Pirates “continue to monitor” the Mets’ Ike Davis

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The Pirates got an underwhelming .768 OPS from the first base position in 2013 and lost Justin Morneau this winter to free agency. If the 2014 season started today, Gaby Sanchez and his .258/.337/.417 career batting line would be Pittsburgh’s primary option at baseball’s most premium offensive position. And that’s not ideal.

According to Jayson Stark at ESPN.com, the Pirates “continue to monitor” Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who is competing for a starting job this spring with Lucas Duda. The Bucs have been linked recently to free agent Kendrys Morales, but Stark says there “doesn’t seem to be much substance” to those rumors. Justin Smoak or Mitch Moreland could become trade targets for the Bucs depending on how the Nelson Cruz shoe drops.

Davis batted just .205/.326/.334 last season for New York, but he slugged 32 home runs in 2012 and registered .925 OPS in 149 plate appearances the season before that. The 26-year-old former first-round pick has much more upside than Sanchez, who will turn 31 years old at the end of this upcoming summer.

Carlos Carrasco pitches during game action

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Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this summer. He’d been out since June. Despite that diagnosis, he and the Indians insisted that he would make every effort to come back this year. Yesterday he took a big step in that direction, making his first rehab appearance at Double-A Akron.

He only tossed one inning, walking one batter and striking out another. He thew 16 pitches but cranked it up to 97 with his first offering. Not too shabby.

It’s unclear what the timetable is for him returning to Cleveland. If they intend to use him as a starter again he’ll obviously need several more appearances to get stretched out. If he’s to be used as a reliever, fewer obviously. What his stamina level is and will be is also an open question.

However that gets sorted out, it’s good so have him back in action.