Tigers bullpen all but set for opening day
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is feeling confident about his pitching staff headed into the start of the season. So much so, that he's expecting six of the seven spots to already be taken by Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria, Bruce Rondon, Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain, reports MLive.com.

"Those six, it'd be surprising if they weren't on the team," Ausmus said Friday morning. "Something strange would have to happen just based on their performances from the past."

This leaves Alex Wilson, Josh Zeid and Buck Farmer all battling for the final slot in the bullpen.

"You're always concerned about injuries," Ausmus said. "I think that's where the depth comes into play, where, if something unexpected comes up, we have a lot of arms we feel like can produce at the major league level. ... If something happens at any time, we feel that we have a quality arm that we can slide right in."

Mariners pitcher James Paxton to begin playing catch Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:53 am ET) Mariners pitcher James Paxton is scheduled to start playing catch Monday as he recovers from a forearm injury, pitching coach Rick Waits said Saturday.

Paxton, who went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 74 innings pitched in 2014, is building toward throwing a bullpen session and Waits wants to see him get to five innings pitched in the Cactus League.

Mariners pitcher J.A. Happ working on his changeup
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:31 am ET) Mariners pitcher J.A. Happ is working on his changeup and hoping to use it more this season, pitching coach Rick Waits said Saturday.

Happ went 11-11 with a 4.22 ERA in 158 innings pitched in 2014 with 133 strikeouts.

Yankees' CC Sabathia expected to wear knee brace this season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:11 am ET) Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is planning to pitch this year with a brace on his right knee to stabilize when he is on the mound this year.

Sabathia had multiple platelet-rich plasma injections in his knee during the offseason and is hopeful to avoid more injections by wearing the brace, reports the New York Daily News.

"You're really not going to know until we get into the season and he's going every fifth day, how his leg is going to do," manager Joe Girardi said. "I've said all along, it’s a concern of mine. The fact that he’s wearing a brace or not wearing a brace doesn't concern me anymore."

Sabathia said the wearing the brace was "nothing out of the ordinary."

Tim Melville, Kyle Lobstein to start Monday and Tuesday for Tigers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Tigers coach Brad Ausmus announced that pitchers Tim Melville and Kyle Lobstein, respectively, will get starts in upcoming games on Monday and Tuesday, according to MLB.com

Melville will start in an exhibition between the Tigers and college team Florida Southern. Lobstein will start in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Orioles. 

White Sox SP Jose Quintana ready to go after Friday session
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana began his throwing program later than normal at the team's request but said Friday after throwing two simulated innings that he's ready to go, CSNChicago.com reports.

"I feel really good, my arm is good and I’m ready for the first day against the Dodgers," Quintana said. "I’m excited for opening day. It’s spring training, but it’s Opening Day, you know?"

The White Sox asked Quintana to delay his throwing program in the hopes of having him stronger and fresher if the team makes the postseason. After throwing 200 innings in each of the last two seasons, he hopes to feel strong long after he has in the past.

"It’s good for your arm because here you throw a lot, eight months throwing and you need a good rest," Quintana said. "I feel really good, better than last year. I hope this year I’m better."

Quintana went 9-11 with a 3.32 ERA and 178:52 K:BB ratio in 200 1/3 innings in 2014.

CC Sabathia not expected to be among Yankees' first spring starters
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is not expected to be among the team's first starters this spring as he continues to focus on his return from knee surgery, MLB.com reports.

"We're taking it slow with him, knowing that we don't really think that he's behind and he's got plenty of time," Girardi said. "We're not rushing it because of his knee, and we want to take it step by step."

Giradi also added that he has no issues with Sabathia continuing to wear his knee brace during the season, though he has yet to talk to the team's trainers about it.

"I've said all along, you're really not going to know until we get into the season and he's going every fifth day, how his leg is going to do," Girardi said. "I've said all along, it's a concern of mine. The fact that he's wearing a brace or not wearing a brace doesn't concern me anymore. If [trainers] feel that he'll stay healthier wearing the brace, then I would tell him, wear the brace."

Sabathia was held to just eight starts last season, going 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA and 48:10 K:BB ratio in 46 innings.

White Sox SP John Danks feeling healthier
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) White Sox pitcher John Danks has only thrown fastballs, changeups and a few cutters in his early bullpen sessions and live batting practices but said Friday that everything feels good, MLB.com reports.

"I'm certainly feeling better, healthier," Danks said. "But I've only been through this once now, so I'm kind of going into it blind a little bit. Like everything they said, it's getting stronger and I'm getting a better feel for things as more time goes on."

Danks had his shoulder checked extensively during his yearly physical as has become customary since his arthroscopic surgery in 2012. He went 11-11 with a 4.74 ERA and 129:74 K:BB ratio in 193 2/3 innings last season.

White Sox's Carlos Rodon not penciled in for Cactus League start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon is not currently scheduled to start a Cactus League game, MLB.com reports.

Rodon, the team's top prospect, will throw innings while progressing as a starter, and he may be tabbed to pitch a "B" game during one of the team's two split-squad days. Pitching coach Don Cooper said he wants the young pitcher to feel comfortable in his first camp.

"In some ways I can almost see him, 'Am I in the right spot?' a little bit. 'I don't want to overstep my bounds,'" said Cooper. "I want him to be himself every day.

"He's got a good fastball that we are trying to see if we can locate better and better, not unlike anybody else. He's got a good slider and we are trying to do the same thing with that pitch. And, oh by the way, we are working on his changeup.

"Sometimes there's a little bit of frustration on his part because he has the bar high and expects himself to be able to do everything well right away. Certainly I understand that. We want the battle to be whatever we are working on. It's not that battle, and oh yeah, my frustration, too. Then there's two battles. We only want one battle. I think he expects a lot of himself."

Rodon threw 24 1/3 innings at three levels after being selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Hernandez's absence could hurt chances of making Astros' rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Astros starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez, who is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation, has still not arrived for spring training due to visa issues.

While he is throwing bullpen sessions in the Dominican Republic, manager A.J. Hinch said Friday that Hernandez's absence could cost him a chance to earn a spot in the rotation.

"It's going to depend upon him showing up ready to go," Hinch said, per MLB.com. "He is a veteran guy, so I don't sense that he's going to come in unprepared. But once games start, we're starting to get a little bit behind."

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