Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies

As expected, Cody Asche claims third base job; Phillies reassign Maikel Franco

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The Phillies hoped the competition for the third base job would have been more heated. After going 2-for-4 with a solo homer against the Pirates on Saturday afternoon, Cody Asche — the incumbent at the hot corner — brought his Grapefruit League average up to .175. His competition, 21-year-old top prospect Maikel Franco, wasn’t faring any better with a .184 average and a .409 OPS.

Franco has been demoted, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports. There, Franco will look to build upon his breakout season at Double-A last year, when he hit .320 with 31 home runs. He still has some concerns about his defense, but manager Ryne Sandberg also sees some room for improvement offensively:

“He needs to get some seasoning and work on some things, more on the offensive side,” Sandberg said. “He needs to work on shortening his swing and getting some better line-drive type of contact.”

Asche, meanwhile, will hold the fort down at third base after hitting .235 with five home runs in 179 trips to the plate last season. The Phillies expect Franco to claim the third base job at some point, if not at some point this season, then at this time next year.

MLB may introduce “tacky” baseballs in 2018

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.

They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.

As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.

Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.

Here we go: Tim Tebow reports to Mets camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets speaks at a press conference after a work out at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.

Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.

The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.

In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: