Carlos Beltran quietly having a very productive September

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Carlos Beltran missed the entire first half of the season and then struggled after finally returning from knee surgery in mid-July, hitting just .218 with a .660 OPS through 43 games. That will keep his overall season totals looking ugly no matter how well Beltran plays in September, but he’s quietly having a very solid month.
Beltran went 3-for-5 with a homer and a triple last night, and is now hitting .308/.343/.554 with three homers and eight total extra-base hits in 17 games this month. Those numbers are pretty similar to what Beltran did in his first five seasons with the Mets, when he batted .281/.368/.505 in 677 total games.
Obviously one good 17-game stretch doesn’t mean much, but it makes sense that Beltran would show improvement the further removed he is from surgery and the more at-bats he gets against big-league pitching. And finishing on a high note could be very important if the Mets have any hopes of trading him this offseason. He’s owed $18.5 million in 2011.

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.