Monday, March 03, 2014
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[March 03, 2014]  (The Sports Xchange) -- Major League Baseball notes:

Colorado Rockies Chacin, Jhoulys

RHP Jhoulys Chacin has a strain and inflammation in his right shoulder, but an MRI on Feb. 24 revealed no structural damage. He began using resistance bands on Feb. 28, the first step toward light throwing. Chacin had not thrown a bullpen session before being shut down, and it is uncertain when he will be ready to do so.

Hence, Chacin, a candidate to pitch on Opening Day at the Miami Marlins on March 31 along with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, will miss his first regular season start and likely more as he builds up arm strength. Barring a setback, mid-April seems a more realistic time for Chacin to launch his 2014 season.

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MLB Note - Colorado Rockies Arenado, Nolan

3B Nolan Arenado last year became the first National League rookie third baseman to win a Gold Glove Award. Improving his offense is a priority this season for Arenado, who last season hit .267 with a .301 on-base percentage, a .405 slugging percentage, 10 homers and 52 RBIs in 486 at-bats. Staying back and not reaching for breaking pitches will help Arenado and has been a point of offensive emphasis this spring.

"Nolan looks great," manager Walt Weiss said. "I think he's one of the guys that has stood out for me early in camp."

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MLB Note - Colorado Rockies Cuddyer, Michael

RF Michael Cuddyer won the National League batting title with a .331 average last year after never hitting higher than .284 in any previous season and entering 2013 with a .271 career average. He said his mental approach, more than anything, contributed to his success last season when, among other things, Cuddyer set a franchise record with a 27-game hitting streak. And while the results for this year are unpredictable, Cuddyer thinks his mental approach from last year can be sustained.

"For the first time in my career, I wasn't worrying about my past and future at-bats," he said. "I stayed focused on the moment. It allowed me not to waste any at-bats. I think it will carry over into this year."
 


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MLB Note - Colorado Rockies Gonzalez, Carlos

OF Carlos Gonzalez was surprised when manager Walt Weiss made the decision to keep him in left field rather than move him to center so early in spring training, even before the start of Cactus League games. Weiss contemplated having Gonzalez shift to center field to replace Dexter Fowler, who was traded to the Houston Astros, but instead opted to not move Gonzalez, who has won three Gold Gloves in the past four years, two while playing in left.

Gonzalez said, "I know how important it is to the team to stay in the lineup every day and keep my legs fresh. I want to bring a lot of offense to the team, and I think that's more important than playing center field."

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MLB Note - Colorado Rockies Stubbs, Drew

OF Drew Stubbs was unable to play in an intrasquad game Feb. 27 and was not in the lineup for the first Cactus League game the following day but said he felt better following the flare-up of an esophagus condition known as eosinophilic esophagitis.

Symptoms include food being trapped in the back of the esophagus, making swallowing difficult. On the night of Feb. 26, Stubbs needed to be treated at a hospital because the trouble swallowing did not go away quickly as usual.

"This is the first time it's happened in several months," he said.

Stubbs made his Cactus League debut March 2.

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MLB Note - Colorado Rockies Aquino, Jayson

LHP Jayson Aquino escaped what could have been a serious injury. He was hit in the left side of the head by a line drive off the bat of Rafael Ynoa, the first hitter he faced in a Thursday intrasquad game. Aquino was able to walk off the field after being struck just above the ear in the fifth inning and was taken to a hospital. The following day, Aquino said he did not sustain a concussion.

Aquino, 21, was placed on the 40-man roster for the first time last fall and is in his first big league camp. Last season, he pitched at short-season Class A Tri-City and low Class A Asheville and went a combined 0-10 with a 4.34 ERA. Aquino has an average fastball that will touch 92 mph but has to throw it more and to both sides of the plate and rely less on his outstanding changeup. He also throws an effective curveball.

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MLB Note - Colorado Rockies Lopez, Wilton

RHP Wilton Lopez dealt with the illness and death of his father during his disappointing first season with the Rockies last year. Lopez said thoughts of his father, who died in September, did not cross his mind when he pitched and did not say his troubles on the mound had anything to do with his personal situation.

Lopez had a 2.17 ERA in 64 games for the Astros in 2012, including 10 saves in the final two months of the season when he stepped into the closer's role. With the Rockies in 2013, Lopez had a 4.06 ERA in 75 games. His walks per nine innings rose from 1.09 in 2012 to 2.15 in 2013 and his strikeouts per nine innings fell from 7.33 to 5.73.

"Good, bad or indifferent, he wanted the ball," said manager Walt Weiss, who remained supportive of Lopez all last season. "That stuff is very valuable -- that type of mentality."

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MLB Note - San Francisco Giants Bumgarner, Madison

LHP Madison Bumgarner was selected the Opening Day starter over RHP Matt Cain, who threw the opener last year. Bumgarner had a superior 2013 and earned the nod. Cain said he supports the decision and will help Bumgarner deal with any extra hoopla. "With the starting staff we've got here, being named Opening Day starter is unbelievable," Bumgarner said. "It's a humbling feeling. I feel blessed and thankful just to get that opportunity."
 


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MLB Note - San Francisco Giants Scutaro, Marco

2B Marco Scutaro didn't take any batting practice the first two weeks of spring training and was more involved in a back-strengthening routine. He was slowed last season by finger and back ailments, and the plan was to ease him into training camp. Scutaro, who was taking plenty of grounders, said his goal is to "get my body ready for 162 games." He flashed a smile because he obviously won't play every game. At 38, he will be rested frequently through the summer.

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MLB Note - San Francisco Giants Vogelsong, Ryan

RHP Ryan Vogelsong threw two scoreless innings in his exhibition debut, a nice sign for a pitcher coming off a down year. He was throwing as high as 90 mph, and his command was good. "I worked really hard on my delivery this offseason. I want to make my location more consistent than last year," he said. The Giants nixed his $6.5 million option and re-signed him for $5 million.

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MLB Note - San Francisco Giants Romo, Sergio

RHP Sergio Romo got rocked in his first outing, but it wasn't a big deal. Why? Because he didn't throw any sliders, his No. 1 pitch. Romo gave up six runs in his first Cactus League inning. He was working on his changeup.

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MLB Note - San Francisco Giants Huff, David

LHP David Huff (tender left shoulder) was scratched from a split-squad start Feb. 28. The ailment wasn't believed to be serious.

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MLB Note - Cleveland Indians Cooper, David

1B David Cooper, who didn't play in the majors last year, was designated for assignment by the Indians on March 2 to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for INF Justin Sellers. Cooper, 27, signed a minor league contract with the Indians in the middle of the 2013 season after recovering from back surgery in April. Cooper hit .315 in a combined 51 at bats between Triple-A Columbus and the Indians' rookie-level team in the Arizona League. He appeared in 72 major league games for Toronto between 2011 and 2012, hitting .270/.310/.441 with six homers and 23 RBIs.

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MLB Note - Retired Player Mota, Guillermo

RHP Guillermo Mota announced his retirement after 14 seasons in the major leagues. Mota, who did not pitch last year, was a non-roster spring training invitee of the Royals.

Mota, 40, had a career 3.94 ERA over 743 big-league appearances with the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants. He played on the Giants' World Series championship teams in 2010 and '12.

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MLB Note - Miami Marlins Fernandez, Jose

RHP Jose Fernandez will be the Marlins' Opening Day starter, making him the youngest pitcher to start a team's opener in seven years. Fernandez is the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, and he finished third in the Cy Young Award voting last season.

Fernandez, who will be 21 years and 274 days old when the Marlins open the season March 31 against the Rockies, will be the youngest Opening Day starter since the Mariners' Felix Hernandez in 2007. Hernandez was 20 years and 359 days old.
 


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MLB Note - Boston Red Sox Peavy, Jake

RHP Jake Peavy will skip his scheduled March 3 start because of a finger injury. He cut his left index finger March 1 while at his Florida residence. Manager John Farrell said Peavy would not throw for three days, and it was unclear if the injury would affect the pitcher's readiness for the start of the regular season.

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MLB Note - Arizona Diamondbacks Corbin, Patrick

LHP Patrick Corbin, who gave up a two-run home run in his first spring start Friday, is preparing as if he will start one of the two regular-season games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Australia on March 22-23, although no decisions have been announced. "I'd obviously rather go out there and help the team win than pitch in a couple of games here that don't mean anything," Corbin said. "Hopefully I'll get the opportunity. That's what I am preparing for. I think that I'm on schedule for that." Corbin, who threw 53 pitches Feb. 29, would start one of the games if the D-backs remain in turn.

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MLB Note - Arizona Diamondbacks Owings, Chris

SS Chris Owings, a top candidate for the starting job, also played parts of two games at second base early this spring as the D-backs gauge his versatility. Owings, who hit .330 and was the Pacific Coast League MVP at Triple-A Reno last season, played 11 games at second base, his first games at the spot. "I'm feeling comfortable over there. Last year helped," Owings said. SS Didi Gregorius will not play second base this spring, manager Kirk Gibson said.

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MLB Note - Arizona Diamondbacks Bradley, Archie

RHP Archie Bradley, the D-backs' top pitching prospect, was scheduled to make his debut in a split-squad game against Colorado on March 3. "He's a natural power guy. He knows he has to command the zone, but he's got something most guys don't have," Gibson said his 99 mph fastball. "I don't want him to think he's some finesse pitcher. He's not." Bradley was washed out of his first scheduled spring start March 1, when rain forced cancellation of a split-squad game against the Chicago Cubs.

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MLB Note - Arizona Diamondbacks Gosewisch, Tuffy

C Tuffy Gosewisch, battling with veteran Henry Blanco for the backup catcher position, suffered a strained calf in late February but is expected to return in early March. C Bobby Wilson, who spent parts of five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, and C Blake Lalli became roster candidates in Gosewisch's absence, GM Kevin Towers said. "It's pretty much open for that backup spot," Towers said.

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MLB Note - Arizona Diamondbacks Cahill, Trevor

RHP Trevor Cahill struck out four in his in 3 1/3 innings in his first spring start, a rain-shortened 2-1 victory of Milwaukee on March 1. "My curveball was working. I was throwing it for a strike when I had to, which was a good sign," said Cahill, who refined his arm late last season and is looking to maintain consistency this year. "My changeup was really bad until I kind of got the feel for it again. It's usually one of the tougher pitches to get the hang of."

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MLB Note - Retired Player Glaesmann, Todd

OF Todd Glaesmann, obtained from Tampa Bay for RHP Heath Bell in the offseason, retired from baseball before minor league spring training started. "Although the decision was not easy, it was best move for me. The passion for the game was not there anymore," said Glaesmann, the Rays' 2012 minor league player of the year. Glasemann, 24, hit .240/.289/.378 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs in 132 games for Double-A Montgomery last year.

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MLB Note - Los Angeles Dodgers Kemp, Matt

OF Matt Kemp's recovery from October ankle surgery moved to another phase this weekend as he was cleared to increase his on-field activities.

Kemp has been limited to running on a treadmill, taking batting practice and fielding ground balls in the outfield through the first three weeks of spring training. But the latest MRI and examination of his left ankle showed sufficient healing for him to increase that activity and begin doing some running on the field.

"Stan (Conte, Dodgers' vice president of medical services) categorized this as step five of seven steps," manager Don Mattingly said. "There's still a couple stages to go through before he's ready to play in games."

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MLB Note - Los Angeles Dodgers Billingsley, Chad

RHP Chad Billingsley threw curveballs as part of his bullpen session March 1. It was the first time Billingsley has thrown breaking balls since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April and represents another step forward in his recovery.
 


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MLB Note - Los Angeles Dodgers Greinke, Zack

RHP Zack Greinke left his first spring start after just four pitches with a mild right calf strain Feb. 27. Greinke was limited to flat-ground throwing the next two days and it is uncertain when he will return to pitching in games. The setback could take Greinke out of consideration to start one of the Dodgers' two games in Australia March 22-23.

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MLB Note - Los Angeles Dodgers Stripling, Ross

RHP Ross Stripling, one of the Dodgers' top-rated pitching prospects, began experiencing discomfort in his elbow about a week ago but did not say anything to Dodgers' trainers or coaches. After a two-inning appearance in the Dodgers' second Cactus League game, however, Stripling, 24, admitted to the pain and was sent for a contrast MRI on his elbow. The preliminary diagnosis is a strained ligament with the MRI expected to provide more specifics.

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MLB Note - Los Angeles Dodgers Figgins, Chone

INF/OF Chone Figgins started three of the Dodgers' first four Cactus League games, each at a different position -- shortstop, left field and center field. Figgins is in camp as a non-roster invitee trying to make the Dodgers as a utility player. He sat out all of 2013 after being released by the Seattle Mariners following the 2012 season and the Miami Marlins in spring training 2013.

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MLB Note - Cleveland Indians Sellers, Justin

INF Justin Sellers was traded from the Dodgers to the Indians for cash considerations. Sellers was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot for SS Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Cuban defector signed by the Dodgers. Sellers, 28, was the Dodgers' Opening Day starter at shortstop last year after Hanley Ramirez was injured during the World Baseball Classic. He batted .199 in 82 games spread over the past three seasons.

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Maybin, Cameron

CF Cameron Maybin, whose 2013 season was all but wiped out by injuries, suffered a left shoulder injury Sunday while diving for a fly ball during a split-squad exhibition. Maybin stayed in the game but had trouble fielding a grounder later in the inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

The severity of the injury was not immediately known, although a club official was not optimistic. Maybin is scheduled to have an MRI exam Monday morning.

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Luebke, Cory

LHP Cory Luebke returned to the Padres' spring training facility a week after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in a span of 21 months. This time, the patellar tendon from just below Luebke's right knee was used to replace the ulnar collateral ligament because the Palmaris tendon from Luebke's left forearm was used in his first Tommy John surgery in May 2012. Said Luebke: "When they got in there this time and took the old ligament out, it was just basically rotting away in there. It never really attached, never did anything it was supposed to do."

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Torres, Alex

LHP Alex Torres arrived in the Padres' camp Feb. 26 after clearing up visa problems in his native Venezuela. The reliever was two weeks late. Torres believes his visa delay was result of his late trade from Tampa Bay to the Padres, although recent civil unrest in Venezuela could have contributed to the delay. "I am very excited to be here with my new teammates and new organization," said Torres. "I wanted to be here 15 days ago. It was all out of my control, but I finally made it." Torres, 26, said he was throwing bullpen sessions in Venezuela during the visa delay.



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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Cashner, Andrew

RHP Andrew Cashner, who is on track to be the Padres' Opening Night starter March 30 against the Dodgers, allowed no runs on one hit in two innings in his spring training debut against Seattle. Due to an error, the Mariners had runners on second and third with no outs in the first. Cashner struck out the next two hitters. "I felt like I was a bit jumpy in the first inning," said Cashner, who also threw a wild pitch. "My fastball was kind of all over the place. Overall, I felt I had a really good outing."

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Kennedy, Ian

RHP Ian Kennedy said the best thing about his first spring outing was not throwing from behind the protective screen that pitchers use before exhibition games. "I'm a little short for that screen," said the 6-foot Kennedy. "The bar is right in front of my face." Twenty of Kennedy's 26 pitches went for strikes. He worked two scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk against two strikeouts. "I thought he looked great," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Everything looked crisp for a first outing."

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Roach, Donn

RHP Donn Roach worked two scoreless innings in his spring debut. Roach, a sinkerballer, is scheduled to open the season with Triple-A El Paso.

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Johnson, Josh

RHP Josh Johnson, who had surgery in October to remove bone chips from his right elbow, is scheduled to make his exhibition debut March 3. Johnson, 30, signed a one-year contract with the Padres as a free agent after missing most of last season with forearm and elbow problems.

"This spring training, my arm feels like it is progressively getting better," he said. "The more I throw, the better it feels. Last spring training was just the opposite. I felt good at the beginning and it slowly kept going the opposite direction."

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MLB Note - San Diego Padres Quentin, Carlos

LF Carlos Quentin is expected to make his spring training debut early in the week of March 3-9. Quentin, 31, was limited to a total of 168 games and 560 at-bats in his first two seasons with the Padres due to recurring right knee problems (three surgeries in a span of 19 months).

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