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Ryan Braun says his thumb feels 'significantly better'


by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun, who underwent a thumb procedure last October, said his thumb feels "significantly better" than at this time last year, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Braun was plagued throughout last season by a nerve issue at the base of his thumb, the paper noted.

"Knock on wood, I feel great; it feels really good," Braun told reporters.

"Everything is going well. Regular offseason, regular routine. I started hitting a little bit earlier than I typically do, just to see how it felt. So far, so good. It feels really good.

"I do everything I regularly do. I don't hit off live pitching but I take regular batting practice like we would during the season, and it feels good. I don't feel anything at all."

Added Braun: "I know it's significantly better than where it was this time last year, which I'm encouraged by. But as I told you guys the last time I saw everybody (at Thanksgiving) the real test will come in spring training, once we've played games for a couple of weeks and that everyday wear and tear. See how it recovers, see how it responds."


Report: Yelich, Hechavarria turn down offers from Marlins


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) The Marlins are no longer discussing multiyear contracts with outfielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, reports the Miami Herald.

A significant gap between Yelich and the Marlins has caused contract talks on a long-term deal to stall. Hechavarria turned down the Marlins' multiyear contract because the offer was not significant enough. He can become a free agent after the 2018 season, while Yelich can become a free agent after 2019.


Braves encouraged B.J. Upton can bounce back in 2015


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer recently worked with outfielder B.J. Upton and said he's encouraged on the progress Upton has made on his swing, reports MLB.com.

"I feel really, really good about it, because [Upton] was very open to everything that I suggested," Seitzer said. "We had a really good three days together -- three pretty intense days together. I think he feels pretty good about what I'm going to bring, and I feel good about the adjustments he has made."

Upton struggled throughout 2014, hitting .208 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI. With no teams willing to absorb the more than $46 million left on Upton's contract, the Braves have no choice, but to hope Upton can improve his hitting numbers.

"He did great [this week]," Seitzer said. "He made great adjustments, and I'm very encouraged that he's going to be able to come back and play the way he wants to play."

Seitzer added that he worked on Upton's mechanics and approach at the plate and he wants Upton to shorten his swing.

"Any hitter that has a tendency to be long [with their swing], where their hands get away from the body, is going to have a tough time catching up to fastballs," Seitzer said. "They will also be vulnerable to offspeed pitches and inside pitches."


Report: Indians, Orioles showing interest in Nolan Reimold


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Indians are reportedly showing a lot of interest in outfielder Nolan Reimold , according to MASNSports.com. Cleveland is trying to sign the six-year veteran to a minor-league contract with the Orioles still showing interest as well.

The outfielder hit .232 in 69 plate appearances in 2014 with 13 RBI.


Braves claim OF Eury Perez off waivers


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Braves announced they have claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees, according to the club's official website

Perez hit .311 with one home run and 20 steals in 212 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse before he was claimed by the Yankees in late-September. He had two hits in 10 at-bats for the Yankees during the final stretch of the 2014 season.


Rockies' Bridich: CarGo 'on schedule' in recovery from knee surgery


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who had surgery to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee in August, is "on schedule" in his recovery, per MLB.com. 

"CarGo is in town right now," said Bridich, who added that Gonzalez's left index finger, where a benign tumor was removed last year, also has healed and the outfielder is throwing. "He's going through the routine check-ins, and he's exactly on schedule. We're hopeful to get him on the field sometime soon. Obviously, it's winter here, so it's tough."


Cubs OF Dexter Fowler settles on $9.5M salary for 2015 season


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Cubs and outfielder Dexter Fowler avoided arbitration Friday, agreeing to a $9.5 million salary for the 2015 season, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. It was $150,000 below the midpoint of the numbers the two sides exchanged.

Fowler was in his final year of arbitration. He made $7.35 million in 2014 with the Astros.


Marlins agree to terms with OF Ichiro Suzuki


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Marlins have agreed to terms with free-agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on Friday, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman confirms. Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio first reported the deal. According to Heyman, he'll receive $2 million in 2015.

Suzuki, 41, will serve as Miami's fourth outfielder, behind Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Ichiro is 156 hits shy of 3,000 career hits, and will now have a chance to reach that feat in Miami. Last season, he hit .284/.324/.334 with one home run and 20 RBI over 356 at-bats with the Yankees. He stole 15 bases in 18 tries.


Braves sign outfielder Jonny Gomes


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) The Braves have signed outfielder Jonny Gomes, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. The deal was initially reported by Yahoo Sports.

Gomes has been linked to the team this offseason, and could be used as a platoon option in left. Gomes, 34, has consistently hit better against lefties over his career, posting a .277/.376/.485 slash line against southpaws. The deal is for one year, and contains a vesting option, according to FoxSports.com. Gomes will make $4 million in 2015, and has a $3 million vesting option for 2016. If Gomes' option doesn't vest, it becomes a team option, according to Heyman. 


Reds' Hamilton works on improving contact to help cut down on Ks


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton said he has spent the offseason in Atlanta working with Triple-A Louisville manager Delino DeShields, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"We're working a lot on bunting and making contact," Hamilton said Thursday. "I struck out way too much."

Hamilton did not play in winter ball for the first time as a pro. He said the focus this offseason has been on strength and conditioning.

Hamilton hit .250 as a rookie in 2014, but he hit .285 before the All-Star break and .200 after it. 

"All we can do is speculate that his second half of the season was just getting used to playing in the bigs for the full season," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I certainly think strength certainly February through October is important. Getting stronger, getting re-acquainted with acumen for bunting, getting more balls hit on the ground, more hard line drives, instead of balls in the air."


Nationals' Werth (shoulder): My goal is to be ready by opening day


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder Jan. 9, said he still has some normal residual discomfort from the operation but feels better, per The Washington Post.

While Werth is expected to undergo 2-3 months of rehab, which puts his status for opening day in jeopardy, he remains hopeful of a quick recovery because his operation was minimally-invasive and with no complications.

“I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the rest of my career but also want to get on the field an play,” he said. “It’s a balance. … As soon as I’m ready, I’ll be back. … My goal is opening day. If I can’t make opening day in D.C., then I want to make opening day in Boston. I’m going to try to be back as soon as I can without doing something stupid.”


Reds' Price indicates OF Jay Bruce is past 2014 knee injury


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Reds outfielder Jay Bruce missed a few weeks in May last season due to knee surgery. The injury and time off were likely contributors to the 27-year-old outfielder having one of the worst seasons of his career.

Well, according to manager Bryan Price, you probably won't get much out of Bruce if you ask him how is left knee is doing these days

"I think he's prefer not to be asked about his knee," Price said, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It was a part of 2014 and will not be a part of 2015."

Bruce hit .217 with 18 home runs, 21 doubles and 66 RBI in 137 games in 2014.


Report: Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez cleared to take BP on field


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/21/2015) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who underwent knee surgery in August, has been cleared to take batting practice on the field, according to MLB.com. He is also allowed to run straight ahead, but he won't be allowed to change direction until spring training begins.

Gonzalez, who was an All-Star in 2012-13, was limited to 70 games in 2014. He hit .238 with 11 home runs, 15 doubles and 38 RBI. 


Report: Rockies 'not initiating trade talks' for Charlie Blackmon


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/21/2015) While the Rockies have fielded calls for outfielder Charlie Blackmon, the team “is not initiating trade talks," a major-league source told The Denver Post.

Blackmon made his first All-Star team in 2014. He hit .288 with three triples, 19 home runs, 27 doubles, 72 RBI, 82 runs and 28 stolen bases in 154 games.


Report: Marlins offer Ichiro a one-year deal around $2 million


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/21/2015) The Marlins have offered veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki a one-year contract in the $2 million range, according to The Miami Herald. The Marlins remain optimistic they will be able to strike a deal with the 2001 AL MVP.

Ichiro likes the idea of playing in Miami, but the 10-time All-Star has been waiting to see if an opportunity arises where he could earn more playing time. He would be the Marlins' fourth outfielder, if he signs. Ichiro could make a decision soon.


Report: Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez may be cleared by next week


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/20/2015) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was able to take swings Tuesday and may be cleared for more on-field activies by next week, according to FOXSports.com.

Gonzalez underwent surgery to repair a patellar tendon in his knee in August after dealing with discomfort for most of the 2014 season. The outfielder hit .238 in 2014 with 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 260 at-bats.


Phillies' Ben Revere out to overcome pain-filled 2014 season


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/20/2015) Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere revealed Tuesday he dealt with a lot of pain in his right ankle for much of the 2014 season. In 2013, Revere's season was cut short after he fractured his ankle, which required surgical screws to be placed in it. The screws stayed in his ankle during the 2014 season.

"The more the season went on it just got worse and worse and worse," Revere said. 

He also received much scarier news from doctors after the season was over.

"The doctors told me after the surgery that the screws were going into my nerves and that is what was causing all the pain," Revere said. "They told me I was lucky I didn't get any nerve damage or anything. It's fully healed now. I can do everything. I can do power lifting. I couldn't even squat last year. I'm squatting 400 pounds now. Last year, my hamstring [shut] down, my quads were weak. Now, I'm getting all my strength back."

New Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he thinks Revere needs to work on his extra-base hitting heading into the 2015 season.

"He hasn't found his full stride on what he can do on a baseball field," Sandberg said. "He's a strong kid, but he hits all singles. For me, that doesn't add up. I see him as a potential 30 to 40 doubles type of a hitter mainly because he makes so much contact and he is strong. He has the ability to pop the ball to the gaps and down the lines. He does use the whole field when he hits and he's a base stealer, so for me that shows the potential to translate into a doubles hitter."

Revere hit .306 in 2014 with 28 RBI and 71 runs scored in 601 at-bats.


Report: Orioles could turn attention to Schierholtz, Ichrio


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/20/2015) With Colby Rasmus signing with the Astros and the Orioles possibly in the market for an outfielder, the team could turn their attention to outfielders Nate Schierholtz and Ichiro Suzuki, reports the Baltimore Sun.

In 2014, Schierholtz hit .195 with seven home runs and 37 RBI. Suzuki hit .284 with one home run and 22 RBI over 359 at-bats in 2014.


Report: Braves pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/20/2015) The Braves are still interested in signing veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes, reports MLB.com.

If the Braves sign Gomes, he could platoon with Zoilo Almonte in left field. In 2014, Gomes hit .234 with six home runs and 37 RBI.


Giants' Angel Pagan to open spring training as leadoff hitter


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/20/2015) Giants centerfielder Angel Pagan will open spring training as the the leadoff hitter, but it is subject to change, according to San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy.

He also mentioned the lineup could change if the club determines the lineup is better with newly acquired Norichika Aoki as the leadoff hitter in the lineup.

Hitting as the leadoff man for most of the 2014 season, Pagan hit .300 with a .389 slugging percentage and 21 doubles.


Giants manager Bochy expects Aoki to be everyday left fielder


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/20/2015) Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters Tuesday he is expecting newly acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki to become the everyday left fielder in San Francisco. Bochy also said Aoki would spell Angel Pagan in center and Hunter Pence in right. 

Aoki replaces Michael Morse in left, who signed with the Marlins during the offseason.

Aoki signed a one-year, $4 million deal with San Francisco Friday after spending last season with the Royals, where he .285 with 43 RBI in 2014. 


Cubs not ready to talk long-term deal with newly acquired Fowler


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/19/2015) Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday it is "way too early" to talk about a long-term contract for outfielder Dexter Fowler, who was acquired in a trade Monday with the Astros.

"We look forward to getting to know him," Hoyer said, per CSNChicago.com. 

The 28-year-old Fowler spent one season with the Astros after being acquired in a December 2013 trade with the Rockies. He is in his final year of arbitration after making $7.35 million in 2014.


Trade of Valbuena doesn't mean Cubs are rushing Bryant to the majors


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/19/2015) Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday the trade of third baseman Luis Valbuena to Houston and third-base prospect Kris Bryant's roster situation are "totally independent" of each other.

Hoyer added Mike Olt, Tommy La Stella and Arismendy Alcantara could play at third base until Chicago feels Bryant is ready for the majors.

"We are not going to speed up that clock," Hoyer said, per ESPN.

Bryant, who was selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2013 MLB draft, has developed into one of the top prospects in baseball. He hit .325 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI in 138 games in the minors in 2014.


Astros trade Dexter Fowler to Cubs for Dan Straily, Luis Valbuena


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/19/2015) The Astros traded outfielder Dexter Fowler to the Cubs on Monday in exchange for starting pitcher Dan Straily and infielder Luis Valbuena.

The 28-year-old Fowler spent one season with the Astros after being acquired in a December 2013 trade with the Rockies. He is in his final year of arbitration after making $7.35 million in 2014. Fowler has a career .271/366/.419/.786 slash line over seven MLB seasons. He has a career .136 average (3 for 22) in nine career games at Wrigley Field.

The 26-year-old Straily is on the move again after Chicago acquired him in a July trade with Oakland. Straily is 13-12 with a 4.54 ERA in 48 MLB appearances (42 starts).

The 29-year-old Valbuena has spent the last three seasons with the Cubs. He hit .249 with a career-best 16 home runs, 33 doubles and 55 RBI in 149 games in 2014. He has a career .229 average over seven MLB seasons with the Mariners, Indians and Cubs.


Cubs close to acquiring Dexter Fowler from Astros


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/19/2015) The Cubs are on the verge of acquiring outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Astros on Monday, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The Cubs will send pitcher Dan Straily and third baseman Luis Valbuena to the Astros to complete the deal, reports Yahoo Sports.

Fowler is in his last year of arbitration eligibility and could receive more than $9 million. In 2014, Fowler hit .276 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 434 at-bats.


 
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Fan Poll

Which of these third basemen would you want on your teams for the second half?

Nolan Arenado, Rockies
17%
Manny Machado, Orioles
25%
Todd Frazier, Reds
33%
Martin Prado, Diamondbacks
4%
Kyle Seager, Mariners
17%
Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
4%

Total Votes: 3,689