MLB Rumors

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Reds' Billy Hamilton given green light to work on bunting in spring
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com

Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton told reporters he feels less pressure this season now that he's entering his sophomore season in the majors, per MLB.com.

"I'm just more comfortable, more relaxed," the Reds sophomore speedster said before Friday morning's workout. "I've been able to come here and not put so much pressure on myself. My work ethic is going to be the same, always, every single year. But it's more relaxing now. I come in every day being able to breathe."

The 24-year-old hit .250 as a rookie in 2014. He also finished second in the National League with 56 stolen bases. Hamilton revealed that he's working more on his bunting this spring, after registering 15 bunt hits last season. The club has given him the green light to experiment on his bunting in game action this spring.

"Bunting can be a big part of my game, which I didn't use as much as I should have last year," Hamilton said. "Bunting for base hits can get you out of different kinds of slumps and when you're not feeling good at the plate.

"If it's two outs or two strikes, this is the time to work on it," Hamilton said. "Even if it's 3-2, they gave me permission to [bunt]. It's something I might not do during the season, but you want to work on it in a game versus just here in practice."

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Braves OF Melvin Upton Jr. out at least two months with foot injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

The Braves announced Friday outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. could miss at least two months after tests revealed inflammation in his left foot. Upton will be in a short leg cast fot two weeks, then a walking boot for 4-6 weeks.

Upton missed Friday's workout after he was seen limping following batting practice Thursday, per MLB.com. He went through a round of treatment Friday before being sent for an MRI.

The Braves initially declined to speculate on the severity of the injury until Upton went for further testing.

"[The discomfort] is more in the toe area, but we're calling it a foot [injury]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Friday morning.

Upton was listed as the starting center fielder on the depth chart on the team's official website. The backups were listed as Todd Cunningham and Eury Perez.

Upton is entering the third year of a five-year, $72.25 million contract. However, his first two years with the Braves have been largely disappointing. He has a .198/.279/.314/.593 slash line in two seasons in Atlanta.

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A's claim Alex Hassan off waivers, place A.J. Griffin on 60-day DL
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com

The Athletics announced a pair of roster moves on Friday, per the team's official website. The club claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off waivers from Baltimore, and placed pitcher A.J. Griffin on the 60-day disabled list, as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery.

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Phillies P Cliff Lee to start Thursday's Grapefruit League game
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com

Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure announced that pitcher Cliff Lee is slated to start in Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Astros, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Lee strained his elbow in 2014 and missed the final two months of the regular season. He's scheduled to pitch two innings in Thursday's start. 

“He’s thrown well," McClure said. "He feels really good, so he’s right on schedule.”

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Athleitcs' Matt Olson back at 100 percent from shoulder tear
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com

Athletics first base prospect Matt Olson, who suffered a grade three tear of the AC joint in his right shoulder while playing in the Arizona Fall League, is back at 100 percent and is looking forward to his first big-league camp with the club, MLB.com reports.

"It's good, 100-percent strength," Olson said. "Occasional soreness, maybe once every two weeks, but it feels good. No setback at all."

Olson, considered the organization's top prospect, hit .262 with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs in 138 games with Class A Advanced Stockton last year. Although he played all but 10 of his 284 games in the minors at first base, Olson is showing some versatility and has seen some working in the outfield during camp.

"Whatever they want me to do," Olson said. "I feel pretty comfortable out there. Whatever gets me in the lineup."

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Report: Rangers won't discuss extension with Gallardo in spring
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com

Yovani Gallardo is interested in signing a long-term deal with the Rangers in the near future, though the club is not interested in opening to extension talks with the right-hander during spring training, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports.

Gallardo was acquired by the Rangers in a trade with the Brewers this offseason. The 28-year-old is in the last year of his contract. He won less than 10 games in 2014 for the first time in the last six seasons. He is 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA in eight MLB seasons.

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch offers advice to C Max Stassi
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com

During a batting practice session Friday, Astros manager A.J. Hinch noticed he could assist with some fundamental work behind the plate with catcher Max Stassi

With Stassi catching pitcher Chad Qualls, Hinch advised him to turn his shoulder on certain pitches, according to the Houston Chronicle

“There’s some angles you try to create both for the visual for the pitcher and also for the benefit of the umpire,” he said. “With all the talk of the framing stuff, we want to get the most strikes out of our pitchers. There’s certainly techniques to pay attention to even in side sessions and live BPs.”

For Stassi, it appears he was happy with the advice from Hinch, a former major-league catcher. 

“He’s caught in the big leagues," Stassi said. "He’s been there and done that. He was just giving me a few tips. It’s just framing and the positioning of your body too. It’s just real simple, a better presentation of the pitch for your pitcher and the umpire.

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Astros' Castro impressed with BP sessions by Oberholtzer, Deduno
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

Astros catcher Jason Castro was behind the plate while Brett Oberholtzer and Samuel Deduno threw live batting practice Friday and liked what he saw from both pitchers, per the Houston Chronicle

“Obie looked good,” Castro said. “He had some good movement today, some late life on his sinker. He’s working on throwing changeups to lefties and righties, so it will be good for him. His curveball’s got some good bite on it too. For him at this point it’s just about finding that command because the movement is definitely there.

“Deduno was good. He’s the kind of guy that’s got unbelievable movement. He impressed me with his changeup actually today. I think that was a pitch that has probably improved the most since what I remember from him last year. Both of those guys look pretty good.”

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Pirates' Clayton Richard working on changing bad delivery habits
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com

Pirates pitcher Clayton Richard is working with the club to correct his delivery, according to MLB.com. The 31-year-old left-hander picked up some "bad habits" in his delivery while working his way back from a shoulder injury. He's working with pitching coach Ray Searage and special assistant Jim Benedict to correct his mistakes.

"It kind of comes piece by piece, because it's a lot easier said than done," Richard said. "You think, 'Just let it go.' But there's habits that I've created for so many years trying to protect the pain that it just takes repetitions and adjustments to get back to normal.

"I'm going to have to take care of what I can take care of and make my adjustments and be a better pitcher every day," he said. "Where that takes us, I don't know -- and I'm not going to worry about where that takes us."

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Astros P Luis Cruz jams fingers during practice
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com

When attempting to field a grounder, Astros pitcher Luis Cruz jammed his fingers, according to the Houston Chronicle

However, Cruz is expecting to be OK for a Saturday throwing session. 

“It feels a bit swollen, but they are icing it,” Cruz said. “It felt like my fingers went back on the grounder. Because the climate is so cold that’s why it hurts me so much, but it wasn’t so hard.”

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