Two struggling sluggers, both former University of California-Berkeley stars, were released by their teams Wednesday.
The Detroit Tigers cut outfielder Brennan Boesch in a move that will save the team $1.9 million, while the Toronto Blue Jays released first baseman David Cooper.
Boesch, 27, signed a one-year, $2.3 million contract with the Tigers in January. He'll receive one-sixth of that amount, or approximately $383,000. as he hits the free agent market.
The Tigers apparently are turning to Andy Dirks as their left fielder after Boesch struggled last season, batting .240 with 12 homers and 54 RBI. In 2011, Boesch hit .283 with 16 homers.
MLB.com reported that the Houston Astros might be interested in signing the left-handed-hitting Boesch.
CBSSports.com first reported the release of Cooper. The 2008 first-round draft pick finished the 2012 season on the disabled list because of a back injury that has continued to bother him this spring. It's possible that the back problems may cause him to miss most of the 2013 season.
Cooper, 26, hit .300 with four homers and 11 RBI in 45 games for the Blue Jays last season.
The New York Post reported that the New York Yankees may have interest in Cooper as a replacement for injured first baseman Mark Teixeira.
--Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg will start Opening Day for the second consecutive year when the Nationals face the Miami Marlins at home on April 1.
Manager Davey Johnson announced that Strasburg is getting the nod over Gio Gonzalez, who led the National League with 21 wins last season and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
The 24-year-old Strasburg was shut down by the Nationals near the end of the 2012 season during the team's playoff run after pitching 159 1/3 innings. The controversial move was made over concerns about his arm in his first season back after Tommy John elbow surgery.
Despite the early end to his season, the hard-throwing Strasburg finished with a 15-6 record and a 3.16 ERA and averaged 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Nationals have said Strasburg has no inning restrictions this season.
--The Kansas City Royals are moving right-hander Luke Hochevar from a starting role to the bullpen.
The Royals made another move with their pitching staff, releasing right-hander Guillermo Moscoco. Kansas City picked up Moscoco off waivers from the Colorado Rockies in November.
Among the candidates to replace Hochevar, 29, in the rotation are Bruce Chen and Luis Mendoza.
--Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker wants to know soon whether left-hander Aroldis Chapman will be a starter or closer this season.
"I don't like having guys in the middle," Baker said, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. "That's a bad situation when you're in the middle of anything. An unknown. Then everybody else is in an unknown situation. That's unfair to him or us -- the situation he's been put in. He was in that same situation last year.
If Baker had his druthers, the hard-throwing Chapman would be the Reds' closer. In that role last season, Chapman logged 38 saves and a 5-5 record with 23 walks and 122 strikeouts in 68 games. The 25-year-old Chapman and right-hander Mike Leake, a starter last year, are vying for a spot in the rotation in spring training. Each will start a split-squad game Saturday.
--Cleveland Indians reliever Frank Herrmann underwent reconstructive surgery on his right elbow and will miss the 2013 season.
Herrmann, 29, developed elbow soreness early in spring training and was shut down after an outing against Oakland on Feb. 25 in Phoenix. Herrmann spent a majority of last season with triple-A Columbus. In the past three years with the Indians, Herrman pitched 120 1/3 innings with a 4-1 record and a 4.26 ERA in middle relief.