Rumor: Orioles “locking in” on Mark Reynolds

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Justin Upton has grabbed plenty of attention in trade talks this winter — and understandably so — but Mark Reynolds remains the most likely Diamondbacks player to be suiting up elsewhere next season. Here’s the latest.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that the Orioles are desperate for right-handed power and are “locking in” on Reynolds as a solution. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles continue to show the “heaviest” interest in the free-swinging slugger. Interestingly, officials from the Padres and Blue Jays — two teams previously reported to be interested in Reynolds — “strongly deny any interest at all,” according to Rosenthal.

Reynolds batted .198/.320/.433 with 32 homers, 85 RBI and a 753 OPS with the Diamondbacks this past season. He has led the majors in strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. The 27-year-old third baseman signed a three-year contract extension in March and is owed $5 million in 2011, $7.5 million in 2012 and either an $11 million option or $500,000 buyout in 2013.

As for who the Diamondbacks may want in return, Jon Heyman of SI.com tweeted earlier today that Chris Tillman’s name has come up in trade talks. Tillman has struggled to translate his minor league success to the majors thus far, posting a 5.61 ERA over his first 23 major league starts, including a 5.87 ERA and 31/31 K/BB ratio over 53 2/3 innings this past season. There’s no question that his stock has taken a hit, but he doesn’t turn 23 until next April.

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.