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Hit Parade for Week 2

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Hit Parade is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Each week, we'll assess Fantasy-relevant hitters based on streaks, matchups, injuries and lineup changes and divide them into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."

These designations are designed to rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole.

Any player dealing with injury will have the injury listed in parentheses after his name. His condition will most definitely influence his category designation for the week.

Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be at or below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.

The information has been updated through Saturday, April 7.

Catcher

Josh Donaldson, who technically plays third base for the Athletics, is a candidate to move up on this list in the weeks ahead since he's one of the few catcher-eligible players with an opportunity for everyday at-bats. But if he ends up splitting time with Eric Sogard, which has been the case so far, he'll end up getting as many off days as any other catcher, thereby losing the advantage of playing out of position. Plus, he's unproven in the majors, so for now, he remains just an AL-only option.

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Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Wilson Ramos, Nationals
Second week in a row, I know, but with a starting percentage of 53, Ramos is clearly one of the more underappreciated catchers in Fantasy. Despite his slow start to the season, he's in line for a big Fantasy Week 2 (April 9-15). Not only is he on one of only six teams with seven games, but he's facing the portions of the Mets and Reds rotations that, apart from Mat Latos, don't bring much to the table.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Ryan Doumit, Twins
The Twins' decision to make Chris Parmelee their primary first baseman, bumping Justin Morneau to DH, leaves Doumit without a regular lineup spot. He's versatile enough that he's still likely to get semi-regular at-bats against righties, but considering the only four righties the Twins face this week are Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz, you should probably steer clear of him.

No-brainers: Carlos Santana, Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Miguel Montero, Alex Avila, Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Jesus Montero
Advisable starts:
Yadier Molina, Russell Martin, J.P. Arencibia, Geovany Soto, Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki
Shaky starts:
Devin Mesoraco, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Doumit, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz, Chris Iannetta, John Buck, A.J. Pierzynski, Nick Hundley, Ramon Hernandez
Strictly AL/NL-only:
Miguel Olivo, Rod Barajas, Wilin Rosario, Yorvit Torrealba, Josh Thole, Josh Donaldson, Ryan Hanigan, Jason Castro, Chris Snyder, A.J. Ellis
Don't bother: Salvador Perez (knee), Tyler Flowers

First base

The Angels have good matchups this week against the back end of the Twins rotation and the non-CC Sabathia portion of the Yankees rotation, yet Mark Trumbo still appears in the "strictly AL/NL-only" category. Look, if you're stashing him, fine -- he obviously has plenty of power potential -- but he doesn't have a clear starting job. He's not getting any at-bats at first base with Albert Pujols there, and he's not getting many at DH with Kendrys Morales back. Until we know exactly how the Angels will distribute the at-bats between him and Alberto Callaspo at third base, Trumbo is a player better left for your bench.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Adam Dunn, White Sox
Dunn followed up his six-homer spring with a (throwback) monster blast at Texas in the team's season opener Friday. So far in 2012, the 32-year-old slugger has given every reason to believe his misrable 2011 was a fluke. He still has a ways to go to win back the trust of Fantasy owners, but his schedule should lend him a hand this week. He has typically fared worse against left-handers over his career, hitting .064 against them last year, and he faces only one this week. Among the righties he faces are low-end types like Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez and Rick Porcello.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Freddie Freeman, Braves
Based on his performance this spring, Freeman could be in line for another step forward this season, but this week doesn't figure to be his best. He hit only .247 with a .707 OPS against left-handers last season, and the Braves have four lefties on tap this week. Should you honestly sit Freeman for Dunn? Well, you wouldn't drop him for Dunn, so if you can only afford to roster one, no. But if you can afford to roster both, sure, make the switch.

Most Added Hitters (as of 4/6)
Player % change
1. Mat Gamel, 3B, Brewers 14
2. Cody Ross, OF, Red Sox 14
3. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Royals 10
4. Chris Parmelee, 1B, Twins 10
5. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Athletics 8
6. Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox 7
7. Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers 6
8. Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs 6
9. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Blue Jays 6
10. J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros 6

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko, Eric Hosmer, Lance Berkman, Michael Young, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli
Advisable starts:
Michael Cuddyer, Kendrys Morales, Adam Dunn, Lucas Duda
Shaky starts:
Justin Morneau, Mark Reynolds (calf), Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion, Ike Davis, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Lee, Justin Smoak, Adam Lind, Carlos Pena, Paul Goldschmidt, Daniel Murphy, Brandon Belt, Todd Helton, Aubrey Huff, Mitch Moreland, James Loney
Strictly AL/NL-only:
Mark Trumbo, Chris Parmelee, Chris Davis, Adam LaRoche, Ty Wigginton, Garrett Jones, Casey Kotchman, Juan Rivera, Jesus Guzman
Don't bother: Michael Morse (lat), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Mike Carp (shoulder)

Second base

Because the talent at second base thins out pretty quickly in deeper leagues, a lot of the lower-level players are kind of in between categories most weeks. Technically, owners in deeper AL- and NL-only leagues might have no choice but to start some in the "don't bother" category, but if I'm ranking a guy for no other reason than because he gets at-bats, to me he deserves a lower designation than a guy with the ability to stand out in a particular category, such as Omar Infante (batting average) or Alexi Casilla (steals). Guys like Orlando Hudson, Ruben Tejada and Mark Ellis need either a hot streak or extremely favorable matchups to climb off the bottom rung.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
Espinosa fared better against lefties than righties last season, so the six righties on tap this week might scare some Fantasy owners away. But for righties like Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee, Bronson Arroyo and even Homer Bailey, the word "scary" doesn't really apply. With seven games ahead, Espinosa is looking like one of the top 12 options at second base this week.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Jason Kipnis, Indians
Three games against the Royals rotation is normally a good thing, but considering the Indians also have three lefties on tap, this week might not be the best time to start Kipnis. As a general rule, young left-handed hitters struggle against left-handed pitchers, and Kipnis was no exception during his brief time in the majors last year, when his OPS was 134 points lower against lefties than righties.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Ben Zobrist, Dan Uggla, Rickie Weeks, Brandon Phillips
Advisable starts:
Howard Kendrick, Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks, Ryan Roberts, Danny Espinosa, Aaron Hill
Shaky starts:
Neil Walker, Kelly Johnson, Jason Kipnis, Daniel Murphy, Ryan Raburn, Mike Aviles, Gordon Beckham
Strictly AL/NL-only:
Omar Infante, Jose Altuve, Sean Rodriguez, Darwin Barney, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll
Don't bother:
Tyler Greene, Orlando Hudson, Ruben Tejada, Chase Utley (knee), Brian Roberts (concussion), Maicer Izturis, Robert Andino, Mark Ellis, Johnny Giavotella, Chris Nelson

Third base

OK, David Wright won me over.

I was watching when he hit his home run Saturday. It was an opposite-field blast to right-center that cleared both the new and old fences at Citi Field. Granted, I wouldn't normally read so much into any one homer, but that one spoke volumes. A player doesn't hit a ball that solidly if he's not feeling comfortable, so I get the impression that, unlikely as it may seem after Ryan Zimmerman needed surgery to correct the same problem last year, Wright genuinely feels good playing with a torn abdominal muscle. I'm still not confident it'll last all season, but for now, he's back to "no-brainer" status.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Mat Gamel, Brewers
Gamel had an up-and-down spring that shed little light on what he has to offer in his first year as a full-time starter. But one thing it did reveal: He hits righties (1.042 OPS) far better than lefties (.527 OPS). Among the Brewers seven games this week -- again, one of only six teams with that many -- five are against righties. And with the Cubs and Braves on tap, they won't be facing any true aces.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Just about every week, some unfortunate team in the AL East will have to bear the brunt of the rest of the division, and this week, that team is the Red Sox. Mike Aviles is one of the few borderline players on the roster. In the right matchups, he can be competent in mixed leagues, but against pitchers like Ricky Romero, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore, he's more of an AL-only guy.

No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Brett Lawrie, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Aramis Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts:
Martin Prado, Ryan Roberts, David Freese, Mike Moustakas, Mat Gamel, Edwin Encarnacion
Shaky starts:
Mark Reynolds (calf), Daniel Murphy, Chase Headley, Mike Aviles, Danny Valencia, Chone Figgins
Strictly AL/NL-only:
Placido Polanco, Chris Davis, Ian Stewart, Scott Rolen, Pedro Alvarez, Sean Rodriguez, Eduardo Nunez, Ty Wigginton, Brent Morel, Kyle Seager
Don't bother:
Chris Johnson, Jack Hannahan, Juan Uribe, Alberto Callaspo, Wilson Betemit, Juan Francisco, Robert Andino, Daniel Descalso, Jed Lowrie (thumb), Lonnie Chisenhall, Nolan Arenado, Chipper Jones (knee)

Shortstop

Shortstop, like second base, has a bunch of players who provide hollow at-bats. They play every day, sure, but their numbers lack substance. Will some AL/NL-only owners end up starting guys like Tyler Pastornicky, Jason Bartlett and Freddy Galvis? Probably. But I don't see the need to distinguish those players in any way here.

Willie Bloomquist, on the other hand, could be a sneaky little sleeper for steals now that we know he (and not John McDonald) will be the primary fill-in for the injured Stephen Drew.

Sleeper for Fantasy Week 2: Zack Cozart, Reds
Cozart has yet to establish himself at the major-league level, but he's off to a great start with a double, a triple and a home run already this season. The Reds' seven-game slate against the Cardinals and Nationals gives you the perfect excuse to gamble on the power-speed threat this week, especially since they're currently scheduled to miss both Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg.
Bust for Fantasy Week 2: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
Furcal has gotten off to a hot start with two steals in three games, but keep in mind he had only nine in more than half a season last year. At age 34, he's a constant injury risk and won't run as freely as he used to. His popularity may be on the rise right now, but you can still probably do better in mixed leagues.

No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, Jimmy Rollins, Emilio Bonifacio
Advisable starts:
Alexei Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy, Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon, Yunel Escobar, Zack Cozart
Shaky starts:
Marco Scutaro, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar, Rafael Furcal
Strictly AL/NL-only:
Cliff Pennington, Sean Rodriguez, Eduardo Nunez, Alex Gonzalez, Alexi Casilla, Jamey Carroll, Willie Bloomquist
Don't bother:
Tyler Pastornicky, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jason Bartlett, Tyler Greene, Ruben Tejada, Clint Barmes, Freddy Galvis, Robert Andino, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan (neck), Jed Lowrie (thumb), Stephen Drew (ankle)

Outfield

Because of back tightness that developed late in spring training, 29-year-old Bryan LaHair, who has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, was out of the lineup for the Cubs' first two games, but he returned on Sunday. His crazy numbers at Triple-A last year have the Cubs willing to give him a shot and Fantasy owners buying into him as a sleeper, but the possibility of him being nothing more than this year's version of Kila Ka'aihue -- a minor-league superstar who just can't cut it at the major-league level -- is high enough that you're better off leaving him for NL-only leagues until he proves himself.

John Mayberry and Juan Pierre both have the upside to factor in mixed leagues -- Mayberry with his power and Pierre with his speed -- but until manager Charlie Manuel clarifies who exactly he'll start when and whether or not both can be in the lineup at the same (it's possible with Ryan Howard out), you wouldn't want to activate that duo outside of NL-only formats.

Sleepers for Fantasy Week 2: Melky Cabrera, Giants and David Murphy, Rangers
Two sleepers on opposite ends of the spectrum here. Most Fantasy owners wouldn't have the luxury of benching Cabrera, but if you're one of the few with the outfield depth to consider it, now isn't the time to get cute with him. The Giants face the Rockies' pitch-to-contact rotation for three games at Coors Field before ending the week with three games against the Pirates' collection of retreads. With those matchups, Cabrera should be feeling pretty royal. As for Murphy, you'd have to be in some early trouble to gamble on him in a mixed league, which is why he's still among the "shaky starts", but against the more hittable portions of the Mariners and Twins rotations, he could be surprisingly productive this week. And with six righties on the schedule, he should be in the lineup virtually every day.
Busts for Fantasy Week 2: Carlos Lee, Astros and Josh Willingham, Twins
At age 35, Lee has become a liability against right-handed pitchers. It's usually not so noticeable because he's so good against lefties, batting .348 with a 1.028 OPS last year, that as long as two or three are on the schedule, he does just fine. But with six righties on tap for the Astros this week, you can probably do better than a .715-OPS guy. Meanwhile, Willingham has tough matchups against the deep Angels and Rangers rotations this week, with all six games coming at pitcher-friendly Target Field. He's such a streaky player that you'll want to wait until he heats up to start him anyway.

No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Holliday, Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, Ben Zobrist, Hunter Pence, Lance Berkman, Alex Gordon, Michael Bourn, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo
Advisable starts:
Jay Bruce, Andre Ethier, Nick Markakis, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Young, Carlos Beltran, Jayson Werth, Adam Jones, Howard Kendrick, Michael Cuddyer, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Corey Hart, Ichiro Suzuki, Martin Prado, Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes
Shaky starts:
Drew Stubbs, Jason Heyward, Brett Gardner, Jeff Francoeur, Logan Morrison, Carlos Lee, Delmon Young, Cameron Maybin, Brennan Boesch, Dayan Viciedo, Matt Joyce, Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Jose Tabata, Jason Kubel, Dexter Fowler, Coco Crisp, Yonder Alonso, Lorenzo Cain, Angel Pagan, David Murphy, Alfonso Soriano, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham, Peter Bourjos, Alejandro De Aza, Brandon Belt, Vernon Wells, Mitch Moreland, Aubrey Huff
Strictly AL/NL-only:
Vernon Wells, Colby Rasmus, John Mayberry, Ryan Raburn, J.D. Martinez, Jason Bay, Eric Thames, Denard Span, Michael Brantley, Alex Presley, Ben Revere, David DeJesus, Jon Jay, Bryan LaHair, Ty Wigginton, Nolan Reimold, Cody Ross, Will Venable, Marlon Byrd, Juan Rivera, Josh Reddick, Juan Pierre, Michael Saunders
Don't bother:
Raul Ibanez, Ryan Ludwick, Bobby Abreu, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Seth Smith, Andres Torres (calf), Luke Scott, Rajai Davis, Garrett Jones, Shelley Duncan, Michael Morse (lat), Carl Crawford (wrist), B.J. Upton (back), Carlos Quentin (knee), Mike Carp (shoulder), Allen Craig (knee), Grady Sizemore (back), Bryce Harper, Mike Trout

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Brewers' Khris Davis to work on being a patient hitter in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis realizes he didn't show patience at the plate last year in his first full major-league season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I built a reputation in the organization of being a patient hitter," Davis said. "I felt like I wasn't a patient hitter at all last year. I was a little eager, wanting to please too much, too early. I found out I'm human."

Davis drew just 32 walks in 549 plate appearances while posting a .299 OBP in 2014, a number far away from his career .392 OBP in the minors.

"He was different last year," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Everybody goes through different phases. Guys change. (His walk total) was too low. He's a guy I think should be fairly patient. He sees pitches well. When he starts getting anxious, he becomes more aggressive and chases more. He realizes it, which is the first step. If you don't realize it and don't listen to other people when they tell you that, then you have issues. You have to have good self-awareness to be a good player. Sometimes these players don't have good self-awareness. But if they had better self-awareness they'd be a better player."

Davis is determined to fulfill the potential that caused the organization to move Ryan Braun to right field before the 2014 season and plug Davis into the regular left-field role.

"I can't thank them enough for having patience with me," Davis said. "I'm going to work it out. When you get here, you want to stay. That's the toughest part at first. I don't think this league has seen the best of me yet. I'm ready to pull that out and prove it day by day. I learned so many lessons there are too many to name."

Davis hit .244/.299/.457 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI in 501 at-bats.


Indians' Francona keeping a close eye on Giovanny Urshela
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Indians manager Terry Francona has been keeping a close eye on third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela, who was only recently cleared for a full range of activities after tweaking his knee during winter ball, MLB.com reports.

"He has a tremendous reputation of being a really good defender," Francona said. "I think I've been more wanting to watch his gait, just to make sure he's not favoring that leg. He promised us that, if he was, he'd let us know, but I also know he's a young kid in his first major-league camp."

Urshela suffered the injury on Nov. 15 and has rehabbed the injured knee at the team's spring-training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

"He's worked really hard to get himself to where he can go through a normal spring," said Indians' director of player development Carter Hawkins. "We're very excited about the spot he's in right now, given the possible outcomes of the injury."

Urshela saw his first action at the Triple-A level in 2014, hitting .276/.331/.473 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 395 at-bats with Columbus.


Reds' Brennan Boesch to see time at first base this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated Friday that outfielder Brennan Boesch would see time at all three outfield spots as well as at first base as he competes for a roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

"We already know he's a terrific player," Price said of Boesch, who has never played first base professionally. "He kind of got banged up and lost his way a little bit, but I think he feels -- and we feel -- that he's back on top of his game, and maybe his best days are ahead of him."

Boesch said he doesn't see the battle for a reserve outfield role as a "competition."

"I only care about the competition against the pitcher, and that's really as basic as I keep it," Boesch said. "You aren't competing against other players. We're all on the same side here. We're all wearing Red jerseys. Let the chips fall where they may."

Boesch struggled in limited time with the Angels in 2014 but hit .332/.381/.636 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 374 at-bats with Triple-A Salt Lake.


Dodgers' Mattingly: Turner has 'put a lot of time in and it shows'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Dodgers infielder Justin Turner earned a nonroster invitation to the team's camp last year and ended up leading the team in batting average, and he's been working on his body like a fiend over the winter, MLB.com reports.

"Going into last year, we felt if he played every day, he'd get in trouble, and we found that out, but this year maybe he can handle more," manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "He's really been diligent about his work, been at Dodger Stadium almost daily. He's put a lot of time in and it shows."

Turner credited strength-and-conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel for his workout success.

"Brandon did everything. He's been a one-man wrecking crew," said Turner. "He and his family deserve the credit. I've been able to establish a routine and train consistently. Before I signed a year ago, I was on my own, going to 24 Hour Fitness, had to coordinate everything myself."

Turner added that he lost 18 pounds this winter through a healthier diet. Mattingly said that he intends to use the infielder at the corner-infield positions and also potentially up the middle.


Nationals' Matt Skole: 'I'm eating healthy and working hard'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Nationals first baseman Matt Skole missed most of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and struggled at the plate in 2014 but showed up to camp in better shape and will look to rebound in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"This offseason, I had a little more time to work on my body," Skole said. "I really got after it in the weight room. I ate right. I ate healthy. I think that was probably the biggest difference for me. I'm about the same weight as I was. I just leaned out a little bit. I'm eating healthy and working hard."

Skole worked with hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich for a month after the season and learned to keep his hands up in order to hit the ball consistently after having his hands too low during his down 2014 season.

"After taking a year off, it was more difficult than I thought it would be," the left-handed-swinging Skole said. "But coming back, I turned some corners, made some strides as far as getting to know myself as a player and know the things I need to fix. I think everything I did last year was a stepping stone for this year."

Skole hit .241/.352/.399 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI in 461 at-bats with Double-A Harrisburg last season.


Report: Dodgers sign center fielder Travis Witherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) The Dodgers signed center fielder Travis Witherspoon to their organization, according to a report from Baseball America

Witherspoon has previously been in the Angels and Mariners organizations. In six years of minor-league ball, Witherspoon has posted a career batting average of .252 with 68 home runs. He hit a minor-league single-season best 15 home runs in 2014 with the Mariners' Single-A affiliate High Desert Mavericks. 


Phillies' Buchanan 'working on being a complete pitcher'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Phillies pitcher David Buchanan is "working on being a complete pitcher," manager Ryan Sandberg said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The team's coaches spoke with Buchanan in the fall about command and pitch sequencing, executing bunts and thwarting would-be base-stealers, and Sandberg noted while examining the players that arrived early that the pitcher had taken the advice to heart.

"My biggest goal [this spring] is to show our front office and our coaches that I can throw the ball over the plate," Buchanan said. "That's one thing I had success with last year. I wasn't walking guys. I was throwing strikes, and that's what I'm known for. That's why I succeeded in the minor leagues; I was throwing strikes. So that's what I want to do this spring training, is continue to do that, pound the zone, force early contact and keep the ball on the ground."

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch the team's Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Yankees.


Giants' Bochy: Hunter Strickland 'needs to get a little smarter'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland is ready to learn from his mistakes from the tail end of his 2014 season.

Starting strong once he was called up from Double-A Richmond, Strickland gave up six home runs in the postseason. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the remedy to put Strickland back on track is simple. 

"He needs to get a little smarter," Bochy said, per MLB.com.  

Strickland will be competing for a spot in the bullpen during spring training. His fastball is a strength, though it's a matter of his command improving on the mound. 

"The failures are what make guys better, I feel like," Strickland said. "I feel like they made me better. Just being in tune with yourself and knowing who you are and what you've got to do. In this game, you're not going to make it too far if you don't have confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who else is going to believe in you?"


Mets' Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker competing for roster spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Mets left-handed hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker will be battling for one roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

While Nieuwenhuis is out of options, manager Terry Collins indicated that den Dekker has responded to the team's request that he reduce his strikeouts when sent to Triple-A last season.

"We'll just see how it translates this spring into what kind of an offensive player he can be," Collins said of den Dekker. "We know he's got the defensive skills."

Collins said that whichever outfielder shows the most promise will make the initial 25-man roster.

"He plays the game right. He's fearless," Collins said of Nieuwenhuis. "But right now, we've got to get some offense from one of those two guys. Which one of those two guys is going to be able to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter? The best closers in our division are all right-handed, so the left-handed hitter off that bench is going to be a big piece."


Stephen Strasburg wants to stay with Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though Stephen Strasburg's agent Scott Boras denied a report that he wanted to be traded in January, the right-handed pitcher said himself that he wants to remain with the Nationals and has no issues with the organization. 

"I haven't said anything like that," Strasburg said in an interview with MLB.com. "I don't feel like that. You have to accept it because that's how the system works. It's like they pick up on any little thing and they twist it. Some people want to turn it to see how many clicks they can get on the webpage."

Strasburg is set to be the ace of a deep rotation that looks to be on of the best in baseball this coming season. With the Nationals winning their second divisional title in the past three seasons, Strasburg said he's happy with the organization. 

"It's the team that drafted me. I love the players here, I love D.C. Winning cures everything, that's for sure," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to be part of the resurgence so far. It's great to see the type of players we bring in here every year. The expectations keep going up and up. Hopefully, we can do big things this year."


 
 
 
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