Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brett Lawrie Launches Pair of Homers to Keep A's in First Place; Pirates All Over Phillies in 18-4 Rout, Pedro Alvarez Slams

Players of the Day for Monday, March 30, 2015

Grapefruit League

Pedro Alvarez
In their eventual 18-4 win over the Phillies, the Pirates put on a slugging display, banging out six home runs, but, prior to the bottom of the fifth, the slugging nearly came to the style done with fists instead of bats.

Down 6-0 at the time, tensions were rising in the Philadelphia dugout, and both benches cleared before order was restored. No punches were thrown, but Phillies first base coach Juan Samuel and Pirates third base coach Rick Sofield were ejected.

Matters just got worse for the Phillies, as the Pirates exploded for 12 more runs. Pedro Alvarez smacked a pair of home runs - one of them a grand slam - and drove in six runs.

In 13 exhibition games, Alvarez is batting .325 with four homers and 15 RBI.

The Pirates improved to 14-10 with the win, drawing to within one game of the Grapefruit League-leading Mets. Pittsburgh is tied for second place with the Blue Jays.

Cactus League

Brett Lawrie
Just in case nobody noticed, it's beginning to look like some teams are actually serious about winning the race in the Cactus League.

The top three teams - the A's, Dodgers and Royals - were all in action on Monday, each producing a win to keep the competitive juices flowing.

The Dodgers topped the Diamondbacks, 4-2; Kansas City roughed up the Rangers, 11-7, with Mike Moustakas hitting a grand slam, and the first-place A's pummeled the Rockies, 11-2, helped along by two homers from Brett Lawrie.

Lawrie delivered a solo shot in the fifth inning, followed by a three-run blast in the sixth.

Penciled in to be the A's starting third baseman this season, Lawrie was picked up from Toronto, where he had played all of his major league career, beginning in 2011.

The Athletics have a one-game edge over the Dodgers and lead the Royals by 1 1/2.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Chris Dominguez Powers Reds over Angels; Chase Utley Homers Twice as Phillies Tie Tigers

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Grapefruit League

Utley: 2HR 3RBI
Though the game ended in a 4-4 tie, the Phillies and Tigers each have something to take away from the contest.

For the Tigers, the knowledge that Yoenis Cespedes is going to be an integral part of their lineup became apparent as he went 2-for-3 with his fourth home run of Spring, driving in two runs. Also, Anibal Sanchez, despite allowing all four runs, fanned 10.

The Phillies can be confident that their all-star second-baseman, Chase Utley, still has what it takes to play the game at a high level.

Utley cranked out a pair of homers for the Phillies - a solo shot and a two-run job - driving in three of their four runs.

A Phillie since breaking into the majors in 2003, Utley has been named to six all-star games, most recently in 2014. Last year, he hit .270 with 11 homers and 78 RBI.
Chris Dominguez

Cactus League

The Reds did not make the playoffs last season, but they're gearing up for another run at the Cardinals, Pirates and Brewers in the contentious NL Central.

Adding to their arsenal of offensive players, the Reds are giving third baseman/first baseman, Chris Dominguez, an extended look and the 6'4" mammoth minor leaguer is responding.

Dominguez stroked a single, two doubles and his third home run, going 4-for-5 and driving in four runs as the Reds downed the Angels, 8-6.

Having had only a brief stint with the Giants as a major leaguer and going 1-for-17, the Reds acquired Dominguez in the off-season and may get some playing time when the regular season begins. After all, in addition to the three dingers, he's batting .340, going 17-for-50, with 13 RBI.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Alejandro De Aza Powers O's over Yanks, 10-2; Tyson Ross Fans 12 as Padres Whip Rangers, 3-2

Players of the Day for Saturday, March 28, 2015

Grapefruit League

De Aza: HR 4RBI
With a 10-15 mark in the Grapefruit League, the Orioles haven't exactly been catching anyone's eye this Spring, but, in their 10-2 victory over the Yankees in Tampa, there were some signs that the team which won the AL East last season is re-emerging in time for games that matter.

Batting in the leadoff position, Alejandro De Aza homered and had a sac fly in three at-bats, driving in four runs in the rout.

De Aza, picked up from the White Sox mid-season by the O's adds serious speed and power at the top of the order. Between the two clubs last season, De Aza hit eight homers and stole 17 bases, and he continued to work on cutting down on strikeouts - from 147 in 2013 to 119 last year.

Backup catcher, Steve Clevenger, went 3-for-3 and scored three times. Starting pitcher, Tyler Wilson, worked four innings, allowing only one hit, while fanning two with no walks.

Ross: 12 Ks, 3-0
The Yankees managed only three hits off Baltimore pitching, though two of them were solo home runs, by Stephen Drew and Alex Rodriguez.

Cactus League

Though he allowed six hits and two runs over the course of six innings, Tyson Ross managed to strike out 12 Texas Rangers and notch his third win of the exhibition season, in a 3-2 Padre win over Texas.

Ross looks to improve upon last year's marks and bolster what appears to be a solid rotation in San Diego.

Last year, in his first full season as a starter with the Padres, Ross et career-highs in starts (31), innings (195.2), strikeouts (195) and ERA (2.81) going 13-14 with 195 strikeouts in 31 starts, which included two complete games and a shutout.

Look for Ross to challenge for league lead in the K department. He finished eighth last season in the National League.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

10-0 Yankee Win Features Stephen Drew, Michael Pineda; Royals' Ventura Throws 7 Innings of No-Hit Ball

Players of the Day for Friday, March 27, 2015

Grapefruit League

Drew: 3-3, 2RBI
The Yankees swamped the Phillies, 10-0, Friday, in exhibition baseball, but, even though the score was one-sided and out-of-hand, it could have been worse.

Pineda: CG W
The game was called on account of rain in the top sixth inning. The Yankees had scored seven in the fifth, plated three in the sixth, and were threatening to score more.

Stephen Drew, the former Diamondback and Red Sox player that many hoped would be the second coming of Derek Jeter (or maybe Willie Randolph) had a productive afternoon, going 3-for-3 with two singles and a double, driving in a pair of runs.

Yankee starter, Michael Pineda, scattered five hits over five innings without walking any hitters, striking out five. His effort was awarded with the win and the rare Spring training complete game, since Pineda completed all five innings against Phillies' batters.

Cactus League

Ventura: 7 Strong
Since their blistering, 10-1 start to the Cactus League season, the Kansas City Royals have tailed off a bit, but, with about a week left to the exhibition schedule, they're looking to finish strong after downing the Mariners, 5-1, Friday, for their second victory in a row.

Key to the win was the exemplary work of right-hander, Yordano Ventura, who, in his fourth start of Spring, got his first win, tossing seven innings of no-hit ball in the Royals' victory.

Ventura walked two and struck out four, after struggling in his previous starts. The excursion was a good sign that Ventura will be back on track for the regular season, after going 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014. Last season, Ventura was a workhorse, starting 30 games and lasting 183 innings.

The win kept the Royals firmly in the hunt in the Cactus League standings, tied with the Dodgers for second place, 1/2 game behind the Oakland A's.

* * * *

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chris Johnson Delivers in Braves Win over Pirates; Luis Martinez, Khris Davis Hit Grand Slams for Brewers in 15-1 Romp

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 26, 2015

Grapefruit League

Chris Johnson
Atlanta third baseman, Chris Johnson, went 3-for-4 in Atlanta's 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh, delivering a single, double and home run, driving in two runs and scoring twice.

The Braves have struggled thus far in the Grapfruit League, the win upping their record to 10-13. The Pirates dropped to an even .500 at 10-10.

Johnson, a major leaguer since 2009, had his best year in 2013, when he had the second-highest batting average in the National League, at a zesty .321. His production fell off in 2014, batting .263 with 10 homers and 58 RBI, but he and the Braves are hoping for improvement this season.

Luis Jimenez
Johnson has a .270 batting average this Spring. The home run was his first.

Cactus League

Khris Davis
Making contact wasn't an issue for the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, but, runners and base and balls leaving the yard was a major issue for the Mariners as the Brewers amassed 22 hits and two players hit grand slams in a 15-1 laugher.

Khris Davis got things started with his first-inning slam and Luis Jimenez finished off the scoring with a bases-chocked, round-tripper in the eighth.

Davis played full time in the Milwaukee outfield last season, belting 22 homers with 69 RBI. He's batting a robust .389 in Spring training. The homer was his first.

Jimenez will likely end up in the minors, but may get a back-up role behind Aramis Ramirez at third base. His home run was his second of the Spring. Jimenez has limited major league experience, hitting .234 in 141 at-bats over the past two seasons.

Both teams ended up with records of 10-11 at the conclusion of the exhibition.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Seattle's Taijuan Walker Extends Scoreless Streak to 18 Innings; Max Scherzer Fans Nine as Nats Fold to Cards

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Grapefruit League

Scherzer: 9 Ks
As noted by more than a few baseball writers, the Washington Nationals look to have one of the best starting rotations in recent memory, perhaps one of the best of all time.

The addition of Max Scherzer, dealt from the Tigers to the Nats in the off-season, brought the rotation to extreme prominence, adding to an already robust staff that includes Gio Gonzales, Doug Fister, Stephen Strasberg, and Jordan Zimmerman.

Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young award winner, will likely assume the role of ace, or #1 starter, and work opening day of the regular season.

In what looked like his final tune-up prior to that opening day start, Scherzer had complete command of his pitches and the St. Louis lineup, fanning nine in Washington's 1-0 loss to the Cardinals. Scherzer allowed three hits and no walks in his six innings of work.

Aaron Barrett, working in relief, allowed the game's only run, surrendered to the Cardinals in the bottom of the eighth. While Washington will likely have few issues on the mound, they'll have to find ways to score runs if they hope to reach the pinnacle of success in the NL East.

Walker: 18IP, 0ER
Cactus League

During the course of the Cactus and Grapefruit pre-seasons, there have been some notable performances and fabulous flops, but no player has displayed as much cold determination and dominance as Seattle starter, Taijuan Walker.

Walker, who exceeded rookie requirements last year (53 innings total between 2013 and 2014), has been to the mound for five starts this Spring, and has not allowed a run in 18 consecutive innings. On Wednesday, he went up the hill for six innings of work in Seattle's 3-2 win over the Cubs, allowing two hits and a walk while fanning six. The Cubs didn't come close to scoring off him, and only put up a deuce in the ninth inning.

As far as domination is concerned, Walker is the poster boy for it. In 18 innings this Spring, in addition to not allowing any runs (earned or unearned), he's allowed only six hits and four walks, striking out 19, while holding opposing hitters to a paltry .103 average.

Walker is expected to solidify the Seattle staff, which includes Rafael Perez, Joe Saunders, and the King, Felix Hernandez.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stephen Voget Powers A's into 1st Place in Cactus League; Ramon Flores Hits Walk-Off Homer, Sends Yanks to Top of Grapefruit

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grapefruit League

Ramon Flores
There may still be some magic in being a Yankee, despite the retirement of Derek Jeter and the controversy that will never end surrounding performance-enhancers and Alex Rodriguez.

All will be forgotten and forgiven if the Yankees perform as they did Tuesday, scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth - the final three on a home run by Ramon Flores - to down the Detroit Tigers, 9-8.

New York was down 8-2 when Flores entered the game as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the seventh, eventually scoring to make it 8-3, but his moment was still to come as the Yankee bullpen kept the Tigers in check over the final two innings.

After John Ryan Murphy knocked in Aaron Judge to make it 8-6, Flores got to the plate with two on and two out and delivered the crushing blow off Tiger reliever Rafael Dolis, making the round-trip to a throng of teammates celebrating at home plate.

While Flores is expected to stay at the AAA level most of this season, he could get some playing time in the thin Yankee outfield. In any case, his dramatic blow put the Yankees into first place in the Grapefruit League with a 12-7 mark, 1/2 game better than the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost to the Twins, 6-5.

Cactus League

Stephen Vogt
Following the limited successes of their 2014 season, the Oakland A's are quickly gearing up for competition in what should be a very competitive AL West division.

The A's went 88-74 last year, finishing 10 games behind the Angels in the division, but still managed to make it into the post-season as a wild card. As Fall turned to Winter and Winter to Spring, the A's now find themselves in a three-way tie atop the Cactus League - with Kansas City and the Dodgers - after piling on for 18 hits against the Cubs in a 14-2 romp.

Stephen Vogt, who is likely to be the A's regular receiver when during the 2015 campaign, powered Oakland's attack with a 3-for-3 effort, singling, doubling and homering, with three RBI and a pair of runs.

Last year, Vogt saw action in 84 games, batting .279 with nine homers and 35 RBI.

* * * *

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

David Buchanan Tosses 5 Scoreless in 3-0 Phillies Win; Matt Shoemaker's 6 Shutout Innings Earns Angels Win over Seattle

Players of the Day for Monday, March 23, 2015

Grapefruit League

David Buchanan
As a rookie last season, David Buchanan started 20 games for the Phillies, won six and lost eight, with an ERA of 3.75. That effort was good enough to assure that he'll be in the rotation this season as the Phils seek to rebound.

On Monday, Buchanan took the mound for the fifth time this Spring - his third start - and delivered a solid performance, blanking the Twins for five innings on two hits.

The 25-year-old Atlanta native fanned three and walked none. The Phillies went on to the 3-0 victory, putting them at an even 10-10. Minnesota dropped to 8-10.

Cactus League

Matt Shoemaker
If Matt Shoemaker returns to the Angels in 2015 with the kind of stuff he had in 2014, the AL West is going to be just as tough as last season, when LA took the division by 10 games.

Shoemaker started 20 games in 2014, went 16-4 with a 3.02 ERA and 124 Ks in 136 innings. His win total was fourth-highest in the American League, and judging by his six innings of shutout ball against the Mariners on Monday, he appears to be right on track for the regular season. He allowed just two hits and a walk, striking out a pair.

As a rookie last season, Shoemaker displayed toughness and durability. With a full season under his belt, he may be on the path to becoming one of the more dominant pitcher in the AL.

The Angels won the game, 5-0, putting them at 11-7, 1/2 game behind the Royals and Dodgers in the Cactus League standings.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Josh Satin Carries Reds in 4-3 Win over A's; Sabathia Rocked as Matt Harvey and Mets Shut Down Yanks, 6-0

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 22, 2015

Grapefruit League

Harvey: 5 2/3, 2H 0R
On Sunday, the Mets and Yankees staged the Sunshine State version of the Subway Series, playing at the Mets' Spring home at Tradition Field, in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The result - a 6-0 Mets victory - had all the feel of one club trying to hang on with aging veterans (Yankees) while the other (Mets) seemed to be embracing and enjoying the spirit of a young club on the rise.

Matt Harvey tossed 5 2/3 innings of 2-hit, scoreless ball for the Mets and was rewarded with the win, as his teammates smacked three homers against Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia, who was shelled in his second start of the pre-season, allowing homers by David Wright, Lucas Duda and leadoff hitter, Juan Legares.

Legares' shot was of the inside-the-park variety, facilitated when Yankee center fielder, Jose Pirela, attempting to chase down the drive, crashed into the wall and was knocked out. Pirela was taken from the field with what appeared to be a concussion, and did not return.

Satin: HR, 4RBI
Harvey, who missed all of last season due to injury, is returning after Tommy John surgery. He fanned four and has looked solid in four starts, allowing two runs over 14 1/3 innings.

Cactus League

Evening their record at 9-9 with a 4-3 victory over Oakland, the Cincinnati Reds got all of their offensive production from the player all the way down at the bottom of the lineup, left fielder, Josh Satin.

Satin rallied the Reds from a 3-0 deficit with a three-run homer in the eighth and then delivered the game-winner with two down in the ninth on an RBI single.

A California native, Satin played part-time for the Mets from 2011-2014, and was acquired by the Reds in the off-season. His most productive stint was in 2013, when he hit .279 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 75 games.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Adam Wainwright Tunes Up in Cardinals' Win over Braves; Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez Lead Dodgers in Cactus League

Players of the Day for Saturday, March 21, 2015

Grapefruit League

Wainwright: 4IP 0R
There's a reason Cardinals' ace starter Adam Wainwright has won numerous awards and his team has been in the playoffs and won the World Series during his tenure: he's "money."

Wainwright continued tuning up for the regular season with four scoreless innings in the Cards' 1-0 win over the Braves. Though he did not get the win, and, maybe wasn't exactly as sharp as he'd like to be at this point - allowing four hits and a walk - Wainwright threw through the situations in which pitchers are paid to perform: with men on base, and came up aces. Wainwright fanned three.

Greinke: 6Ks
The Braves got just one more hit off three St. Louis relievers, and the Cardinals scored in the bottom of the ninth for the win, when Dean Anna drove in pinch-runner Charlie Tilson with none out, putting them at 8-7 and dropping the raves to 7-12 in Grapefruit League play. Kevin Siegrist pitched the ninth inning and received the win.

Cactus League

Gonzalez: 2 HR
The Dodgers have surged to the top echelon of the Cactus League standings and Saturday's 11-3 win over the Rangers shows they're just about ready for opening day.

Zack Greinke proved he will be an integral part of the Dodger pitching rotation, going four solid innings, allowing no runs on three hits and a walk, striking out six.

Adian Gonzalez had his sweet swing in a groove, belting out a pair of solo homers helping LA to an early lead.

Sure to be a big provider of runs for the Dodgers this year, Gonzalez comes off a 2104 campaign in which he knocked out 27 homers (6th in NL) and drove in 116 runs, the top-run-producer in the National League.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

11-5 Fest: C.J. Cron Sets Angels Soaring; Justin Smoak Powers Blue Jays with Two Homers

Players of the Day for Friday, March 20, 2015

Grapefruit League

Smoak: 2HR
Seemingly on the cusp of greatness for the better part of the past decade, the Toronto Blue Jays continue shuffling, trading and realigning objectives in hopes of finding the right mix for competitiveness in the rugged AL East.

One such element of all this hoopla might be the emergence of long-ball specialist, Justin Smoak, snatched away from the Mariners during the off-season after a 2014 campaign shorted by injury.

Smoak played in just 80 games for Seattle last season, but he's back to good health, Smaok found his stroke in Friday's 11-5 win over the Rays, socking a pair of homers and driving in three runs for Toronto. The Blue Jays banged out 14 hits against five Tampa Bay pitchers, en route to their 10th win against eight losses.

A first baseman by trade, Smoak may end up as a DH, platoon player, pinch-hitter, part-timer or bench warmer for the regular season in the crowded, but power-packed Blue Jay lineup that includes established sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista.

Cactus League

Talk about burning up the basepaths.

Four LA Angels tripled in one inning - the third - in LA's 11-5 bombastic victory over the Cleveland Indians, a feat which has to be, at least, a Cactus League record.

Erick Aybar, C.J. Cron, Johnny Giavotella, and Collin Cowgill each legged out three-baggers as the Angels assaulted Cleveland starter, Trevor Bauer, for nine hits and eight runs (six earned) in 3 1/3 innings.

Turns out, both teams were just getting started with the hot bats, hammering out a total of 30 base hits in the game, half of them for extra bases.

Cron, a 25-year-old from Fullerton, California, who played college ball at Utah, finished 3-for-5, adding a single and a double, with an RBI and two runs scored. He's batting .395 with two homers, four doubles, six RBI, and yes, a triple.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Devon Travis Guides Blue Jays over Boston; Nolan Arendao Blasts Pair of Homers in Rockies' 13-2 Rout of Royals

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grapefruit League

Devon Travis
Over the past three seasons, Jose Bautista has been one of the more productive hitters in either league, so it came as a surprise to nobody when he unleashed a massive solo homer in Toronto's 6-3 victory over the Red Sox. Boston fell to 9-7.

The Bautista blast - his third of the Spring season - and Devon Travis' two doubles and two RBI were key to the Blue Jays getting their ninth win against eight losses.

Travis spent 2013 in A ball, where he hit .351 with 16 home runs and 76 RBI. Last year, he moved up to AA and played in the Eastern League, batting .298 with 10 long balls and 52 RBI. He has never played in a major league game, though, from the looks of things, he may get his chance this season.
Nolan Arenado

Thus far in Spring training, Travis is 11-for-32 (.344) with five RBI, and he's getting an extended look at second base by Toronto's coaches.

Cactus League

With a 10-1 start in the Cactus League, the Kansas City Royals shot to first place like a missile, but recently have come back to earth, losing five of their last six, the latest pain being inflicted by the Colorado Rockies, who hammered out 17 hits in a 13-2 beat-down on Thursday.

The loss dropped the Royals to 11-6, and into a three-way tie for first place with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. 8-7 Colorado is in with a bunch of teams, two games back.

Doing a rash of damage offensively was Nolan Arenado, who belted a pair of home runs off Royals' starter Jose Vargas, as the Rockies posted two runs in the first and rang up seven in the second inning.

Arenado finished 3-for-4 with five RBI and two runs scored. He is hitting .345 and Rockies fans are loving the look at third base.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Masahiro Tanaka Looks Solid in Yankee Win; Erasmo Ramirez Leads Seattle to 4-0 Victory over A's

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Grapefruit League

Masahiro Tanaka was the talk of the not just the town, but most of major league baseball last season, running up a record of 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in his debut season with the Yankees.

After 18 starts, 129 innings and 135 Ks, Tanaka's season came to an abrupt end in July from an injury to his throwing arm. He came back for two starts in September, won one and lost one, but there were still lingering doubts about his health.

This Spring, Tanaka has removed most of the skepticism. In his first start he retired all six of the batters he faced and Wednesday, against the Braves, he allowed two hits while fanning three in 3 2/3 innings of shutout ball. The Yankees went on to the 12-5 victory, improving to 10-6 and a tie for first place, with Miami, in the Grapefruit League.

Tanaka will get one or two more starts prior to the regular season. He and C.C. Sabathia, who was also sidelined last season due to injury, are expected to lead a revamped pitching staff.

Cactus League

Entering his fourth year in the majors, Erasmo Ramirez may be ready to make the leap to full-time status in the Seattle rotation, headed by irreplaceable Felix Hernandez.

Ramirez got his first win of the Spring with four innings of one-hit, shutout ball, helping the Mariners to a 4-0 win over the A's and a 7-7 mark in the Cactus League.

The mound work added to the case for Ramirez making the full-time roster, dropping his ERA down to an even 2.00 in Spring training. It was his longest stint thus far and, no doubt, his best.

Seattle batters helped notch the win with a run in the fourth and sealed it with three more in the eighth inning. Oakland managed only three hits for the game, and dropped to 10-7 in the Cactus League.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mike Trout Powers Angels over Rockies, 11-0; Chris Carter 3-for-3 in 13-7 Pounding of Pirates

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grapefruit League

Carter: 3-3 4RBI
Following a strong 2014 campaign, Houston's Chris Carter is hoping to maintain the power stroke that produced 37 home runs and 88 RBI and improve on his .227 batting average.

He appears to be heading in the proper direction after going 3-for-3 with a single and two doubles in Tuesday's 13-7 rip of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Carter drove in four runs, snapping out of the 1-12 streak that had started his Spring training.

Houston, one of the worst teams in the majors last season, improved to 7-4; the Pirates dipped to a 6-6 mark.

Cactus League

Trout: 2HR 6RBI
Evening their record at 7-7, the LA Angels clubbed the Rockies, 11-3, powered by a pair of homers from 2014 L MVP, Mike Trout, and his six RBI.

Off to a blazing start in the Arizona heat, Trout has three homers and 10 RBI, along with a sizzling .545 batting average. Last season he batted .287 with 36 home runs and 111 RBI.

Leadoff man, Cole Calhoun went 3-for-4 with three RBI, two runs and a stolen base. The Angels totaled 15 hits off seven Rockies' hurlers, while five members of the Angels staff held their opponents to just two hits.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jimmy Paredes, Chris Davis pace Orioles in 16-4 rout of Phillies; Brandon Morrow gets Win with 4 Scoreless for Padres

Players of the Day for Monday, March 16, 2015

Grapefruit League

Jimmy Paredes
Chris Davis
Manny Machado missed the latter half of the 2014 season, but he's rehabbed and ready for the 2015 campaign.

Should the Orioles' third-baseman take a day off, as he did Monday in the O's 16-4 rout of the Phillies, Jimmy Paredes appears eager and ready to fill in.

In three at-bats, Paredes doubled, homered and delivered a sac fly, scored three times and drove in five runs at the Phillies' home in Clearwater, Florida.

The Orioles banged out five home runs and 21 hits in all. Adding to the barrage was Chris Davis, who had his fill, going 3-for-4 with a single, double, home run (his second) and four RBI.

After three years with the Astros and splitting last season between the Royals and O's, Paredes will likely be riding the bench or playing in the minors.

The win was just the fourth for the slugging Orioles. They have dropped 11. The loss dropped the Philles back to an 8-6 mark.

Cactus League

Brandon Morrow
Just when the Cubs were getting it rolling, with four straight wins, along comes Brandon Morrow to spoil the party with four shutout inning in the Padres' 7-0 whitewash over visiting Chicago.

In his third appearance of the Spring and second start, Morrow was sharp for his new team, allowing just three hits without issuing a walk, striking out two. Morrow threw 48 pitches, 36 of which were strikes.

Traded to the Padres from Toronto after last season, Morrow should fit right into the starting rotation. A major leaguer since 2007, Morrow, who spent his first three seasons with the Mariners, moves from the AL to the NL, a decision made by more than just a few hurlers who can relish the thought of a soft spot in opposing lineups, having dealt with the DH for their entire career.

Morrow will enter the 2015 season with a 42-43 lifetime mark and a 4.28 ERA.

Jon Lester was on the mound as starter for the Cubs and was treated rudely, allowing six runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.

The Padres are 7-6 in Spring games. The Cubs retreated to 5-9.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Vance Worley Shuts Out O's for Four Innings in Pirate Win; Chris Denorfia, Travis Wood Lead Cubs to 4th Straight Victory

Players of the Day for Sunday, March 15, 2015

Grapefruit League

Worley: 4 scoreless
Pittsburgh had one of the best pitching staffs in either league last season, and it appears that management is intent on building on that reputation.

On Sunday, starter Vance Worley blanked the Orioles over four innings, allowing two hits and a walk, striking out two.

Worley went 8-4 with the Pirates last season, his first winning campaign since 2011. He started 17 games and put down a marker with a 2.85 ERA. He bolsters a solid rotation.

The Orioles broke through in the sixth inning on Steve Pearce's two-run homer, but that was all the offense they could muster. After scoring single runs in the first and fourth, the Pirates put up a pair of runs in the eighth inning for the 4-2 win.

Cactus League

Travis Wood
After starting out a dismal 1-8, the Cubs have started winning, and the rest of the NL Central may want to start paying a little closer attention as the Cubs have won four straight.

Denorfia: HR 2RBI
One such team with a front row seat to the remaking of the cuddly Cubs is Cincinnati, which yesterday out-hit their rivals, 7-1, but still lost the game, 2-1. That's because the one hit allowed by Reds' starter Johnny Cueto, was a third inning home run by Chris Denorfia, after putting Dexter Fowler on base via a walk.

It could have been worse. Cueto worked four innings, and, despite just allowing the one hit, he did walk three.

The other part of the Cubs' winning equation was the five scoreless innings thrown by starting pitcher, Travis Wood, who scattered three hits, issue just one walk and fanned four.

Cincinnati (5-7) finally broke through for a run in the ninth inning, but the Cubs held on for the win.

Denorfia was picked up by the Cubs in the off-season, after he split 2014 between San Diego and Seattle. Wood has been a mainstay for the Cubs the past three seasons, after starting his MLB career with the Reds. In 89 starts for the Cubs, Wood has compiled a record of 23-38.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Brian Bogusevic Cranks a Pair of Homers for Phillies; Angels Stop Red-Hot Royals in 10, Kyle Kubitza Homers, 3-for-5

Players of the Day for Saturday, March 14, 2013

Grapefruit League

Bogusevic: 2HR
With the regular season just a little more than two weeks away, teams are beginning to make adjustments to starting lineups and general rosters, penciling in the names of players who may make an impact come April.

One such name could be Brian Bogusevic, the 31-year-old outfielder that the Phillies acquired from the Cubs during the off-season.

Bogusevic crashed a pair of homers for the Phillies on Saturday in their 5-4 win over the Tigers, both coming off Detroit starter, Anibal Sanchez, who was roughed up for four runs on four hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings.

After a 2-run blast in the first, Bogusevic delivered a solo shot that put the Phils up 4-1 and sent Sanchez to an earlier-than-expected shower.

In 47 games with the Cubs last season, Bogusevic hit .273 with six homers and 16 RBI. With the Phillies' outfield in somethig of a fluid situation, there's a chance that he'll see some time this season with the big club.

Cactus League

It took an extra inning, but the LA Angels ended the Royals reign of terror over the Cactus League with a 7-6 victory at Surprise Stadium on Saturday.

The Halos roughed up Royal starter, Jason Vargas, for eight hits and three earned runs, but Kansas City eventually tied the game at 6-6 with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Daniel Robertson brought home the winning run with a sac fly in the 10th.

Kyle Kubitza, a third baseman with no major league experience, was impressive, getting three hits, including a solo home run. He scored twice as the Angels improved to 5-6, handing the Royals just their second loss of the Spring.

Kansas City, which lost to San Francisco in seven games in last year's world series, have picked up where they left off. Their loss to the Angels made them 10-2, good for a two-game edge over the 6-2 Dodgers in the Cactus League.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Shane Green Gives Tigers Three hitless Innings in Win over Braves; Salvador Perez Homers as Royals Improve to 10-1

Players of the Day for Friday, March 13, 2015

Grapefruit League

Greene: Perfect
The Detroit Tigers are gearing up for another run at the AL Central title, which they won last season by a game over Kansas City, and who is likely to be their main rival in the division for 2015 (see below).

Detorit bats rang out 13 hits in a 12-2 victory over 3-7 Atlanta Friday, but the best story came from the mound, where Shane Greene blanked the Braves over the first three innings, fanning two without allowing a hit or a walk.

In his second start of the Spring season, Green improved dramatically, after allowing six hits and three runs in two innings in his first appearance.

The Tigers acquired Green from the Yankees in the off-season. Pressed into duty when the Yankee staff was besieged with injuries last year, Greene went 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts. He's expected to make the Tigers' opening day rotation as the fifth starter after David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Alfredo Simon.

Cactus League

Perez Shows Power
It's beginning to sound like a broken record, but the Kansas City Royals are the hottest story coming out of Spring Training in Arizona.

KC improved to 10-1 in the Cactus League, dispatching one of their nearest rivals, the 7-4 Oakland A's, by an 8-4 score.

Salvador Perez was behind the plate once again, as he will be most of the 2015 season, but what he did while standing aside it in the batter's box was significant. After the A's had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Perez responded with a three-run homer after Eric Hosmer had already singled in a run. The Royals added single runs in the second and fifth innings, and added a pair in the sixth. Knasas City's bullpen blanked the A's from the fourth inning onward.

Perez singled in his only other at-bat, finishing 2-for-2 on the day.

Kansas City holds a three-game edge over the Dodgers (5-2) and A's in Cactus League standings.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mark Reynolds Launches Three-run Homer in Cards' Win over O's; Paolo Orlando, Salvador Perez Pace 9-1 Royals

Players of the Day for Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mark Reynolds
Grapefruit League

Mark Reynolds clubbed a third-inning three-run homer off Orioles' starter Bud Norris, leading to the Cardinals' fifth win against three losses this Spring, an 8-2 home win over 3-8 Baltimore.

Reynolds adds some pop to the St. Louis lineup, but will likely be a backup to Matt Adams at first base and used as a pinch-hitter.

After eight years in the majors, Reynolds is a known quantity, a player who can provide power, but also one which does not hit well for average and strikes out often.

Perez: 3-3
Reynolds spent two years in Baltimore (2011-12), where he tallied 60 homers and 155 RBI. He played in 130 games with the Brewers last season, belting 22 homers but also fanning 122 times.

Orlando: 3 RBI
The shot was Reynolds' first of the training season and was his only at-bat of the game.

Cactus League

Kansas City has been absolutely tearing it up in Arizona, improving to 9-1 after doubling up the Indians, 10-5, on Thursday.

Salvador Perez went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a solo homer. Outfielder Paulo Orlando singled, tripled and drove in three runs as the Royals erased an early 3-0 deficit en route to the win.

While Perez will be the starting catcher for the Royals this season, Orlando has spent nine years in the minors but may get a few call-ups, as he is a reliable replacement. Last year at Omaha (AAA), Orlando batted .301 and drove in 63 runs.

An anchor for the pitching staff, Perez played in 138 games in 2013 and 150 last season.

Travis Shaw Homers, Doubles in Boston Win over Yankees; A. J. Pollock, D'Backs Defeat Angels, 6-5

Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Grapefruit League

Travis Shaw
The Boston Red Sox aren't wasting any time showing the Yankees they mean business this season.

On Wednesday, they banged around eight New York pitchers to the tune of 18 hits in a 10-6 romp over their most-hated rivals.

Leader of the hit parade was one Travis Shaw, who clubbed a homer and a double in four at-bats, and, for extra insult, stole a base, one of two attempts on the day for Boston base-runners.

A potential rookie with no major league experience, Shaw has been in the minors since 2011, spending last year between AA (Portland, Eastern League) and AAA (Pawtucket, International). Between the two teams he whacked 21 homers and drove in 78 runs in 2014.

He has some pop.

A. J. Pollock
Cactus League

Arizona is off to a good start, with a 6-2 record in the Cactus league, including Wednesday's 6-5 victory over the LA Angels.

The Diamondbacks roughed up LA starter, Jared Weaver, who worked the first three innings, allowing five hits, two walks and two earned runs while fanning three.

One of his main tormentors was leadoff hitter, A. J. Pollock, who was 2-for-4 (single, double) with three RBI.

A speedy center fielder, Pollock has been with the Diamondbacks for the past three seasons. Last year, he batted .302, stole 14 bases (caught just three times) and scored 41 runs in just 75 games. He's looking for increased time in the outfield this season, and, if he keeps producing the way he has thus far, he's likely to get it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Justin Masterson Perfect in Three Innings for Red Sox; Matt Kemp Making Impact for San Diego

Players of the Day for Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grapefruit League

After a bitterly disappointing 2014 campaign, the Boston Red Sox are undergoing a complete makeover. In the case of Justin Masterson, it's back to where they started, as the 6'6" right-hander returns to the team with which he started, back in 2008.

A trade brought Masterson to Cleveland in 2009, where he spent the next four full seasons, before heading to St. Louis in the middle of 2014. The Red Sox picked him up in a free agency deal and recently signed him to a one-year, $9.5 million deal.

So far, so good, as Masterson has allowed just one hit in five innings this Spring. On Tuesday, his three innings of shutout, no-hit ball propelled Boston to their fifth win in seven outings, a 5-1 victory over the Rays. He fanned four without issing any bases on balls.

five more hurlers followed Masterson to the mound, allowing a total of just three hits. Tampa Bay finally broke through for its only run in the eighth inning, though by then, the result had already been largely determined. Tampa Bay is 1-4 thus far into the Grapefruit League season.

Cactus League

Kemp: .545 BA
The odd man out in the Dodgers' crowded outfield last season, Matt Kemp took the off-season route down the road to San Diego, and, from the looks of things thus far, he's going to add a ton of offense to the Padres' lineup in 2015.

Kemp went 3-for-3 as San Diego doubled up the Giants, 10-5, including his first homer of the pre-season, a three-run, third-inning blast.

A two-time All-Star, Kemp nearly captured the NL MVP back in 2011, when he batted .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI. He led the league that season in the power categories and his batting average was good for third overall, but he fell short in the voting to Ryan Braun, who was later punished for using performance-enhancing substances.

Kemp should probably have won the award, and while the revelations about Braun may have been somewhat of a tonic to him, his last three seasons with the Dodgers have not been nearly up to the quality of that 2011 season. Everybody in San Diego is hoping Kemp will return to all-star form. He's batting a healthy .545 (6-for-11) thus far.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Will Middlebrooks, Andrew Cashner Power Padres; Jordany Valdespin, Reid Brignac Wreck Mets in Marlin Win

Players of the Day for Monday, March 9, 2015

Grapefruit League

Before some Mets' batters had even gotten to the plate, the Marlins had already put up nine runs on their NL East foes, scoring six in the second and three more in the third inning. The players doing the bulk of the damage were fresh faces on the Miami roster, Jordany Valdespin and Reid Brignac.

Valdespin, who started with the Mets and played in 54 games for the Marlins last season, singled and tripled in four at-bats, driving in three runs and scoring twice. Brignac, who spent last season in Philadelphia, went 3-for-4 (all singles) also driving in three and scoring twice.

When it was all said and done, the Marlins pasted the Mets, 13-2, improving to 3-2 for the Spring while dropping the Mets to a 3-4 mark.

Cactus League

Will Middlebrooks socked a three-run, second inning homer in support of three innings of no-hit ball from Andrew Cashner as the San Diego Padres evened their record at 3-3 and sent the Cubs to their fifth straight defeat of the spring without a win with a 6-3 victory.

Cashner blanked the punchless Cubs over the first three innings, walking one, while striking out a trio. After going 10-9 in 2013 with the Padres, Cashner dipped to a 5-7 mark over 19 starts in 2014, though his ERA dropped to a very respectable 2.55. He's expected to remain in the San Diego starting rotation.

Middlebrooks, who spent the last three seasons playing part-time for the Boston Red Sox, is looking to catch on as the regular third baseman with the Padres and he's off to a good start with a .400 batting average in two games. The Texas native needs to work on his plate demeanor, as his batting average has gone from .288 in 2012, to .227 in 2013, to a scary .191 last season.