Jim Tracy on Ian Stewart: “He’s either going to play his way in or play his way off the team”

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Demoting their starting third baseman of the past two seasons to Triple-A because of a bad first two weeks was a pretty strong indication that the Rockies have soured on Ian Stewart and yesterday manager Jim Tracy made that even more obvious.

When asked why Stewart batted eighth in the Rockies’ lineup, Tracy told Troy Renck of the Denver Post:

I don’t want Ian to hit eighth. But unfortunately he’s not giving me much choice. We are getting to the point with him that’s it time for him to fish or cut bait. He’s either going to play his way in or play his way off the team.

There’s no spinning how bad Stewart has been this season, going 3-for-41 (.073) with 17 strikeouts, but 41 horrendous at-bats are still just 41 at-bats and he came into the season as a 26-year-old with a .782 OPS in 1,282 plate appearances.

At this point it might be best for everyone involved if the Rockies find a trade for Stewart.

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.