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A good spring could help Brewers' Morris in getting back on track


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Brewers first baseman Hunter Morris is trying to re-establish himself this spring after he was removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason. It wasn't long ago that Morris was considered the Brewers' top prospect.

“I don’t feel any pressure to make this team right away,” Morris said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m still confident in my ability and I firmly believe I’m going to play in the big leagues.

"My goal is go out and force the Brewers’ hand and not give them any choice but to have me in the big leagues.”

Morris was named the Brewers' minor-league player of the year in 2012 after he hit .303 with 28 home runs, 40 doubles and 113 RBI at Double-A. While he totaled 24 home runs the following year, he hit just .247. He ran into more offensive struggles in 2014, and he also missed time due to a wrist injury.

“It was frustrating, the way everything played out,” Morris said.

Now, the 26-year-old first baseman must prove to the Brewers he still has a future in the majors, and it starts this spring.

“He needs to have a good year this year, get back on that right track,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “He hasn’t performed well in spring trainings for us. That’s the hard part, that we don’t get to see him when he’s really good.

“All I get is what I see in the spring, and he hasn’t had good springs. It’s really hard for me to get a good read.”


Mets 1B Lucas Duda scheduled to swing a bat on Wednesday


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is scheduled to swing a bat on Wednesday for the first time in roughly three weeks, according to ESPN. Duda hasn't been able to pick up a bat since suffering an oblique injury in mid-February and receiving a cortisone shot last month.

Duda registered a .830 OPS with a career-best 30 home runs and 92 RBI in 153 games in 2014.


Diamondbacks' Goldschmidt not concerned about hand this year


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is not concerned about his hand this year, according to MLB.com.

Goldschmidt saw his first game action since last season on Tuesday, singling in his first at-bat since August 1. Goldschmidt missed the final two months of 2014 due to a broken hand, but said the injury has not been an issue during camp. 

"It was the last thing on my mind," Goldschmidt said. "It's not the first time I've gotten hit. It's not the first time I've gotten injured. Hopefully it doesn't happen again, but chances are something is going to happen in the future."

Goldschmidt has been wearing a small pad in his batting glove in order to prevent the injury should he get hit in the same spot. He's used the pad during batting practices, and said he doesn't even feel it. 

The 27-year-old hit .300/.396/.542 over 406 at-bats last season. 


Phillies' Ryan Howard cuts sugar from diet, drops 15-20 pounds


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said Tuesday that he has cut sugar from his diet and lost 15-to-20 pounds, The News Journal reports.

Manager Ryne Sandberg said in February that he was impressed with Howard and his slimmer body. The first baseman finished 2 for 2 and made a nice play on a ground ball towards the hole in Tuesday's spring game against the Yankees.

"Getting into game situations now where you've got to put the crowd in effect and everything, picking up balls, that kind of stuff, reaction time, it felt pretty good," Howard said after the game.

Howard has worked with Charlie Manuel on his hitting and approach, and the results have helped the first baseman boost his confidence.

"It's definitely a great feeling," Howard said. "I'm confident in my ability, now it's getting the reps, getting the work in the game type situation and putting it all together."

Howard has struggled at the plate in recent years and hit just .223/.310/.380 with 23 home runs and 95 RBI in 569 at-bats.


Reds' Price: Votto's absence from lineup shouldn't last too long


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price reiterated Tuesday first baseman Joey Votto's absence from the spring lineup shouldn't be a lengthy one, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Votto, who will not play in Tuesday's spring opener against the Indians, is behind other players in drills, including lateral movement and sliding.

"I don't anticipate it being in the middle of the schedule, it's really hard for me to say an exact date," Price said. "It really comes down to getting enough reps to where we're comfortable enough to put him out there and letting him play. It's not like we're going to see a huge separation between him and the rest of the guys."

Price added the team is just being cautious with Votto, who missed 100 games last season with a left knee injury.

"He's come this far, he's put in all the work to do this," Price said. "It just didn't make sense between the medical staff and myself until he gets as many ground balls and the opportunity to slide and cut and do all the drills and do all the things he wasn't able to do before he got to spring training."


Reds' Votto won't play in spring opener, but could get into games soon


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who missed 100 games in 2014 due to a knee injury, will not play in Tuesday's spring opener against the Indians, as manager Bryan Price said Monday that Votto is not up to game speed yet.

Votto said Monday he feels good and expects to be in the spring lineup soon, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"I feel really, really good. I'm surpised at how good I feel this early," Votto said. "I feel like I'm trending toward being able to play games here in the not too distant future. I do feel like I need a little more time, but the time is not a byproduct of avoiding games or not being ready when I need to be ready. It's just to make sure that after taking eight months, 10 months, however long off of baseball, I have to play the game a little bit more to get ready to get the volume in and get the reps it."


Padres OF Alex Dickerson working at first base


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Padres outfielder Alex Dickerson has emphasized working at first base this offseason, including showing up to the Peoria Sports Complex a month ahead of schedule to get ahead in his preparation, U-T San Diego reports.

Dickerson suffered an ankle sprain last spring, and the subsequent MRI revealed a hole in his left heel that would have jeopardized his career had it shattered. After undergoing surgery, the outfielder was able to return to the field in mid-July and hit .321/.367/.496 with three home runs and 24 RBI in 137 at-bats with Double-A San Antonio.

"My leg was still really weak at that point," Dickerson said. "I was supposed to miss the whole season, but I made a conscious effort to try to get on the field. I knew structurally I’d be alright. I could push myself. The one thing that was lagging behind was leg strength, which I lost to atrophy because of lying in bed for a month in a half."

Dickerson played exclusively in right field with San Antonio but did work as a first baseman in 2011 and 2012. He's rotating through both corner-outfield spots as well as first base.

"I honestly think I’m in better shape, baseball-wise, than I was at this point last year," Dickerson said.


Phillies' Ruf will be under the microscope in left field this spring


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf will be competing with Grady Sizemore, Odubel Herrera and Jordan Danks for playing time -- and potentially the starting job -- in left field this spring. The Phillies hope Ruf will be up to the challenge and make the decision difficult as to who to keep on the roster, per The Philadelphia Daily News.

"It all depends on him," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said of Ruf, who has played parts of the last three seasons with the Phillies. "He's going to get opportunities to play. Sizemore looks very good. The decisions that we make will be based on performance here in spring, whether we think they can help us on a regular basis during the season. And once we break with the team, it's going to be about [manager Ryne Sandberg] trying to put the best team out there to win baseball games."

Ruf is a natural first baseman, but he has been learning to play in left field since 2012. Still, the Phillies have to see if they can trust him on a regular basis playing the position.

"I don't know," Amaro said. "He could. He could. We'll find out. We'll find out a little more about him. He's not an outfielder per se, but he seems to move fine out there and he doesn't seem to make mistakes. It's still a learning process for him . . . You can't lose sight of the defense. And we have to be aware of that. We have to win games playing all phases of the games. Defense and pitching are important. Guys have to be good enough defensively not to be liabilities out there, so they can help us win games."


Mets first baseman Lucas Duda could take swings this week


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda may be able to take some swings this week after being held out of batting practice for the first week of camp with an oblique injury, reports MLB.com.

Duda hasn't been able to pick up a bat since suffering the injury in mid-February.

"I told him to be patient," manager Terry Collins said on Sunday. "Hopefully by this particular time next week, maybe he's taking BP."


Nationals 1B/OF Tyler Moore determined to make roster


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Nationals first baseman/outfielder Tyler Moore is out of minor-league options, so if he doesn't make the major-league roster this spring, then he will be subjected to waivers.

"I kind of want to keep my head down and just focus on what we need to do here as a team," Moore said, per MLB.com. "Everybody has one goal. ... This team is so close-knit. I want to enjoy my teammates. Whatever happens, I want to enjoy those guys and give it my all."

Moore, although, is confident given the chance to play regularly, he could produce at the major-league level.

"I would do pretty well," Moore said. "It's about getting an opportunity. I don't know specific numbers. I just feel that maybe that day is coming. We'll see what happens. I just have to keep my head down and keep working."


Brett Wallace could emerge as bench option for Padres


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Brett Wallace is in camp on a minor-league deal looking to earn his way onto the Padres' roster, and the good news for him is that he already has the attention of manager Bud Black, who views the former first-round pick as a potential bench option.

“We think he’s a bat, a corner position, a left-handed bat with some power,” Black said, per U-T San Diego. “I think there’s a natural hitter to this guy that might lend himself to the National League as a bench player. So we’ll see how the spring goes, but there’s a lot to like about him.”


Phillies' Ryan Howard working on his swing


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is working on his swing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Howard has spent time working with Charlie Manuel during camp. Manuel was brought in as spring training hitting instructor. Manager Ryan Sandberg has noticed the change in Howard's approach already. "As far as making some adjustments there, to really zone in to something that can really be productive for him and a little bit more consistent," Sandberg said. "I think there has been a little tweaking going on there."

Howard apparently has looked different at the plate. His stance has been described as "looser" and his hands are much lower when he starts his swing. 

The 35-year-old hit .223/.310/.380 over 569 at-bats last year. 


Matheny: Cardinals' Matt Adams must get comfortable with bunting


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Thursday he hopes slugger Matt Adams will bunt more in 2015 as a way to beat infield shifts, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I don't want him to show it more. I want him to execute it more," Matheny said. "He showed it. It just wasn't very effective. He's going to have to lay it down and lay it down fair.

"The guys have to buy into it. If he wants to keep hitting into the shift, don't try to beat it. The only way to beat it is what (Cubs first baseman Anthony) Rizzo did to us. He's got to make us think when he says, 'I'll take a single all day long.' It's smart, in my opinion.

"He's got to be confident. He worked a lot last year. We'll continue to work on it this year to see if he can become  more comfortable with it."


Mets 1B Lucas Duda (oblique) not ready to swing a bat


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who is dealing with a left oblique injury, will not swing a bat Thursday, but he will go through the team's first full-squad workout, per ESPN. 

Manager Terry Collins said Duda will not swing for at least a week. He has done fielding drills all week. 


Nationals' Mike Carp hopes to be proven left-handed bat off the bench


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Mike Carp told reporters he's looking to contribute as a productive left-handed bat off the bench for the Nationals this season, per MLB.com.

Carp hit .175/.289/.230 over 126 at-bats last season, 86 of which came with Boston. He revealed that a discussion with manager Matt Williams led to him signing a minor-league deal with the Nationals in January.

"Obviously, the pieces are there," Carp said. "Overall, wanting to win -- it seems that's the main focus on everybody's agenda. I couldn't be happier to be with guys who share that same philosophy."


Phillies' Sandberg impressed with Ryan Howard early on in camp


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday he has been impressed with veteran first baseman Ryan Howard following the team's first two full-squad workouts, per MLB.com.

"Ryno looks like, his body looks like right now, he's going to allow himself to be more productive," Sandberg said. "Just running the bases he looks better, a much better chance of scoring from second base. Much better getting to the cutoff spots playing first base. There should be more range there with the way that he looks from the waist down."

Howard has declined to talk to reporters since arriving for camp Monday. Some feel he could be playing with a chip on his shoulder after an interesting offseason, which included settling a nasty legal battle with his family, dealing with trade rumors and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. saying the Phillies would be better off without him.

"He doesn't act like he has a chip on his shoulder," Sandberg said. "He acts like he's a teammate here and he's a veteran guy helping the young players. So I like the attitude and the fact that he's getting after it and doing extra work with Charlie [Manuel], but with [Larry] Bowa in the mornings and sometimes afterwards on the defensive side of things. That'll go a long way with getting the most out of Ryno, really getting back to the ability and where he needs to be on the field."


Reds manager Bryan Price on Joey Votto: 'He looks good'


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price gave reporters positive reviews of first baseman Joey Votto through Cincinnati's first couple of workouts in Arizona, per MLB.com.

"He looks good," Price said. "The only thing he missed that the healthier players had the advantage of doing was really being able to immediately engage in baseball activity. He had to spend the first two-thirds of his offseason really focused on his continued rehab and strengthening. He hasn't had as much baseball activity as some of the guys who finished the year healthier.

"I'm really pleased with how he's moving around, how he looked in the cage, how he looked at first base. He was throwing the ball well, looked spry. I was happy to see that for sure."

Votto struggled with a left quadriceps injury in 2014 and did not play again after July 5. He hit .255/.390/.409 over 220 at-bats last season.


Reds' Joey Votto fires back about lack of leadership criticisms


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Reds first baseman Joey Votto fired back at some recent comments made about the team's lack of leadership in 2014, according to MLB.com.

Votto gathered a group of local beat writers, and said the criticisms lobbed by former Reds pitcher Mat Latos were off-base. Votto didn't directly address Latos, but the pitcher brought the issue to the public recently. "The thing that upsets me the most is the people that are talking about leadership and talking about our clubhouse are not in our clubhouse," Votto said. 

Votto went on to say that he believes the only reason there were negative stories about the team's leadership is due to their poor 2014 season. 

We win this year, all of a sudden there’s going to be a leader on the team or a group of leaders, and so and so did this or so and so did that, we win and all of a sudden everything changes. We have one unhealthy year last year — not a good year, let’s not forget about that, we did not have a good year last year — we need this and we need that. 

The 31-year-old Votto struggled with injuries last year, hitting .255/.390/.409 over 220 at-bats. 


Padres' Yonder Alonso hoping he is past issues with right wrist


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso has been having issues with his right wrist/hand since getting hit by a pitch late in May 2013. However, he is hopeful the issues are behind him coming off surgery in August, per U-T San Diego.

“It’s a monkey off your back type of thing where you kind of just deal with it for a little while and finally put it behind you and go on to do the things I can do when I’m healthy,” Alonso said, adding that he was reporting with zero restrictions.

“(Injuries) are part of the game. You’re going to have your bruises here and there. That’s over with. Hopefully it’s the last time I answer questions about my wrist. Knock on wood.”


Mets OF Lucas Duda won't swing for 2-3 days due to oblique issue


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Mets outfielder Lucas Duda is dealing with a mild oblique issue, according to ESPN New York. Duda took part in fielding drills with the Mets on Tuesday, but is not expected to swing for two to three days.

Duda told reporters his overactive offseason -- which included a two-week trip to Japan for exhibition games -- is to blame.

"He's working his butt off and stuff happens," Collins said, per the New York Post. "I came out here on a Sunday a month ago and he was hitting in the cage."

Duda hit a career-best 30 home runs and drove in a career-high 90 runs in 2014, while batting .253 with a .481 slugging percentage and .830 OPS in 153 games.


Giants' GM: 'We need a bust-out season from' Brandon Belt


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/23/2015) Giants general manager Brian Sabean said the club needs "a bust-out season from" first baseman Brandon Belt, according to the San Jose Mercury News

The 26-year-old came into 2014 poised to have a big season, but injuries got in the way. Belt was limited to just 61 games last season due to a thumb injury and complications with a concussion. He hit .243/.306/.449 over 214 at-bats.

Belt is expected to hit in the middle of the order this season, and that should lead to higher expectations. For what it's worth, Sabean thinks Belt can handle it. "He's capable of it, and he might be poised to do it," he said.


Phillies' Sandberg: It's a new season, fresh year for Ryan Howard


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/23/2015) It hasn't been a secret the Phillies have tried this offseason to trade first baseman Ryan Howard. Although unsuccessful in their attempts to trade the veteran slugger, it appears Howard will be the team's starting first baseman, barring any injuries or spring training moves.

Despite facing some criticism from Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., manager Ryne Sandberg believes Howard can help the team in 2015, per MLB.com.

"It's a new season, a fresh year for him," Sandberg said. "I had a good talk with him about working on his complete game, defensively, running and getting all that in, and I think that will help him with his whole game as well as his offense. It's not about working on one thing and being one dimensional, it's about working on his whole game. And so with the way that he looks, it should be a good camp for him."

Sandberg added he doesn't believe the speculation about Howard's future will affect the veteran first baseman.

"He's a professional and like everyone," Sandberg said. "He's in camp to get ready for a season, get in the best shape possible and get ready to go to help us win. Whatever else happens is on the business side of things and there's nothing you can do about that."


 
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