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Hit Parade for Week 17

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 Thursday, July 19.

Catcher

Jonathan Lucroy, who has been out with a broken hand since May 27, is aiming to return Thursday. Based on the way his minor-league rehab assignment began this past Thursday, with a 2-for-3 performance at Class A Wisconsin, he shouldn't have much trouble meeting that goal. Because he'd be limited to half a week of action, though, now probably isn't the time to activate him in mixed leagues. He was looking like a breakthrough player before the injury, hitting .345 with five home runs in 139 at-bats, so he's worth a flier if nobody bothered to stash him in your league. If nothing else, he'll be a marked improvement over his replacement, Martin Maldonado.

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Worth a second look: Carlos Santana, Indians
As was inevitable for a player with his ability, Santana started to break out of his funk with a two-hit performance Wednesday that included his first home run since May 15. He followed it up with a two-walk performance Thursday, showing a renewed understanding of the strike zone that should have his Fantasy owners all the more encouraged about his progress. At a weak position like catcher, those small signs are all you need to start Santana again, especially when his matchups include low-end pitchers like Tommy Hunter, Scott Diamond and Samuel Deduno.
Approach with caution: Mike Napoli, Rangers
One of these weeks, Napoli is going to blow up for five home runs, and no one will ever doubt him in Fantasy again. Well, at least not for a while. This week, though, his prolonged slump that has him batting .148 (13 for 88) over his last 26 games seems likely to continue. The Rangers are at home, yes, but they're facing pitchers like Felix Doubront, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in only a six-game week. In standard one-catcher leagues, perhaps you should look to a Salvador Perez type instead.

No-brainers: Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, Carlos Ruiz, Matt Wieters, Brian McCann
Advisable starts: Carlos Santana, A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez, Jesus Montero
Shaky starts: Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Alex Avila, Wilin Rosario, Ryan Doumit, J.P Arencibia, Yasmani Grandal, Russell Martin, A.J. Ellis
Strictly AL/NL-only: John Buck, Geovany Soto, Michael McKenry, Rod Barajas, Derek Norris, Kurt Suzuki, Miguel Olivo, Martin Maldonado, John Jaso, Josh Thole, Devin Mesoraco, Ramon Hernandez, Jonathan Lucroy (hand)
Don't bother: Lou Marson, Jesus Flores, Ryan Hanigan, Yorvit Torrealba, Chris Snyder, Jason Castro (knee), Chris Iannetta (wrist), Victor Martinez (knee)

First base

This time a month ago, Ike Davis and Brandon Belt were two of the hottest pickups off the waiver wire, but while Davis has continued to thrive, Belt has faded back into obscurity. It's not all his fault. The Giants keep sticking catcher Buster Posey at first base, forcing Belt out of the lineup for seven of their last 17 games. Still, the young first baseman is back to being an NL-only option as a result.

Lance Berkman, who decided to rehab at the major-league level rather than go on a rehab assignment after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in May, has started only two of the Cardinals' five games since coming off the DL. Apparently, the Cardinals will bring the 36-year-old along slowly, which is good news for Allen Craig but bad news for Berkman himself. In shallower leagues, he might not even be worthy of a bench spot right now.

Worth a second look: Chris Carter, Athletics
Carter probably isn't worth your time in standard mixed leagues, but in deeper leagues, he could make a surprising contribution this week. Since coming up from the minors in late June, he has finally begun to show his potential with a .310 batting average, five home runs and .444 on-base percentage in 29 at-bats. Of course, he's also been the lesser half of a lefty-righty platoon with Brandon Moss, but with five lefties on tap for the Athletics this week, the lesser half will become the greater half. And a great one he'll be against the Triple-A pitchers in the Blue Jays and Orioles rotations.
Approach with caution: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
After getting off to a hot start when first promoted from the minors in late June, Rizzo has cooled off a bit, batting .259 (7 for 27) with no extra-base hits in his last seven games. In and of itself, that's no reason to bench the high-profile rookie, but with high-end hurlers like James McDonald, Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright on tap for the Cubs in a six-game week, you can probably do better than Rizzo at the deep first base position in standard mixed leagues.

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

Second base

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The latest chapter in Dustin Pedroia's sprained thumb saga -- otherwise known as "the DL stint" -- ended after the minimum 15 days Thursday, which might actually be something of a disappointment for Fantasy owners. Pedroia hasn't hit all that well since the saga began, and his replacement, a minor-league journeyman named Pedro Ciriaco, was beginning to make a name for himself in deeper leagues. Ciriaco's performance likely was unsustainable, though, and Pedroia has to be feeling better now than he was two weeks ago. He's not quite back to must-start status yet, but with so few quality options available at second base, you'll mostly likely want to get him active.

Worth a second look: Marco Scutaro, Rockies
After a five-week stretch in which he averaged 20.2 Head-to-Head points, Scutaro has come back down to earth over his last 15 games, batting .217 (13 for 60) with only one extra-base hit. He's been picking it up a little lately, though, batting .316 (6 for 19) over his last five games, and plays in a couple of hitter-friendly venues this week, including three games at Arizona and three games at home, where he's batting .303 on the year. Granted, he's not the most exciting one-week pickup ever, but at second base this week, he's probably the best you can do.
Approach with caution: Danny Espinosa, Nationals
The Nationals have some especially tough matchups this week against pitchers like R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers and Zack Greinke, which is probably reason enough to sit a .241 hitter who strikes out every third at-bat like Espinosa. But having only two lefties on tap pretty much clinches it. Espinosa may be the hot hand right now, batting .333 (16 for 48) over his last 13 games, but considering he's a .217 hitter against righties compared to .301 against lefties, the odds are against him this week.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis, Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips
Advisable starts: Dan Uggla, Neil Walker, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro
Shaky starts: Omar Infante, Jose Altuve, Chase Utley, Mike Aviles, Rickie Weeks, Michael Young, Jemile Weeks, Kyle Seager, Kelly Johnson, Daniel Murphy, Howard Kendrick, Danny Espinosa, Dustin Ackley, Gordon Beckham
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada, Everth Cabrera, Alexi Amarista, Ryan Roberts, Darwin Barney, Ryan Theriot, Elliot Johnson, Jeff Keppinger, Sean Rodriguez
Don't bother: Mark Ellis, Pedro Ciriaco, Jerry Hairston, Chris Getz, Jamey Carroll, Brandon Inge, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ryan Raburn, Stephen Lombardozzi, Tyler Greene, Logan Forsythe, Jose Lopez, Maicer Izturis, Skip Schumaker, Chris Nelson (heart), Robert Andino (shoulder), Brian Roberts (hip)

Third base

Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Diamondbacks COL3, NYM4
2. Pirates CHC3, @HOU4
3. Reds @HOU3, @COL3
4. Tigers @CLE3, @TOR3
5. Athletics @TOR3, @BAL3

With Nick Markakis back in the lineup to begin the second half, Chris Davis has sat out three straight games against lefties. Surprised? Well, turns out he sat out four straight against lefties before the break. It's gone under the radar given the surplus of righties the Orioles have faced over the last few weeks, but that surplus won't last forever. With Davis' OPS and on-base percentage on the decline as well, the all-or-nothing slugger appears to be little more than a last resort in mixed leagues.

Worth a second look: Todd Frazier, Reds
With Joey Votto recovering from knee surgery, power-hitting rookie Todd Frazier is expected to fill in at first base. He's more valuable to Fantasy owners at third base, though, where he's spent parts of this season filling in for the perpetually injured Scott Rolen. The inconsistent at-bats have so far kept Fantasy owners away, but now that he's secure for the next month or so, his .896 OPS deserves some looks in mixed leagues, especially during a week in which he's facing the Astros and Rockies rotations.
Approach with caution: Kyle Seager, Mariners
Just when you were about ready to trust Seager again given his renewed extra-base power over the last three games -- all on the road -- the Mariners are set for another full week at home, where he's batting .167 with a .539 OPS. They actually have some favorable matchups, including four games against the rocky Royals rotation, but with that crazy split, it won't so much matter for Seager, will it?

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

Shortstop

After alternating with Willie Bloomquist when he first came off the DL, Stephen Drew has started six of the last seven games for the Diamondbacks. He's still not hitting all that well, batting just .192 (10 for 52) since coming off the DL, and if rumors count for anything, the Diamondbacks may only be playing him to showcase him for a possible trade, which could result in him once again becoming a part-time player. Despite his history as a serviceable Fantasy shortstop, his 38 percent ownership rate seems about right.

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With Ian Desmond missing five games with an oblique injury before returning Friday, Danny Espinosa got enough playing time at shortstop to become eligible at the position in standard Fantasy leagues. Of course, given his inability to make consistent contact this season, he's not a particularly exciting option at the position. In terms of Fantasy value, he's about in the Alexei Ramirez range.

Worth a second look: Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
Bonifacio hasn't made tons of noise since returning from a two-month absence for a thumb injury, but he's batting a respectable .292 (7 for 24) with two stolen bases and nearly as many extra-base hits (three) as he had in the six weeks before the injury. As long as he's swinging the bat well, his base-stealing ability should be more than enough to carry him at a weak position like shortstop, and matchups against Mike Minor, Kip Wells and Ross Ohlendorf this week should ensure he continues to swing the bat well.
Approach with caution: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
After looking like he might be on the verge of turning his season around by batting .412 (35 for 85) during a 22-game stretch, Ramirez has slowed down over his last six, collecting just one extra-base hit. He still has only two homers on the season, which is unacceptable for a player with a sub-.300 on-base percentage. During a week in which he's facing pitchers like Francisco Liriano, Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Roy Oswalt, you shouldn't be the least bit excited about using him in mixed leagues.

No-brainers: Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins
Advisable starts: Ian Desmond, Derek Jeter, Trevor Plouffe, Emilio Bonifacio, Marco Scutaro
Shaky starts: Alcides Escobar, Rafael Furcal, Erick Aybar, Jhonny Peralta, J.J. Hardy, Alexei Ramirez, Mike Aviles, Hanley Ramirez (hand), Danny Espinosa, Zack Cozart, Yunel Escobar
Strictly AL/NL-only: Ruben Tejada, Everth Cabrera, Alexi Amarista, Stephen Drew, Cliff Pennington, Ryan Theriot, Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez, Brian Dozier, Josh Rutledge
Don't bother: Pedro Ciriaco, Paul Janish, Jamey Carroll, Willie Bloomquist, Yuniesky Betancourt, Cody Ransom, Tyler Greene, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Brendan Ryan, Cesar Izturis, Troy Tulowitzki (groin), Jed Lowrie (leg), Dee Gordon (thumb), Andrelton Simmons (finger), Jason Bartlett (knee), Eduardo Nunez, Billy Hamilton

Outfield

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Braves @MIA3, PHI3
2. Padres @SF3, @MIA3
3. Nationals @NYM3, @MIL4
4. Brewers @PHI3, WAS4
5. Rangers BOS3, CHW3

After sitting for Jarrod Dyson against right-handed pitchers in his first handful of games off the DL, Lorenzo Cain has started two straight against righties, showing that the Royals are ready to turn him loose after his three-month-long layoff due to a groin injury. And why not? He's batting .391 (9 for 23) with two home runs since returning, renewing his sleeper appeal in mixed leagues. Good luck finding a better hitter owned in less than 50 percent of leagues this time of year.

Anthony Gose figures to be a good hitter someday, having made rapid progress in the Blue Jays' minor-league system after looking more like a project than a prospect two years ago. But the Desmond Jennings-like power-speed threat isn't the only player the Blue Jays have called on to fill Jose Bautista's void. They also promoted Travis Snider from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he was hitting .335 with a 1.021 OPS. Either player would have mixed-league appeal with full-time at-bats and a smooth transition to the majors (which seems like a long shot for Snider), but because the distribution of playing time between the two is unclear, you can leave the duo for AL-only leagues.

Worth a second look: Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks and Drew Stubbs, Reds
A four-game absence because of a hamstring injury is about the only reason Fantasy owners aren't all-in on Kubel yet. But he came back strong with two homers Wednesday to give him a .315 batting average, 13 home runs and a 1.069 OPS over his last 33 games. And with the Diamondbacks at home (where he's batting .331 with a 1.088 OPS compared to .257 and .734 on the road) and facing the Rockies rotation and a couple of the weaker links in the Mets rotation, you can expect more of the same this week. Stubbs, meanwhile, is pretty much a forgotten man in Fantasy with his .223 batting average on the year. But he actually has been picking it up lately, batting .462 (6 for 13) with a stolen base over his last four games, and has favorable matchups at Houston and Colorado this week. Between his speed and power potential, he looks like a sneaky start in mixed leagues.
Approach with caution: Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays and Carlos Quentin, Padres
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times ... well, I don't know what comes next, but Rasmus looks like he's done it again to Fantasy owners, emerging from his seven-week hot stretch with a .088 (3 for 34) batting average and 11 strikeouts over his last nine games. Given his history of extreme highs followed by extreme lows, you can afford to give someone else a shot, especially with the Blue Jays playing only six games this week. Quentin hasn't been so hot lately either, batting .160 (12 for 75) over his last 21 games. Even though he's not at home this week, where he's batting only .192, he's still not looking like mixed-league material with matchups against Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, Anibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson.

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