Reds' Joey Votto graces cover of Sports Illustrated

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MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon passes along word that Reds first baseman Joey Votto will be featured on the cover of the Sports Illustrated that is set to reach newsstands today.  Sheldon also has a picture of the cover, so go check that out.

Because we’re mostly sane here at HBT and don’t buy into petty jinx theories, this all arrives as great news.  Votto is an MVP candidate, he might just win the Triple Crown, and he’s overcome a bout with clinical depression along the way.  It’s nice to see that he is finally getting a dose of well-deserved exposure.

But, uh, go ahead and tell us how Cincinnati is now doomed in the comments section.

Votto is the first Reds player to make the cover of SI since Ken Griffey Jr. on June 14, 2004.  The 26-year-old leads all eligible National Leaguers with a .323 batting average and he trails only Adam Dunn and Albert Pujols with 29 home runs.  The Reds currently hold a 2.5-game lead over the Cardinals in the National League Central.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.