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Cubs' Arismendy Alcantara will play all over the place


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cubs utility man Arismendy Alcantara is going to play a lot of positions this season, according to ESPN.

Alcantara saw time in center last season, but the team's trade for Dexter Fowler will alter his role. Alcantara says he's ready for the challenge. "Mentally you have to be ready for that," Alcantara said. "They want me to play second base and the outfield." He's also expected to see some time at third base. 

Manager Joe Maddon is glad to have such a versatile player on the team. "When you get a guy like that and you want to give someone a rest, you don't feel like you're losing anything," Joe Maddon said. "And the big attraction there is also in-game. It's like having an extra guy on the bench."

The 23-year-old Alcantara hit .205/.254/.367 over 278 at-bats last year. 


Rockies ask Corey Dickerson to be more patient


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Rockies want Corey Dickerson to be a little more patient at the plate, according to MLB.com.

Dickerson had a breakout season in 2014, hitting .312/.364/.567 over 436 at-bats. He walked in 7.7 percent of his plate appearances, which was actually just above the league average. Still, the team wants Dickerson to be slightly less of a free-swinging this year.

"I talked to Corey about adding this much discipline to his game," manager Walt Weiss said. "We don't want that much, because then he wouldn't be Corey Dickerson." Weiss explained that it's difficult to deliver this type of message, as Dickerson's aggressiveness makes him effective. 

Dickerson said he would work harder to study pitchers and work on his approach during games. 

The 25-year-old is expected to open the year as the team's starter in left.


Braves' Markakis apologizes for comments about the Orioles


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Braves outfielder Nick Markakis apologized for calling out the Orioles organization, according to MASN.

Markakis was recently quoted saying the Orioles organization couldn't be trusted after he felt they were disingenuous about why contract negotiations broke down. "Don't believe a word they say," Markakis said. "It was all because of my neck. They can say what they want to make them look good."

He backpedaled from those comments on Thursday. "What I said wasn't directed at any way to the Orioles organization or ownership. It's just one of those things where I kind of said sarcastically, 'B.S., I wouldn't believe everything you hear. Don't believe them.'" he said. "I just want to put it behind me and I apologize for what I did, but there's a reason why it came out of my mouth." 

The 31-year-old hit .276/.342/.386 over 642 at-bats last year.


Diamondbacks' Cody Ross on OF battle: 'My back is against the wall'


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Diamondbacks outfielder Cody Ross acknowledged that he'll have to bounce back from last year's hip injury if he wants to earn playing time this season for Arizona, per MLB.com.

"My back is against the wall, which is right where I want to be," Ross said. "That's kind of been like my whole career. I never really had anything handed to me until a couple of years ago and that didn't go so well. Now that my back is against the wall, the real Cody will come out."

Ross signed a three-year $26 million contract with the Diamondbacks prior to the 2013 season. He will be battling for playing time in left field with Ender Inciarte, David Peralta and possibly Yasmany Tomas. Ross slashed .252/.306./.322 with two homers and 15 RBI over 202 at-bats last season.


Nationals' Jayson Werth still aiming to be ready by season opener


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who was limited in workouts Thursday, said his surgically repaired right shoulder feels good and he will ramp up activities at the eight-week mark in his recovery, according to The Washington Post. Werth underwent surgery Jan. 9.

Werth is still aiming to be ready by opening day, but added he will be cautious in his recovery.

“You got to err on the side of caution,” Werth said. “You come back too early and then you have a setback or something like that so it’s a fine line. But our trainers and doctors are on top of it. I feel like I have a good sense of where I’m at and where I want to be so it’s just a time thing. It’s good to get down here and have our guys, so to speak, looking at it and caring for it. And it’s just good to be back around everybody.”


Cardinals OF Randal Grichuk will return from back issue Friday


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk skipped Thursday's workouts with a sore, but is expected to rejoin the club on Friday for another workout, reports MLB.com. Grichuk is battling for a reserve outfield position behind Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, and Jason Heyward this spring. He hit .245/.278/.400 in 47 games last season.

Marlins' Stanton faces live pitching for first time since beaning


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton faced live pitching Thursday for the first time since being struck in the face by a pitch in September. Although, Stanton didn't take any swings and just tracked the 10 pitches he saw.

"I think it is a day he's been anticipating for a long time," manager Mike Redmond said, per MLB.com. "No doubt, as his season ended last year was tough to watch. For any player, that is a tough way to go. I'm anticipating him just getting in there and tracking some pitches like he's done a million times, and there will be no problems."


Orioles' Adam Jones 'glad' Nick Markakis finally 'said something'


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Former Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis fired the first shot Wednesday, when he vented to USA Today that he was not happy with how the Orioles handled contract negotiations this offseason before he signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Braves.

"Don't believe a word they say," Markakis said. "It was all because of my neck. They can say what they want to make them look good. It's all B.S. But things work out the way they do for a reason, right?"

Markakis underwent neck surgery in mid-December and his status for opening day is undetermined. However, he is clearly upset with what went on in negotiations and while the Orioles front office has yet to respond, former teammate and friend Adam Jones took his turn Thursday to respond to Markakis' comments.

"I know what's going on, I know the truth," the Orioles' All-Star center fielder said, per MASNsports.com. "It's a move he made for himself. I never fault him for it.

"I talk to him all the time. I talk to him a couple times a week. I talked to him yesterday. It's not my situation, it's his situation with the Orioles. I'm not going to take anbody's side. I wasn't involved with it, so I really don't have an opinion with it."

Markakis, who had surgery to remove a herniated disc and fuse vertabrea, had been playing with the injury for two seasons.

"He never disclosed anything to anybody. He just goes out and plays," Jones said. "...He moved on. He understands the business and he moved on. He completely gets it. No hard feelings.

"I'm glad he said something because he never says anything. I'm glad he said something. He should say something. He has a lot on his mind. Very articulate man, very smart man. He doesn't say much, but when he does people listen, and he's got peoples attention. That's why you all are in front of me now."


Phillies' Domonic Brown working with Mike Schmidt during camp


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown is looking to return to form in 2015, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

In order to do that, Brown has been working with former Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt during camp. Schmidt is hoping to get Brown to cut down on his uppercut swing, but he's also hoping to help the outfielder mentally. "I hope to get [Brown] thinking positive again," Schmidt said. Schmidt mentioned that he would love to see Brown take home the comeback player of the year award when the season ends.

Brown admits his swing can lead to issues when he's off, but feels confident Schmidt can get him back on the right track. "When it's right, it's right. But when it's not, you need a guy who has that nice downhill swing to get you back right, and Mike Schmidt has that."

The 27-year-old Brown hit .235/.285/.349 over 473 at-bats last year. 


Diamondbacks won't drag out decision on Tomas' position


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) The Diamondbacks will not wait all camp to see if Yasmany Tomas can play third, according to MLB.com.

While the club will give him every opportunity to claim the position, manager Chip Hale doesn't want to drag out the process. We haven't talked about a date," Hale said. "We want to get him into games and see how he looks." 

Tomas has been taking grounders at third during camp, and has looked a little raw compared to some of the natural third baseman on the roster. Still, Hale believes he's trying hard. "I thought he worked really hard and he's getting there. We have a lot of guys over there who are really fundamentally sound so he's able to watch them and pick things from them."

Tomas, 24, signed a six-year, $68.5 million deal with the club during the offseason. Tomas was mainly used as an outfielder in Cuba, but the Diamondbacks announced he would attempt to play third in the United States.


Brewers' Braun expects to be 'one of the best players in the league'


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun expects to be "one of the best players in the league" this season, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The 31-year-old has seen his production tail off in recent years due to a thumb injury, but it sounds like he believes the issue is behind him this season. "So far it feels great," Braun said. "Everything so far has gone as well as I could have possibly hoped. Hopefully, the next few weeks it continues to do the same and we can stop talking about it at some point in the near future."

Braun will not be limited during spring training, but admitted he'll keep an eye on how many swings he's taking. Braun put in more work than usual during the offseason, and said his thumb felt "really good." 

While health is the key, Braun expressed confidence in his ability to regain his status as a top player in the league. "I've always felt like if I'm healthy, success is inevitable," he said. "I think most of us would feel the same way. As long as I'm healthy, I expect to go out there, be productive and do the things I've always done."

Braun hit .266/.324/.453 over 530 at-bats last year. 


Braves' Markakis: 'Don't believe a word [the Orioles] say'


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Braves outfielder Nick Markakis is not happy about the way his former team handled his exit, according to the USA Today

"Don't believe a word they say," Markakis said. The 31-year-old outfielder is referencing his departure from the franchise. He claims that negotiations with the Orioles broke down due to their concerns about his neck injury. There were some claims earlier in the offseaon that Markakis was asking for additional years, and it's possible those stories irked Markakis. 

Shortly after negotiations with Baltimore fell through, Markakis signed a four-year deal with Atlanta. He had surgery to repair a bulging disc in his neck in December. Markakis allegedly dealt with the injury the past two seasons. 

While the Orioles did not mention the neck injury as a reason for passing on Markakis at the time, general manager Dan Duquette told USA Today that the club was "worried about the neck."

Markakis hit .276/.342/.386 over 642 at-bats last year. 


Nationals' Harper in better shape, hoping to play smarter


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has reported to camp in better shape, according to The Washington Post

Harper lost weight during the offseason, reporting to camp at 204 pounds. He was able to work on his entire body during the winter, which he couldn't do last season due to a knee injury. Manager Matt Williams was impressed, saying Harper is in "fantastic shape."

On top of that, Harper said he's focused on playing smarter in the field in order to avoid an injury. Harper missed a large chunk of the 2013 season after running into the outfield wall, and it seems he'll do a better job of being more careful this year. 

The 22-year-old hit .273/.344/.423 over 352 at-bats last season. 


Could Pirates be willing to offer McCutchen a Stanton-type deal?


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Pirates owner Bob Nutting said Wednesday outfielder Andrew McCutchen is "a critical part of the team" and hopes the 2013 NL MVP will be in a Pirates uniform "for a long, long time."

McCutchen is currently under contract through the 2017 season on a fairly good deal for the Pirates. He will make $10 million in 2015, $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in 2017. He also has a $14.75 million team option for 2018, which includes a $1 million buyout.

If and when the Pirates choose to extend McCutchen, then it probably will cost them a pretty penny if he continues to play at his current level. There are no active contract talks, but industry sources said that if the Pirates decide to open talks, they are willing to go to great lengths to keep McCutchen, even if they have to offer him $25 million-plus per year, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

“It's a challenge we're looking forward to,” Nutting said. “At this point, it's not appropriate to dig in (and comment) on any particular player other than we really respect and appreciate what Andrew does, on and off the field, every day.”

The 28-year-old McCutchen is a four-time All-Star and finished in the top 3 in voting for the NL MVP in 2012 and 2014. He has also won three Silver Slugger awards.

McCutchen could one day land a contract in the same ballpark as Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who signed a $325 million contract this offseason, but for now his focus isn't on a new deal.

“If that happens, that will be something we'll talk about,” McCutchen said. “Right now, I'm not too worried about it. It's nothing that I'm thinking about, really. If it happens, that would be great. I look forward to it if they do that.”


Williams: Nationals' Bryce Harper will likely hit in middle of lineup


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) When asked if he'll need outfielder Bryce Harper to carry more of the load in 2015, Nationals manager Matt Williams told reporters "it's safe to say he'll most likely hit somewhere in the middle of our lineup," per Comcast SportsNet Washington on Wednesday.

Harper, 22, was primarily the No. 6 hitter last season for the Nationals. He has played
77 career games at the No. 3 spot, 20 at cleanup and 13 at the No. 5 spot. Last season, he hit .273/.344/.423 with 13 homers and 32 RBI over 352 at-bats. He has appeared in only 218 games over the past two seasons due to an assortment of injury issues.


Nationals' Williams: McLouth, Werth limited, Span a full-go Thursday


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Nationals manager Matt Williams told reporters that everyone arrived at camp as of Wednesday. He said that Nate McLouth (shoulder) and Jayson Werth (shoulder) will be limited on Thursday, and Denard Span (hernia) will be a "full-go," per the Washington Times.

Daniel Carbonell could turn out to be bargain for Giants


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) While Giants outfield prospect Daniel Carbonell might not project to be a star like fellow Cuban players Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes, his four-year, $3.18 million contract could turn out to be a bargain for San Francisco.

“What stood out was his athleticism,” assistant general manager Bobby Evans told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s got tools. We like his ability to hit the ball in the gap. He’ll leg out some doubles, too. He’s got good speed. We’re not looking at (home run) power. He’s got power, but that’s not a front-burner tool.”

The 23-year-old Carbonell played four seasons in Cuba, batting .287 with a .359 on-base percentage and .398 slugging percentage. He played 31 games in the minors in 2014, batting .336 with a .384 on-base percentage, .523 slugging percentage, .907 OPS, three triples, four home runs, six doubles, 16 RBI and 11 stolen bases between Rookie League and high Class A.

Carbonell is projected to spend the 2015 season at Double-A.


Braves' Gonzalez: Jonny Gomes could be in 'soft platoon' in LF


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday outfielder Jonny Gomes could be in a "soft platoon" in left field, where he starts against all left-handed pitchers and also starts against some right-handers, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Padres' Carlos Quentin willing to waive no-trade clause for AL team


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Although the Padres have decided to work outfielder Carlos Quentin at first base this spring to potentially find another way to get his bat into the lineup, Quentin said Tuesday he would be willing to waive his no-trade for an AL team, per U-T San Diego.

"There will be a lot of eyes seeing how well I'm doing, and I'll be open to the opportunity to be moved, if that comes about in spring training," Quentin said. "My main goal is to have a successful year and be in a position to be successful. I feel good now. You can't count on your health throughout a long season, and everyone knows the AL has the DH that would allow me to get at-bats without putting the wear and tear on my body. That's the realistic part of it, and I'm well aware of it."

The oft-injured Quentin has never played more than 131 games in a season and has played less than 100 games in each of his three seasons with San Diego. He was a two-time All-Star (2008, 2011) when he played in the AL with the White Sox.

Quentin is in the final guaranteed year of his contract. He has a $10 million mutual option for 2016, which includes a $3 million buyout. However, he must have played 320 games from 2013-15 for the buyout to go into effect, per Baseball-Reference.com.


Braves' Nick Markakis unsure if he will be ready by opening day


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/25/2015) Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, who underwent fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck in mid-December, said Wednesday he hopes to be ready by opening day. However, he won't rush back at the expense of aggravating his neck, according to MLB.com.

Markakis will not play during the early portion of the spring training schedule. He was just cleared to run this week and work out extensively, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Markakis is in his first year with the Braves after signing a four-year, $44 million contract in December.


Giants' Bochy: Hunter Pence admits rest would help


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday that outfielder Hunter Pence, who has played in 383 consecutive games, admitted that he should have sat out occassionally late last season due to a sore back, MLB.com reports.

"But he kept going out there, forcing it," Bochy said. "He realized he would have benefited from a day off here or there."

Pence will likely not play all 162 games this season after discussing the benefits of occassional rest with Bochy. He needs to continue his streak for 85 games to catch the Giants' all-time franchise leader for consecutive games played, Bill Terry.


Phillies' Jeff Francoeur looking forward to working with Manuel


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Phillies outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who signed a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training this offseason, is looking forward to looking with Charlie Manuel, the team's senior adviser to the general manager, MLB.com reports.

"We're going to work one on one, and that's what I've been looking forward to all offseason," Francoeur said of Manuel. "When they told me he'd be here the whole time and I'd have the opportunity to work with him, it was a no-brainer for me. I've always respected him. I'm looking forward to working with him big-time."

Francoeur nearly had a chance to work with Manuel four years ago, when he was a free agent and the Phillies, with Manuel as manager, were interested. The outfielder instead chose to sign with the Royals.

"I've talked to Jim Thome, Jayson Werth, and they swear by Charlie. He knows so much about hitting. To be honest with you, I felt like if I could get here and get a chance to work with him and do what I can, I've still got a lot of good years ahead of me. I feel that way. I'm getting smarter about my body and different things."

Francoeur faces an uphill battle to make the Phillies roster, with Darin Ruf, Ben Revere and Domonic Brown listed as the projected starters and Grady Sizemore sitting in the primary reserve role, but he has a fan in the former Phillies manager.

"He's got talent," Manuel said of Francoeur. "I was kind of surprised when I talked to him. He knows hitting. He knows who he is now. When he was young, his adrenaline would get going and he'd overswing a lot. He's definitely got a chance to be a good hitter. I've always liked the way he hit. Hopefully, we can get him back to where he was a few years ago. I used to always talk to him. He's that kind of player. He has a tremendous personality. He smiles. He's upbeat. He brings energy. If we can get him to where he was a couple years ago, then he's still got a chance to be a good player. That's all I can tell you."

Francoeur went just 2 for 24 at the major-league level last year, spending most of his time with Triple-A El Paso and hitting .289/.320/.450 with 15 home runs, 69 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 456 at-bats.


Padres' Matt Kemp not worried about arthritic hips


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Padres outfielder Matt Kemp said he intends to stretch more as a way to combat arthritis in both of his hips. However, Kemp stressed he is not too worried about the diagnosis, per MLB.com.

"It was surprising, but it's not that big of a deal," he said. "I think everyone has some type of situation going on as far as something being arthritic in their body. It's finding a way to go around it and be successful. My hips feel great, and I'm ready to go."


Hale: Yasmany Tomas will have to earn spot on D-Backs roster


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Yasmany Tomas will have to earn his spot on the team, whether it will be in left field or at third base, per The Arizona Republic.

The 24-year-old Tomas is entering his first season in the majors after playing five seasons in Cuba. He hit .290 with a .345 on-base percentage, .504 slugging percentage, .849 OPS, 39 home runs and 151 RBI in 272 games in Cuba.


Giants OF Angel Pagan on pain-free back: 'I feel like never before'


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2/24/2015) Giants outfielder Angel Pagan told reporters he's feeling pain-free and has no issues with his lower back entering spring camp, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

"I'm good, I'm perfect," Pagan said. "I feel like never before. Right now, I'm pain-free."

Pagan had back surgery in September to repair a bulging disk and nerve damage, and as a result, he was unavailable during the Giants' World Series run. Pagan also noted that injuries won't cause him to be conservative on the field. He plans to "play at one speed" regardless of where he hits in the order.

"I just know how to play at one speed," Pagan said. "That's the way I'll keep playing."

Last season, Pagan hit .300/.342/.389 with three home runs, 27 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 383 at-bats.


 
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