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March 20, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Thursday morning notes, links and line-ups … McClendon says the shortstop race is still even

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Here’s the travel roster …

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Game notes …. 03.20.14 ST Game Notes

In the competition for the starting shortstop position, it would seem that Brad Miller has taken a formidable advantage over Nick Franklin. Miller, the incumbent, has been on fire at the plate this spring. He’s hitting .447 (17-for-38) with a double, four triples, four homers, eight RBI and 13 runs scored. He’s got a 1.512 on-base plus slugging percentage. He’s also played solid defense and made the routine plays.  If there were a Cactus League MVP (the Mike Morse trophy), he’d be winning it.  (That’s a joke, maybe).

Meanwhile, Franklin has been good, but not Miller good. He’s hitting .235 (8-for-34) with three doubles, a homer and five RBI. He’s also looked solid in the field, handling the routine plays.

Still, looking at the small sample size of ultra-meaningless numbers, you would say that Miller would be at least separating himself from Franklin in the competition. But Lloyd McClendon would offer no such confirmation. He’s remained firm that this competition is even. And he wasn’t wavering.

“I think they’ve both played well to this point,” he said. “I will reserve my thoughts on that for a little while longer. But they’ve both done a nice job. I’ve been pleased. As far as separation, I don’t think they’ve really separated themselves. I evaluate things a little different than how you guys evaluate them. I don’t particularly evaluate on given performance on any day. I see good things from both of them.”

Of course, you could view this as posturing by McClendon. He is trying to keep a level of optimism between both players. Saying one is ahead of the other does him no good. He hasn’t really commented on the competition and he doesn’t plan to. It’s likely he also wants to maintain  some level of Franklin’s value as a possible trade chip.

But until he sits down with both players and tells them of his decision, I doubt he’s going to even hint toward a possibility.

Elsewhere

Felix Hernandez’s minor league start will be at noon today in Peoria.

Blake Beavan’s start yesterday was far from inspiring for McClendon. Beavan gave up seven runs on eight hits with four homers allowed in 5 2.3 innings pitched.

“Overall, I was disappointed in his outing,” McClendon said. “I expect more. He’s better than what he showed yesterday. But he will get another opportunity to get back out there. I just need to see him use both sides of the plate, use all of his pitches and get the ball down in the zone. He’s better than what he showed yesterday.”

McClendon said he’d like to have his rotation set with four or five days remaining in spring training. He wouldn’t bite on naming any other pitchers beyond Felix Hernandez.

Is it all still wide open?

“No,” he said. “But nothing is set.”

Here’s the pitching probables over the next few days …

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Joe Beimel has been battling some arm soreness, but he will throw today.

Corey Hart and Willie Bloomquist both played in a minor league yesterday, getting an at-bat almost every inning. Hart hit a homer and Bloomquist hit a pair of homers. McClendon said he will do the same with other position players over the next week, sending them over to minor league games to get seven to eight at-bats in a game.

LINKAGE

Blogging Bob Condotta has this story on the starting rotation.

Ken Rosenthal has this long post that discusses Kendrys Morales.

Nick Franklin was ESPN 710 yesterday and said he’s not overthinking the trade rumors

Jack Zduriencik was on the radio broadcast during yesterday’s game. He even discussed Kendrys Morales … sort of.

Corey Hart talked about leaving Milwaukee and how it was easier than he expected.

Here’s some photos of Felix Hernandez’s photo shoot with ESPN the magazine.

Buster Olney’s blog has all the links and video of Aroldis Chapman being struck in the face by a line drive. Horrible scene.

Marc W of USS Mariner has some fun with the projected standings.

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