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Bits: Allen Craig returns; Hochevar lit up

5/2/2012

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Allen Craig made his season debut Tuesday, hitting a pair of singles in four at-bats, with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. Craig missed all of April recovering from knee surgery but looks like the same guy who hit .315 with 11 home runs and five steals in 200 at-bats last year. While Lance Berkman should resume first-base duties soon, look for Craig to start at least a few games per week at various spots.

Kansas City Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar allowed 12 hits, three walks and an awful nine earned runs over four messy innings Tuesday, upping his ERA to 7.36. Hochevar, a trendy sleeper this season after winning 11 games with a 1.28 WHIP last season, had allowed three runs over his previous two starts, but the Tigers scored five in the first inning Tuesday. Hochevar remains too risky to rely on in mixed formats.

• Another sleeper, Colorado Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, was lit up Tuesday for the second consecutive outing, as he allowed 11 hits, four walks and seven earned runs over 4 2/3 innings. Chacin boasted a 3.16 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and excellent strikeout rate at the All-Star break last year; since then, he has posted a 5.02 ERA, with just three wins in 18 starts. Look elsewhere for pitching help.

New York Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes might have saved his spot in the rotation with a decent outing Tuesday against Baltimore. Hughes allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings, but only four hits and one walk, and he fanned six. With left-hander Andy Pettitte close to returning to the Yankees' staff, Hughes needs to improve soon. This was his longest outing of the season in five starts, and the first time he had more innings pitched than hits allowed, so at least there was some positive.

• Oft-discussed Seattle Mariners designated hitter Jesus Montero had four hits in Tuesday's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, but he also played his seventh game at catcher. Montero, a DH only for ESPN standard leagues, could earn added catcher eligibility this weekend. In addition, it's worth noting that as a DH this season he's hitting .197 in 61 at-bats. As a catcher, including Tuesday, he's hitting .541 in 23 at-bats. Now is the time to acquire this future star.