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Bits: Ramon Hernandez off to roaring start

4/1/2011

&#8226 Cincinnati Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez was Thursday's offensive star, smacking a three-run home run among his four hits to beat the Milwaukee Brewers. Hernandez, owned in just 2.8 percent of ESPN standard mixed leagues, hits for average, homered seven times in 313 at-bats a year ago and is underrated for multi-catcher formats.

&#8226 Speaking of catchers, those hoping that Los Angeles Angels hotshot rookie Hank Conger would get regular playing time didn't enjoy defensive-minded backstop Jeff Mathis hitting a home run and a double Thursday. Mathis, who has a career .311 slugging percentage, won't keep this up, but Conger's demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake was likely accelerated.

&#8226 Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez homered in his first at-bat Thursday, then later walked and stole a base. While we all love the power, the fact that Gomez took a free pass should not be ignored. Gomez walked just 17 times in 318 plate appearances in 2010, actually raising his career rate. He should play over recent acquisition Nyjer Morgan, but he needs to show consistent plate discipline -- and power -- if he is to ever emerge as a star.

&#8226 Reds right-hander Edinson Volquez served up the Gomez home run, along with those to Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun, in an erratic six-inning performance. Even when Volquez won 17 games with a 3.21 ERA in 2008, he wasn't among the league leaders with a 1.32 WHIP, but at least he allowed only 14 home runs. If giving up home runs is a new trend, success will be difficult to achieve.

&#8226 San Diego Padres right-hander Tim Stauffer, an unlikely Opening Day starter owned in fewer than 10 percent of ESPN standard leagues, allowed two runs over six innings in St. Louis on Thursday. Stauffer, a former No. 4 overall pick in 2003, had a breakthrough 2010, including a 1.83 ERA over seven starts. Fantasy owners shouldn't view Thursday's outing as a fluke.