Yasiel Puig Headshot

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said right field is Puig's job to lose, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports.

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Sure, it's his to lose, but the spring competition is expected to be tight, with Andre Ethier, Franklin Gutierrez and, if healthy, Trayce Thompson (back), likely chiming in, as well. The enigmatic Puig has the talent to run with the gig, but his erratic performance hasn't done him any favors. Still, fantasy players can take a chance on him, thanks to his likely clearance-rack price.
Nelson Cruz Headshot

Cruz, who will try to help the Mariners break their 15-year postseason drought in 2017, is highly optimistic about the coming season, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. "I think we're more ready," the 36-year-old designated hitter said. "If you go from Kyle [Seager] to all the young guys that were here, guys that haven't been in the playoffs, the last week and a half last year was very exciting. Every at-bat was important, every pitch was important. But we came up short. So we need to make sure this year we're on top and clinch early."

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The veteran slugger has a full schedule, considering he'll also be helping Team Dominican Republic defend its World Baseball Classic title alongside Mariners teammate Robinson Cano next month. Cruz's main focus is on his major league squad, however, as he attempts to help Seattle break its dubious streak of missing the postseason. Following an impressive 2016 campaign that saw him post a .287/.360/.555 line with 43 homers and 105 RBI, Cruz didn't rest on his laurels in the offseason, toiling away at the gym and checking in to spring training five pounds lighter than at the end of last season. With Seattle just missing an AL wild-card berth in 2016, Cruz is hopeful that the experience of competing late in the season, along with the flurry of offseason moves by general manager Jerry DiPoto, will be enough to propel the Mariners to the next level. "Now hopefully we can stay healthy. We should be in good shape. We should be at the top of the division."
Felix Hernandez Headshot

Hernandez impressed in his second throwing session of spring training Sunday, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports.

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The Mariners' ace got in a 10-minute session despite dealing with some rainy weather, and as he had Thursday, looked impressive while also drawing raves for his transformed physique, which includes several pounds of new muscle after a rigorous offseason training regimen. Hernandez is working on an accelerated throwing schedule overall this spring in anticipation of his participation in the World Baseball Classic with Team Venezuela.
Jordan Schafer Headshot

Schafer, a non-roster invitee to spring training, impressed pitching coach Derek Lilliquist in his first session against hitters Sunday, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "It was not advertised as that," said Lilliquist. "He had his breaking ball and his changeup. Very interesting guy."

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The 30-year-old is one of the more intriguing projects in Cardinals camp, given his conversion from outifelder to pitcher last season in the Dodgers organization. Schafer has an extensive minor league career that dates back to 2005, and has also accrued 1,292 big league at-bats over 463 games. However, considering his career .228/.308/.307 line, the move to pitcher may be his last chance to stick with a major league club. Schafer got that quest off to a solid start Sunday, and both Lilliquist and manager Mike Matheny look forward to evaluating him for a job as a possible southpaw specialist out of the bullpen later into the exhibition schedule against the likes of Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Christian Yelich. "Early on, the hitters aren't ready," said Lilliquist. "So maybe 10, 12 games into it, they're staying in the game longer and by that time they're getting three at-bats. Then, put him in and see how he matches up."
John Gant Headshot

Gant, acquired in the Dec. 1 trade that sent Jaime Garcia to the Braves, impressed in his first session against hitters Sunday, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "Gant has a little sneakier stuff than was advertised," said pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.

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The 24-year-old right-hander brings a quirky pitching motion, and apparently, a repertoire impressive enough to catch the eye of his new pitching coach in his first up-close look of Gant against hitters. The 6-foot-5 hurler acquitted himself decently over his first 20 major league appearances in 2016, a stint that included seven starts. Gant was only 1-4, but did whiff 49 over 50 innings for the Braves, enduring a near two-month absence due to an oblique injury that knocked him out of the starting rotation. His best chance of breaking camp with the major league club could well be in the bullpen, given the Cardinals' solid starting rotation.
Seung-Hwan Oh Headshot

Oh, who threw against hitters for the first time Sunday, "looked great" according to pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

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The veteran closer is thus off to an auspicious start this spring, a good sign considering he'll be counted on as the Cardinals' full-time closer in 2017. Oh earned the job last season after successfully converting 19 of 23 save opportunities in the wake of former closer Trevor Rosenthal's multiple DL stints.
Adam Wainwright Headshot

Wainwright "looked great" while throwing to hitters for the first time Sunday, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

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The two-time 20-game winner turned in an uneven campaign in 2016, compiling a solid 13-9 record but also giving up a career high in homers (22) and generating his highest ERA (4.62) since a three-appearance stint in 2005, his first season with any major league game action. Wainwright also exhibited some uncharacteristic control problems, as evidenced by a 1.40 WHIP that equaled the second highest of his career. However, the 35-year-old righty still slots in as the Cardinals' projected No. 2 starter behind ace Carlos Martinez, so Sunday's report, which came courtesy of pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, represents an encouraging start.
Ryan Lavarnway Headshot

Lavarnway, who agreed to a minor league contract with the A's on Nov. 30, is looking to make an impact in both the World Baseball Classic and with the A's this spring, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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The veteran will depart A's camp on Feb. 27 to play for Team Israel in Seoul, South Korea, and will be busy before and after the tournament trying to make his mark on the A's. The former Red Sox prospect, who was a sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Yale, has hit only .198 over 134 major league games in stints with Boston, the Orioles and Braves. However, Oakland is reportedly impressed with his ability to handle pitchers, and he also comes to the Bay Area on the recommendation of former A's and current Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis, who was familiar with Lavarnway from his time in the Boston organization. Manager Bob Melvin has described Lavarnway as a possible "late bloomer" from his observations thus far, and he could certainly carve a out a spot for himself on the major league roster considering Oakland's relative dearth of right-handed backstop depth behind Josh Phegley. "It seemed like there would be an opportunity here," he said, "and that's all I can ask for at this point in my career - for someone to believe in me and give me a chance to play up to my potential."
Mallex Smith Headshot

Smith (oblique) could be held out of early spring training games according to manager Kevin Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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The speedster, who arrived in Tampa in the trade that sent Drew Smyly to Seattle, could start the season at the major league level depending on the Rays' outfield situation and Smith's own spring training performance. However, the 23-year-old may have to wait a few games into spring training before making his case, as Smith continues to deal with a strained oblique he suffered in the Puerto Rican league in late December.
Colby Rasmus Headshot

Rasmus (groin) could be held out of early spring training games according to manager Kevin Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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After a pair of October surgeries that addressed core muscle and hip issues, Rasmus will be handled with care early spring training. The veteran slugger slashed just .206/.286/.355 with the Astros in 2016, but did smack 10 doubles and 15 homers, while also driving in 54 runs. He's projected to slot in as both a left fielder and designated hitter in the coming season for the Rays.
Logan Morrison Headshot

Morrison (wrist) could be held out of early spring training games according to manager Kevin Cash, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

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Morrison returned to the Rays on a one-year, $2.5 million deal on Feb. 7, and with wrist surgery having curtailed the final month of his 2016 campaign, Morrison is a candidate to be brought along slowly in the exhibition slate. The veteran first baseman is expected to platoon with veteran Richie Weeks in 2017 and will look to build on his .238/.319/.414 line from last season.
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