Cubs' Epstein: Starlin Castro is 'playing really good baseball'
by R.J. White |
(10:03 am ET) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein praised shortstop Starlin Castro before Monday's 4-0 win over the Pirates, saying the shortstop is "playing really good baseball," reports.

"I've always thought Starlin was a really, really good player,'' Epstein said. "His defense took a big step forward last year and he's carried it over into this year. He gets a little chance to hide in the lineup now. He doesn't have to be the focal point for the opposition. He's playing really good baseball on both sides. I'm proud of him.''

Manager Joe Maddon, who is Castro's fifth manager over the last six seasons, agrees.

"He's been really good,'' Maddon said. "I mean really good.''

Maddon added that Castro has taken a leadership role with Jorge Soler and the team's other young Latin players, helping them feel welcome at Wrigley Field and elsewhere.

"His interaction with them is really taking on the form of a veteran leadership kind of thing,'' Maddon said. "Right now, I can't say enough good things about the guy. I've been really impressed.''

Castro went 1 for 4 Monday and owns a .324/.351/.419 line with two home runs, 11 RBI and one stolen base in 74 at-bats.

Diamondbacks' Nick Ahmed still searching for consistency
by Brandon Wise |
(4/27/2015) Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed is off to at slow start at the plate. The young player is hitting just .125 in 48 at-bats this season.

"Obviously nobody wants to start slow," said Ahmed to "It's a long season, there's a ton of at-bats to come, a ton of games to play. I just wish the last few games I could have put together some better at-bats to help the team win."

Ahmed also struggled with his swing in Triple-A last season as well as Double-A in 2013.

"We're making a lot of demands on him with his swing," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We're kind of talking to him about some things that we need him to do to be a better Major League hitter. We talked about it in Spring Training, he did it, he's getting a little bit away from it right now. But the main thing, I think, with Nick right now is pitch selection."

Ahmed is trying to not let the struggles get to him.

"Just have to stay level-headed," Ahmed said. "I lean on people that have good advice, and just stay calm and not overanalyze. Just trying to stay even keeled and go out and play."

Brewers' Aramis Ramirez, Martin Maldonado return to the lineup
by Brandon Wise |
(4/27/2015) Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez and catcher Martin Maldonado will return to the lineup Monday against the Reds, the team announced.

Ramirez will replace Hector Gomez at third, who gave Ramirez the day off Sunday. He is hitting just .197 with six RBI in 61 at-bats this season. Maldonado started five consecutive games before getting the day off Sunday. Maldonado is hitting just .167 in 24 at-bats.

The Brewers are currently the underdogs (+105) against Cincinnati.

NL Player of the Week Hechavarria hitting eighth for Marlins
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/27/2015) After going 12-for-24 with 10 RBIs and eight runs scored, Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria was named National League Player of the Week on Monday. He'll look to continue his run Monday against the Mets from the eighth spot in the starting lineup. 

Hechavarria has not had much success against Mets starter Dillon Gee, however, going 1-for-8. Marcell Ozuna, who is batting cleanup, is hitting .417 against Gee. 

Pirates SS Justin Sellers makes Triple-A rehab start
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/27/2015) Pirates infielder Justin Sellers, who is on the disabled list with an Achilles injury, made a rehab start at Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday after moving up from doing rehab work with the Pirates' Class A club. 

Sellers started the game and played shortshop. He was 0-for-1 with one strikeout and one walk before being replaced.

Reds SS Zack Cozart looks to awaken bat vs. Brewers
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/27/2015) Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is mired in a 2-for-15 slump, but he hopes to get his bat back on track as Cincinnati opens a series with the Brewers beginning Monday. 

Cozart has seven career home runs vs. Milwaukee, the most he's hit against any team. In four games this season against the Brewers, Cozart is hitting .313 with three homers and six RBIs. 

Marlins SS Adeiny Hechavarria among MLB RBI leaders
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/27/2015) Nestled among the sluggers on the RBI leaders chart is Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who racked up three more RBIs in Florida's victory over the Nationals on Sunday. Hechavarria is tied for seventh in the category with 16 RBIs, but is the only player in the top 10 who does not have at least five homers. 

Hechavarria has nine hits and nine RBIs in his last four games, all of which have been Marlins wins. He is hitting .333 in 19 games.  

Mets SS Wilmer Flores coming out of funk
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/27/2015) Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores hit just .182 over the season's first 10 games, but credits manager Terry Collins for sticking with him as his bat begins to warm up, per

Flores saw his eight-game hitting streak come to an end in Sunday's loss to the Yankees, but he has raised his average to .276 with three homers - tied for second in the majors among shortstops. 

"I know that everything would come around and I would start doing good," Flores said. "I've had the opportunity to play everyday in the minors and I know how it goes. If I start everyday I know I'm going to hit. Just gotta keep pushing, keep pushing. I have the opportunity to play everyday so that's why I wasn't worried about it."

Dodgers' Jimmy Rollins not concerned with early slump at the plate
by Brandon Wise |
(4/26/2015) Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins isn't worrying just yet about his struggles at the plate, according to the Orange County Register.

"Well, some people like to panic. That has never been my MO," he said. "I have, what, 50, 60 at-bats, I'm not sure. So if these are my worst 50 at-bats this year – I'm glad they're happening now. (If they are his worst at-bats) it’s going to be a very good year."

Rollins is hitting just .186 in 70 at-bats so far this season. He believes he's still been taking good swings at the plate, just not finding the gaps in the defense.

"It's hard to compute if you just look at numbers," he said. "I'm getting myself in good counts, just not finishing it off. I know it's coming. I'm hitting some off the end, some are getting in just a little bit. But the swing path is right. It's just a click here, a click there.

"The process is good. You have to continue to trust in the process and believe in the process. You get oriented in just results – especially at times like this – then you're trying to make all these technical changes and that's when you go from one to two to 100. So the process is right. Executing it is about fine-tuning."

Phillies' Freddy Galvis finding success with new approach at the plate
by Brandon Wise |
(4/26/2015) Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis entered this season with a goal from the coaching staff: put the ball on the ground more, according to

So far, it's working out. Galvis went 3 for 3 with two runs scored in Philadelphia's 5-4 win over the Braves Sunday. He's hitting .361 in 61 at-bats so far this season.

"The coaches told me in spring training that I had to stay on the ground, hit line drives, and I really like it and enjoy it," Galvis said.

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