"I had a very productive offseason," Mauer said Saturday. "The last couple years I had a lot of things to deal with, especially last year with the concussion. I didn't really get a good base heading into the year. I feel great this year and I hope it stays that way."
Mauer believes that his vigorous stretching exercises this offseason will help keep him healthy in 2015.
"You have to pay attention to your body. I'm getting older," Mauer said. "I'm finding out what works and doesn't work. Trying to make adjustments."
Manager Paul Molitor indicated that he's noticed a difference in Mauer this spring.
"I think it means a lot for him," Molitor said. "I think coming back last year after what had happened the previous season, you always have those questions. He's got friends that have gone through it with Corey Koskie and Justin [Morneau]. We all know how validated our concern is over concussion issues. I'm sure there was a little hesitancy there. Like I said when I had a chance to visit with him this winter, he's excited to be back and not have to be concerned about those type of things."
Mauer endured a down offensive performance last season, hitting .277/.361/.371 with just four home runs in 455 at-bats.Analysis:
"To be honest, I believe the only competition I have is myself," Singleton said. "I feel like I'm the only person who can prevent myself from reaching the potential I need to reach or getting out of the game what I need to get out, but if I prepare and I work and I leave it all out there, there's nothing really else to worry about."
Manager A.J. Hinch thinks Singleton is a threat to hit 30 home runs this year.
"He's done what he needs to do this offseason to come in and improve off of, not only a tremendous Minor League career, but his start to the Major League career last year, which was mixed," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "My money's on Jon Singleton to do the things he needs to do to make this club."Analysis:
"They think they're screwing with your mind, but actually it's worse because they're telling you how they're going to pitch to you," Pujols said. "So actually it's the opposite. It's helping a hitter to know how they're going to pitch to you."
Pujols also said his right knee, on which he underwent arthroscopic surgery in 2012, finally feels good again.
"Just crossing my fingers," Pujols said. "It's a long season."
Pujols hit .272/.324/.466 with 28 home runs and 105 RBI in 633 at-bats in 2014.Analysis:
"It's good, 100-percent strength," Olson said. "Occasional soreness, maybe once every two weeks, but it feels good. No setback at all."
Olson, considered the organization's top prospect, hit .262 with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs in 138 games with Class A Advanced Stockton last year. Although he played all but 10 of his 284 games in the minors at first base, Olson is showing some versatility and has seen some working in the outfield during camp.
"Whatever they want me to do," Olson said. "I feel pretty comfortable out there. Whatever gets me in the lineup."Analysis:
This likely has more to do with cross-training Davis just in case he's needed to step in at right field during the regular season. Davis hasn't played in right field the previous two years but did play the position some in 2012.
Davis has made 39 starts in right field during his MLB career.Analysis:
"He's swinging the bat really well," Francona said. "He's under control and he probably has to be (because of his knees). But he's using the whole field. He really looks good."
Swisher has been working with the team's hitting coaches on trying to go up the middle more often. Francona said that strategy has already translated to his batting practice sessions.
Running still remains an issue for Swisher, however. He was able to do some drills on Thursday, but reportedly looked uncomfortable during the session. The club expects he'll be ready for games in mid-March.
Swisher, 34, hit .208/.278/.331 over 360 at-bats last year.Analysis:
“I think I’m a little more educated about my body,” he said. “He’s given me a program to do -- whether it’s a warm-up every day or a three-day-a-week workout program. Hopefully, that will keep me healthy.”
Morrison is confident he will be a valuable part of the lineup, as long as he can stay healthy.
“Just put me in the lineup every day,” he vowed, “and I’ll produce. It’s up to me to stay in the lineup, but if I’m in the lineup every day, I know I’m going to hit, and I know I’m going to hit well and be a force in the lineup.”
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is optimistic Morrison can reach his full potential.
“LoMo is relatively young as far as active years under his belt,” McClendon said. “He’s still maturing from that standpoint. He’s still learning. I think his ceiling is very high.
“I think, all in all, he’s got a chance to be a guy who can hit 25 home runs for us and drive in 100. He’s a good hitter. He hits left-handers and right-handers. He takes his walks."Analysis:
Apparently, however, Davis couldn't live with a 2012 report citing the Mets were concerned about his nightlife habits. Davis had to encounter the topic when he met with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after he was traded last year.
“Clint asked me about it when I first got over there,” Davis said, per the New York Daily News. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what to tell you, but a guy made up an article.’
“He was like, ‘I heard you’ve had issues.” And I was like, ‘Issues with what? I’ve never gotten in trouble. I’ve never gotten in a fight. I’ve never done anything to anyone. Yeah, I’ve gone out and had beers and stuff, but who hasn’t done that?’ I don’t know why I got singled out.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington told Davis at the end of last season he would squash any rumors regarding the issue, calling the report "ridiculous" after Davis proved to be a model teammate in 2014.
Even Athletics manager Bob Melviin said Davis’ reputation in the game is now sound and is glad to have him on the roster after Oakland picked him up in November.
Still, Davis remains bothered the accusations are connected to his tenure with the Mets.
“That’s really the only thing that I still have a dirty taste in my mouth about," he said. "Because everything else, you could see it in numbers. What, am I going to argue? I didn’t play well. But as far as calling me out for drinking problems, and being a bad influence -- that was a joke. It’s ridiculous. But you can use it as a learning experience: You can’t trust people.”Analysis:
"They told me I'm going to be playing more first base," Encarnacion said, per MLB.com. "I've worked hard this offseason [because] I knew I'm going to get more time at first. But I'm ready for whatever they need me, if they need more at first base, or if they need me at DH, I'm ready."
Encarnacion was plagued by a quad injury in the second half of the 2014 season. He put a lot of work in this offseason to help improve his durability, and he hopes the added effort will pay off.
"I worked a lot on my back and my stomach because I know have to get it stronger to get my back right," Encarnacion said. "And working a lot with my leg. Right now I'm 230 [pounds], that's where I want to be, under 230, that's when I feel good and I can be away from the injuries."Analysis: