Mets 1B Lucas Duda set to return next week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:00 pm ET) Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters that first baseman Lucas Duda (oblique) will take batting practice on Mondau and will likely see his first game action on Friday, according to ESPN. Duda was unable to take batting practice Friday, but instead, he was limited to front toss and tee work, per Newsday.

Nationals 1B Mike Carp scratched Friday due to toe injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:29 am ET) Nationals first baseman Mike Carp was scratched from Friday's spring lineup against the Braves after taking a pitch off his pinkie toe Thursday, per CSNwashington.com. His toe swelled up overnight.

Reds 1B Joey Votto to make spring debut Saturday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) Reds first baseman Joey Votto is slated to make his spring debut Saturday against the Royals. He is penciled in to bat second and start at first base.

The Reds have been cautious with Votto early in spring training as he missed 100 games in 2014 due to a left knee injury.


Cubs might bat Anthony Rizzo second at times this season
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Anthony Rizzo has primarily hit third in his major-league career with the Cubs, but manager Joe Maddon is toying with the idea of batting Rizzo second when he opts to hit the pitcher eighth in the lineup. 

“I liked Jimmy Edmonds batting two,” Maddon said when Edmonds was an Angel, per ESPN. “I liked when we put him in the two hole. When you get a better hitter like that in the lineup, you want someone at the bottom to feed him.” 

Rizzo would like to stay in the same spot in the lineup, but he said he is just focused on getting his timing down at the plate.

“I think everyone would like one spot but it doesn’t matter to me,” Rizzo said Thursday. “I just want to see a live at-bat first before I worry about where I’m hitting.” 


Reds 1B Joey Votto getting closer to playing in spring games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price said Thursday first baseman Joey Votto is getting closer to making his spring debut, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. Votto missed 100 games last season with a left knee injury. 

"You won't have to hold your breath, I promise you, you won't have to hold your breath for this," Price said. "Just to reiterate, we just went too far into the rehab and made a commitment to do an extensive rehab to do anything before we feel he's ready. I think he's very close and he's champing at the bit to get in there."


Cardinals' Matheny wants Heyward, Adams to gain confidence vs. LHPs
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Cardinals slugger Matt Adams is tired of hearing folks say he can't hit left-handed pitchers. But the numbers don't lie. He is batting just .197 off lefties in his major-league career, as opposed to .306 against righties.

“People think I can’t hit lefties,” he said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Coming up through the minors, I hit them. But that’s totally different. Hitting lefties in the minors and hitting lefties in the big leagues is different. The confidence for me is there, in the back of my mind. I know what I can do. That hasn’t changed. This is where I definitely have to focus and put the hammer to it.”

Adams isn't the only starter for St. Louis that struggles against lefties. Outfielder Jason Heyward hit just .169 against lefties in 2014. However, manager Mike Matheny isn't a fan of platooning either player.

“There are certain guys that you don’t want to platoon,” Matheny said. “There are guys you don’t want to have off the field, and I think that’s what they want. They want to be the guy who doesn’t come off the field. They want to be out there all the time. Both of them have shown it in the past that they can have success against left-handed pitching. It’s just a matter of getting them comfortable. With our lineup they’re going to throw a lot of (lefties) at us. Maybe that will help generate that confidence.”


A good spring could help Brewers' Morris in getting back on track
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Brewers first baseman Hunter Morris is trying to re-establish himself this spring after he was removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason. It wasn't long ago that Morris was considered the Brewers' top prospect.

“I don’t feel any pressure to make this team right away,” Morris said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m still confident in my ability and I firmly believe I’m going to play in the big leagues.

"My goal is go out and force the Brewers’ hand and not give them any choice but to have me in the big leagues.”

Morris was named the Brewers' minor-league player of the year in 2012 after he hit .303 with 28 home runs, 40 doubles and 113 RBI at Double-A. While he totaled 24 home runs the following year, he hit just .247. He ran into more offensive struggles in 2014, and he also missed time due to a wrist injury.

“It was frustrating, the way everything played out,” Morris said.

Now, the 26-year-old first baseman must prove to the Brewers he still has a future in the majors, and it starts this spring.

“He needs to have a good year this year, get back on that right track,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “He hasn’t performed well in spring trainings for us. That’s the hard part, that we don’t get to see him when he’s really good.

“All I get is what I see in the spring, and he hasn’t had good springs. It’s really hard for me to get a good read.”


Mets 1B Lucas Duda scheduled to swing a bat on Wednesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is scheduled to swing a bat on Wednesday for the first time in roughly three weeks, according to ESPN. Duda hasn't been able to pick up a bat since suffering an oblique injury in mid-February and receiving a cortisone shot last month.

Duda registered a .830 OPS with a career-best 30 home runs and 92 RBI in 153 games in 2014.


Diamondbacks' Goldschmidt not concerned about hand this year
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is not concerned about his hand this year, according to MLB.com.

Goldschmidt saw his first game action since last season on Tuesday, singling in his first at-bat since August 1. Goldschmidt missed the final two months of 2014 due to a broken hand, but said the injury has not been an issue during camp. 

"It was the last thing on my mind," Goldschmidt said. "It's not the first time I've gotten hit. It's not the first time I've gotten injured. Hopefully it doesn't happen again, but chances are something is going to happen in the future."

Goldschmidt has been wearing a small pad in his batting glove in order to prevent the injury should he get hit in the same spot. He's used the pad during batting practices, and said he doesn't even feel it. 

The 27-year-old hit .300/.396/.542 over 406 at-bats last season. 


Phillies' Ryan Howard cuts sugar from diet, drops 15-20 pounds
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said Tuesday that he has cut sugar from his diet and lost 15-to-20 pounds, The News Journal reports.

Manager Ryne Sandberg said in February that he was impressed with Howard and his slimmer body. The first baseman finished 2 for 2 and made a nice play on a ground ball towards the hole in Tuesday's spring game against the Yankees.

"Getting into game situations now where you've got to put the crowd in effect and everything, picking up balls, that kind of stuff, reaction time, it felt pretty good," Howard said after the game.

Howard has worked with Charlie Manuel on his hitting and approach, and the results have helped the first baseman boost his confidence.

"It's definitely a great feeling," Howard said. "I'm confident in my ability, now it's getting the reps, getting the work in the game type situation and putting it all together."

Howard has struggled at the plate in recent years and hit just .223/.310/.380 with 23 home runs and 95 RBI in 569 at-bats.


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