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Player News
Phillies' Chase Utley misses Monday workout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:40 am ET) Phillies second baseman Chase Utley didn't work out Monday as he continues to recover from an ankle issue, MLB.com reports.

Utley won't play in the spring opener and could be held out completely until his ankle is back to 100 percent. "They're not going to play him for a little while," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

Utley suffered the ankle injury in January after stepping on a baseball.


Mariners' Rickie Weeks will also play at first base this spring
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:38 am ET) Rickie Weeks has primarily been working in the outfield since arriving for spring training, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Monday that Weeks will also work at first base later this spring, per MLB.com.

“He will be that backup first baseman in case something happens,” said McClendon, noting he’s leaning more toward Weeks than fellow utility man Willie Bloomquist as a backup first baseman.


Mariners DH Nelson Cruz to see time in right field 'on occasion'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:35 am ET) Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz will see time in right field "on occasion" in order to let the team stream players through the designated-hiter slot, MLB.com reports.

"He’ll play out there in the season on occasion, because it’s nice to be able to rotate him out of that DH spot and give somebody else a day off and get him back on his feet," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "How much he’ll play in the spring, I’m not sure. But it would be safe to say he’ll play his share of games during the season in right field."

Cruz will primarly serve as a designated hitter by the Mariners but has played 744 games in right field in his career and 833 games in the outfield overall. While he's not on defense, the team is expected to use Seth Smith against most righties and Justin Ruggiano against most southpaws.


Viola: Mets' prospect Leathersich is a poor man's Sid Fernandez
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:33 am ET) Mets relief prospect Jack Leathersich has made a name for himself in the minors as a strikeout artist, as over his four-year career he is striking out 15.2 batters per nine innings. The left-hander is only 24 years old, meaning he could have a long and bright future with the Mets.

"If it all clicks, there's that lefty the Mets have been looking for in the big leagues and he's going to be there for a long time," Mets' Triple-A pitching coach Frank Viola said. "I compare him to a lesser man's Sid Fernandez."

Although, as good as Leathersich has been striking out batters, he has had his issues, particularly with his control. He has walked 4.9 batters per nine innings during his minor-league career.

"We'll give him a chance to see if he can get some left-handed hitters out in spring training," manager Terry Collins said. "You look at his numbers, he strikes people out. You look at his minor-league career, he strikes guys out. This isn't the minor leagues. I can clear that up real fast. This is a little different game. They're not going to swing at some of that stuff up here until you show me you can get them out in certain places, then they'll start to chase. But they're going to make you throw the ball over first. So we'll give him the opportunities."


Cardinals' Wainwright (abdominal) throws off mound Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was back on the mound Monday to throw his first bullpen session since being sidelined last week due to an abdominal strain, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wainwright threw 30-40 pitches and mixed in his curveball.

Monday marked the first time Wainwright was on the mound since the first official day for pitchers and catchers 10 days ago.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wainwright will have to face hitters in batting practice before being able to pitch in a game.


Cardinals' Jon Jay 'not far behind,' Bourjos has 'a different swing'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:18 am ET) Cardinals manager Mike Matheny indicated Sunday that outfielder Peter Bourjos (hip) should be ready for the start of the exhibition season and has shown a noticeable difference in his swing, while outfielder Jon Jay (wrist) is "not far behind," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

"It’s looking like Peter is moving that direction (of being ready)," Matheny said. "Jon is going to be close. He’s getting stronger and everything is measuring out pretty well. Not far behind. He pushed it a little further."

Bourjos has had trouble keeping his hip flexible the last few seasons after having surgery to remove an impingement in the hip.

“I think right now I feel like I’m in a better position to hit more pitches," Bourjos said. "In the fast few years, I’ve been trying to work around my hip. I didn’t really know it, but I didn’t have that same range of motion."

"It’s very noticeable what he’s worked on," Matheny said of Bourjos. "We can’t get inside his body to know what it feels like, but it’s a different swing for sure. He always has moved well. He moved well last year. He’s driving balls that he couldn’t necessarily drive before."

Jay, who is working his way back from wrist surgery, is continuing to target being ready for opening night April 5. He noted that he'll be able to receive his full complement of spring-training at-bats in the last two weeks of the preseason, if necessary.

"We’re working to where I get 100 percent comfortable and then go from there," Jay said.. "I’m a cage guy. Once I feel good about my swing in the cage, I can take it anywhere. I want to get right inside."


Phillies' Ruf will be under the microscope in left field this spring
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:11 am ET) Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf will be competing with Grady Sizemore, Odubel Herrera and Jordan Danks for playing time -- and potentially the starting job -- in left field this spring. The Phillies hope Ruf will be up to the challenge and make the decision difficult as to who to keep on the roster, per The Philadelphia Daily News.

"It all depends on him," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said of Ruf, who has played parts of the last three seasons with the Phillies. "He's going to get opportunities to play. Sizemore looks very good. The decisions that we make will be based on performance here in spring, whether we think they can help us on a regular basis during the season. And once we break with the team, it's going to be about [manager Ryne Sandberg] trying to put the best team out there to win baseball games."

Ruf is a natural first baseman, but he has been learning to play in left field since 2012. Still, the Phillies have to see if they can trust him on a regular basis playing the position.

"I don't know," Amaro said. "He could. He could. We'll find out. We'll find out a little more about him. He's not an outfielder per se, but he seems to move fine out there and he doesn't seem to make mistakes. It's still a learning process for him . . . You can't lose sight of the defense. And we have to be aware of that. We have to win games playing all phases of the games. Defense and pitching are important. Guys have to be good enough defensively not to be liabilities out there, so they can help us win games."


Twins send five home due to illness before Monday workouts
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:07 am ET) Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe (illness) was back at workouts Monday, but the Twins sent five other players home due to illness before Monday workouts began, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Pitcher Trevor May and outfielders Byron Buxton and Jordan Schafer missed a second straight day of workouts, while catcher Kurt Suzuki and outfielder Oswaldo Arcia also had to miss the Monday session.

The Twins begin exhibition season Wednesday with a game against the University of Minnesota.


Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia remains upbeat coming off wrist surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is coming off wrist surgery, said he is able to swing a bat with full confidence and hasn't had that feeling since the 2011 season, according to WEEI.com.

“I feel normal,” he said. “I can tell just picking up a bat my hand strength is back. That’s the most important part to me. When you grab a bat, how does it feel? Can you manipulate where you want to hit the ball? It’s all back.

“I knew before I got here. You could tell. Balls come off the bat different. It sounds different. If I’m fooled and I’m out in front I had the strength to flip it the other way or still turn on it. Those are the things I couldn’t do. My swing is normal. My follow through is normal. There’s finish.”

Pedroia has hit just 16 home runs the last two seasons while dealing with thumb and wrist injuries. However, Pedroia said he will gladly sacrifice power if that means another World Series win for Boston.

“I don’t care. Numbers are numbers,” he said. “We’re here to win the World Series. I don’t care about any of that. If people don’t know that by now. We won the World Series and I hit nine home runs and everyone said I lost my power. Well, I’ll lose my power if I win the World Series. What is everyone’s job here? Win. We don’t give a crap about anything else.”


McClendon: Paxton to long toss from 120 feet Mon., throw off mound Tues.
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:26 am ET) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said the tentative plan for starting pitcher James Paxton (forearm) is to long toss from 120 feet Monday and throw off a mound Tuesday.

 
 
 
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