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.

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