Report: Royals at ‘critical stage’ in Wil Myers trade talks

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I’m not sure what makes this the “critical stage” — perhaps it’s that the Royals are thinking about giving Ryan Dempster the three-year contract he wants  and taking themselves out of the starting pitching market — but FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Royals are nearing a decision on whether to trade top prospect Wil Myers for a starter.

The starters previously mentioned in connection with Myers are the Rays’ James Shields, the Mets’ R.A. Dickey and Boston’s Jon Lester, though the Lester possibility seems to have fizzled out.

The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton says he believes the Royals are just fine with trading Myers for Shields, but that the Rays want more in return. Likewise, the Mets are believed to want more than Myers for Dickey, while it doesn’t appear that the Royals are quite as interested in Dickey anyway.

Myers, who turns 22 next week, hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers and 109 RBI between Double- and Triple-A last season. It did come with 140 strikeouts in 522 at-bats, but right-handers with his kind of power don’t come around too often.

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.