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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
Mets' Jacob deGrom working on perfecting his curveball
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is working on perfecting his curveball this spring, according to the New York Post

"This spring is so different," deGrom said. "I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training."

After experiencing some success in the majors, deGrom said he is more willing to work on stuff this time around. While he actually started using his curve more late last season, it seems like deGrom is going to work on perfecting the pitch during camp. 

"It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch," deGrom said. "Talking to Gee, Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens. Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance."

deGrom, 26, posted a 2.69 ERA over 140 1/3 innings last season.


Rockies' Charlie Blackmon hoping for more consistency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon is hoping for more consistency in 2015, according to the Denver Post

Blackmon had a breakout season in 2014, but admits it's hard to be on every single game. "Last year, I swung the bat really well at certain times," he said. "But you go through a lot of ups and downs over 162 games, and that was a learning experience. I think that's going to help me this year."

Blackmon said his strong start made him a target for other teams, and that may have contributed to a slight slump during the season. Blackmon added that he's hoping to hit the ball to all fields this season.

Manager Walt Weiss is hoping Blackmon can deliver more of the same. "I don't know if he necessarily has to have an encore. I'm thinking more of the same," Weiss said. "I think Charlie would say that he wants to be more consistent."

The 28-year-old Blackmon hit .288/.335/.440 over 593 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Gibson feels 'a little more comfortable' with curveball
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson surrendered one run on two hits and one walk in two innings while striking out two in his spring debut Thursday, using the outing to work on his curveball, the Associated Press reports.

"I felt really good," Gibson said. "I'm working on some stuff, and some stuff worked out that I was working on. I threw more curveballs than normal. That's what spring training's for. It's just fun to be able to work on a particular pitch. I feel a little more comfortable."

Gibson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, completed his first full major-league deal in 2014, going 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA and 107:57 K:BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings.


Blue Jays' Barton hoping his glove wins him a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Daric Barton is hoping his glove can win him a spot on the 25-man roster, according to the Toronto Sun.

Barton isn't much of a power hitter, but gets strong marks for his defense at first. Manager John Gibbons is well aware of Barton's skills. "One thing that put Daric on the map was that he was such a disciplined hitter and a great defender," Gibbons said. He added that the first baseman is involved in a large chunk of plays, so defense at the position is probably more important than people realize.

With that said, Barton may need a trade to make the opening day roster. As currently constructed, the Blue Jays may carry three catchers. If the team retains Dioner Navarro, Barton could find himself in the minors.

The 29-year-old Barton hit .158 over 57 at-bats last year.


Pirates' Pedro Alvarez feeling comfortable at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez is feeling comfortable at first base, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After playing third the past couple of seasons, Alvarez will transition to first base full-time in 2015. The 28-year-old is still getting used to the position, but he seems comfortable with the change.

"It’s just a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view, get the reps in so that the responsibilities that come with playing the position become second nature," he said. "That’s just with time and repetitions."

Alvarez hit .231/.312/.405 over 398 at-bats last season. 


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman gets strong marks at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman received strong reviews after playing his first game at first base this spring, according to MLB.com.

"He is still in the stages of having to think about it out there, because it's not natural yet," manager Matt Williams said. "He looked fine. He has fantastic hands." Zimmerman was tested during the start, and had to make two scoops in order to prevent possible throwing errors. 

He's been taking extra practice at the position this spring, and was fairly happy with how his first game turned out. "You can do so many drills, exercises and things like that until you have to go out there and play," Zimmerman said. "So it's nice to have a few chances. The more I play over there, the more comfortable I will get. I feel fine."

Zimmerman, 30, hit .280/.342/.449 over 214 at-bats last year. 


Orioles' Brian Matusz tosses scoreless inning in return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz tossed a scoreless inning in his return to the mound.

Matusz came into camp dealing with a shoulder issue, but said he was pretty close to 100 percent. He allowed one hit during his one inning of work, and struck out one batter. Matusz is expected to open the season in the team's bullpen. 

The 28-year-old posted a 3.48 ERA over 51 2/3 innings last year.


Red Sox's Rusney Castillo wouldn't alter plan if sent down
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo won't be upset if he winds up being sent down to the minors, according to the WEEI.

That's not a likely outcome, but with his recent oblique injury, there's a chance Castillo could fall behind the other outfielders on the roster. "To me it wouldn’t be anything that would alter my plan, or my attitude, or my perspective," he said. "If that’s what it’s got to be, that’s what it’s got to be. I’m just worrying playing and continuing to get reps and reps wherever they may come."

Castillo did note that he's feeling a lot better, and is expected to return in about a week. Castillo hit .333 over 36 at-bats in the majors last year. 


Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr. showing off new swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is showing off his new swing this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Bradley started working out at the team's facility in November, and started hitting in January. He worked with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for a good portion of the offseason. "Jackie was dedicated," Rodriguez said. "He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about."

Manager John Farrell has noticed the change in Bradley's approach. "In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much," Farrell said. "I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with."

Bradley said his swing has been a "work in progress." While it doesn't appear Bradley has a starting role, his defense should make him a useful major-league asset.

The 24-year-old hit .198/.265/.266 over 384 at-bats last year. 

 


Molitor: Eduardo Escobar 'will be' important part of Twins in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Twins manager Paul Molitor marked infielder Eduardo Escobar as "an important part" of the team in 2014 and believes he will be the same this season, the Star Tribune reports.

"He was an important part of our team last year," Molitor said. "He will be this year, too."

Escobar delivered the best performance of his career in 2014, hitting .275/.315/.406 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 433 at-bats. However, he arrived at camp to learn he was in a competition for the shortstop role with last year's center fielder, Danny Santana. Breaking the news to Escobar was a delicate conversation for the manager.

"Obviously," Molitor said. "You’ve got a guy who came in and played every day for you last year, and then you’re thinking about doing something different. I’ve tried to explain it to him the best I could. His answers, at least for now, are, 'No problem. I understand.'"


 
 
 
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