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Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts: 'Strongest I've ever felt'


by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/28/2015) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has been working out at the EXOS performance institute in Arizona, the facility where second baseman Dustin Pedroia trains every offseason. ESPN.com says Bogaerts feels he's pushed himself more than ever before, "and the results are showing."

"This is probably the strongest I’ve ever felt going into a season -- and by far,” Bogaerts said, via the website. “I’m definitely real excited for the season.”

Bogaerts, 22, had an up-and-down 2014 season, his first full year in the majors. He finished at .240 with 12 homers and 46 RBI in 144 games.

He'll spend a few more weeks training in Arizona before reporting to spring training.

“I kind of never challenged my body to lift heavier weights because I’ve always tried to kind of maintain the same,” Bogaerts said. “Getting the knowledge from those kind of guys and just trusting the whole system that they have over there and just pushing your body, it’s really a difference than any years I’ve had in the past.

“It was mostly gym and conditioning and speed and stuff like that, power and speed. It was definitely something that I really enjoyed.”


Santana, Escobar to compete to be Twins' starting shortstop


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/27/2015) While Danny Santana is considered the front-runner to be the Twins' starting shortstop, first-year manager Paul Molitor said nothing has been decided yet. Santana will compete with Eduardo Escobar for the starting job this spring.

"It's probably been one of the more awkward things for me this winter in dealing with that situation," Molitor said, per MLB.com. "Obviously, I have to go in there open-minded about how it will play out. I can't say Santana will be the shortstop because things can change. Escobar deserves an opportunity to play and whether it's spotting around the organization or he has to go back to shortstop, I can't tell you it all will work out."

Escobar started a team-high 86 games at shortstop in 2014 for Minnesota. He made it clear he wants to play every day, but is willing to play where Molitor needs him.

"This season is important for me," Escobar said. "I'm coming in ready to play. I don't know if I'm going to be the starting shortstop or not, but I've been working hard to be ready for spring training. If Molitor wants me to play shortstop, or wherever, I'm ready for it."

Santana said he is excited he is moving back to shortstop after making a team-high 62 starts in center field last year. He's been fielding 200 grounders per day in the Dominican Republic to get ready for the season.

"I'm very happy about playing shortstop. I was waiting for that moment," Santana said. "Shortstop is my natural position. I just need to keep working and I can do the same thing as last year."


Red Sox's Hanley Ramirez confident he can play outfield


by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1/24/2015) When Hanley Ramirez makes his spring training debut, he’ll be trying to learn new teammates and a new position.

The Red Sox signed Ramirez in the offseason with the intent of having him play in left field. Ramirez has never played in the outfield during his career, but has been working on outfield mechanics, including tracking balls and hitting the cutoff man. Ramirez believes the switch from the infield to the outfield will be seamless, once he receives enough experience, reports ESPN.com.

"I think if I put in all the work that I need to put to get better it's not going to be that hard," Ramirez said.


Tigers' Ausmus is expecting Jose Iglesias to be starting shortstop


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is confident shortstop Jose Iglesias, who missed all of the 2014 season due to stress fractures in both legs, will be able to return to his role as the team's everyday shortstop, per MLive.com.

"The short answer is yes, I'm under the impression he's ready (to play everyday). That being said, he still has to go out there and do it," Ausmus said. "We've got to get him out there and see if he can withstand a pounding. But as of right this second, we're under the impression he'll be healthy."


Astros SS Marwin Gonzalez avoids arbitration with one-year deal


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) The Astros and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez have come to terms on a $1.0625 million contract for next season, avoiding arbitration, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reports. Gonzalez reportedly asked for $1.4 million, while Houston initially offered $900K. 

Gonzalez posted a .277 batting average, a .400 slugging percentage, with 23 RBI over 285 at-bats last season.


Hanley to report to camp by second week of Feb. to begin OF work


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Red Sox left fielder Hanley Ramirez, who hasn't played in the outfield during a major-league game, will report to spring training by the second week of February to start working with coach Arnie Beyeler.

“He’s been in the Dominican for a good chunk of the winter and he’s been doing outfield stuff down there,” general manager Ben Cherington said, per The Boston Globe.


Astros SS prospect Correa: 'Anxious,' 'ready' to get back on field


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/23/2015) Astros shortstop prospect Carlos Correa, who has been sidelined since late June due to a fractured fibula, said he is back to 100 percent, per MLB.com.

"I’m anxious because I want to show them I’m ready and I’m back, and my ankle is feeling great," he said.

Correa, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, has logged just 229 games in the minors and hasn't played above high Class A. Although, it seems he is very eager to make his MLB debut.

“I can’t wait for the moment to be up there," he said.


Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias adamant about being 100 percent


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, who missed the 2014 season due to stress fractures in both shins, reiterated multiple times Thursday he will be ready for spring training, per the Detroit Free Press.

"I will be 100 percent for spring training," said Iglesias, who was cleared by doctors for all physical activity last week. "I feel great. I'm good to do everything and, obviously, I'm in a spot where I gotta be smart, but I'm cleared to do anything it takes to play baseball."

The only remaining hurdle for Iglesias will be to sprint at 100 percent.

"I'm close to it," he said. "I'm about 75-80 percent every time I run. I've been running, fielding, hitting, jumping and doing everything pain free and I'm excited -- excited – for 2015.

"I'm healthy now and I'm blessed to be in this situation now. I will be good for 2015."


Tigers' Andrew Romine, Hernan Perez to see time in OF this spring


by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday that infielder Andrew Romine will get some work in the outfield during the spring, MLive.com reports.

Romine appeared in 94 games during the 2014 season, spending most of his time at shortstop, and he's also seen time at second base and third base in his major-league career (as well as one pitching appearance). His only playing time in seven minor-league seasons also came at those same three infield positions.

If Romine is able to handle the outfield defensively, he could serve in the a similar role as utility player Don Kelly, who saw action at every position at all three outfield positions as well as work at first base, second base and third base in each of the Tigers' last two seasons.

Romine, who is out of options, is expected to compete for a roster spot with infielder Hernan Perez, who will also get some playing time in the outfield. Romine hit .227/.279/.275 with two home runs, 12 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 251 at-bats in his first season with the Tigers in 2014. Perez, who has split time primarily between shortstop and second base in the minors, hit .287/.331/.404 with six home runs, 53 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 547 at-bats with Triple-A Toledo.


Penny, Carroll among players signed to minor-league deals by ChiSox


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) The White Sox announced Thursday they signed 15 players to minor-league contracts, which included invites to spring training.

The 15 players were pitchers Jairo Asencio, Scott Carroll, Jesse Crain, Logan Kensing, Arcenio Leon, J.D. Martin, Brad Penny, Zach Phillips, Joe Savery, catchers George Kottaras and Geovany Soto, infielders Juan Diaz and Andy LaRoche, and outfielders Tony Campana and Michael Taylor


Brad Miller, Chris Taylor to compete for starting SS role with M's


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said Thursday there "is no favorite" between Chris Taylor and Brad Miller, who will compete this spring to become Seattle's starting shortstop.

Manager Lloyd McClendon shared similar sentiments Thursday.

"We had two young men who performed well in spurts," McClendon said. "They’ll be given the opportunity to battle [this spring]."


SS Willie Bloomquist running, on track for spring training


by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) Mariners shortstop Willie Bloomquist, who had microfracture surgery on his right knee in August, has begun running and is expected to be ready for spring training, reports 710 ESPN in Seattle. He batted .278 in 47 games last season.

Mariners sign Shawn O'Malley to minor-league contract


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/22/2015) The Mariners have signed utility player Shawn O'Malley to a minor-league deal on Thursday, reports MLB.com. The deal also includes an invite to spring training.

O'Malley was with the Angels' organization last year. He hit .317/.400/.464 in 103 games between Triple-A Salt Lake City, Double-A Arkansas and the Arizona League squad. He hit .188 over 16 major-league at-bats last season.


Tigers' Bruce Rondon, Jose Iglesias considered good to go


by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/21/2015) Tigers reliever Bruce Rondon and shortstop Jose Iglesias are good to go, according to the Detroit News.

Rondon is recovering from March Tommy John surgery, but is nearing a return. Iglesias missed all of last season due to a shin issue. General manager Dave Dombrowski said that although both players were healthy, the team would take it easy with them early in spring training. 

Rondon posted a 3.45 ERA over 28 2/3 innings back in 2013. Iglesias hit .303/.349/.386 between Boston and Detroit. 


Brewers trade Yovani Gallardo to Rangers for three players


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/19/2015) The Rangers have finalized the trade for Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. The Brewers will receive infielder Luis Sardinas, reliever Corey Knebel and pitching prospect Marcos Diplan in the trade.

The 28-year-old Gallardo is in the last year of his contract. He won less than 10 games in 2014 for the first time in the last six seasons. He is 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA in eight MLB seasons. 

The 21-year-old Sardinas made his MLB debut in 2014, batting .261 with six doubles, eight RBI and five stolen bases in 43 games. He had been considered a top-100 prospect by MLB.com in 2013 and 2014. He had a .289/.336/.355/.691 slash line in the minors.

The 23-year-old Knebel was traded for the second time in a year. He was traded from Detroit to Texas in July. He also made his MLB debut in 2014, posting a 6.23 ERA in eight relief outings for Detroit. He struck out 11 in 8 2/3 innings. He is 7-2 with a 1.65 ERA in two minor-league seasons.

The 18-year-old Diplan went 7-2 with a 1.54 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 13 starts in the Dominican Summer League in 2014. The Rangers signed Diplan in July 2013 for $1.3 million, per MLB.com.


Report: Marwin Gonzalez, Astros exchanging arbitration figures


by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/16/2015) Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez and the Astros are reportedly discussing aribtration numbers with Gonzalez asking for $1.4 million and Houston offering $900K, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Gonzalez hit .277 in 285 at-bats in 2014, with 23 RBI and a .400 slugging percentage.


Munenori Kawasaki signs minor-league deal with Blue Jays


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/16/2015) The Blue Jays have signed infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor-league contract, according to the National Post. Kawasaki will be invited to major-league spring training.

Kawasaki hit .258/.327/.296 with 17 RBI and one stolen base in 240 at-bats. He made 64 appearances at second base and 19 at third base while also playing shortstop four times.


Twins lock up Plouffe, Fien, Nunez for 2015


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/16/2015) The Twins have avoided arbitration with third baseman Trevor Plouffe, shortstop Eduardo Nunez, and reliever Casey Fien agreeing on 2015 salaries of $4.8 million, $1.025 million and $1.275 million respectively, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press and MLB.com.

Plouffe hit .258 with 14 home runs, 40 doubles and 80 RBI in 136 games in 2014. Nunez, a first-time arbitration qualifier, hit .250/.271/.382 with four homers, 24 RBI and nine stolen bases in 213 plate appearances. Fien posted a 3.98 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over 63 1/3 innings in 2014.


Yankees, Stephen Drew agree to one-year, $5 million deal


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/16/2015) The Yankees have signed free agent infielder Stephen Drew to a one-year deal, the team announced on Friday. According to the New York Daily News, Drew is expected to make $5 million in 2015. To create space for Drew in the 40-man roster, the Yankees have designated outfielder Eury Perez for assignment.

Drew missed the first two months last season after holding out for a contract. He eventually signed with the Red Sox and was then traded to the Yankees. Drew hit .162 with seven home runs and 26 RBI in 85 games.


Yankees hitting coach Pentland: Gregorius has 'got a huge future'


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/15/2015) New Yankees hitting coach Jeff Pentland will get to work with a lot of big-name players in his new role, including Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Alex Rodriguez. 

However, one player Pentland appears really excited to work with is shortstop Didi Gregorius, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Diamondbacks. Gregorius is set to replace legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who retired after 20 seasons in the majors.

"He’s got a huge future and I’m very excited he’s a Yankee," Pentland said of Gregorius, per the New York Daily News. “I’ve always thought there’s a lot in there. We got to get it out and work it. The problem with young players, you have to be more patient.

“But I think this guy has tremendous upside.”

Gregorius, who will turn 25 on Feb. 18, hasn't had a lot of success offensively at the major-league level. He has just a .243 average, .313 on-base percentage, .366 slugging percentage and .680 OPS in 191 career games. He had a .277/.332/.389/.721 slash line in 507 minor-league games.


Yankees' Steinbrenner: 'We're not going to be afraid to spend money'


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/14/2015) Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner indicated Wednesday more offseason moves for New York could be coming, despite general manager Brian Cashman being active this offseason, according to MLB.com. The Yankees have already re-signed third baseman Chase Headley and infielder Stephen Drew, signed reliever Andrew Miller and traded for shortstop Didi Gregorius.

"It's not over until it's over. We still have a full month before spring training," Steinbrenner said. "We're always going to continue to improve. I'm not putting a cap on it. We've certainly filled some holes that we had. We'll keep going for the next few weeks."

Steinbrenner said he wants to get New York back to the postseason while trying to keep the the payroll in the same range, but left the door open to perhaps target one of the top free-agent players still available. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer and James Shields are two of the top names still on the free-agent market.

"[But] having said that, we're still the New York Yankees, all you guys know that," Steinbrenner said. "We know what the fans expect. We know what the town expects. We're not going to be afraid to spend money."


Mark Appel, Carlos Correa among Astros' non-roster invites


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/13/2015) The Astros announced Tuesday they will have 17 non-roster invites for spring training, including starting pitcher prospect Mark Appel and shortstop prospect Carlos Correa. Appel was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 MLB draft, while Correa was the No. 1 pick in 2012.

The other non-roster invitees are outfielder Andrew Aplin, pitcher Darin Downs, infielder Matt Duffy, catcher Luis Flores, infielder Nolan Fontana, catcher Tyler Heineman, pitcher Jordan Jankowski, infielder Dan Johnson, infielder Colin Moran, catcher Roberto Pena, infielder Gregorio Petit, pitcher Brady Rodgers, infielder Joe Sclafani, pitcher Jason Stoffel and outfielder Preston Tucker.

Correa (No. 1) and Appel (No. 2) are considered the team's top two prospects, according to Baseball America. Moran (No. 7) is also considered a top-10 prospect.


Report: Zobrist, Desmond were part of failed Mets-Rays-Nationals trade


by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/12/2015) A three-team trade involving the Mets, Nationals and Rays, which included players Ian Desmond and Ben Zobrist, had been discussed recently, but fell through after the Mets balked at the Rays asking price, sources told FOX Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal. 

The talks unfolded with the Nationals trading Desmond to the Rays for Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, who were eventually traded to the Athletics on Saturday. The Rays would have then dealt Desmond to the Mets, who are looking for an upgrade at shortstop.

Unfortunately, the Mets chose not to pursue the deal after the Rays requested two top prospects from a list of three, which New York considered too much for Desmond, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season. The Rays' list included Mets top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard. It is not known who the other two targets were.

The Mets were also engaged with the Rays in a trade for Zobrist, but once again the Rays wanted two top prospects and the Mets did not want to make that deal. Zobrist will also be a free agent after the 2015 season.


A's acquire Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar from Rays


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/10/2015) The Athletics have acquired infielders Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar from the Rays in exchange for catcher John Jaso and two prospects and cash, both clubs announced Saturday. The two prospects include shortstop Daniel Robertson and outfielder Boog Powell.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle first reported the trade, and CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman confirmed the deal.

Zobrist, a two-time All Star, is coming off a season in which he hit .272/.354/.395 over 570 at-bats. He is entering the final year of his contract, and is due $7.5 million next season. Escobar, 32, hit 258/.324/.340 with seven homers and 39 RBI over 476 at-bats in 2014. He is expected to earn $5 million this season and $7 million in 2016, with a club option for 2017 at $7 million with a $1 million buyout.

The move will likely turn recently acquired Marcus Semien into an "everyday super utility player," Slusser said.


Tigers' Jose Iglesias on track to full health for spring training


by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1/10/2015) Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand told the Detroit News on Friday that shortstop Jose Iglesias, who missed the 2014 season due to stress fractures in both shins, is on target to return to full health. He's been working out steadily in his Miami home, taking ground balls and working on his hitting and running progression while being supervised by Rand.

"At this point, he's progressed exactly as we'd anticipated," Rand said. "Basically, it's a matter of getting him to spring training. And then, in spring training, breaking him in easily to find out if he'll be able to handle the everyday stress of playing.

"But nobody knows that (for certain) until you get to that point."


 
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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