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Player News
Tigers C Alex Avila trying to find his groove at the plate
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:33 am ET) Tigers catcher Alex Avila may be starting to snap out of his recent funk at the plate. After going 2 for 4 with a solo home run on Tuesday, Avila now has hits in three of his last four games. He recently broke a five-game hitless streak, and has seen his batting average rise to .214, entering play on Wednesday.

"I feel good," Avila said Tuesday after the game, per MLB.com. "It's easy to look at averages, but the difference between hitting .200 and .250, .260 at this point is like two hits, like the line drive that I had caught today." 

Despite the positive outlook, Avila appears will be on the bench for Wednesday's game against the White Sox, with lefty Chris Sale scheduled to be the starter for Chicago. 

"The last few games he's looked good," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He looked good in batting practice the last couple games, but he still won't play tomorrow."


Pirates' McCutchen: 'I'm not doing what I should be doing for the money'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:25 am ET) Pirates manager Clint Hurdle acknowledged that Andrew McCutchen's sore left knee has impacted his approach on running to first base, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

McCutchen, who is making $10 million this season, voiced his frustration after he was held without a hit in four at-bats during Tuesday's loss to Cincinnati.

"I'm sick and tired of going 0-for-freaking-4. I know I'm better than that," McCutchen said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I'm getting paid what I'm getting paid because of the way I should be playing. Right now I'm not doing what I should be doing for the money I'm making. ... It's under mediocre right now. It's bad."

McCutchen has been dealing with a sore knee since spring training, and at one point in early April revealed that he's only at "80 percent." He began the year hitting .238 (10 for 42) with two doubles, two homers and 10 RBI over his first 12 games. However, over his last 13 games, the former MVP has hit only .140 (7 for 50) with a triple and three RBI.

After Tuesday's game, he reassured that injury is not the main factor for his issues at the plate.

"I feel good, I feel strong when I'm up there. I feel fine when I'm hitting," McCutchen said. "I can't sit here and say my knee is the reason. I don't believe so. I just believe I’m a little off. ... Once it's going, it ain't gonna stop. While I'm down, get me while I'm down."


A's SS Marcus Semien reaches base safely nine games in a row
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:24 am ET) Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien went 1-for-3 in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Twins. The individual performance is certainly nothing to write home about. But he has now reached base safely via a hit or a walk in nine consecutive games, including hits in four straight.

On the season, Semien is slashing .273/.322/.427 with three home runs and 12 RBI. He should continue to be the regular at shortstop for manager Bob Melvin for the foreseeable future. 


Nationals P Sammy Solis delivers three shutout innings Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:03 am ET) Nationals pitcher Sammy Solis had his best performance of the season on Tuesday against the Marlins. Granted, he's only made two appearances on the season after being recalled in late-April. But there's no denying how effective the young left-hander was on Tuesday.

After starter Stephen Strasburg was forced to leave the game due to a shoulder injury, Solis came in and fired three shutout innings, allowing just one hit and struck out a batter. 

"The good thing about Sammy is that he is a former starter and he understands how to pace himself," manager Matt Williams said after the game, per MLB.com. "He threw the ball really well. He kept us in the game and allowed us to have chances to win it."

Solis had been pitching well in Double-A before his promotion to the big club, throwing four innings and allowing one hit (a solo home run). 


Michael Morse still not starting for Marlins on Wednesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:50 am ET) Struggling first baseman Michael Morse was held out of the Marlins lineup for the second straight game on Wednesday. Morse hasn't recorded a hit since April 28, and will receive his fourth day off in the last five games.

Justin Bour, who has seven hits in 14 at-bats since being recalled on April 25, was the starting first baseman for the third straight day for manager Mike Redmond.


Nationals 3B Yunel Escobar hits third on Wednesday vs. Marlins
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:42 am ET) Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar hit from the No. 3 position in manager Matt Williams' lineup on Wednesday. It was the first time this season that Escobar hit third in the batting order, as Williams shuffled the order a bit for the matinee matchup against the Marlins.

Escobar continues to hit well in 2015, though he did go hitless in three at-bats on Tuesday.

Shortstop Ian Desmond was moved up to the second spot in the lineup, while Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman returned to their normal spots, batting fourth and fifth respectively on Wednesday. 


Jayson Werth sits again for Nationals on Wednesday vs. Marlins
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:33 am ET) Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth was not in the starting lineup once again on Wednesday against the Marlins. Werth, who missed the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury, was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game, though no injury is being reported.

Michael Taylor drew the start in left field on Wednesday, batting eighth in the lineup for manager Matt Williams. 


Giants' Bochy on Panik and Crawford: 'It's fun to watch those two'
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:29 am ET) Giants skipper Bruce Bochy is loving what he's getting from shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik, both in the field and at the plate. 

"It's fun to watch those two go, how they work together," Bochy said Tuesday, per MLB.com. "Craw is so gifted, and Joe Panik has made so much improvement defensively. They're so solid out there, offensively and defensively. They make the routine plays, and when you need a double play, they turn it as well as anybody."

The two continued their offensive prowess in Tuesday's victory over the Padres. Crawford, who was moved up to the fifth spot in the batting order, reached safely in all four of his plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a double, a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. This was his third mult-hit performance in his last six games.

Panik, meanwhile, hit a solo home run, his second of the year, in the fifth inning. He went 1-for-4 on the evening. He has hit safely in four of his last five games.

"We have a great relationship," Panik said. "He makes my job easier -- just a great guy to play with. When you first get called up, a lot of emotions are running through you, the typical butterflies. The game tends to beat up on you. Then you look over at Brandon, and everything's fine.


Padres' Black on Derek Norris playing first: 'we're thinking about it'
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:20 am ET) With the Padres' recent call-up of prized catching prospect Austin Hedges, manager Bud Black has offered a potential solution to getting him in the lineup more often, while also playing current catcher Derek Norris. Black said Tuesday that Norris could start taking some groundballs at first base, and might see some time there this season. 

"It would just be against certain left-handed pitchers, we want to keep his bat in the lineup, like for a day game after a night game, or if he's caught consecutive games," Black said, per MLB.com. "Take the load off his feet from catching."

Norris has played just one game at first base during his career, and that was in 2013. But Black expressed confidence that Norris could handle a transition.

"It would be a gradual build-up of reps. We are working through this," Black said. "But he was an amateur third baseman. He has good hands, good feet and a good baseball mind. This will not happen quick, but we're thinking about it."


Cubs reliever James Russell makes season debut Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:05 am ET) Cubs reliever James Russell allowed one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings during the team's 7-4 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday. After starting his career with Chicago, he was dealt to the Braves at the trading deadline last season. The Cubs signed him to a minor league contract last month, and brought him up to the team prior to Tuesday's game

"It's comfortable to be back," Russell said, per MLB.com. "It's a good feeling. The culture has kind of changed for the better. It's definitely nice."

Last season with the Cubs and Braves, the left-hander pitched to a 3.51 ERA in 33 1/3 innings. While pitching in Triple-A this season, Russell did not allow an earned run in seven appearances, and posted a 12:0 K:BB ratio.


 
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