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Hit Parade for Week 24

Senior Fantasy Writer
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All stats are updated through Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Catcher

Jason Castro missed all of 2011 with a torn ACL in his right knee and now has a cyst in the same knee. Since he's arguably their most valuable player at the major-league level, the Astros are understandably concerned. He had the knee drained Tuesday and should be able to finish out the season, but if he's sitting every third game just to be safe, he'll lose some of his Fantasy value. Keep an eye on the situation, but since he's at his hottest right now, batting .432 (16 for 37) with four home runs in 13 games, and has good matchups again this week, you should probably stick with him.
Worth a second look: Evan Gattis, Braves
I've kind of been chasing my tail with Gattis all season, being late to the party every time something goes right or wrong for him. But eventually, he has to do something sustainable, right? The Braves think his three games at Triple-A, where he went 6 for 13 with three doubles and a homer, were enough to get his swing right and are back to playing him on a near-everyday basis just in time for a week of favorable matchups against the Marlins and Padres pitching staffs. Terrific.
Approach with caution: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
With his back aching, Saltalamacchia is one of those catchers who I'd be willing to sit for the new and improved Gattis. Chances are he'll return in time for the start of Fantasy Week 24 (Sept. 9-15), but if he's at less than 100 percent, it could affect his swing. He'll already have his work cut out for him with David Price, Alex Cobb, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova on tap in a six-game week.
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No-brainers: Buster Posey (finger), Carlos Santana, Yadier Molina, Jonathan Lucroy, Wilin Rosario, Matt Wieters
Advisable starts: Brian McCann, Mike Napoli, Jason Castro (knee), Wilson Ramos, A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Montero, Salvador Perez
Shaky starts: Joe Mauer (concussion), Evan Gattis, Russell Martin, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (back), Travis d'Arnaud, Yan Gomes, Carlos Ruiz, J.P. Arencibia, Mike Zunino, Ryan Doumit
Strictly AL/NL-only: Dioner Navarro, A.J. Ellis, Nick Hundley, Devin Mesoraco, Hank Conger, Alex Avila, Chris Herrmann, Chris Stewart, Welington Castillo, Josh Phegley, Derek Norris (toe), Chris Iannetta, Jose Lobaton
Don't bother: Brayan Pena, Stephen Vogt, Geovany Soto, Wil Nieves, John Buck, Ryan Hanigan, Erik Kratz, Tyler Flowers, Kurt Suzuki, Max Stassi (concussion), John Jaso (concussion)

First base

The few players who qualify only at DH now appear alongside the first basemen so that their owners might have some context for how to approach them this week. If you see an asterisk (*) next to a player's name, it means he's DH-only and not a legitimate first baseman.
Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Angels @MIN1, @TOR3, @HOU3
2. Mets WAS4, MIA4
3. Orioles NYY4, @TOR3
4. Braves @MIA4, SD3
5. Rays BOS3, @MIN3

Were you one of the loyal few who kept using Michael Young at a corner infield or utility spot despite his marshmallow production? Time for a new hobby. Now with the Dodgers, Young won't get regular playing time -- not with Adrian Gonzalez entrenched at first base and Juan Uribe offering superior defense at third. It's for the best, really. He was only holding you back.
Worth a second look: Adam Dunn, White Sox
After holding steady in June, July and the first two weeks in August, Dunn has fallen on hard times lately, batting .130 (7 for 54) over his last 14 games. As a result, he's had to sit out the team's last two games vs. lefties, against whom he's batting .202. Fear not, though. His seven games against righties this week should be enough to get his power stroke back on track. The Rick Porcello, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach McAllister matchups are especially enticing.
Approach with caution: Matt Adams, Cardinals
With Allen Craig nursing a sprained foot, Adams is likely to start the Cardinals' next few games at first base. But will he start all of Fantasy Week 24 (Sept. 9-15) there? You can't assume he will. And even if he does, he'll probably have trouble following up Wednesday's two-homer performance against pitchers like Marco Estrada, Kyle Lohse and Hisashi Iwakuma. You could do worse if you need cheap power off the waiver wire this week, but you could probably do better, too.

No-brainers: Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, Matt Carpenter, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Freddie Freeman, David Ortiz*, Adrian Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer
Advisable starts: Mark Trumbo, Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez, Buster Posey (finger), Brandon Belt, Carlos Santana, Jonathan Lucroy, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rizzo, Justin Morneau
Shaky starts: Nick Swisher, Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli, Joe Mauer (concussion), Chris Carter, Justin Smoak, Adam LaRoche, Darin Ruf, Brandon Moss, Chris Johnson, Matt Adams, Mitch Moreland, Logan Morrison, Allen Craig (foot), Michael Morse, Todd Frazier, Adam Lind, Yan Gomes
Strictly AL/NL-only: Daniel Nava, Paul Konerko, Kyle Blanks, Juan Francisco, Chris Colabello, Todd Helton, Kole Calhoun, Lucas Duda, Lance Berkman, James Loney, Brett Wallace, John Mayberry, Lyle Overbay, Michael Young
Don't bother: Garrett Jones, Kevin Frandsen, Gaby Sanchez, Matt Tuiasosopo, Yuniesky Betancourt, Josh Satin, Mike Carp, Jeff Keppinger, Nate Freiman, Yonder Alonso (hand), Ike Davis (oblique), Kevin Youkilis (back), Jonathan Singleton

Second base

After hitting .371 in 38 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Josh Rutledge has come back to the majors with a vengeance, going 6 for 9 with a triple, a homer and two steals in three games. The problem is only two of those games were starts, and in one, he was filling in for an injured Troy Tulowitzki. Unless the Rockies pull the plug on DJ LeMahieu, Rutledge won't be getting regular at-bats. The power-speed potential up the middle is intriguing, but right now, Rutledge should go unowned outside of deeper Rotisserie leagues.
Worth a second look: Omar Infante, Tigers
Infante has been red hot since returning from a back injury in mid-August, batting .353 (30 for 85) with three home runs. That's reason enough to consider using him at a relatively weak position. But this week especially, with four left-handers on tap for the Tigers, I'm giving him strong consideration for my middle infield spot. Over the last two years, he has hit 13 of his 21 homers against lefties even though less than half of his at-bats have come against them. Most likely, you wouldn't have much need for him in a league where each team starts just one second baseman, but if you do, he's worth your time.
Approach with caution: Marco Scutaro, Giants
Scutaro just hasn't been the same since mid-June, when he began playing through a condition known as mallet finger. Before then, he was the ninth-best second baseman in Head-to-Head leagues. Since then, he's the 27th-best, collecting just six extra-base hits. And now he's dealing with back soreness, sitting out three of the Giants' last four games. If you haven't moved on yet (and he's still started in half of all Fantasy leagues), time to get with the program.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Matt Carpenter, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, Jason Kipnis, Martin Prado, Ben Zobrist
Advisable starts: Chase Utley, Aaron Hill, Jose Altuve, Brian Dozier, Daniel Murphy
Shaky starts: Brett Lawrie, Brad Miller, Jed Lowrie, Neil Walker, Emilio Bonifacio, Omar Infante, Jedd Gyorko, Dan Uggla, Scooter Gennett, Anthony Rendon, Nick Franklin, Brian Roberts, Gordon Beckham, Marco Scutaro (back)
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jurickson Profar, Dustin Ackley, DJ LeMahieu, Darwin Barney, Donovan Solano, Mark Ellis, Grant Green, Alberto Callaspo, Kelly Johnson, Kolten Wong, Logan Forsythe, Luis Valbuena, Mike Aviles, Eric Sogard
Don't bother: Ryan Goins, Willie Bloomquist, Daniel Descalso, Jordy Mercer, Alexi Amarista, Yuniesky Betancourt, Stephen Lombardozzi, Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Keppinge, Howie Kendrick (knee), Ryan Raburn (Achilles), Jemile Weeks, Josh Rutledge, Derek Dietrich

Third base

David Wright, who has been out since April 2 with a strained hamstring, has vowed to return this season and will take his first step down that path when he begins a rehab assignment over the weekend. Because his strain was a Grade 2, the Mets plan to take it easy with him, so he's no certainty to return at any point in Fantasy Week 24 (Sept. 9-15). Still, the chance of him playing at least part of the week makes him worth the gamble in deeper leagues, such as NL-only formats. And if the timetable for his return becomes clearer over the weekend, mixed-leagues owners might want to consider him as well.
Worth a second look: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
With seven games against the Orioles and Red Sox, the Yankees have OK matchups this week, but the bigger reason to consider starting Rodriguez is because he's been so reliable since his return. No, he isn't putting up the stud numbers he did in his prime, but his four homers, three steals and 12 walks in 94 at-bats make him a good bet for 15-plus Head-to-Head points more weeks than not. I list 16 third basemen ahead of him this week, making him hardly a must-start option, but he's a decent one.
Approach with caution: Chase Headley, Padres
After sitting out six straight games with a stiff back, Headley returned with a homer Wednesday and has now hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, making his batting average during that stretch a whopping ... .279. But isn't that his season in a nutshell? Every little glimmer of hope has sent us rushing to activate him again, but he has yet to reward us for it. It's September, man. I'm done with it.

No-brainers: Edwin Encarnacion, Adrian Beltre, Matt Carpenter, Hanley Ramirez, Miguel Cabrera (abdominal), Evan Longoria, Martin Prado, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Ryan Zimmerman
Advisable starts: Pablo Sandoval, Manny Machado, Aramis Ramirez, Pedro Alvarez
Shaky starts: Brett Lawrie, Will Middlebrooks, Alex Rodriguez, Emilio Bonifacio, Jedd Gyorko, Chris Johnson, Matt Dominguez, Nolan Arenado (finger), Chase Headley, David Wright (hamstring), Mike Moustakas, Anthony Rendon, Todd Frazier
Strictly AL/NL-only: Cody Asche, Trevor Plouffe, Jurickson Profar, DJ LeMahieu, Juan Francisco, Donnie Murphy, Brett Wallace, David Freese, Michael Young, Wilmer Flores (ankle), Conor Gillaspie, Wilson Betemit, Eric Chavez, Alberto Callaspo, Kelly Johnson, Luis Valbuena, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Iglesias (shin), Adeiny Hechavarria, Mike Aviles
Don't bother: Josh Satin, Luis Jimenez, Daniel Descalso, Yuniesky Betancourt, Alexi Amarista, Jeff Keppinger, Placido Polanco, Kevin Youkilis (back), Matt Davidson, Nick Castellanos

Shortstop

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Phillies SD3, @WAS3
2. Twins LAA1, OAK3, TB3
3. Brewers @STL3, CIN3
4. Red Sox @TB3, NYY3
5. Cardinals MIL3, SEA3
After being named MVP of the Pacific Coast League with a .330 batting average, 12 homers and 20 steals, Chris Owings is up for the Diamondbacks and will get significant playing time at a position currently shared by Willie Bloomquist and Didi Gregorius, according to manager Kirk Gibson. I'm skeptical of him making a real impact in Fantasy at age 22, though. His plate discipline is horrendous, and his minor-league numbers were underwhelming before arriving in the PCL. I'd take a flier on him in NL-only leagues for sure, but in terms of talent, he's no Xander Bogaerts.
Worth a second look: Erick Aybar
I've pointed out how undervalued Aybar is in this space before, noting that he's the seventh-best shortstop in Head-to-Head leagues since the beginning of June. He could be an especially nice find off the waiver wire this week, with the Angels having the best hitting matchups of any team. In seven games, he'll face Pedro Hernandez, Todd Redmond, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Dallas Keuchel, Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens. What fun.
Approach with caution: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
With five doubles and three steals in his last 15 games, Rollins is showing faint signs of life, but don't be fooled into starting him this week. The Phillies have the worst hitting matchups of any team in baseball, facing pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Andrew Cashner in their six games. Between Aybar, Brad Miller, Andrelton Simmons and the red-hot Stephen Drew, chances are you can find something more appealing than Rollins on the waiver wire.

No-brainers: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Ben Zobrist, Jean Segura (illness)
Advisable starts: Elvis Andrus (back), Brian Dozier, J.J. Hardy, Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Brad Miller, Jed Lowrie
Shaky starts: Starlin Castro, Andrelton Simmons, Stephen Drew, Junior Lake, Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Zack Cozart, Alcides Escobar, Nick Franklin, Yunel Escobar, Marco Scutaro
Strictly AL/NL-only: Derek Jeter, Jurickson Profar, Jonathan Villar, Brandon Crawford, Josh Rutledge, Chris Owings, Billy Hamilton, Adeiny Hechavarria, Didi Gregorius, Jose Iglesias (shin), Logan Forsythe, Mike Aviles, Eric Sogard
Don't bother: Willie Bloomquist, Eduardo Nunez, Daniel Descalso, Jordy Mercer, Xander Bogaerts, Pete Kozma, Omar Quintanilla, Dee Gordon, Pedro Florimon, Derek Dietrich

Outfield

An unfortunate side effect of September roster expansion is that it eliminates the need for the 15-day DL. With every injury comes a guessing game: Is he really day to day or just September day to day? Domonic Brown owners are stuck in that purgatory right now. The Phillies at least seem to have settled on him missing the next week with Achilles tendinitis, but will he return for the second half of Fantasy Week 24 (Sept. 9-15)? You probably shouldn't gamble on him. The Rockies actually took the step of activating Carlos Gonzalez from the DL, but he still can't grip a bat and is likewise too risky. Matt Kemp is still rehabilitating from a sprained ankle that has sidelined him since July 21, but I think he has a better chance of contributing this week than those other two. He's probably worth a roll of the dice in five-outfielder formats.
Worth a second look: Eric Young, Mets and Christian Yelich, Marlins
Since joining the Mets on June 19, thus becoming an everyday player, Young is the 15th-best outfielder in Head-to-Head leagues. And he's batting only .260 during that stretch. Just imagine how productive he can be if he stays as hot as he's been over his last seven games, batting .355 (11 for 31) with four steals. With eight games on tap this week -- including six against low-end pitchers like Dan Haren, Tanner Roark, Nate Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Brian Flynn, Tom Koehler -- he has a pretty good chance. Thanks to a doubleheader between the Mets and the Marlins on Sept. 14, Yelich also has eight games on tap this week. He has actually been a consistent hitter since arriving in late July, but his limited pop has muted his production in Fantasy. The extra game makes him a safe bet to reach the 20-point threshold this week, especially since he's at his hottest right now, batting .438 (14 for 32) with two homers and three steals in his last eight games.
Approach with caution: Dexter Fowler, Rockies and Darin Ruf, Phillies
Fowler returned to the lineup Tuesday after sitting out six straight games with a bruised knee, but if the injury still limits his lateral movement, which was apparent when he got doubled off second base on a lineout Tuesday, who knows what else it limits? Since the All-Star break, Fowler is batting just .212 (38 for 132), and for the season, he's batting just .211 on the road, where he plays all six of his games this week. What incentive do you have to start him? Ruf has fallen on hard times lately, batting .121 (4 for 33) over his last 11 games. He was due for a cold spell, as often as he strikes out. His power potential makes him capable of delivering two or three homers any given week, but it's not so likely this week with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann on tap.

No-brainers: Mike Trout, Chris Davis, Andrew McCutchen, Adam Jones, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Jay Bruce, Bryce Harper, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Martin Prado, Justin Upton, Giancarlo Stanton, Alex Gordon, Alex Rios, Michael Cuddyer
Advisable starts: Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson, Ben Zobrist, Wil Myers, Yasiel Puig (knee), Coco Crisp, Mark Trumbo, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Gomez, Desmond Jennings, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner, Eric Young, Will Venable, Josh Hamilton, Alejandro De Aza
Shaky starts: Nick Swisher, Adam Eaton, Carl Crawford, Christian Yelich, Michael Brantley, Matt Kemp (ankle), Michael Bourn, Khris Davis, Leonys Martin, Nate McLouth, Andre Ethier, Chris Carter, Nick Markakis, Gerardo Parra, Darin Ruf, Norichika Aoki, Junior Lake, Angel Pagan, Rajai Davis, Dexter Fowler, Emilio Bonifacio, Brandon Moss, Avisail Garcia, B.J. Upton, Carlos Gonzalez (finger), Logan Morrison, Justin Ruggiano, Jon Jay, Denard Span, L.J. Hoes, Allen Craig (foot), Nate Schierholtz, Domonic Brown (Achilles), Josh Willingham, Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez
Strictly AL/NL-only: Jordan Schafer (back), Evan Gattis, Dustin Ackley, Daniel Nava, Kyle Blanks, Ryan Ludwick, Dayan Viciedo, Juan Lagares, J.B. Shuck, Ichiro Suzuki, Peter Bourjos, Ryan Doumit, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Colabello, Jose Tabata, Matt Joyce, David Murphy, Kole Calhoun, Jonny Gomes, Tony Campana, Drew Stubbs, Anthony Gose, Corey Dickerson (leg), Lucas Duda, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Presley, Darin Mastroianni, A.J. Pollock, David Lough, Gregor Blanco, Logan Forsythe, Seth Smith, Moises Sierra, Grant Green, John Mayberry, Kevin Pillar, Michael Choice, Andy Dirks, Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Denorfia, Chris Young, Lorenzo Cain, Kelly Johnson, Mike Aviles
Don't bother: Garrett Jones, Reymond Fuentes, Jake Marisnick, Michael Saunders, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Raburn, Andrew Lambo, Stephen Lombardozzi, Alexi Amarista, Vernon Wells, Mike Carp, Justin Maxwell, Luke Scott, Robbie Grossman (oblique), Starling Marte (hand), Colby Rasmus (oblique), Josh Reddick (wrist), Ben Revere (foot), J.D. Martinez (wrist), George Springer, Jackie Bradley, Aaron Hicks

The Hit Parade is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Looking at matchups for the week ahead and considering other factors such as streaks, injuries and lineup changes, we sort all Fantasy-relevant hitters at each position into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."

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

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

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
Edwin Encarnacion suffers setback while swinging
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:22 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion suffered a setback in his recovery from a quad injury Saturday, manager John Gibbons told SportsNet.ca.

Encarnacion, who has been out since July 5 with a quad injury, felt a twinge while swinging recently and will be shut down for the next few days. At this point, no set timetable is known for his expected return.


Heyman: Jake Peavy heading to San Francisco
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) The Giants have acquired pitcher Jake Peavy from the Red Sox, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reports Saturday.

Further details on the trade are not yet known, but numerous reports earlier had indicated talks were heating up. Peavy has disappointed this season with the Red Sox, posting a 4.72 ERA in 124 innings, and has a $15 million player option on his contract for the 2015 season, though it is unlikely to vest, given that he is unlikely to record 400 innings pitched combined between 2013 and 2014. 


Cardinals add A.J. Pierzynski to active roster
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) The Cardinals added catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the active roster Saturday, after signing him to a deal Friday.

Pierzynsky was cut by the Red Sox earlier in July, after hitting .254/.286/.348 with four home runs in 72 games.  


George Kottaras gets the boot
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) The Cardinals designated catcher George Kottaras for assignment Saturday, following the acquisition of A.J. Pierzynski.

Kottaras appeared in for games for the Cardinals, picking up one hit in five at-bats. 


Dee Gordon scores twice in blowout win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:03 am ET) Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon put together a strong performance Friday, as he sparked the offense in an 8-1 win over the Giants.

Gordon went 3 for 5 with two runs scored from the top of the lineup. He added a triple and an RBI, along with a stolen base in the win.

Gordon is hitting the ball well since the All-Star break, raising his season average from .292 to .298 in that span. He is hitting .367 with four multi-hit games in his last seven.


Denard Span records second straight 4-hit game
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Nationals outfielder Denard Span continued his absurdly hot hitting Friday, in a 4-1 win over the Reds.

Span put together his second four-hit game in a row Friday, as he went 4 for 5 at the top of the lineup. Span scored once and drove in one run, his second game in a row with an RBI as well.

Span now has seven multi-hit games in his last 10, and is hitting .387/.446/.440 in the month of July. 


Hanley Ramirez produces in return to action
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:53 am ET) Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez put together a solid performance in his first game back from injury Friday, in an 8-1 win over the Giants.

Ramirez went 2 for 5 in the game before he was pulled for a defensive replacement late. He drove in one run with his eighth-inning single, one of his two singles in the game. He also struck out twice, and scored once.

Ramirez was out of the lineup for four days due to a hand injury. He is hitting .303/.465/.394 in the month of July. 


Salvador Perez helps early and late in defeat of Indians
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Royals catcher Salvador Perez got his team off on the right foot Friday night against Cleveland with a solo home run in the first inning to provide a 1-0 lead. He helped complete the victory with a single and run scored in the eighth.

Perez, who managed his first three-hit game since Independence Day, now boasts a solid .285/.326/.434 stat line.


Mike Moustakas hits Mendoza Line with homer Friday night
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:42 am ET) Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has pretty much struggled against every team but the Indians this season. He slugged his sixth home run against their AL Central rival in 2014 on Friday, a solo blast in the second inning.

Moustakas is now on a season-high five-game hitting streak to raise his batting average to .200 for the first time this year. He is 7 for 18 during that stretch.


Embattled Billy Butler blasts off to play hero in victory
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Royals designated hitter Billy Butler has lost his full-time starting job, so he took out his frustration on a baseball in the eighth inning of a Friday night win against Cleveland.

Butler ripped a John Axford pitch an estimated 455 feet into the left field seats for his fourth home run. The two-run rocket broke a 4-4 tie and proved to be the game-winner. The pinch-hit gave him just four hits in his last 24 at-bats.


 
 
 
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