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Player News
Rangers' Jake Smolinski could be unexpected Opening Day left fielder
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) Prior to spring training Jake Smolinski was not on anybody's radar, but a strong camp has put the outfielder in strong contention to be the Rangers' Opening Day left fielder, according to MLB.com.

Smolinski is hitting .333 this spring, with a home run, four doubles and a triple in 39 at-bats.

"I had some setbacks early in my career, some serious injuries," Smolinski said. "I battled back, struggled in the minors but just stuck with it and continued to get better."

Smolinski did get a Double-A call up last season, hitting .389 in 11 games, but broke a bone fouling a pitch off his left foot and missed two months.


Mets' Matt Reynolds could start at second if Daniel Murphy isn't ready
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) Mets middle infielder Matt Reynolds may get the nod at second base if regular starter Daniel Murphy is not healthy enough to play on Opening Day, reports MLB.com.

Reynolds, who spent most of last season in Triple-A, is hitting .381 in 42 spring training at-bats, making the decision tough for manager Terry Collins.

"He's a baseball player -- everybody keeps saying that about him, but that's what he is," Collins said. "He handles the bat, he runs the bases, he does a lot of little things right. But Danny Muno's a dangerous bat -- I'll tell you what, he can get a hit. And the other kid, Ruben, he's played there. He's played there under the bright lights and been very successful. So we've got a lot of options."

Murphy is still recovering from a hamstring injury and is uncertain for Opening Day.


Braves third baseman Chris Johnson making adjustments at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) Braves third baseman Chris Johnson needed to make some slight adjustments to his swing at the plate to get things on the right track, reports MLB.com. Johnson, who struggled early in camp with a 4 for 30 stretch, has now hit two home runs in the last four days.

"It was not easy during the first couple weeks of games," said Johnson. "I struggled, and it was hard for me mentally. I'm a results-oriented kind of guy. So, it was tough for me. Being able to stick with it and then see results is a lot of fun."

After he realized he needed to lower his hands at the plate, Johnson improved his reaction time and is able to pull the ball better.

"Pulling the ball is good for me because the book on me is to pitch me [inside] and not allow me to go to right field," Johnson said. "The new approach and [placement of my hands] is allowing me to get [opposing pitchers] out of there. Then when they go [outside], I'll be able to do what I want to do."


Matt Reynolds wrapping up Mets second-base job
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) Matt Reynolds is the favorite to earn the Mets' starting second base job to start the season. 

With Daniel Murphy battling a hamstring problem that could land him on the disabled list, Reynolds has a good chance to land the job.

"It definitely sets in a little bit, but nothing changes how I go about my business," he said to MLB.com. "I feel like I've been working really hard this camp. I came in working hard. It doesn't change just because I suddenly get thrown into the mix."

Reynolds is hitting .395 this spring, with two home runs and seven RBI. 

Reynolds' chief competiters for the starting job are Danny Muno and Ruben Tejada."He's a baseball player -- everybody keeps saying that about him, but that's what he is," manager Terry Collins said of Reynolds. "He handles the bat, he runs the bases, he does a lot of little things right. But Danny Muno's a dangerous bat -- I'll tell you what, he can get a hit. And the other kid, Ruben, he's played there. He's played there under the bright lights and been very successful. So we've got a lot of options."


Astros pitcher Scott Feldman struggles with command Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) Astros pitcher Scott Feldman surrendered three runs on seven hits with two walks in 4 1/3 innings pitched against the Yankees Sunday. Feldman needed 83 pitches to get through the outing and most concerned with his pitch location, reports the Houston Chronicle.

"I want to get my command better before the season starts," Feldman said. "It's just a progression, trying to just set the foundation here and take it into the season."

Feldman was taken to deep right field in the third for his first run by Chase Headley.

"Headley is a good hitter," said Feldman, who will start the second game of the season. "I kind of just got it into the happy zone for him, and he put a good swing on it."


Dodgers' Dustin McGowan pitches back-to-back days
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Dustin McGowan threw 19 pitches in a minor-league game Sunday, and it was the first time this spring he has pitched on back-to-back days, MLB.com reports.

"Haven't felt this good since I was completely healthy -- a long time ago," McGowan said Sunday. "Knock on wood."

McGowan has dealt with shoulder issues throughout his career while also undergoing Tommy John surgery once. He's given up six runs in eight innings while competing for a bullpen role.

"I don't think he's comfortable yet," Mattingly said. "We've seen some good sliders, offspeed [pitches], but I don't think he feels as consistent, throwing the ball where he wants. It's spring training and a new organization factors with him. That makes the situation tougher to figure out."

McGowan will receive a $1 million bonus if he spends one day on the active roster this year, due to the terms of his contract. He is out of minor-league options and must clear waivers before being sent down.


Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo shows defensive prowess Sunday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo continues to show manager John Farrell why he should be in consideration for a starting job this season. Castillo made two outstanding plays in right field Sunday, reaching foul territory to make a catch and catching a runner at home with a strike from the outfield, reports MLB.com.

"It turned out to be a good play," said Castillo. "I'm always kind of anticipating that kind of thing to happen. When you have a man on third in a big situation, you hope you can make a play like that and execute it. Fortunately it went our way."

Castillo provides Farrell exactly what he needs in the outfield: flexibility.

"I don't know that you can make a play better than the one he made -- diving play in foul territory, he gets up, sets his feet, and then he throws a 150-foot strike," said Farrell. "A dynamic player, when you consider the skill set that he has. If there was any question on whether he could play right field, he's certainly answering those for us in camp here."


Brewers' Roenicke, Aramis Ramirez to discuss plan to stay 'strong'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:51 pm ET) Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez plans to meet with manager Ron Roenicke Sunday to discuss different ways to keep the veteran "strong" through scheduled off-days and playing-time considerations, MLB.com reports.

"I think that's really important to try to get the most out of him and make sure we keep him on the field, strong and productive," Roenicke said. "How do we do it? We adjust to it as the season goes along. But how do we come up with some kind of a plan to give him his days [off]? Not when he needs it, but days to make sure that he stays strong."

Ramirez has hit .241/.353/.310 in 29 spring at-bats. He's likely to retire at the end of the season.


Twins outright pitcher Stephen Pryor to Triple-A, clear roster spot
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:45 pm ET) The Twins have decided to outright pitcher Stephen Pryor to Triple-A Rochester and cleared a spot on the 40-man roster, according to 1500 ESPN.

Pryor was optioned to Triple-A earlier in the week, but the team decided to outright him and open up a second roster spot on the 40-man squad. Pryor posted a 1.50 ERA in five spring training appearances.


Rangers 2B Rougned Odor day-to-day with bruised shin
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor is day-to-day due to a bruised left shin, the team announced.

Odor struck out in his only at-bat Sunday before coming out of the game. He has hit .394/.429/.606 in 33 spring at-bats.


 
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