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Starting Nine: Bochy drops hint on Brandon Belt, Ventura could make screwball move in ‘pen

Andy Behrens
Roto Arcade

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Brandon Belt (US Presswire)

It's a travel day for some of us, but there's time enough to deliver a few need-to-know fantasy bullets. Let's get right to the good stuff...

Brandon Belt loyalists, you'll like this blurb from Daniel Brown of the Mercury News:

...when asked if Belt will be at first base for the regular-season opener against Arizona on Friday, he did nothing do dispel the notion.

"He's been getting most of the playing time there,'' Bochy said. "We've said we'd put the bats out there that are swinging well."

Belt is hitting .389/.430/.625 this spring, so he's swinging as well as any Giants hitter at the moment. It looks like he'll open at first base, bumping Aubrey Huff to the outfield. You win, Belt drafter.

This might mean nothing, or it could be a pretty big deal: In Tuesday's spring win over the Astros, the White Sox used reliever Addison Reed in the sixth, Jesse Crain in the seventh, and Matt Thornton in the eighth. That arrangement left 24-year-old screwballer Hector Santiago with ninth inning responsibilities, and he successfully closed the door. It wasn't a clean door-closing, just for the record, as he loaded the bases before coaxing a double-play. But he got the job done.

The Sox scored a run in the top of the ninth to take a 5-1 lead, so Santiago wasn't credited with the save. Still, manager Robin Ventura may have tipped his hand regarding the Chicago bullpen hierarchy. (Those of us who've already drafted Thornton hope it's not the case). If Santiago is available in your league — and he probably is, because he's only one-percent owned right now — then consider a speculative add. Santiago is reportedly as surprised as anyone to learn that he's in the mix for ninth inning work, but the kid has had a terrific spring (11.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 13 Ks). Give him a look.

You probably weren't expecting good news on Kyle Farnsworth, so this nugget from the Tampa Trib isn't going to be a huge surprise:

The Rays closer had experienced some pain in his right elbow this spring, so he was sent Tuesday for an MRI, and ...

"So we have a little bit of an issue," Maddon said. "That's all."

Farnsworth is expected to be added to the 15-day disabled list at 5 p.m. today, the deadline for teams to set their opening day roster, and there is a belief among the team it could be a lengthy stay.

Repeat: "A lengthy stay." Maddon has thus far declined to name a specific replacement. Joel Peralta would be my primary target, JP Howell would be Plan B. If you're adding Fernando Rodney, then you should just get to work on your concession speech.

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Corey Hart (US Presswire)

Corey Hart made his spring debut on Tuesday, going 2-for-3 with a double, playing the outfield without incident. He appears to be on track for opening day, just four weeks removed from knee surgery. Unexpectedly quick recovery. Great news for the Brewers, huge for Hart's fantasy owners, big score for anyone who can't get enough Corey Hart/sunglasses jokes from Brad Evans.

Two bits of Nats business: As we mentioned on Tuesday, Drew Storen is aiming for a mid-April return. "It's not a pain thing, it's a strength thing," he said. He's throwing, rehabbing, getting ready to assist fantasy owners. No panic needed. The Lidge-Rodriguez era shouldn't last too long. Also, Michael Morse (lat) is expected to make a mid-April return to the Nats. He'll open the season on the DL, but it shouldn't be a lengthy stay. Again, don't sweat this situation.

Ubaldo Jimenez drew a five-game suspension from MLB for drilling Troy Tulowitzki on Sunday, but he's apparently going to appeal. Thus, we believe he'll be able to make Saturday's scheduled start against the Jays. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Don't think I'd use him there in mixers. Ubaldo posted a 7.43 ERA over 23.0 innings this spring, allowing 30 hits and 15 walks, striking out 15 batters and hitting two.

Brett Anderson threw a 40-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, mixing in a few sliders and curves. He's recovering from TJ surgery, and could make a useful cameo appearance in the second half. Consider a DL stash, if you have the room. Remember, your DL slots are roster positions, just like your bench spots. Don't leave 'em unoccupied.

According to multiple reports, Frank Francisco (knee, velocity) should be ready for opening day. Not sure if that's good or bad news, but there it is.

From our friends at Fantasy Pros, here's a collection of Bold Predictions for 2012, with input from a distinguished panel of fantasy analysts. Please enjoy responsibly.

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