Stephen Strasburg gives up two homers in third spring start

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Stephen Strasburg showed great velocity in a four-inning outing Wednesday, but he gave up two homers and four runs to what had been a slumbering Braves offense.

Strasburg was taken deep twice on fastballs, first to the opposite way by Dan Uggla in the first inning and later on a laser from Jason Heyward in the fourth. He reached as high as 102 mph on the TV gun.

For all of the power behind his pitches, though, Strasburg ended up with just one strikeout. Too many thigh-high fastballs were the problem. He ended up allowing five hits and walking one.

The mediocre outing left Strasburg with an 8.00 ERA through nine innings this spring. The important thing is that he’s healthy, and it’s very encouraging that he’s throwing about as hard as ever. Still, maybe it’d be best not to expect too much too soon from him come April and May.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.

Report: Phillies making Maikel Franco available in trade discussions

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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies are making third baseman Maikel Franco “more than available” in trade discussions.

Franco, 24, is having an abysmal season after showing promise in 2015 and ’16. Through 289 plate appearances, he’s hitting .221/.280/.365 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. His hitting has tanked and his already below-average defense hasn’t shown any improvement.

It’s a bit surprising that the Phillies would be so eager to move Franco with his value about as low as it can go. Franco is also under control of the rebuilding Phillies through the 2021 season, so the team doesn’t have to rush into moving him. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season.

Furthermore, the Phillies don’t have an immediate replacement for Franco at third base. Andres Blanco would likely get everyday starts at the hot corner in the short-term, but as far as prospects go, there are no third baseman banging down the door. If the Phillies were to trade Franco, it would likely have to be in return for a young, talented third baseman who will be under team control for several more years.