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Reds manager Price on Phillips: I have not lost confidence in him


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:07 pm ET) Reds manager Bryan Price is expecting to see a fully recovered Brandon Phillips at second base this year.

"I have not lost one bit of confidence or expectation that he's going to have a big year," Price said.

Phillips had his lowest RBI total in the last eight years in 2014, posting just 51. It was also the third lowest on-base percentage of his career, posting a .306 mark.


Christian Colon hoping for long season with Royals


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Royals infielder Christian Colon skipped playing winter ball in Puerto Rico to get ready for what he hopes will be a long season in the majors, MLB.com reports.

"I just worked out, worked on my body," Colon said Friday. "I just continued to hit and take ground balls. I've lost about 10 pounds and gained some good weight. I'm able to move around better, and that's all I was looking for."

Colon made his major-league debut in 2014 and went 15 for 45 with the Royals. He also hit .311/.366/.433 with eight home runs, 47 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 344 at-bats with Triple-A Omaha.


D-Backs' Aaron Hill making strong impression early on in camp


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill has left a strong impression on chief baseball officer Tony La Russa through the early days of spring training, per MLB.com.

"He definitely is in the competition for playing time," La Russa said. "That's just front office talking, remember that, because [manager] Chip [Hale] makes out the lineup. I'm just echoing what Chip has seen. I'm sure he would say the same thing to you."


Angels could use combination of players at 2B


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Angels manager Mike Scioscia hinted that the second base job is wide open, and did not close the door on the possibility of using a combination of players, including Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, Johnny Giavotella and Taylor Featherston for the position, per the Orange County Register.

"If it's a combination, it's a combination," Scioscia said. "If it's one guy, it's one guy."


Brewers' Scooter Gennett glad to have full-time role


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Brewers infielder Scooter Gennett is glad to have a full-time role heading into 2015, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Gennett spent last season in a platoon with Rickie Weeks, but with Weeks gone, he'll assume the full-time role. Gennett said he feels far less stressed about his position on the team this spring. "Seeing as I'm pretty much the everyday guy, that eliminated the stress, or whatever you want to call it, off my back," he said. 

"Just not having to worry about stuff out of my control. I've put myself in this position where I've earned the job, I've shown them what I can do, and now it's about consistently doing it," he added. 

Manager Ron Roenicke has already said he'll give Gennett plenty of opportunities to prove himself against left-handers. 

Gennett, 24, hit .289/.320/.434 over 440 at-bats last season. 


Royals' Infante having no health issues at start of spring training


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Royals second baseman Omar Infante dealt with some injury issues in 2014, including soreness in his elbow, back and shoulder. However, after two days of throwing and hitting at camp, Infante is feeling fine, per MLB.com.

"Everything's good," Infante said on Thursday. "I'm trying to take it a little slow, but right now it all feels fine.

"The shoulder is fine now. I don't really feel anything with [the elbow] either, maybe just a little bit. Not worried."


Marlins 2B Dee Gordon: 'I just want to score runs' in 2015


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon told reporters Thursday that he won't put a number on how many bases he'll swipe this season, and is more focused on improving his on-base percentage and scoring runs in his first season with his new club, per MLB.com.

"No goal," Gordon said. "I just want to score runs. That's it. I scored a lot of runs last year, and I don't think nobody realizes that. Whatever [stolen bases] I get is what I get. Whatever is going to make me score is what I want to do."

Gordon led MLB last season with 64 stolen bags. His 92 runs were tied with then-teammate Yasiel Puig for eighth most in the National League. He hit .289/.326/.378 over 609 at-bats last season.


Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez: 2B gig is 'wide open'


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez confirmed to reporters following Thursday's full-squad workout that the second baseman position is a "wide open" competition, and that Jose Peraza, Alberto Callaspo, Phil Gosselin and Jace Peterson are all entering camp with a chance to make the club, per MLB.com.

"It's wide open," Gonzalez said. "It's all depending on how we want to work second base, the infield and even the bench."


Healthy Tim Beckham to compete for middle-infield spot


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Rays infielder Tim Beckham is in the mix to claim a middle-infield spot this spring after missing most of the 2014 season while rehabbing from knee surgery, MLB.com reports.

Beckham, selected first overall in the 2008 draft, tore his right ACL and underwent sugery on Dec. 17, 2013. He was able to make it back late last season and contribute to a playoff push by Triple-A Durham, hitting .258/.281/.290 in 62 at-bats.

"Coming back and playing last year, playing that month and a half, producing and helping the team out a lot," Beckham said. "And we went pretty far in the playoffs. So that brought a lot of confidence back my way. Just sliding, jumping, those are big hurdles. Just doing stuff you don't do every day off the baseball field. I wouldn't be sliding if I wasn't in a game. So that month and a half was big for me."

Beckham also said the past "not anything I think about," adding, "That's not anything I want to think about right now. I'm here, I'm healthy, and I'll take it one day at a time. Just to be able to be out there with the guys, laughing and taking ground balls, swinging, that's what the game's about, having fun. That's what we started out doing as kids. This is the game we love."

Prior to his ACL injury, Beckham hit .276/.342/.387 with four home runs, 51 RBI and 17 stolen bases in 460 at-bats with Durham in 2013. If he makes the team this spring, the infielder could see time at second base and shortstop.


Cubs INF Tommy La Stella 'very comfortable' at third base


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella said he feels "very comfortable" playing at third base, per MLB.com.

La Stella began to take reps at third base after the Cubs indicated he needed to be able to play more than second base to make the roster following his acquisition from Atlanta.

"It takes a second to get used to, but luckily they gave me the heads up, so I've been able to work out over there for several months," he said.


Report: Mets not planning to engage in contract talks with Murphy


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Mets All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy, who enters his final year under contract, said Thursday he would be willing to discuss signing a contract extension. However, it doesn't appear the Mets have started contract negotiations.

"As of right now I'm a Met for this year, for sure, love to be here in the future," Murphy said, per NJ.com. "But that is way in the future. I got too much anxiety about today to worry about what happens in November.

"I've always been open to an extension. I've never approached the blessing of playing in the big leagues with thinking I need to maximize every single dollar I can get out of this game. I've made a whole bunch of money already. I think that it's something that we've always been willing to discuss. I think maybe both sides just haven't come and discussed it, from my understanding."

It appears Murphy could be headed toward free agency after the season since a team source told ESPN no in-season contract talks are planned. The source added while it is not 100 percent certainty Murphy won't be with the Mets next season, the expectation is the team will let him test free agency.

The source added the Mets are deep with upper-level middle-infield prospects and the team could have a viable successor.


Second baseman Mark Ellis announces retirement


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Long-time Athletics second baseman Mark Ellis has announced his retirement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

"It was definitely time," the 37-year-old Ellis said. "My kids are getting older and I kind of realized it was time to do something else." Ellis spent 12 years in the majors, nine of which came with the Athletics. He was a member of the Cardinals in 2014, but was limited to just 73 games due to an oblique injury. 

Athletics general manager Billy Beane said Ellis was a "consummate professional" when he played, and has a job waiting for him if he ever wants to return to the game. "After some deserved time with Sarah and his children, I’m hopeful, when he is ready, Mark will continue his baseball career with the A’s," Beane said.

Ellis compiled a career .262/.327/.384 over 5,117 at-bats. 


Mariners to platoon Rickie Weeks and Dustin Ackley


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) The Mariners plan on using a platoon in left field this season, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed the news, saying Rickie Weeks would mostly play left field this season. While that means Dustin Ackley's playing time will be reduced, McClendon said the club wasn't trying to send a message when it signed Weeks. "We’re trying to get better, and Rickie Weeks is a good player that can help us win ballgames," he said. "So I think the combination of both of those guys out there should produce a very productive left field."

Weeks was used as a platoon player last season, and put up strong numbers. The 32-year-old hit .274/.357/.452 over 252 at-bats. 

Ackley, 26, hit .245/.293/.398 over 502 at-bats. 


Padres' Cory Spangenberg 'in the mix' for bench role


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Padres manager Bud Black said Wednesday that infielder Cory Spangenberg is "in the mix" for a bench role this season, U-T San Diego reports.

"Absolutely he's in the mix," Black said. "He has versatility, speed, bat. A National League bench player requires certain intangibles and a certain mindset to be able to handle that. He's been an everyday player in the minor leagues, but if you ask a lot of players, 'Would you rather be in Triple-A or a bench player, part-time starter in the big leagues,' what are they going to say? It's not a question."

Spangenberg indicated he's willing to fill any role with the team if he can make the club. "Any role to make the club -- that's what I'm here for," he said. "So anything I can do to help myself out, I'm going to try to do."

If he can make the 25-man roster this spring, Spangenberg will likely serve as a reserve at second base and third base, the two positions that Black believes represent the best fit for the infielder. Spangenberg made his major-league debut in 2014 and hit .290/.313/.452 with two home runs, nine RBI and four stolen bases in 62 at-bats with the Padres.


Blue Jays' Maicer Izturis feels 'very good' heading into 2B battle


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Blue Jays infielder Maicer Izturis said Wednesday that he's back to full health after being limited to just 11 games in 2014 due to knee surgery, MLB.com reports.

"I'm feeling very good," Izturis said Wednesday. "Just trying to do my thing and do much better. ... I've been taking ground balls, hitting. When everybody gets here, we'll see how I turn double plays, run the bases, that kind of stuff."

If Izturis can prove his knee is no longer a concern, he could be the favorite to emerge from a crowded competition for the team's starting role at second base.

"I'm used to a lot of competition from when I was in Anaheim, and this is kind of similar," Izturis said. "Every year I had to compete, had to get a job, and to me there's no pressure, just try to do my best, try to help my team, and that's the goal."

Manager John Gibbons indicated Wednesday that he likes what he's seen of the infielder during the very early stages of camp.

"He looks good, he looks the best I've seen him in three years, physically," Gibbons said. "He's moving better, and you never know coming off an injury like that what's going to happen."

Prior to his lost season, Izturis hit .236/.288/.310 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 365 at-bats in 2013, his first season in Toronto.


Brewers manager Ron Roenicke eyeing infield depth this spring


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Brewers manager Ron Roenicke will spend spring training judging his infielder's versatility for depth behind Jean Segura and Scooter Gennett, per MLB.com.

Milwaukee has three shortstops on its 40-man roster with the chance to break camp with the big-league club. Hector Gomez, 26, and Luis Sardinas, 21, are expected to see time at second base behind Scooter Gennett.

"We want to give Scooter a chance against lefties, but if there's a day off we want to give him, or if it works out that we need to have a [right-handed hitting] guy there more often, who's it going to be?" Roenicke said. "Is it going to be Sardinas? Jimenez, because we know he hits lefties well? Who's that other guy who's going to be there?"

Yadiel Rivera, 22, should see some work at third behind Aramis Ramirez.


White Sox's Micah Johnson looking to be smart on the bases


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) White Sox infielder Micah Johnson is looking to be smart on the bases this season, according to MLB.com.

Johnson stole 87 bases in the minors back in 2013, and said he believes major-leaguers can still post high stolen base totals today. "I don't think those days are over at all," Johnson said. "Athletes are faster, stronger now than ever." 

Johnson has worked with White Sox instructor Vince Coleman on the finer aspects of base-stealing. Coleman was the last player in the majors to steal 100 bases during a season. 

Johnson said he knows he has a physical skills to swipe a bag, but said he needs to be smarter. "I have to use my mind and my desire to learn and study information to help me steal bases. It's just more information here both ways."

Johnson is expected to compete for the starting job at second this spring. The 24-year-old hit .294/.351/.403 over two minor-league levels last year. 


Rangers claim pitcher Edgar Olmos off waivers


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) The Rangers have claimed relief pitcher Edgar Olmos on waivers from the Mariners, reports MLB.com. To make room, the team placed Jurickson Profar on the 60-day DL.

"He had a good year in Triple-A last year," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We'll bring him in, let our pitching coaches work with him and see what we've got."

Olmos went 3-3 with a 4.06 ERA between two stints in the minors in 2014. He added 60 strikeouts and allowed 71 hits over 77 2/3 innings.

"His fastball really rides and gets in on hitters pretty good," Rangers scouting director Josh Boyd said. "Harnessing his command is something we hope to get over the hump. Stuff-wise, the ability to have that kind of velocity is something we want to take a look at."


Mariners' Robinson Cano sporting slimmer look in camp


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano came into camp sporting a slimmer look, according to MLB.com.

Cano said he lost 13 pounds during the offseason, and weighs 212 pounds now. Cano was extra motivated to get in shape after the team missed out on the playoffs by one game in 2014, according to the Tacoma News Tribune

The 32-year-old hit .314/.382/.454 over 595 at-bats last year. 


Astros' Hinch: No pressure on Jose Altuve to repeat


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Astros manager A.J. Hinch doesn't think they'll be any pressure on Jose Altuve this season, according to MLB.com.

Altuve hit an astounding .341, winning a batting title last year. Despite that, Hinch stressed that every year is different, and Altuve will be fine as long as he plays.  "I don't think there's any pressure on him as much as it's the pressure he puts on himself to be an elite player at the highest level," Hinch said. "And he just needs to play."

Hinch also pointed out that teams have had multiple seasons to adjust to Altuve at this point, and haven't been able to do so. "People have been trying to figure him out, and he's a tough out," he said. "He knows his strengths, he uses his strengths. He doesn't carry a lot of baggage with him, positive or negative, at least [that's] the early impression." 

Just like last season, Altuve is expected to hit first or second in the team's batting order. The 24-year-old hit .341/.377/.453 over 660 at-bats last year.


Rangers place Profar on 60-day DL, claim Olmos off waivers


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) The Rangers announced a pair roster moves on Tuesday. Infielder Jurickson Profar, who is expected to miss the 2015 season with a shoulder injury, was officially placed on the 60-day disabled list. In order to make roster space, the Rangers received left-hander Edgar Olmos on waivers from Seattle, per the team's official website.

Cardinals' Wong using postseason success as confidence booster


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong is sure he can hack it in the majors, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"October did a lot for me," Wong said. "It cleared my conscience of what happened (the pickoff) in the World Series. It gave me assurance that I can play at this level." In 18 at-bats in the NLCS, Wong hit .278/.316/.833. He clubbed two big home runs for the team during the series. 

While things went well at the end of the year, Wong admitted it was difficult early on. "It was tough," Wong said. "It was my first full season in the big leagues, and my first taste was definitely hard at times. Up, down, up, down. The thing that changed everything for me towards the end was my confidence kicking in."

After a stint on the disabled list, Wong said he decided to stop being nervous about his production. This enabled him to have fun, and get himself in a better rhythm. 

The 24-year-old is coming off a season in which he hit .249/.292/.388 over 402 at-bats. 


Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has no plans to request trade


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/23/2015) Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has become a cornerstone of the organization. Because of that, the 36-year-old said he has no plans to ask for a trade to a better team or a playoff team, according to MLB.com.

"I really enjoy playing with this organization," he said. "They've done a lot for me, personally, and put together some pretty good teams over the years. So I have a lot of respect for the people making decisions. They've always put together a great bunch of guys. We made it work out. We've had some great opportunities over the years and I respect that."

Utley hit .270 with 11 home runs and 78 RBI in 2014 and would only think about a trade if the team approached him about it.

"For as much respect as I have for the organization, if they ever came to me and asked me, I would have to listen," Utley said. "But I don't think much will change."


Rays might use Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop and second base


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/23/2015) Although Rays infielder Asdrubal Cabrera has primarily played shortstop in his career, manager Kevin Cash is open to the idea of having Cabrera play at both shortstop and second base in 2015, per MLB.com.

"I think coming in right now, we're going to be versatile," Cash said. "And he's going to be versatile going back and forth, getting his work in at both spots. I know that we would like to have the [decision made]. [The] earlier the better. Because it gives the guys a better sense going into the season. That doesn't always play out that way. But Cabby, his conversations in the offseason with everybody, he's been very open minded. We're ecstatic to have him in there every day."

Cabrera, who fielded grounders at second and short Monday, said he would prefer to play one position instead of constantly bouncing back and forth.

"Yeah, I would like to stay at one position," Cabrera said. "I think it's hard for anyone to play short then come back at second. It's not the same."


M's McClendon wants to limit Cano, Seager to 150 starts in field


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/23/2015) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon would like to limit second baseman Robinson Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager to around 150 defensive starts in 2015, per the Tacoma News Tribune.

Cano played 150 games at second base in 2014, while Seager played 157 games at third base.

“Robby (who is 32) is at the point now where he’s not going to play 162 games anymore,” McClendon said. “I’d like to see (Seager) in the 150-range as well.

“Quite frankly, I played (Seager) too much down the stretch, but I had no choice. Bloomy (Willie Bloomquist) was down.”


 
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