Roy Halladay’s velocity has people worried again

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For the second straight spring Roy Halladay’s low velocity readings are an issue.

Last spring Halladay brushed off those concerns, but sure enough his fastball averaged just 90.6 miles per hour last season compared to 92.0 in 2011 and 92.6 in 2010. He posted a 4.49 ERA that was his worst since 2000 and was limited to 25 starts because of a shoulder injury.

And now?

David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that Halladay topped out at 88 miles per hour yesterday and worked mostly in the 86-88 range. It’s not uncommon for velocity readings to be lower than usual early in spring training as pitchers build up their arm strength, but at age 35 and coming off shoulder problems it might be time to wonder if the Cy Young-caliber Halladay we’ve consistently seen for the past decade is gone for good.

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.