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MLB Cactus League Report: Tatis Jr. Shaking off Cobwebs

Trout Slugging Away in WBC

The World Baseball Classic has stolen the headlines from spring training, but there’s still plenty of action on the ground in Arizona. With Opening Day a couple of weeks away, let’s check out the MLB News from the action out in the desert. We also have all the MLB spreads to make a bet online on spring training action and you can also check out some MLB playoff odds.

Cactus Stars Lead Team USA over Canada

Team USA set a World Baseball Classic record for runs in an inning Monday night with a nine-spot against Canada in Phoenix, and there was plenty of Cactus League flavor in the rally. In fact, it all starts with perhaps the two best players in Arizona, as Mookie Betts singled and Mike Trout walked on four pitches to start the bottom of the first.

Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres poses for a portrait - Christian petersen/getty Images/AFP
Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres poses for a portrait - Christian petersen/getty Images/AFP

Trout would cap the nine-run outburst later on with a three-run homer, which was more than enough for Team USA to roll to a 12-1 win and move within one victory of advancing to the quarterfinals.

Cactus Leaguers and Chicago White Sox teammates Tim Anderson and Lance Lynn also factored heavily into the equation. Anderson had a pair of hits and a walk, driving in one and scoring twice. Lynn allowed one run in his five innings of work.

A loaded Team USA next plays Colombia in a Pool C game on Wednesday.

Teen Phenom Makes Padres Debut

Ethan Salas is a 16-year-old catcher in San Diego’s system, and he got his first taste of big-league game action Saturday, catching the final four innings of the Padres’ game.

“I’ll tell you, he’s well beyond his years,” said manager Bob Melvin, a catcher himself in his playing days. “You watch the way he frames pitches. A couple balls in the dirt got by him, but he has his wits about him. Pretty well developed for a 16-year-old.”

Salas, who hails from Florida, received well and grounded out to second in his one at-bat. He is projected to be San Diego’s starting catcher in a few years.

Tatis Jr. Gets into Hit Column

Fernando Tatis Jr. hadn’t had a hit in a major league game since Oct. 2, 2021 until he got in some good swings over the weekend and into Monday. After starting his spring with an 0-for-16 showing through his first six games, the 2021 NL Home Run champ had a double and a single Saturday against the White Sox.

It feels great,” he said Saturday. “Especially, you know, all these games, people waiting and seeing expectations of people talking about if I remember how to hit. But at the end of the day, that’s part of this game, and I’m just happy to be back playing baseball.”

Tatis, who missed all of last season following a wrist injury and then a PED suspension, added another hit and his second stolen base in as many games in Monday’s game vs San Francisco.

Seager Starting Hot

Corey Seager’s first season with Texas was so-so. He clubbed a career-high 33 home runs but batted .245 with an on-base percentage that plummeted to .317 – easily a career low.

The man who signed for 10 years and $325 million looks like he’ll hit the ground running this year and perhaps improve on some of those numbers. He’s 13-for-26 with three home runs and a double through his first 11 games in Arizona, hitting safely in all eight games in March.

Texas is popular among MLB picks and MLB predictions as a candidate to rise up the AL West this season. A raking Seager would go a long way toward making that a reality.

Run, Cactus Leaguers, Run

The rule changes on the bases should allow for some more fun on the bases. That’s been evident early on, as six Cactus League players already had at least five stolen bases entering Tuesday. That collection of six players has a grand total of 35 swipes while getting caught three times.

Among the intriguing names in the group is one of Seager’s teammates, outfielder Bubba Thompson, a darkhorse candidate to win the stolen base crown. Thompson had 18 steals in 55 games with Texas in 2022 after swiping 49 bags in only 80 games for Triple-A Round Rock.

Another interesting name is San Diego’s Tim Lopes, who has six steals in the early going as he makes a bid for a roster spot with the stacked Padres. A 28-year-old infielder who has spent time in the majors with Seattle and Milwaukee, Lopes leads all of spring training with a .452 average (14-for-31).

Despite San Diego’s star-studded infield, there could be a bench spot for a guy who can run and is spraying the ball all over the place in Arizona.

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