Jeff Francis won’t opt out of minor-league deal with Reds

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As part of his minor-league contract with the Reds left-hander Jeff Francis the ability to opt out and become a free agent again if he’s not added to the 40-man roster by March 28, but that won’t be happening.

Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that his odds of securing a spot in the Reds’ rotation are slim–if anything Cincinnati already has too many starters for the five slots–but Francis laid out his plans:

I’m not going to go home. I’ll be pitching. I am not even thinking about it. I’m just trying to get people out.

Either he’s quickly fallen in love with the Reds organization or Francis’ agent has advised him that they still don’t have any big-league offers, or maybe both.

He’s pitched fairly well so far in four starts, but may have to accept a long-relief role or perhaps even prove himself with an extended stint back in the minors for the first time since 2004.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

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.