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Phillies' Ryan Howard working on his swing


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) 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. 


Indians' Francona: Swisher 'swinging the bat really well'


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Indians manager Terry Francona has been satisfied with Nick Swisher's performance during batting practice, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

"He's swinging the bat really well," Francona said. "He's under control and he probably has to be (because of his knees). But he's using the whole field. He really looks good." 

Swisher has been working with the team's hitting coaches on trying to go up the middle more often. Francona said that strategy has already translated to his batting practice sessions. 

Running still remains an issue for Swisher, however. He was able to do some drills on Thursday, but reportedly looked uncomfortable during the session. The club expects he'll be ready for games in mid-March.

Swisher, 34, hit .208/.278/.331 over 360 at-bats last year. 


Mariners' Morrison spends offseason working on improving durability


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison has struggled to stay healthy through his first five years in the majors. In order to improve his durability, Morrison said he hired a new trainer in the offseason, per The News Tribune.

“I think I’m a little more educated about my body,” he said. “He’s given me a program to do -- whether it’s a warm-up every day or a three-day-a-week workout program. Hopefully, that will keep me healthy.”

Morrison is confident he will be a valuable part of the lineup, as long as he can stay healthy.

“Just put me in the lineup every day,” he vowed, “and I’ll produce. It’s up to me to stay in the lineup, but if I’m in the lineup every day, I know I’m going to hit, and I know I’m going to hit well and be a force in the lineup.”

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is optimistic Morrison can reach his full potential.

“LoMo is relatively young as far as active years under his belt,” McClendon said. “He’s still maturing from that standpoint. He’s still learning. I think his ceiling is very high.

“I think, all in all, he’s got a chance to be  a guy who can hit 25 home runs for us and drive in 100. He’s a good hitter. He hits left-handers and right-handers. He takes his walks."


Ike Davis still bothered by 2012 report accusing him of drinking issue


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) When the Mets traded Ike Davis to the Pirates last April, it put an end to a disappointing tenure in New York. Davis struggled to meet the expectations of being a former first-round pick, which is something he could live with.

Apparently, however, Davis couldn't live with a 2012 report citing the Mets were concerned about his nightlife habits. Davis had to encounter the topic when he met with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after he was traded last year.

“Clint asked me about it when I first got over there,” Davis said, per the New York Daily News. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, but a guy made up an article.’

“He was like, ‘I heard you’ve had issues.” And I was like, ‘Issues with what? I’ve never gotten in trouble. I’ve never gotten in a fight. I’ve never done anything to anyone. Yeah, I’ve gone out and had beers and stuff, but who hasn’t done that?’ I don’t know why I got singled out.”

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told Davis at the end of last season he would squash any rumors regarding the issue, calling the report "ridiculous" after Davis proved to be a model teammate in 2014.

Even Athletics manager Bob Melviin said Davis’ reputation in the game is now sound and is glad to have him on the roster after Oakland picked him up in November.

Still, Davis remains bothered the accusations are connected to his tenure with the Mets.

“That’s really the only thing that I still have a dirty taste in my mouth about," he said. "Because everything else, you could see it in numbers. What, am I going to argue? I didn’t play well. But as far as calling me out for drinking problems, and being a bad influence -- that was a joke. It’s ridiculous. But you can use it as a learning experience: You can’t trust people.”


Edwin Encarnacion told he will see most of his playing time at 1B


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion said Thursday as he arrived for spring training that he is ready for whatever role the team has in store for him in 2015. The original plan was for Encarnacion to be the team's primary DH, but it now appears most of his playing time will come at first base.

"They told me I'm going to be playing more first base," Encarnacion said, per MLB.com. "I've worked hard this offseason [because] I knew I'm going to get more time at first. But I'm ready for whatever they need me, if they need more at first base, or if they need me at DH, I'm ready."

Encarnacion was plagued by a quad injury in the second half of the 2014 season. He put a lot of work in this offseason to help improve his durability, and he hopes the added effort will pay off.

"I worked a lot on my back and my stomach because I know have to get it stronger to get my back right," Encarnacion said. "And working a lot with my leg. Right now I'm 230 [pounds], that's where I want to be, under 230, that's when I feel good and I can be away from the injuries."


Twins' Molitor: Joe Mauer won't hit lower than third in lineup


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Twins manager Paul Molitor is still settling on where first baseman Joe Mauer will bat in the lineup in 2015. However, he said Thursday that Mauer won't hit lower than third.

"I've toyed with how different things might shake, but it's hard to be presumptuous because we have a few positions where we don't know who that will be," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "It might influence what happens. I don't think he's going to have to worry about being anywhere on the backside of three.

"We have some people who can do things at the top of our lineup with Brian (Dozier) and Danny (Santana) up top. But I'm going to try to give some guys different opportunities to hit in different spots just to see how it goes. I think as we get to closer to the end, I'll have more of an idea of who I want to hit where."


Blue Jays' Gibbons: Valencia, Colabello will see time at LF


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Blue Jays manager John Gibbons hinted that Danny Valencia and Chris Colabello will see some time at left field this spring, according to Sportsnet.ca. Toronto is hoping to fill a void at left field after the team announced Thursday that Michael Saunders will be sidelined until July with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

In his career, Valencia played left field in only five games in the minors. Colabello has logged 30 career games in the majors at left field.


A's Melvin: Mark Canha is ahead of Nate Freiman for backup 1B gig


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Athletics manager Bob Melvin indicated that Mark Canha is ahead of Nate Freiman for the backup first baseman job, according to the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday. Melvin indicated a few days earlier that may see playing time in the outfield as well as at first base.

Canha was acquired after being selected by the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft this offseason. He spent most of his playing time in the minors at first base. He slashed 303/.384/.505 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 465 at-bats with Triple-A New Orleans in 2014.

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. 


Tigers star Miguel Cabrera getting closer to fielding grounders


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday star slugger Miguel Cabrera (ankle) is running at 65 percent body weight with a slight incline on the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, per MLive.com. 

Ausmus added once Cabrera gets to 80 percent body weight on the treadmill, he can start fielding grounders hit directly to him.

Cabrera already has the option to hit on the field against a batting practice pitcher. However, he has chosen to hit in the batting cages.


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.


Indians' Brandon Moss 'puts on show' in first BP of the spring


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Indians outfielder Brandon Moss took batting practice for the first time this spring, and slightly ahead of schedule. According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, he was "putting on a show" with plenty of towering shots to right field.

"I was just trying to find some quick twitch in there instead of letting my huge muscles take over," Moss said after the session.

Moss underwent surgery in October to repair the damage to his injured left hip. He fought through pain in the hip late last season after dealing with stiffness early in the year. He hit 234/.334/.438 with 25 home runs and 81 RBI in 500 at-bats last season.


Yankees' Mark Teixeira: 'I expect to have a great year' in 2015


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira arrived to spring training Wednesday brimming with confidence following a productive offseason. Teixeira overhauled his diet and workout plan, as he cut gluten, dairy and sugar from his diet and went back to weight-heavy workouts, per The Journal News.

“I was weaker than I’d probably ever been in my whole career last year just because of the injury the year before and not being able to work out like I usually do,” Teixeira said. “This was just a great offseason all around. … I probably lost two pounds; 15 pounds of fat I lost and gained 13 pounds of muscle, so I ended up losing about two pounds. Just shows how much deficit there was.”

Teixeira hasn't played more than 123 games in any of the last three seasons due to injury issues. His offense has suffered during that time, as he has hit just .229 with a .431 slugging percentage since 2012. Still, Teixeira appears confident he will have a bounce-back year in 2015.

“I’ve always been a big, strong guy,” he said. “Always been a big weight lifter. I convinced myself one offseason that I wanted to work on my swing more, and swung so much that I blew out my wrist. You learn. You learn from mistakes. I think you’re always learning from mistakes. I kind of basically just went back to what I’ve always done, and that’s just hit the weights really hard because I need to be strong. I’m a power hitter, a guy that has to drive the ball from both sides of the plate, and that’s what I did this offseason.

"Last year, I came into spring training hoping to have a good year. I really didn’t know where I was. I knew I wasn’t feeling great, knew I wasn’t 100 percent. This year I expect to have a great year.”


Orioles' Chris Davis out to prove he is better than a .196 hitter


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is out to prove this season he is a better hitter than his .196 average in 2014 showed, per MLB.com.

“I always feel like if I’m swinging the bat well, I’m going to carry a good average and the home runs are going to be there, the RBI are going to be there," he said. "I think the thing that really killed me was early on obviously the oblique, but I was carrying a decent batting average and I actually had a good number of RBI, but my home runs were down. It was cold. There were some balls you hit that didn’t leave and you kind of start second-guessing yourself.

"The worst thing I could have done was go out there and try to hit home runs and I did that, and you saw the effects of that on my average. There was no doubt that was extremely disappointing. I know I’m way better than a .196 hitter and hopefully go back out there and prove it this year.”


Astros' Singleton has plan to improve game after rough rookie season


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Astros first baseman Jon Singleton had a rough MLB debut in 2014. Not only did he struggle offensively, batting .168 with 134 strikeouts in 95 games, he also made 11 errors. 

It seems, however, Singleton has formulated a plan to make sure his output improves in 2015.

"Just try to take things slow, just day by day, moment by moment, really," Singleton said, per the Houston Chronicle. "I know things I need to work on. Everything's a work in progress, as long as I can take things slow and moment by moment and work on progressing and not the entire picture. I have an effective plan when I go up to the plate. I just have to slow my thoughts down and prepare myself better before I attack."

Although, Singleton still needs to prove this spring he deserves a starting job at the major-league level. He could be sent back to the minors, if he is unable to make an impact this spring.

"Maybe," manager A.J. Hinch said when asked if Singleton needs to receive everyday at-bats. "It's yet to be determined. You want him to play; he's a young player. It probably depends exactly how that breaks down before we determine what's more valuable to Jon Singleton being a great major-league player.

"There's always that debate at the end of the camp if guys are on the bubble. But he's not on the bubble yet. He's right at the beginning of a camp. (First base is) where he's going to be playing for a new coaching staff, a new manager and just being himself -- and taking a deep breath in between at-bats."


Astros' Jon Singleton impressing early in camp


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Astros first baseman Jon Singleton has impressed in the batting cages during the early part of camp, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"Tremendous ability, tremendous power," hitting coach Dave Hudgens said. "He really looks focused, watching him go through just his last couple days I've been with him. His (batting practices) have been really good. He's come in the cage; he's working hard. I really like what I see."

Singleton is looking to work his way into playing time this spring, as the Astros could potentially look to Evan Gattis and Chris Carter to fill regular roles at first base and designated hitter. However, if Singleton proves himself ready, either Gattis or Carter could be shifted to left field. Manager A.J. Hinch said it has yet to be determined whether Singleton will require everyday at-bats.

"You want him to play," Hinch said. "He's a young player. It probably depends exactly how that breaks down before we determine what's more valuable to Jon Singleton being a great major league player. There's always that debate at the end of the camp if guys are on the bubble. But he's not on the bubble yet. He's right at the beginning of a camp. (First base is) where he's going to be playing for a new coaching staff, a new manager and just being himself -- and taking a deep breath in between at-bats."

Singleton hit just .168/.285/.335 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI in 310 at-bats last season, his first in the majors.


Orioles' Chris Davis receives therapeutic-use exemption


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Orioles infielder Chris Davis received a therapeutic-use exemption for 2015, but not for Adderall, according to FoxSports.com.

Instead, Davis received an exemption for Vyvanse, which is also used to treat attention-deficit disorder. Davis tested positive for Adderall last season, leading to a 25-game suspension. Vyvanse is less likely to be abused for non-therapeutic reasons, according to MLB doctors, which is why it's been suggested over Adderall. 

Davis has tried the new drug this winter, and said it's worked well thus far. "That was part of the process – try the Vyvanse to see I liked it, if I liked it better or wanted to go back to Adderall," Davis said. "I liked Vyvanse better."

Davis still has one game left on his suspension, and will miss opening day this year. After that, Davis said he's "good to go." 

The 28-year-old hit .196/.300/.404 over 450 at-bats last year. 


Indians' Brandon Moss: 'I feel outstanding'


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Indians outfielder Brandon Moss is extremely optimistic about being ready by opening day and has looked and felt good in the early portion of spring workouts, MLB.com reports.

"I feel really good. I'm hitting all the marks," Moss said. "I'm ahead on a lot of what we're doing. I feel great. Obviously, they have a timetable and a frame in which they're trying to keep me to make sure everything goes as planned, but right now I feel outstanding. It's going much better than even I anticipated it going. It's looking really good right now."

Moss underwent surgery in October to repair the damage to his injured left hip. He fought through pain in the hip late last season after dealing with stiffness early in the year.

"I was surprised at how well I was doing early in the year to be honest," he said. "The hip was so bad. That's one of those things that happened the way it happened. It's over with. ... You move on and, shoot, I've got a great opportunity here with this team. You talk about a good core group of guys, this team has it, and it's a team that's been trending in the right direction. It's a great place to be, and I'm pumped."

Moss hit .234/.334/.438 with 25 home runs and 81 RBI in 500 at-bats last season.


Alter-G treadmill for Cabrera, Iglesias arrives at Tigers' camp


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) The Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill arrived at Tigers' camp on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Both Miguel Cabrera and Jose Iglesias will use the treadmill in order to rehab their injuries. The machine allows the players to run at a reduced weight, decreasing the stress they will put on their legs during workouts. 

Both Cabrera and Iglesias are hoping to be ready for the start of the season. 


Athletics' Melvin: Mark Canha may see time in outfield


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Athletics manager Bob Melvin indicated that Mark Canha may see playing time in the outfield as well as at first base, the Associated Press reports.

"Canha can go against lefties or righties and even play some outfield," Melvin said.

Acquired after being selected by the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft this offseason, Canha has spent most of his minor-league career at first base but has seen 83 appearances in left field and nine in right field, as well as 29 at third base and one behind the plate. He hit .303/.384/.505 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 465 at-bats with Triple-A New Orleans in 2014.


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.”


 
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