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Beyond Busch: Spring Training begins; NL Central & MLB Notes

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Beyond Busch will now turn it’s attention to what is happening week to week with a detailed account for each NL Central club and bullet points for the remainder of MLB. Each team is linked to the associated FanSided site if you wish to read more content on the team.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have gotten off to a 2-3 start on the exhibition season. After dropping their first two games to the Oakland A’s, the Cubs ripped the Colorado Rockies 11-4 receiving two home runs from Alfonso Soriano and one from outfield prospect Brett Jackson. Soriano added another homer in yesterday’s game and is hitting .625 on the young spring. The Cubs have received good performances on the mound from Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad. Samardzija and Volstad did not allow any runs which each throwing three innings. Matt Garza was shaky in his debut going two innings and allowing two runs on three hits.

The Cubs are looking to make a selection between Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo for the backup catcher spot behind Geovany Soto. Manager Dale Sveum will also be hoping to establish another set-up reliever to compliment Kerry Wood as a bridge to closer Carlos Marmol.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are off to a 3-2 start this spring. They won their first two games with Homer Bailey taking the mound in the opener followed by Johnny Cueto. Bailey was knocked around while Cueto struck out two in two innings allowing one run off two hits. Mat Latos made his Reds’ debut on Tuesday throwing two scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners. Bronson Arroyo threw three innings the next day allowing one run. Mike Leake made the start yesterday against NL Central rival Milwaukee Brewers. Leake allowed a run on three hits in two frames.

At the plate, Jay Bruce is hitting .667 with 3 RBI and Scott Rolen is hitting .571 as of yesterday. Prospect Zack Cozart is hitting .333 with a SB. Both Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto are hitting .286 so far.

The Reds have suffered some injuries in the bullpen including closer Ryan Madson which is bringing into question whether Aroldis Chapman could be moved back to the bullpen.

Houston Astros

The Astros entered today’s game with a 4-2 record. They received a very nice outing from Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday. He threw three innings of shutout ball allowing one hit and striking out one. Bud Norris took the mound the following day and didn’t allow a hit or run in three innings. Wilton Lopez has saved two games already this spring without allowing a runner to reach base.

Outfielder J.D. Martinez is off to a fast start, hitting .500 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Jordan Shafer is hitting .556 with four runs scored. The team is young but manager Brad Mills will have them ready and they will play hard to win.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are 2-2-1 through yesterday’s games. The first four starters, Randy Wolf, Chris Narveson, Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada did not allow a run in their appearances. Gallardo struck out four in his start. Zack Greinke pitched two innings yesterday allowing two runs with four strikeouts.

Ryan Braun hit his first home run of the spring yesterday, his only hit thus far. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is hitting .571 with a couple doubles. Rickie Weeks is hitting .333 with three runs scored.

Outfielder Corey Hart had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to remove torn cartilage. Surgery revealed three separate tears in his meniscus. The timeline for his return is 3-4 weeks.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are off to a 2-4 start. Kevin Correia, Jo-Jo Reyes and Jeff Karstens have looked good in their starts. Each allowed zero earned runs. James McDonald has made two starts and fared better in the second affair yesterday allowing one run in three innings. Erik Bedard tossed two innings and allowed two runs. Closer Joel Hanrahan has pitched in one game throwing a scoreless hitless frame.

Starling Marte has been pounding the ball so far this spring. He is 9-for-13 with 2 HR and 3 RBI with 4 runs scored. Alex Presley is hitting .500. Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez have homered this spring.

The biggest news in camp is the six-year/$51.5 million extension signed by center-fielder Andrew McCutchen . McCutchen will be a Pirate through 2017 and has an option for the 2018 season. The Pirates have long known they have a player to build around, but it was uncertain whether McCutchen wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. This contract sounds a resounding yes.

Here are notes on the remaining MLB clubs (all stats through Thursday’s games).

NL East

Atlanta BravesJason Heyward off to a slow 2-for-14 start

Miami MarlinsJosh Johnson unscatched in first start since last May

New York MetsJohan Santana two scoreless innings in return

Philadelphia PhilliesCole Hamels; 2 GS, 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 K

Washington NationalsJordan Zimmermann excels in debut; 3 IP, 0 ER,  3 K

NL West

Arizona DiamondbacksRyan Roberts has two hits, both homers in 13 AB

Colorado RockiesDrew Pomeranz; 5 IP, 0 ER, 5 K

Los Angeles DodgersAndre Ethier off to usual quick start; 3-for-6, 1 HR, 3 RBI

San Diego PadresCameron Maybin signs 5-yr extension worth $25 million

San Francisco GiantsMelky Cabrera on fire; 8-for-14, 3 doubles , 2 HR, 4 RBI

AL East

Baltimore OriolesChris Tillman and Brian Matusz knocked around in first starts.

Boston Red SoxJosh Beckett impressive; 5 IP, 0 ER

New York Yankees – Rough starts for Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova

Tampa Bay RaysJames Shields set to start opener

Toronto Blue JaysBrett Lawrie early rookie of year candidate

AL Central

Chicago White SoxAdam Dunn .500, 1 HR and 3 BB in 7 PA

Cleveland Indians – 15 players hitting .300 or better

Detroit TigersDoug Fister with 5 scoreless innings in two starts

Kansas City Royals – CF Lorenzo Cain; 5-for-10, 2 R, 2 doubles

Minnesota TwinsDenard Span with 5-for-10 with 2 SB

AL West

Los Angeles AngelsAlbert Pujols era begins; 3-for-7 with 2 doubles early on

Oakland A’s – Yoenis Cespedes arrives in camp; hits 2 moonshots in simulated game

Seattle MarinersFelix Hernandez in mid-season form; 3 IP, 0 ER, 4 K

Texas RangersYu Darvish impressive in debut; 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 K

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Tags: Adam Dunn Albert Pujols Alex Presley Alfonso Soriano Andre Ethier Andrew McCutchen Aroldis Chapman Brandon Phillips Brett Jackson Brett Lawrie Brian Matusz Bronson Arroyo Bud Norris Cameron Maybin Cardinals Carlos Marmol Chris Tillman Chris Volstad Cole Hamels Corey Hart Denard Span Doug Fister Drew Pomeranz Felix Hernandez Garrett Jones Hiroki Kuroda Homer Bailey Ivan Nova J.D. Martinez James Shields Jason Heyward Jay Bruce Jeff Samardzija Joel Hanrahan Joey Votto Johan Santana Johnny Cueto Jordan Zimmermann Josh Johnson Kerry Wood Lorenzo Cain Matt Garza Melky Cabrera NL Central Pedro Alvarez Rickie Weeks Ryan Braun Ryan Dempster Ryan Madson Ryan Roberts St Louis Cardinals Wandy Rodriguez Yoenis Cespedes Yovani Gallardo Yu Darvish Zack Greinke

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