Trevor Plouffe went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and three runs scored against the Brewers on Thursday.
He now owns a .361 batting average in Cactus League play. Plouffe joined the Athletics as a free agent over the winter after spending his entire seven-year career with the Twins. He battled through an injury-plagued campaign last year, playing in only 84 games while batting .260/.303/.420 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI. Throughout his career he has been a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none. The sort of guy who does a little bit of everything but not quite well enough to be a coveted fantasy asset. He is slated to serve as the Athletics' regular third baseman this season.
Yonder Alonso went 2-for-3 with two home runs, three RBI and three runs scored as the Athletics trounced the Brewers 15-5 on Thursday.
He drilled a two-run shot off Brewers ace Junior Guerra in the second inning, then took him yard again with a solo blast in the third frame. Alonso is now batting .382 with four homers and 11 RBI in 34 at-bats. He figures to split time at first base and designated hitter this season. He has an unappealing .253/.316/.367 career slash line with a paltry 39 home runs in 2343 plate appearances spread over 664 games.
Chris Archer has been announced as the Rays' Opening Day starter.
He'll get the nod at home April 2 against the Yankees. This will be Archer's third straight Opening Day start. The rest of Tampa Bay's rotation will follow in this order: Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Blake Snell and Matt Andriese. Even in a down year, Archer still finished second in the AL with 233 strikeouts last season. Look for him to bounce back in 2017.
Junior Guerra was plastered for 12 runs -- seven earned -- in 3 2/3 innings against the Athletics on Thursday.
He gave up 10 hits and watched in shock as four of them flew over the outfield wall. It was just one of those days where nothing worked. Prior to today Guerra had allowed just two runs in 10 innings. He was the biggest surprise breakout of the 2016 season, turning in a 2.81 ERA in 20 starts as a 31-year-old rookie. Despite today's beatdown he will likely take the hill on Opening Day for the Brewers.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Rays remain interested in free agent Derek Norris but are likely "on the outside looking in."
Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported last week that as many as six teams were in on Norris with Tampa Bay being one of them. The Rays will be without Wilson Ramos for at least the first month and a half, which gives them some incentive to add a catcher. Norris matched a career-high with 14 homers last year but did it while hitting just .186 with 139 strikeouts in 415 at-bats.
Willson Contreras went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in Thursday's tie with the Diamondbacks.
The sophomore catcher is now batting .333 with three home runs through 39 at-bats. He turned in a very promising rookie season in 2016, notching a .282 batting average with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 76 games. He figures to benefit from a much larger share of the playing time behind the plate in Chicago this season. He is going as one of the top five catchers in fantasy drafts this month.
Jake Arrieta allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings of work as the Cubs and Diamondbacks dueled to a 5-5 tie on Thursday.
He struck out four and issued one free pass. He also helped himself at the plate by launching a solo home run off Zack Greinke in the third inning. Last year Arrieta wasn't quite as dominant as he was the previous two years, but he still managed a near-elite season with an 18-8 record and 3.10 ERA in 31 starts. He finished with 190 strikeouts and 76 walks in 197 1/3 innings.
Jake Lamb went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer against the Cubs on Thursday.
He took Cubs ace Jake Arrieta deep in the first inning for his third longball of the spring. He carries a .378 batting average after 37 at-bats. He batted .249/.332/.509 with 29 home runs, 81 runs scored and 91 RBI in his breakout 2016 campaign. The 26-year-old will look to build on those stats as he enters the new year with an unchallenged grip on the third base job.