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Padres C Griff Erickson joined Padres for 'opportunity'


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:33 pm ET) Padres catcher Griff Erickson is in camp as a nonroster invitee and said Wednesday he chose to join his hometown team for "the opportunity," U-T San Diego reports.

"It's not about the money," Erickson said. "I could've signed somewhere else, got paid more money. It's about the opportunity. I feel like here, not only is it just because it's my hometown, it's a great opportunity."

Erickson is in major-league camp for the third time this season. He hit .297/.384/.510 with seven home runs and 29 RBI in 155 at-bats with Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014.


Cubs taking wait-and-see approach on Welington Castillo's future


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:49 pm ET) Although Cubs catcher Welington Castillo is on the trade block and could be dealt before opening day, manager Joe Maddon told reporters that he's going to let the Castillo rumors play out before he decides whether he'll break camp with three catchers, per Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

"Let's just play it (out)," Maddon said. "Let's get him ready. He's really good. I really mean it. I like Castillo a lot. He's really opened up also in talking to guys and among the group, which is really nice to hear. There's a lot of good stuff going on there."


Rockies' Wilin Rosario receives positive reviews at first base


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario received positive reviews after playing first base on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Rosario showed off his athleticism, saving two possible errors during the appearance. The club is trying to work Rosario in at the position after signing Nick Hundley in the offseason. Rosario has been taking extra fielding practice at first during camp. Rosario is expected to see equal time at first and behind the plate this spring.

The 26-year-old hit .267/.305/.435 over 382 at-bats last year.


Padres C Wil Nieves expresses familiarity with NL West hitters


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Wil Nieves, who is competing for the Padres' backup catcher role this spring, expressed familiarity with the division's hitters after spending time with the Rockies and Diamondbacks in recent years, MLB.com reports.

"I've played so many years in the NL and have seen many of the same hitters year after year after year, I already know how to pitch most of these guys, especially guys in this division," Nieves said.

Nieves is competing with Tim Federowicz and has the edge in experience in the battle to back up Derek Norris.

"Those three guys have good heads on their shoulders," manager Bud Black said of the three catchers.

Nieves spent 2014 with the Phillies, hitting .254/.270/.344 with one home run in 122 at-bats.


Report: Red Sox, Phillies haven't made progress on Hamels' deal


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/2/2015) The Red Sox and Phillies have not made progress on a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, according to the Boston Herald. 

The Red Sox have been mentioned as a contender for Hamels in the past, but the club is hesitant to give up their top prospects for the pitcher. Though Phillies' special assistant to the general manager Charley Kerfeld was spotted at Red Sox facilities on Monday, two sources told the Herald that no progress has been made on a deal. 

The Phillies are said to covet either Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, but Boston has refused to include either player in a deal.

Hamels, 31, posted a 2.46 ERA over 204 2/3 innings last year.


Braves' Tanner Murphy drawing praise from bullpen coach


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Braves catcher Tanner Murphy is feeling the love this spring. The second-year player is being tabbed by bullpen coach Eddie Perez as the guy to watch in spring training.

"He's my number one guy so far," Perez said. "It's nice to have somebody like him because you don't know what's going to happen. When you look at this kid, you know something good is going to happen."

Murphy played just 82 games of rookie ball last year.

"He's got some talent and he's got some ability," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I saw him throw to the bases. (Catching instructor) Joe Breeden has seen him the most and Joe likes him a lot."


Miguel Montero trying to become workhorse with Cubs in 2015


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) New Cubs catcher Miguel Montero played the third most games behind the plate of all catchers in 2014 and he's not asking for any extra time off heading into 2015, reports MLB.com.

"I think the results of how you're playing as a team will dictate how you feel," Montero said. "You go to the playoffs, you're never tired. Your adrenaline goes so fast. You don't have time to think about, 'Oh, I've been catching 140 games.' Your mindset is, 'Let's go.'"

Manager Joe Maddon loves what he's seen from Montero, but knows expecting 162 games out of him is just too much.

"It won't be 162," Maddon said, "but we'll talk and try to figure out a nice little program to keep him on top of his game and provide that opportunity for other guys to play, too."


Dodgers C Yasmani Grandal impressing early at camp


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has impressed at Camp Boomer, presided over by Dodgers coach Steve "Boomer" Yeager, MLB.com reports.

"I like what I see and what I hear from him," Yeager said. "It takes time to gain the respect of the pitching staff and teammates whenever a catcher comes from somewhere else, but some of them already know him. In the old Dodger tradition, we've welcomed him with open arms. He has come in with a good attitude; you don't have to go looking for him. He's right there, ready to go to work."

Grandal was acquired this offseason as the centerpiece in the trade that sent outfielder Matt Kemp to San Diego.

"In a short time, I've already learned a lot," Grandal said. "Getting to know the guys, catching bullpens, I'm getting a feel for how they throw. Everything comes with time. Once the games start [on Wednesday], it'll definitely come a little faster. I need to get to know what guys are looking for in a catcher, what their mentality is. Some guys like you to give them a pat on the back. With others, it's a different approach."

Grandal is expected to share time behind the plate with incumbent starter A.J. Ellis this season.


Phillies backup catcher spot up for grabs


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The Phillies know Carlos Ruiz will be their opening day starter behind the plate. However, manager Ryne Sandberg is unclear as to who will backup Ruiz when the season begins, reports Philly.com.

"That's one of the areas in camp I think there's some competition," Sandberg said. "[I] need some game reps and game situations to really see them. I like the way that they're all going about it as a group. To get them into games and see how that goes, that will play big in that decision."

Cameron Rupp, Koyie Hill and John Hester are all vying for the position. Rupp is considered the favorite, according to the report, with the most pro experience, hitting .183 with six RBI and four runs scored in 60 plate appearances last season.

"Nothing's handed to anybody," Rupp said, "so I come out every day looking to get better, work on things that I need to improve on, and put my best foot forward."


Brewers sign Robinzon Diaz to minor-league deal


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The Brewers have signed catcher Robinzon Diaz to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday.

Diaz, 31, hasn't played in the majors since 2009 with the Pirates. He hit .264/.288/.339 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 292 at-bats between Double-A Huntsville and Triple-A Nashville.


Dodgers unsure how Grandal, Ellis will split time


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Dodgers aren't sure how they'll platoon their two catchers, according to the Orange County Register.

A.J. Ellis has been the team's primary option the past few seasons, but the club brought in Yasmani Grandal during the offseason. While Grandal has a much higher offensive upside, it's unclear how much he'll play once the regular season begins. 

"There’s nothing going to come out of this camp where we’re going to say, ‘OK, this guy is going to start 72 percent of the time’" general manager Andrew Friedman said. "It’s going to be much more about Donnie (Mattingly) writing the lineup each and every day for what gives us the best chance to win that day."

Mattingly admitted that Grandal has "tremendous upside offensively," so it's possible he could lead that way more often. While Mattingly has indicated that he doesn't want to assign any personal catchers yet, there's a sense Ellis could be used when Clayton Kershaw is on the mound. 

Grandal hit .225/.327/.401 over 377 at-bats last year. Ellis hit .191/.323/.254 over 283 at-bats. 


Padres' Black: Austin Hedges getting closer to the big leagues


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Padres catcher prospect Austin Hedges spent some time this offseason working with hitting coach Mark Kotsay and the progress he made has left the team encouraged about his future, per MLB.com.

"This year, I notice more maturity. He's still young, but he's getting closer to the big leagues. I think he is starting to understand our message of the pitcher-catcher relationship," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's doing a lot of things very well in camp."

Hedges, who was the Padres' No. 1 prospect last season (per MLB.com), will likely start the season in Triple-A. For now, he will just work on getting better while he is in major-league camp.

"This is exactly where I want to be," Hedges said. "I'm lucky to be here. You start to feel like you belong. You feel like you can make a difference in a big-league game. The coaches have done a great job making me feel comfortable and preparing me."


Rockies manager Weiss: I won't carry three pure catchers on roster


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Rockies manager Walt Weiss made it clear that he won't carry three pure catchers on the 25-man active roster, and told reporters that Wilin Rosario is "serviceable" as a backup first baseman option, per the Denver Post.

"I don't think it can be strictly three catchers," Weiss said. "Somebody is going to have to be more versatile than just a catcher. I don't envision carrying three catchers only.

"Obviously, you are talking about Wilin at first base. I think he's going to be very serviceable over there and the more things he can do, the better it is for us."

With Nick Hundley likely slated to serve as the club's No. 2 catcher behind Rosario, Michael McKenry appears destined to start the year in the minors, barring a trade before opening day.


Diamondbacks' Peter O'Brien making noise early in camp


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Diamondbacks catcher Peter O'Brien has been making some noise early in camp, according to MLB.com.

O'Brien came over in the Martin Prado deal last season, and has put on a show the first few days during batting practice. O'Brien impressed former D-Backs outfielder Luis Gonzalez after blasting a ball off the batter's eye in centerfield during a recent session. After the hit, Gonzalez jokingly said, "hang in there. The power will come soon."

Teammate Tuffy Gosewisch seemed to agree. "Sometimes there's guys in BP where you see them hit a few home runs and you might yourself try to hit some home runs to match them, but he's on another level and it's fun to watch."

The 24-year-old O'Brien is expected to begin the season in the minors, but could be promoted if the Diamondbacks current options, including Gosewisch, falter out of the gate. 


Cardinals catcher Mike Ohlman learning from Mike Matheny


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/23/2015) New Cardinals catcher Micahel Ohlman is looking to improve his defense behind the plate. Who better to learn from then manager Mike Matheny who caught 622 games for St. Louis during his playing career.

"If I can take anything away that somehow clicks with me and just puts me over the edge getting my defense a little better, help the pitchers out and give the team the best chance to win," Ohlman said, "I'm not afraid to go in and ask him questions. I think it's hard for anybody of any size, I think, because you have to be in every play. You can't take a single pitch off. But it can be harder having longer limbs."

Matheny is very excited about Ohlman and is hoping to see him make his way to the major league club this year.

"I'm very impressed," Matheny said. "He has been a sponge. There are some things he's been working on that we've been able to see improvements on. He looks like a kid with a lot of potential."


Cubs considering keeping three catchers on roster


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/22/2015) Cubs general manager Theo Epstein believes in Welington Castillo, but he's not sure if it'll be with Chicago. 

Epstein said Saturday Castillo will be on a major league roster this season. "Keeping three catchers is something we are contemplating," Epstein said, according to 670thescore.com.

Castillo is competing with Miguel Montero and David Ross at catcher after hitting .237 with 13 home runs and 46 RBI in 380 plate appearances in 2014.


Cardinals' Yadier Molina dropped weight during the offseason


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/22/2015) Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina reported to camp 15-20 pounds lighter, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Molina said he got in better shape in order to catch more this season. "I want to be ready for the season," Molina said. "I can catch every day." Molina was limited to just 110 games last year due to various injuries. 

Mike Matheny said Molina's committment sends a clear message to his teammates. "That’s the message he’s sending us," Matheny said. "It’s pretty clear. It’s one thing for a guy to come in and say, 'I’ve been playing a lot for a long time and I’m planning on walking in here and doing the same thing.' It’s another to show us like that."

The 32-year-old Molina hit .282/.333/.386 over 404 at-bats last year. 


 
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