Justin Upton aiming to strengthen shoulder this winter

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Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton played in only four games during the month of September and just one game in October because of soreness in the area of his left shoulder.  He has promised to work on the strength and conditioning of that shoulder this offseason and got a head start this afternoon at Arizona’s Chase Field.

Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports that Upton felt no pain or discomfort while batting in an instructional league game on Thursday, the same game that Brandon Webb appeared in for two innings.  Webb allowed three hits and two runs, again showing poor velocity on his sinking fastball.

Upton, 23, had a massively successful 2009 campaign, batting .300/.366/.532 with 26 home runs, 86 RBI and 20 stolen bases over 526 at-bats.  That all led to some wildly optimistic projections for 2010 and Upton simply didn’t live up to the hype.

He’s still plenty young and immensely talented, and a healthy shoulder should only aid in his ability to get back on track.  He should at 100 percent by the start of spring training in 2011.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: