Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:42 pm ET) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:24 pm ET) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is 'staying put'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:57 pm ET) A team source told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is "staying put."  Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports earlier in the week that it is "highly, highly unlikely" Tulowitzki will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.


Braves trade RPs Hale, Schlosser to Rockies for two minor leaguers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:42 pm ET) The Braves traded pitchers David Hale and Gus Schlosser to the Rockies on Friday in exchange for catchers Jose Briceno and Chris O’Dowd.

Hale went 4-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 45 relief appearances for Atlanta in 2014. He struck out 44 batters and issued 39 walks in 87 1/3 innings.

Schlosser made his MLB debut in 2014, going 0-1 with a 7.64 ERA in 15 relief outings for Atlanta. He struck out eight and walked six in 17 2/3 innings.

Briceno hit .283 with 12 home runs, 23 doubles and 50 RBI in 84 games for Class A Asheville in 2014. He has a career .280/.433/.776 slash line over five minor-league seasons.

O'Dowd hit .271 with five home runs, 27 doubles and 48 RBI in 113 games between high Class A Modesto and Double-A Tulsa in 2014. He has a career .260/.362/.689 slash line over three minor-league seasons.


Pirates sign Wilkin Castillo, Josh Wall to minor-league deals
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:18 pm ET) The Pirates have signed catcher Wilkin Castillo and pitcher Josh Wall to minor-league contracts, which include invites to spring training.

Rockies sign Betancourt, Quintanilla to minor-league deals
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:11 pm ET) The Rockies signed former closer Rafael Betancourt and infielder Omar Quintanilla to minor-league contracts Friday, per MLB.com. 

Quintanilla spent the last two seasons with the Mets, while Betancourt did not pitch in the majors in 2014 as he was working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He did pitch in the minors, going 2-0 with a 4.66 ERA.

"I have another chance," Betancourt said by phone from his offseason home in Orlando, Fla. "Compared to how it was last year or even when I was pitching in games, I feel a lot more normal now.

"When I threw for the Rockies last week, I threw all my pitches -- fastball, changeup and breaking ball. Last year, I didn't throw any breaking balls, because my arm felt weird. It's 16 months after surgery and everything is going well. I'm also happy the Rockies stuck with me; they have a new GM [Jeff Bridich] but still were there for me, and I appreciate that."


Brewers designate Elian Herrera for assignment Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:59 pm ET) Brewers infielder/outfielder Elian Herrera was designated for assignment Friday to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for pitcher Neal Cotts.

Herrera hit .274 with no home runs, one triple, seven doubles and five RBI in 69 games for Milwaukee in 2014.


Brewers still interested in adding closer-type reliever
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:48 pm ET) Brewers assistant general Gord Ash said Friday the team is still in the market for a closer-type reliever, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said the team would like to make a move before spring training opens.

Ash said Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez are in play for the Brewers.

However, there is no apparent interest in signing former Nationals closer Rafael Soriano, and Ash said former Tigers reliever Joba Chamberlain doesn't fit their plans either.


Snider trade should free up at-bats for Pirates' Andrew Lambo
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) Saving money wasn't the only motivation for the Pirates to trade outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles earlier this week, according to Pittsburgh columnist Dejan Kovacevic. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is eager to see what Andrew Lambo can do with 200-300 plate appearances at the MLB level, so trading Snider helped free up at-bats.

“I’m excited. I’m beyond excited for the opportunity,” Lambo said. “At the same time, I liked Travis. Everyone liked Travis. I know he was a big part of the team, a big part of the clubhouse and … well, I just have to be myself. I have to be the player, the person I am and show up every day to help the Pirates win. I’m grateful to be getting that chance.”

Lambo was sent to the minors last season after a rough spring training. He battled through a thumb injury, but once he returned to 100 percent, Lambo got on track offensively. He hit .328 with a .563 slugging percentage and .952 OPS in 61 games for Triple-A Indianapolis before he was back in the majors in late August.

“The way I look at it, I battled back, I came back,” he said. “I was there in Pittsburgh playing in games that mattered in front of full houses and against the Cardinals or Johnny Cueto, and I feel like I grew up there, like I matured.”

Lambo will now go to spring training looking to grab a bench spot as a fourth outfielder/backup first baseman.

“Honestly, this is the first time in my career I just relaxed, checked out a little bit," he said. "I was always running around the Arizona Fall League or winter ball and now … I don’t know, I feel like this has been good. I feel hungry. I want to get out there and prove … not to everybody but to my team that I can do the job. I can’t wait for that.”


Braves SP Mike Foltynewicz set to compete for spot in rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:58 am ET) Newly acquired starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, who was acquired in the Evan Gattis trade with Houston, will compete for the final spot in the Braves' rotation this spring. Bo Porter, who is now Atlanta's third-base coach after serving as the Astros manager, gave his scouting report of the 6-4, 220-pound right-hander to MLB.com.

"He definitely has the skill set," Porter said. "You look at the overall package -- he has an overpowering fastball, his breaking ball is something he started to use more once he arrived at the major-league level and his changeup is a work in progress. But when you look at his size and his competitiveness, he has that bulldog mentality."

Foltynewicz is considered the Braves' second-best prospect by MLB.com. He went 7-7 with a 5.08 ERA in 21 outings (18 starts) at Triple-A in 2014. He also made 16 relief appearances at the major-league level last season, going 0-1 with a 5.30 ERA.


More Updates