Chipper Jones has been cleared to swing a bat


Chipper Jones — who I would have bet a good deal had his career ended with that torn ACL last summer — appears to be healing just fine: he’s been cleared to swing a bat and will likely be ready to go full speed once spring training begins.

We’re certainly in the twilight of the Chipper Jones era — and the days in which the Braves depended upon Jones to carry significant weight in the offense is over — but his health is still important to the Braves for strategic purposes. If he can man third, the Uggla-at-second, Prado-in-left scenario works out well enough.  If Jones can’t make it, Prado will have to play third and the Braves will find themselves in need of a left fielder. Again.

And if he does play, I wonder if Fredi Gonzalez will have the guts to move him to second in the order to take advantage of his still extant on-base skills and to place less pressure on him to hit for power.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.