J.J. Hardy Headshot

Hardy received an MRI on his back and will undergo more tests Friday, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports.

Added 02/17/17 12:31 pm (EST)
This explains Hardy's absence from workouts since the O's began camp. Various injuries have contributed to him missing 95 games over the last two seasons, and his latest setback is worth watching. If he were to miss extended time again this year, Manny Machado may preserve shortstop eligibility for 2018 fantasy leagues.
Christian Vazquez Headshot

Vazquez caught for Eduardo Rodriguez in a minor league game Wednesday and helped the left-hander by throwing out two runners trying to steal second base, Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe reports.

Added 8:07 am (EST)
These caught base-stealers don't register on Vazquez's official spring stat log, but the backstop has thrown out four of five would-be base-stealers in Grapefruit League play. His ability to control the running game and framing skills are enough to overcome whatever hitting holes he has. If the Red Sox get into a position where they're getting unacceptable offensive production out of the catching position, and considering calling up Blake Swihart to replace either Vazquez or Sandy Leon, the organization would view Vazquez as the more long-term option.
Juan Centeno Headshot

Centeno is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Fresno and potentially become the Astros' third catcher in the event of an injury to either Brian McCann or Evan Gattis, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Added 7:42 am (EST)
When Houston designated catcher Max Stassi for assignment earlier this week, it barely registered on the transaction radar, but it meant something to Centeno. He and Stassi will be in the same boat at Fresno -- the Astros will have to select the contract of either player to be added to the 40-man roster. Neither have hit much -- Stassi from the right side, Centeno from the left -- with Centeno holding an edge in terms of major league experience.
Collin McHugh Headshot

McHugh allowed on run on two hits while striking out five over three innings in a minor league game, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Added 7:28 am (EST)
McHugh's on a tight schedule to be ready for the first rotation of the season. The right-hander's building his pitch count following a delay due to a dead arm period. He threw 41 pitches and will have another two opportunities to increase that. The prudent thing would have him begin the season on the 10-day disabled list and back-date the DL-assignment. He would miss the first turn, one start, and be ready to go for the rotation's second turn.
Cesar Hernandez Headshot

Phillies first-base coach Mickey Morandini said he is encouraged by the progress Hernandez has made improving his stolen base technique this spring, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports.

Added 6:15 am (EST)
Morandini has been working with Hernandez on getting better jumps on his stolen base attempts. The second baseman is 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts after stealing only 17 bags out of 30 attempts last season. Hernandez has been clocked by Statcast going from home to first base at speeds comparable to Dee Gordon, so he is plenty quick. It is his technique that has held him back. If he can carry his spring improvements into the regular season, stealing 30 or more bags is a real possibility.
Taylor Rogers Headshot

Rogers has a 2.00 ERA this spring (2 ER in 9 IP) and appears to be a lock to win a spot in the Minnesota bullpen, Patrick Reusee of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Added 12:25 am (EST)
Rogers will be the top lefty specialist in the bullpen. His rookie season featured a decent 3.96 ERA, but an impressive 9.4 K/9 and a 51.4 percent groundball rate. He was even better against left-handed batters with a .547 opponents' OPS. If he can improve against right-handed batters, he could become a top setup man.
Phil Hughes Headshot

Hughes gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits and two home runs over two innings in Wednesday's loss to Houston.

Added Yesterday 11:54 pm (EST)
Hughes struggled at the start of spring training but was coming off two good outings before this clunker. His spring ERA rose to 6.75. However, his numbers may not be that important since he's a veteran with a set spot in the rotation as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter. It's more important that Hughes is healthy at this point in the spring after an injury-plagued 2016 season. Hughes is returning from season-ending surgery in July to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome where part of his rib was removed to relieve nerve pressure on his shoulder.
Chris Heston Headshot

Heston gave up six earned runs on seven hits and one walk over 2.1 innings in Tuesday's 8-5 Cactus League loss to the A's.

Added Yesterday 11:16 pm (EST)
Heston surrendered five doubles among his seven hits and came unraveled in the third, when the A's touched him up for six runs overall. The right-hander is expected to start the season at Triple-A Tacoma and figures to be a prime candidate for a call-up at some point in the regular season when the Mariners are down a man in their rotation.
Jharel Cotton Headshot

Cotton (2-0) gave up five earned runs on five hits and five walks over 3.2 innings in Tuesday's 8-5 Cactus League victory over the Mariners. He struck out two.

Added Yesterday 11:00 pm (EST)
Despite being credited with the win, Cotton was nowhere close to having his best stuff, and his win was largely the product of the A's offense staking him to a 6-0 lead after three innings. The A's projected No. 4 starter when the staff is at full health, Cotton began unraveling in the fourth inning when he issued three of his five walks. He fired 79 pitches overall and despite the struggles, came out of the game knowing exactly what the source of his problems was. "The command wasn't there as much," Cotton said. "There's some stuff I've got to work on in my sides and get back after it next time. I was just rushing a bit, but I think I should be fine. I know my stuff is there, I just need to prepare myself better and throw it over the plate."
Tim Beckham Headshot

Beckham is set to open the season as the starting shortstop in the wake of Matt Duffy's (heel) continued absence, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "I think he came in very motivated and has basically taken to an opportunity to make the most of it," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Beck's always been a guy who's been adamant about playing time, and he's earned some playing time, no doubt about it. We're happy for him."

Added Yesterday 10:51 pm (EST)
The mercurial utility man has enjoyed an excellent spring, hitting .306 with four doubles, a triple, a home run, four RBI, six walks and eight runs. Beckham has also been making plays in the field and perhaps just as important, has displayed a stellar attitude and work ethic. Both of those traits have been questioned in the past, such as the lackadaisical play Beckham exhibited in late August that earned him a demotion to Triple-A Durham for the balance of the season. Barring any unforeseen personnel moves, the 27-year-old is projected to start the season at shortstop and eventually slide into what should still be a sizable utility role when Duffy returns.
Eduardo Rodriguez Headshot

Rodriguez pitched 5.2 innings in a game for High-A Salem on the back fields of the Red Sox's training facility in Fort Myers (Fla.) on Wednesday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports.

Added Yesterday 10:45 pm (EST)
Rodriguez tossed 85 pitches (59 for strikes) and struck out eight while walking one. He admitted pitching to minor leaguers is not the same as facing major leaguers, but was pleased to throw all of his pitches. With David Price (elbow) expected to begin the regular season on the disabled list and the uncertainty surrounding Drew Pomeranz (triceps), Rodriguez is certain to start the season in the rotation. Once there, his performance will determine how long he remains there.
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