and a solo shot in his two official at-bats, his first two of the Spring in his seventh game with the Angels. His run-producing, and that of Howie Kendrick, who went 3-for-3 with a homer, two singles and three RBI, accounted for all of the Angels' runs, but it wasn't enough as the Sox scored none runs on 10 hits and sent starter Ervin Santana to an early shower with a line drive that struck the hurler on his right shoulder in the second inning.

Kendrick: 3-3 HR 3RBI
Santana was considered day-to-day with a bruised shoulder.

Pujols, who took the free agency route from St. Louis to LA after last year's world series triumph by St. Louis, is expected to provide an extra boost at the plate for the Angels. The slugger, entering his 12th year in the bigs, may make a run at 500 homers and 500 doubles. He will open the regular season with 455 doubles and 445 home runs.

As for Kendrick, his Spring performance is in line with his usual consistent play. In 2010, he hit .285 with 18 long balls, 63 RBI and 86 runs in 140 games.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ryan Raburn, Tigers Tearing Up Grapefruit League; Dan Haren Fans Seven in Angels Win

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grapefruit League

Raburn: HR, 3 RBI
Detroit's Ryan Raburn went 2-for-5 on Tuesday in Detroit's 6-3 win over Washington and actually lowered his batting average. The left fielder socked a two-run homer in the first inning off Nationals' starter Edwin Jackson and later added an RBI single, giving him four home runs and 14 RBI with a .467 batting average.

In six games this Spring, Rayburn has had seven hits in 15 at-bats. Besides the four wall-jumpers, he's had a single, double and a triple, making him the most productive Tiger on a team filled with big bats like Miguel Cabrera and the of-season acquisition, Prince Fielder.

Raburn normally comes to Spring training in good shape. In 2011 he hit .316 and posted a .370 average in 2010's exhibition season.

The Tigers are 7-1 in Florida's Grapefruit League - an .875 winning percentage. They trail the 9-2 Blue Jays in the standings by 1/2 game.

Cactus League

Haren: 3 IP, 7 Ks
Dan Haren wasn't fooling around on the mound in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Arizona. The Angel ace also wasn't hiding any of his good stuff from Diamondback batters, as he worked three scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out seven without issing a walk.

Taking the win - his second of the Spring without a loss - Haren has worked five innings, allowed just one hit and one walk while fanning 10.

Having previously toiled for the Cardinals, A's and Diamondbacks, Haren is coming off his first complete season with the Angels, having posted a 16-10 record with a 3.17 ERA and 192 Ks in 2011.

Coupled with Jered Weaver, the Angels have a powerful 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. If Albert Pujols - acquired via free agency from the Cardinals in the off-season - can revitalize the Angels' offensive attack, LA should provide a strong challenge to Texas in the AL West.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lucas Duda Slams for Mets; Juan Rivera, Dodgers, Rough Up Weaver, Angels

Players of the Day for Monday, March 12, 2012

Grapefruit League

Lucas Duda
Lucas Duda's 5th inning grand slam helped the Mets take a 7-3 lead over the Tigers, but Detroit rallied back with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame, then added the game-tying run in the 8th.

The game remained tied at 7-7 and ended that way after one extra inning.

Duda had just the one hit in two at-bats on the day, his first homer of the Spring.

Flourishing for the oft-injured Mets last season, Duda batted .292 with 10 homers and 50 RBI in 100 games. He is expected to be the Mets' regular right fielder this season.

Cactus League

Juan Rivera
Don't talk to Juan Rivera about singles. This Spring, Rivera has four hits in 16 at-bats, all of them for extra bases. In the Dodgers 9-1 win over the Angels on Monday, Rivera doubled in the first inning off Angel ace Jered Weaver, bringing home two runs. It was his first hit that wasn't a home run of the exhibition season.

Later on, Rivera got his home run groove on, socking his third fence-clearing smash of Spring, driving in two more runs.

Rivera left the Angels for the Toronto after the 2010 season, and then went to the Dodgers after playing in 70 games for the Blue Jays. A skilled RBI guy, Rivera had 23 doubles and 11 homers last season, driving in 74 runs with a .258 batting average.

The Dodgers lead the Cactus League with a 6-1 record.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vernon Wells Has 5 RBI in 20-Hit Angels Attack; Jeff Niemann, Chris Gimenez Lead Rays to Win

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 11, 2012

Niemann: 3 IP, 0 H
Grapefruit League

Jeff Niemann threw three perfect innings and Chris Gimenez drove in the game-winner with a single in the bottom of the ninth as Tampa Bay downed Pittsburgh, 4-3, in exhibition action.
Chris Gimenez

Niemann struck out three in his second Spring start. Entering his 4th full year in the bigs, Niemann has a career record of 38-23 and was 11-7 last season.

Primarily a catcher, Gimenez carries a .171 batting average over 97 games in a three year career.

The win was just the third of the Spring for the Rays, against six losses. Detroit leads the Grapefruit League with a 6-1 record.

Wells: HR, 5 RBI

Cactus League

The Angels offense seems to be in good early form, banging out 20 hits in a 17-2 romp over Cleveland.

Vernon Wells and Mark Trumbo hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning. Wells also singled in four at-bats, driving in five runs, scoring twice.

Wells hit 25 home runs for the Angels last year, but batted only .211 and drove in 66 runs.

Tommy Joseph Thrills Locals in Scottsdale as Giants Pound Brewers, 13-3; Jose Bautista Belts a Pair for Blue Jays

MLB Players of the Day for Saturday, March 10, 2012

Grapefruit League

Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista is picking up right where he left off last season, banging a pair of homers and driving in three runs in three at-bats in Toronto's 5-3 win over Houston, before 2,815 spectators at the Blue Jays Spring training home in Dunedin, Florida.

Bautista connected for a two-run blast - his first bomb of the Spring - off Astro starter Zack Duke in the third inning and sent the first pitch he saw from right-hander Jordan Lyles over the 400-foot sign in right center field in the fifth.

In 2011, Bautista slammed 43 homers to lead the American League for the second straight season, driving in 103 runs for the Jays. The slugging right-fielder had 54 in 2010 with 124 RBI.

Cactus League

Tommy Joseph
San Francisco pounded six Milwaukee pitchers for 16 hits in a 13-3 shellacking Saturday in front of 11,834 fans at the Giants' Spring home in Scottsdale, AZ.

Barry Zito worked three scoreless innings for his second win of the exhibition season, and promising rookie prospect Tommy Joseph belted a pair of home runs, driving in four runs in three at-bats.

Joseph, who has never played in a major league game, is batting .444 (4-for-9) in four games thus far and has driven in six runs. Having played high school ball in Scottsdale, 21-year-old Joseph thrilled the locals with his performance on Saturday. He played with Class A Advanced San Jose last season, ripping 22 home runs and 95 RBI while being named to California League postseason All-Star team.