Dayton Moore isn't the only one who likes Yuniesky Betancourt

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Dick Kaegel is a pretty optimistic guy — he’s predicting the Royals will take the AL Central with 88 wins — but that might not be the craziest thing he wrote in his “10 questions” piece for MLB.com:

Which player will be the biggest surprise of the 2010 season?


I’m picking Betancourt, who’ll find new life under the guidance of
coaches Eddie Rodriguez and Dave Owen. The shortstop seems to be
catching on to nuances of the game that eluded him in his rapid rise to
the Majors after leaving Cuba.

Apparently those nuances don’t include taking pitches or fielding the baseball with any degree of competence. Betancourt is a near-lock to make contact (88.3% for his career),
but that doesn’t make the results any less frustrating. The best
surprise for Royals fans would be if Mike Aviles works his way back
from Tommy John surgery to take the starting shortstop job back from this
sort of mediocrity.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.