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Hit Parade for Week 11

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Fantasy Baseball 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 below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.

The information has been updated through Saturday, June 9.

Catcher

With the defensive-minded and highly unusable (at least for Fantasy purposes) Bobby Wilson sidelined by a concussion, the Angels have called on former prospect Hank Conger to fill in behind the plate. At Triple-A, Conger was doing what he always does, batting .338 with an .872 OPS in 74 at-bats. Conger has the kind of offensive potential that would make him a relevant mixed-league option if you could trust him to keep the job, but he'll have to light it up over the next week or so to win over manager Mike Scioscia, who strongly prefers defense at the position. For now, he's worth adding only in leagues that require the use of two catchers.

Worth a second look: Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
Montero's less-than-impressive numbers have caused his ownership and starting percentages to drop in recent weeks, but as is often the case over a large enough sample, the course is beginning to correct itself. Over his last eight games, he has two homers and an .894 OPS. Truth be told, right-handers were never a problem for him anyway; he's batting .298 with an .816 OPS against them for the season. Good thing the Diamondbacks have five on tap in their six games this week.
Approach with caution: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
Pierzynski's 10 homers are already more than he had both last year and in 2010, so clearly this season is shaping up to be a special one for the 35-year-old. But it doesn't mean he's quite achieved must-start status. Even with his recent power surge, he's a candidate to sit in shallower leagues with pitchers like Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano on the schedule.

No-brainers: Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Mike Napoli
Advisable starts: Matt Wieters, Miguel Montero, Jesus Montero, Carlos Ruiz, A.J. Ellis, Wilin Rosario
Shaky starts: Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Doumit, J.P Arencibia, Kurt Suzuki
Strictly AL/NL-only: John Buck, Nick Hundley, Devin Mesoraco, Rod Barajas, Hank Conger, Miguel Olivo, Steve Clevenger, John Jaso, Josh Thole, Jesus Flores, Martin Maldonado
Don't bother: Ryan Hanigan, Yan Gomes, Josh Donaldson, Yorvit Torrealba, Kelly Shoppach, Jason Castro, Tyler Flowers, Chris Snyder, George Kottaras, Hector Sanchez (knee), Jose Molina, Alex Avila (hamstring), Ramon Hernandez (hand), Jonathan Lucroy (hand), Geovany Soto (knee), Chris Iannetta (wrist), Salvador Perez (knee), Victor Martinez (knee)

First base

Interleague play is in full swing, but the sudden loss of the DH spot for several AL teams isn't as big of a deal as you'd think in Fantasy. The Red Sox play all six of their games in NL parks, but with Adrian Gonzalez now warmed up in right field, both he and David Ortiz should be able to make their usual contributions. Likewise, the White Sox spend the whole week in the NL, but given Adam Dunn's experience in the outfield (and manager Robin Ventura's willingness to use him there), both he and Paul Konerko figure to play as often as usual.

Most Added Hitters (as of 6/8)
Player % increase
1. Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox 28
2. Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies 21
3. Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies 17
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-Backs 17
5. Quintin Berry, OF, Tigers 14
6. Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners 13
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox 12
8. Michael Brantley, OF, Indians 12
9. Carlos Quentin, OF, Padres 9
10. Alex Rios, OF, White Sox 8

Among the AL teams that play three games in NL parks this week, the Angels have expressed a willingness to play Albert Pujols at third base, which keeps Kendrys Morales from sitting more often than usual, and the Royals have already determined that Eric Hosmer will move to right field for their three-game series at St. Louis, which is good news for both him and Billy Butler. Unless you're an Alberto Callaspo or Jarrod Dyson owner, you can start your Angels and Royals with confidence this week.

Worth a second look: Allen Craig, Cardinals
Craig is back from a hamstring injury and doing exactly what he did before going on the DL, batting .344 (11 for 32) with two homers in eight games. He has gotten only one day off during that stretch, which confirms he'll be more or less an everyday player even with Matt Adams up from the minors, and that's reason enough to get him in your lineup considering he's done nothing but rake since the start of 2011. If he does this week what he should do against the White Sox and Royals rotations, this might be the last time you even question starting him.
Approach with caution: Justin Morneau, Twins
Morneau's peaks and valleys have been hard to predict this season, but now that his splits are rounding into form, it's getting a little easier. To put it bluntly, he's terrible at Target Field, batting .208 with a .682 OPS there compared to .279 and .960 on the road. The Twins are home for all six of their games this week and face high-end hurlers like Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke in three of them. Save Morneau for another time.

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Paul Konerko, Mark Teixeira
Advisable starts: Adrian Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Adam Dunn, Billy Butler, Mark Trumbo, Allen Craig, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Morse, Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, Eric Hosmer, Lucas Duda, Corey Hart, Michael Young, Paul Goldschmidt
Shaky starts: Freddie Freeman, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Bryan LaHair, Adam LaRoche, Mark Reynolds, Carlos Pena, Kendrys Morales, Daniel Murphy, Chris Davis, Justin Smoak, Mitch Moreland
Strictly AL/NL-only: Matt Adams, Gaby Sanchez, Yonder Alonso, Logan Morrison, Todd Helton, Ike Davis, James Loney, Ty Wigginton, Jordan Pacheco, David Cooper, Wilson Betemit, Mike Carp, Garrett Jones, Taylor Green
Don't bother: John Mayberry, Brett Wallace, Brandon Belt, Yan Gomes, Chris Parmelee, Alex Liddi, Tyler Colvin, Casey Kotchman, Carlos Lee (hamstring), Travis Ishikawa (oblique), Matt Carpenter (oblique), Lance Berkman (knee), Ryan Howard (Achilles), Adam Lind, Anthony Rizzo

Second base

So far, he's 2 for 20 in five games, but Dustin Pedroia says he's just fine playing with a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb -- no reservations, no swelling, no pain. Whether or not anyone believes him is a different story. If nothing else, he'll have to get use to playing with a guard on the thumb, which is easier said than done, so given his lack of improvement over the weekend, he's less than an automatic start in mixed leagues.

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Logan Forsythe is anything but automatic himself, but the minor-league on-base specialist appears to have usurped everyday at-bats in San Diego, bumping Alexi Amarista to the bench. He may not be a budding All-Star, but he has enough pop that he's worth a flier in NL-only leagues.

Worth a second look: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
True, this year hasn't been Weeks' best, and yes, he's on pace for nearly 200 strikeouts, but you still have to respect the track record to a certain extent. Apart from Dan Uggla, his power potential ranks second to none at the position, and that potential will be going up against bottom feeders like Luis Mendoza, Luke Hochevar, Vin Mazzaro, Nick Blackburn and whoever else the Twins throw out there this week. I don't know about you, but my money's on Weeks.
Approach with caution: Dustin Ackley, Mariners
Ackley has had his moments this season, no doubt, but weeks like this one are precisely why you still can't rely on him as an every-week option in mixed leagues. Like many young left-handed hitters, he struggles against left-handed pitchers, batting .194 with a .567 OPS, and like many young Mariners hitters, he struggles in the cavernous expanse known as Safeco Field, batting .218 with a .576 OPS. Too bad the Mariners play all six of their games at home this week -- and two against lefties.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Dan Uggla, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist
Advisable starts: Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, Michael Young, Jose Altuve, Rickie Weeks
Shaky starts: Kelly Johnson, Omar Infante, Jemile Weeks, Dustin Ackley, Aaron Hill, Mike Aviles, Howard Kendrick, Kyle Seager, Gordon Beckham, Daniel Murphy, Danny Espinosa, Neil Walker, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Brian Roberts (concussion), Ryan Roberts, Darwin Barney, Elian Herrera, Everth Cabrera, Sean Rodriguez, Stephen Lombardozzi, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Theriot, Brandon Inge, Everth Cabrera, Robert Andino, Jerry Hairston, Taylor Green, Logan Forsythe
Don't bother: Tyler Greene, Alexi Casilla, Elliot Johnson, Alexi Amarista, Jose Lopez, Johnny Giavotella, Maicer Izturis, Orlando Hudson, Joaquin Arias, Skip Schumaker (hamstring), Freddy Galvis (back), Mark Ellis (leg), Jeff Keppinger (foot), Chris Getz (ribs), Ruben Tejada (quadriceps), Chase Utley (knee), Freddy Sanchez (shoulder)

Third base

Pablo Sandoval, who missed more than a month because of hand surgery, came off the DL and returned to the lineup on Saturday. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean he's back to form. Manager Bruce Bochy has expressed concern over the Round Mound of Pound's lack of conditioning, which is the same thing that happened in 2010, when Sandoval went on to become just a part-timer and one of Fantasy's more notable busts. You might want to give him a week to prove himself before activating him in mixed leagues.

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Athletics @COL3, SD3
2. Brewers @KC3, @MIN3
3. Tigers @CHC3, COL3
4. Reds CLE3, @NYM3
5. Cardinals CHW3, KC3

Worth a second look: Todd Frazier, Reds
If you're looking for a deep sleeper at third base, Frazier fits the bill this week. Not only has the 26-year-old emerged as the primary option for the Reds with Scott Rolen sidelined by a shoulder injury, but he has proven he can be just as productive in the majors as he was in the minors, homering six times in 105 at-bats. Though his free-swinging approach makes him unreliable in Fantasy, his favorable matchups against pitchers like Jeanmar Gomez, Derek Lowe, Josh Tomlin and Chris Young make him a reasonable stopgap in mixed leagues this week.
Approach with caution: Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox
The Red Sox are still doing their best to juggle four players -- Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Sweeney and Middlebrooks -- between three positions, but lately, Middlebrooks has been the one getting the short end of the stick. That's especially worrisome with the Red Sox on the road for all six of their interleague games this week. Provided they keep David Ortiz in the lineup at first base -- which is a fair assumption at this point -- they'll obviously stick Adrian Gonzalez in right field and create a toss-up at third base between Youkilis and Middlebrooks. Like we don't know which way Bobby Valentine will lean there ...

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Martin Prado, Alex Rodriguez, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo
Advisable starts: Ryan Zimmerman, David Freese, Aramis Ramirez, Brett Lawrie, Michael Young, Jed Lowrie
Shaky starts: Pablo Sandoval, Mike Aviles, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Moustakas, Mark Reynolds, Chase Headley, Daniel Murphy, Will Middlebrooks, Kyle Seager, Chris Davis, Chris Johnson, Todd Frazier
Strictly AL/NL-only: Chipper Jones, Pedro Alvarez, Ryan Roberts, Ian Stewart, Wilson Betemit, Jordan Pacheco, Ty Wigginton, Sean Rodriguez, Robert Andino, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jamey Carroll, Cody Ransom, Stephen Lombardozzi, Brandon Inge, Jerry Hairston, Taylor Green, Logan Forsythe, Trevor Plouffe
Don't bother: Orlando Hudson, Alberto Callaspo, Josh Bell, Joaquin Arias, Josh Donaldson, Alex Liddi, Jose Lopez, Juan Francisco, Maicer Izturis, Placido Polanco (finger, wrist), Evan Longoria (hamstring), Matt Carpenter (oblique), Brent Morel (back), Juan Uribe (wrist), Jack Hannahan (calf), Scott Rolen (shoulder), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Nolan Arenado, Danny Valencia, Eduardo Nunez

Shortstop

Amid allegations from his owner that he's focused more on free agency this offseason than helping the team this season, Stephen Drew began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno on Thursday. Drew, who is working his way back from a gruesome ankle injury last July, probably has a couple weeks of minor-league action ahead of him. Still, his extra-base pop makes him worth stashing in mixed leagues now that he's nearing the end of his recovery.

Worth a second look: Zack Cozart, Reds
Given his inexperience and lack of plate discipline, streakiness will probably be the norm for Cozart in his rookie season, but when he's going well, his power potential is still a valuable commodity at the shortstop position. He seems to be going well now, batting .323 (10 for 31) with a homer and a steal over his last seven games, and has a good chance of keeping it up against the worst of the Indians and Mets rotations. If you need a one-week option in mixed leagues, here it is.
Approach with caution: Mike Aviles, Red Sox
Again? Can't we just bench this guy already? Aviles had his little hot streak. It was cool, and it was fun. But it was unsustainable. And now that it's over, he's back to being a .260-hitting singles machine with zero on-base ability. Seriously, he has two extra-base hits -- both doubles -- over his last 18 games, giving him a .497 OPS during that stretch. Most likely, he'll go streaking again at some point, but not this week, not against pitchers like Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jeff Samardzija and Ryan Dempster.

No-brainers: Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Rafael Furcal, Derek Jeter, Jed Lowrie
Advisable starts: J.J. Hardy, Jimmy Rollins, Zack Cozart
Shaky starts: Mike Aviles, Ian Desmond, Jhonny Peralta, Erick Aybar, Dee Gordon, Alexei Ramirez, Yunel Escobar, Marco Scutaro, Alcides Escobar
Strictly AL/NL-only: Everth Cabrera, Cliff Pennington, Jamey Carroll, Ryan Theriot, Robert Andino, Cody Ransom, Andrelton Simmons, Sean Rodriguez, Brian Dozier, Willie Bloomquist
Don't bother: Tyler Greene, Elliot Johnson, Alexi Casilla, Joaquin Arias, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Freddy Galvis (back), Jason Bartlett (knee), Ruben Tejada (quadriceps), Stephen Drew (ankle), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Eduardo Nunez

Outfield

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Rays NYM3, MIA3
2. White Sox @STL3, @LAD3
3. Red Sox @MIA3, @CHC3
4. Marlins BOS3, @TB3
5. Twins PHI3, MIL3

Austin Jackson, who had been out since May 16 with a strained abdominal, came off the DL and was back in his usual leadoff spot Saturday. He went 0 for 4 in his return and might be a little rusty at first, but considering he was looking like one of this season's biggest breakouts before the injury, showing dramatic improvement with his strikeout-to-walk ratio, you'll want to get him active in virtually all Fantasy leagues.

After seeing him hit five home runs in 65 at-bats to go along with a 10-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Triple-A Indianapolis, the Pirates decided Alex Presley was worth starting for them again, promoting him on Tuesday. Matt Hague has been the one to lose at-bats, with Garrett Jones moving back to first base and Jose Tabata shifting from left field to right. Presley has some low-end mixed-league appeal when going well, but you'll want to see him get hot before adding him.

Worth a second look: Michael Morse, Nationals and Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks
After he missed the first two months with a strained lat, you had to wonder if Morse would be rusty upon his return. Well, he went 0 for 8 in his first two games, but apparently that's all the time he needed. He's 6 for 20 (.300) with three doubles over his last two and actually has some pretty good matchups this week against Henderson Alvarez, Kyle Drabek and Ivan Nova. If he was a must-start last season, why wouldn't you give him the benefit of the doubt now? Parra is an interesting choice given his lack of a starting job, but he's spelled each of the team's starters enough over the last week to put together a 9-to-22 (.409) run -- one that includes two homers. And this week, playing time won't even be an issue with the DH spot available for the team's AL West tour. Parra is still on the lower end of mixed-league options, but he's a sneaky play given his hot streak.
Approach with caution: Dayan Viciedo, White Sox and B.J. Upton, Rays
What goes up must come down, and the "what" in this case is Viciedo, who has a bit of an Alfonso Soriano thing going by homering three times in his first 31 games before homering nine times in his next 18. But considering he's 3 for 26 (.115) in his last seven games, he seems to be running out of steam. That's not the kind of momentum you want him to have entering a week when he's facing Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Chris Capuano. Speaking of being on the wrong side of streaky, B.J. Upton is batting only .209 (9 for 43) with three extra-base hits over his last 11 games. And he doesn't even have any stolen bases during that stretch, making it all the more troublesome in Fantasy. When Upton is going well, he's a terrific power-speed threat, but his .244 batting average since the start of 2009 shows why he's not an every-week option in Fantasy. With pitchers like R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson on the schedule, this week seems like one of those times to bench him.

No-brainers: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Andre Ethier, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Beltran, Adam Jones, Hunter Pence, Mike Trout, Josh Reddick
Advisable starts: Matt Holliday (back), Melky Cabrera (hamstring), Justin Upton, Adrian Gonzalez, Ben Zobrist, Jay Bruce, Martin Prado, Desmond Jennings, Shin-Soo Choo, Mark Trumbo, Bryce Harper (back), Allen Craig, Michael Morse, Josh Willingham, Corey Hart, Carlos Quentin, Jason Heyward, Michael Cuddyer, Alejandro De Aza, Angel Pagan, Lucas Duda, Dexter Fowler, Austin Jackson
Shaky starts: Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring), Nelson Cruz (Achilles), Matt Joyce, Chris Young, Alex Gordon, Bryan LaHair, B.J. Upton, Ichiro Suzuki, Nick Swisher, Alfonso Soriano, Howard Kendrick, Drew Stubbs (oblique), Gerardo Parra, J.D. Martinez, Jeff Francoeur, Alex Rios, Brennan Boesch, Jason Kubel, Dayan Viciedo, Cameron Maybin, Michael Brantley, Mitch Moreland, Denard Span, Colby Rasmus, Gregor Blanco, Torii Hunter, Raul Ibanez, Delmon Young, Michael Saunders, Coco Crisp
Strictly AL/NL-only: Daniel Nava (hand), Jordan Schafer (eye), Yonder Alonso, Ryan Doumit, David DeJesus, Luke Scott, Logan Morrison, Rajai Davis (finger), David Murphy, Will Venable, Seth Smith, Wilson Betemit, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jason Bay, Juan Pierre, Bobby Abreu, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Presley, Trevor Plouffe, Stephen Lombardozzi, Ben Revere, Norichika Aoki, Elian Herrera, Garrett Jones, Mike Carp, Jerry Hairston,Jose Tabata, Ty Wigginton
Don't bother: Quintin Berry, Brandon Belt, Ryan Sweeney, Tony Campana, Alex Liddi, John Mayberry, Tyler Colvin, Peter Bourjos, Ryan Ludwick, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Gomez, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Damon, Nyjer Morgan, Chris Heisey, Brett Gardner (elbow), Skip Schumaker (hamstring), Andy Dirks (Achilles), Carlos Lee (hamstring), Nick Markakis (wrist), Matt Kemp (hamstring), Lance Berkman (knee), Emilio Bonifacio (hand), Vernon Wells (thumb), Jon Jay (shoulder), Cody Ross (foot), Matt Carpenter (oblique), Nolan Reimold (neck), Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder), Lorenzo Cain (groin), Jayson Werth (wrist), Carl Crawford (elbow), Grady Sizemore (back), Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Brett Jackson, Domonic Brown, Wil Myers

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
Giants experimenting with Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:43 pm ET) The Giants are experimenting with using outfielder Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Aoki will hit leadoff on Tuesday with Angel Pagan sidelined. While Pagan is expected to claim the role once the regular season begins, manager Bruce Bochy said he would consider using Aoki in the leadoff role occasionally. When that happens, Pagan would hit in the third spot in the order. 

Aoki, 33, hit .285/.349/.360 over 491 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Glen Perkins feeling healthy heading into games
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) Twins reliever Glen Perkins is feeling healthy heading into spring games, according to the Pioneer Press.

Perkins was shut down at the end of last season due to forearm and elbow issues. He hasn't experienced any of those issues this spring. "Really the barometer on how my arm feels is the bite on my slider," Perkins said. "If my slider is loopy, then my arm is probably tired, especially my forearm."

Perkins added that he threw a few sliders during a recent bullpen session, and was happy with how they looked. "I told them it was coming and they swung and missed at a few," he said. "It's got good movement right now. That means obviously I'm fresh, but also I'm strong and healthy."

Perkins is expected to pitch during an exhibition game on Wednesday. He posted a 3.65 ERA over 61 2/3 innings last season. 


Red Sox OFs Betts, Castillo to share time in CF this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday that outfielders Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will get equal playing time in center field this spring, MLB.com reports.

"Like we said at the outset of camp, we'll take all of camp to determine that," said Farrell. "They're going to get equal playing time. But I think it's important they both get comfortable with the combination of the guys on the flank because of communication, the responsibilities for balls in the gap, fly ball communication and those priorities."

While Betts had ample time to make an impression on the team during his rookie season, the Red Sox are still getting to know Castillo and his capabilities.

"With Rusney, I think it's a matter of frequent at-bats, more games played," Farrell said. "Particularly after our season concluded, he went to the [Arizona] Fall League and Puerto Rico, and through repetition, I think he's just gotten better timing and consistent routes in the outfield and he's looked very good here in camp so far."

Castillo went 12 for 36 in his short time with the Red Sox last season.


Report: Red Sox, Phillies haven't made progress on Hamels' deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) 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.


Cardinals' Carpenter seeks to balance aggressiveness, patience
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter hopes to combine the aggressiveness he displayed in 2013 with the patience he showed in 2014, MLB.com reports.

"I've had both extremes of it," Carpenter said. "I've had it where I've led the leagues in walks [2014], and I've had where I've led the league in hits [2013]. I'm trying to search for that perfect balance where you're aggressive, but you're still patient.

"In the postseason, I felt that I was more aggressive than I had been at any point in my career, but at the same time, I wasn't flailing at balls. I didn't lose anything. Now, it's finding the perfect balance to where I'm swinging the bat, I'm being aggressive, I'm trying to do damage, but at the same time, I'm a guy who can walk a lot, get on base and set the tone as a leadoff hitter. I think that's part of growing up as a baseball player. You learn and you adapt and you continue to try to figure out who you are as a hitter."

Carpenter homered four times during last year's postseason after hitting just eight home runs during the regular season, with his first two postseason blasts coming on the first pitch of his at-bats. He's looking to capture that approach more often this season.

"I think he's a smart enough guy to do it because he knows what he does really well," hitting coach John Mabry said. "That's what you take pride in -- those guys who put in all the work to get to where they are and then say, 'I'm not happy.' They want to put in the extra work to get to that next step, the next level."

Carpenter is looking to build off a 2014 season in which he hit .272/.375/.375 with eight home runs and 59 RBI in 595 at-bats.


Mariners' Dustin Ackley to get a lot of playing time this spring
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley will get a ton of playing time this spring, according to MLB.com.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said he wants Ackley to get off to a strong start, and will give the outfielder a lot of at-bats in March. Ackley seemed happy with the arrangement. "I think that's good," Ackley said. "The more at-bats you get, the better your timing gets and the more comfortable you feel. I think everybody wants to get at-bats and get ready."

Ackley had a tough first half of the season in 2014, but seemed to come on strong late. He stressed that being strong mentally should help in 2015. "I just need to stay consistent and don't start pressing if I don't get a hit for a couple games or don't do this or that," he said. "It's not being result-oriented and just going out there and playing and trusting in my swing and my mental standpoint."

The 27-year-old hit .245/.293/.398 over 502 at-bats last year. He's expected to open the season in a platoon role with Rickie Weeks. 


Nationals' Williams on Zimmerman: 'His athleticism is key for us'
(6:54 pm ET) After playing most of his career at third base, Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman is set to serve as the team's regular first baseman in 2015, and the team has continued to be impressed with how quickly he's learning the position, Comcast SportsNet reports.

"His athleticism is key for us," manager Matt Williams said. "He catches everything. He doesn’t miss a ball."

Zimmerman's Monday workouts had a new twist, as the team timed him to see how long he takes to get to first base after the point of contact with the ball. He also continued his work on throwing to second base, specifically gauging the positioning of shortstop Ian Desmond.

"It’s just comfort level for him," Williams said. "I’m always impressed by his athleticism and what he can do with his glove. The challenge is going to be him being comfortable over there, and the throws to second base, because it’s just backwards."

Zimmerman hit .280/.342/.449 with five home runs and 38 RBI in 214 at-bats last season.


Brewers' Taylor Jungmann taking new approach into this season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:44 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Taylor Jungmann is taking a new approach into this season, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Jungmann got off to a slow start last season, but a change in approach prompted him to reverse his fortunes. Triple-A pitching coach Fred Danby suggested Jungmann shift from the left side of the pitching rubber to the right side. Jungmann said he had always been told his stuff played better from the left side, but felt a change instantly after switching spots.

"I can’t explain it but I started throwing more strikes," he said. "My mechanics were a little more fluid. I didn’t change a whole lot; I just moved to the other side of the rubber. It felt natural. It made it a little easier to be consistent with my (pitching) motion. The biggest thing was getting my breaking ball back."

Jungmann comes into camp fighting for a spot in the team's rotation. He's already been listed as sixth on the starting pitching depth chart.


Angels' Scioscia: Kole Calhoun's 'intensity' a key strength
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia praised the intensity and enthusiasm of outfielder Kole Calhoun Monday as part of what makes him such a valuable part of the team's lineup, MLB.com reports.

"I think part of what makes Kole a good player is his intensity," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You need that focus, that intensity to know this is real and it's how you compete. With Kole, it's in him and it bubbles out. He pumps his teammates up and he does a great job setting the tone for us."

"It's how I was raised," Calhoun said. "I'm a pretty passionate person in most everything that I do. I think at this level, you've got to be. You've got to compete on every pitch because that's your livelihood. Everyone's fighting for the same thing and you want to come out on top."

Calhoun excelled as the team's leadoff batter in 2014, hitting .281/.336/.471 with 17 home runs and 58 RBI in 448 at-bats while slotted first.


Rangers' Lewis, Gallardo to throw on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:36 pm ET) The Rangers will throw both Colby Lewis and Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The Rangers will take on the Royals during the contest. It's unclear how long either player will throw during the outing. Both players are expected to open the year in the team's rotation. 


 
 
 
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