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  • MLB notebook: Rangers' Darvish gets Opening Day nod
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Right-hander Yu Darvish will be the Opening Day starter for the Texas Rangers, manager Jeff Banister announced Saturday.

    • Darvish, 30, will face the Cleveland Indians on April 3 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, becoming the ninth different Opening Day starter for the Rangers in the past nine years.

      It will be the first Opening Day start for Darvish with the Rangers, although he did it five times in Japan. He was named the Opening Day starter in 2014 but was sidelined by neck stiffness and started the season on the disabled list.

      "We feel he is in a great place," Banister said from spring training in Surprise, Ariz. "We have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball opening the season for us. Physically and mentally, he's just in a tremendous position. He knows what he means to this club. You look at him and see a mentally focused and driven human being to who wants to be the best pitcher on the planet."

      Darvish is heading into his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 17, 2015. He was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts last season.

      --The Rangers reached an agreement with second baseman Rougned Odor on a six-year, $49.5 million extension, according to multiple media reports.

      The deal also includes an option for a seventh year.

      Odor, 23, was not eligible for arbitration this offseason. He already agreed to a $563,180 contract for 2017.

      Odor, who played for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, hit .271 with 33 home runs, 88 RBIs, 89 runs and 14 stolen bases in 150 games last season.

      --Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost officially named left-hander Danny Duffy to be his Opening Day starter.

      Duffy, 28, will make his first Opening Day start when the Royals travel to Minnesota to face Twins on April 3.

      Yost also announced Saturday that the full rotation would be Duffy, right-hander Ian Kennedy, righty Jason Hammel, left-hander Jason Vargas and right-hander Nathan Karns.

      Duffy just returned from the World Baseball Classic on Friday with a gold medal for Team USA. He became the ace of the staff in 2016 after starting the season in the bullpen. He was 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 42 appearances (26 starts).

      --Starting pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox reported improved strength in his ailing left arm.

      Price, who has not thrown off a mound since experiencing pain and swelling after throwing a simulated game on Feb. 28, played catch on Saturday.

      "It felt good, it felt normal," Price told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a good day."

      Boston manager John Farrell noted that the strength level in Price's arm matched the level at which he arrived at training camp.

      "We felt like he was improved to the point of initiating more throwing," Farrell said. "(It's) just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and we'll continue in this phase for a period of time."

      The 31-year-old Price will begin the season on the disabled list and Farrell acknowledged there is no timetable for ratcheting up the left-hander's throwing program.

      --Even though Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus has been playing in spring training games as a designated hitter, he expects to begin the season on the disabled list.

      Rasmus told the Tampa Bay Times that he still cannot run well enough to play in the field because he has considerable discomfort as a result of the hip and core muscle repair surgery he underwent.

      "We've been trying to progress up to that point, but it's probably looking like I'm going to start on the DL," Rasmus told the newspaper. "It's not nothing major but I don't feel that I'm ready to run something down in the gap for nine innings. I've been doing a lot of outfield work and it feels pretty good, but I don't think I'm quite to that point yet."

      Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year deal with the Rays as a free agent in January after hitting .206 with 15 home runs for the Houston Astros last season.

  • Rays OF Rasmus expects to start season on DL
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Even though Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus has been playing in spring training games as a designated hitter, he said on Saturday that he expects to begin the season on the disabled list.

    • Rasmus told the Tampa Bay Times that he still cannot run well enough to play in the field because he has considerable discomfort as a result of the hip and core muscle repair surgery he underwent.

      "We've been trying to progress up to that point, but it's probably looking like I'm going to start on the DL," Rasmus told the Times. "It's not nothing major but I don't feel that I'm ready to run something down in the gap for nine innings.

      "I've been doing a lot of outfield work and it feels pretty good, but I don't think I'm quite to that point yet."

      Rasmus might miss only six games.

      "We'll just have to see how it goes day by day," he said. "I had hoped that I would be able to maybe DH, but that's not what they're looking for me to do."

      With Rasmus' status uncertain, outfielder Mallex Smith probably will make the Opening Day roster, and he might be the starter in left field.

      Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year deal with the Rays as a free agent in January after hitting .206 with 15 home runs for the Houston Astros last season.

  • MLB roundup: Sandoval homers, continues strong spring for Red Sox
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run home run off Blake Snell as a split squad of Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-5, in Port Charlotte Fla. Sandoval, who is trying to win the Red Sox third base job, hit his fourth home run of the spring and is batting .353. Snell continued his rocky spring by allowing four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings to raise his ERA to 6.16.

    • Mets 3, Braves 0

      Rafael Montero continued strong spring by allowing four hits in five innings as New York blanked Atlanta in Kissimmee, Fla. Montero lowered his spring ERA to 1.96 while Michael Conforto homered for the Mets. Atlanta's R.A. Dickey allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.

      Yankees 6, Blue Jays 5

      Pete Kozma hit the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning as New York capitalized on four Toronto errors in Tampa Fla. Greg Bird hit his seventh home run of the spring for New York. Ryan Goins and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit home runs off Yankees' starter Adam Warren.

      Pirates 5, Tigers 4

      Adam Frazier and Austin Meadows hit solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and Pittsburgh edged Detroit in Bradenton, Fla. Tyler Collins hit a three-run home run for Detroit. Anibal Sanchez pitched six hitless innings before Jose Osuna ended Detroit's no-hit bid with a single in the seventh.

      Phillies 3, Red Sox 3 (ss)

      Chris Coghlan hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth and Philadelphia tied a split Boston squad in Fort Myers, Fla. Jackie Bradley Jr. homered for Boston, while Coghlan also added another sacrifice fly. Boston's Kyle Kendrick continued his case to be the fifth starter spot by allowing two runs and eight hits in six innings.

      Marlins 1, Cardinals 0

      Derek Dietrich's RBI double in the fourth inning accounted for the run in Miami's victory over St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla. St. Louis used six pitchers as Lance Lynn pitched a hitless first inning. Miami's Justin Nicolino allowed three hits in five innings.

      Nationals 4, Astros 1

      Tanner Roark returned from the World Baseball Classic and pitched 5 1/3 innings in Washington's victory over Houston in West Palm Beach, Fla. Roark allowed one run and three hits while striking out five. Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. allowed four runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.

  • Royals tab Duffy for Opening Day
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost officially named left-hander Danny Duffy to be his Opening Day starter.

    • Duffy, 28, will make his first Opening Day start when the Royals travel to Minnesota to face Twins on April 3.

      Yost also announced Saturday that the full rotation would be Duffy, right-hander Ian Kennedy, righty Jason Hammel, left-hander Jason Vargas and right-hander Nathan Karns.

      "With what Danny did last year and this spring, we feel he has earned this," Yost said from spring training in Surprise, Ariz. "We knew this was the direction we were going to go weeks before we even showed up at spring training."

      Duffy just returned from the World Baseball Classic on Friday with a gold medal for Team USA.

      "This week hasn't sucked, man," Duffy said, smiling. "Been a lot of fun. Obviously, it means a lot to get this start. I've worked really hard to get to this point. I'm really honored. There's five of us capable of doing this, and the fact that they chose me means a lot. Very humbled by it."

      Duffy became the ace of the staff in 2016 after starting the season in the bullpen. He was 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 42 appearances (26 starts).

  • Darvish gets Opening Day nod for Rangers
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Right-hander Yu Darvish will be the Opening Day starter for the Texas Rangers, manager Jeff Banister announced Saturday.

    • Darvish, 30, will face the Cleveland Indians on April 3 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, becoming the ninth different Opening Day starter for the Rangers in the past nine years.

      It will be the first Opening Day start for Darvish with the Rangers, although he did it five times in Japan. He was named the Opening Day starter in 2014 but was sidelined by neck stiffness and started the season on the disabled list.

      "We feel he is in a great place," Banister said from spring training in Surprise, Ariz. "We have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball opening the season for us. Physically and mentally, he's just in a tremendous position. He knows what he means to this club. You look at him and see a mentally focused and driven human being to who wants to be the best pitcher on the planet."

      Darvish has made four starts in the Cactus League this spring, recording a 2.84 ERA while holding opponents to a .216 batting average.

      "I've had a very good spring training," Darvish said Friday after he pitched in a minor league game and allowed one earned run in six innings. "I am confident for the season and can't wait to get started."

      Darvish is heading into his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 17, 2015. He was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts last season.

  • Ailing Red Sox LHP Price says arm is stronger
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Starting pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox reported improved strength in his ailing left arm.

    • Price, who has not thrown off a mound since experiencing pain and swelling after throwing a simulated game on Feb. 28, played catch on Saturday.

      "It felt good, it felt normal," Price told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a good day."

      Boston manager John Farrell noted that the strength level in Price's arm matched the level at which he arrived at training camp.

      "We felt like he was improved to the point of initiating more throwing," Farrell said. "(It's) just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and we'll continue in this phase for a period of time."

      The 31-year-old Price will begin the season on the disabled list and Farrell acknowledged there is no timetable for ratcheting up the left-hander's throwing program.

      Price plans to travel with the team at the start of the regular season, as there are no plans for him to remain in extended spring training.

      Instead, he will head out to one of the team's minor-league affiliates when he is ready to begin a rehab assignment.

      In 2016, Price posted a 17-9 record with a 3.99 ERA and 228 strikeouts over 230 innings -- his first of a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox.

  • Rangers re-sign 2B Odor for 6 years, $49.5 million
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    The Texas Rangers reached an agreement with second baseman Rougned Odor on a six-year, $49.5 million extension, according to multiple media reports Saturday.

    • The deal also includes an option for a seventh year.

      Odor, 23, was not eligible for arbitration this offseason. He already agreed to a $563,180 contract for 2017.

      Odor, who played for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, hit .271 with 33 home runs, 88 RBIs, 89 runs and 14 stolen bases in 150 games last season.

      For his career since being called up by the Rangers in 2014, Odor is batting .265 with 58 home runs with 197 RBIs and 182 runs.

  • MLB roundup: Angels pitchers toss combined no-hitter
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Right-hander Bud Norris pitched two hitless innings and seven relievers followed suit with one inning apiece as Los Angeles tossed a combined no-hitter in a 4-0 victory against Seattle at Tempe, Ariz.

    • The only Mariners to reach base were Jean Segura on catcher's interference in the fourth inning and Zach Shank on a walk in the sixth. Danny Espinosa drilled a two-run double in the second inning for the Angels, while Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout recorded run-scoring doubles in the third.

      Indians 4, Cubs 2

      Chris Colabello hit a two-run homer and Giovanny Urshela added a solo shot as Cleveland posted a victory over Chicago in a matchup of last season's two World Series combatants at Mesa, Ariz.

      Daniel Robertson added a run-scoring single and right-hander Carlos Carrasco pitched three innings of one-hit shutout ball for the Indians. Ian Happ hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the Cubs, who won last season's postseason clash.

      Tigers 3, Braves 2 (10)

      JaCoby Jones delivered the winning single with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Detroit over Atlanta at Lakeland, Fla. Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd bolstered his bid to win a rotation spot by tossing five innings of three-hit scoreless ball. Braves right-hander Julio Teheran gave up two runs and five hits in six innings.

      Yankees 3, Phillies 2

      Wilkin Castillo bashed the game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth and scored on Trey Amburgey's two-out single as New York rallied to defeat Philadelphia at Tampa, Fla. Right-hander Luis Severino struck out five in three perfect innings of relief for the Yankees. Freddy Galvis had a two-run single for the Phillies, and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson allowed one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

      Cardinals 3, Nationals (ss) 1

      Right-hander Michael Wacha improved to 3-0 on the spring by pitching five innings of two-hit shutout ball to lead St. Louis past Washington at West Palm Beach, Fla. Dexter Fowler hit an RBI triple and Greg Garcia had a run-scoring single for the Cardinals. Jayson Werth singled in the Nationals' run and right-handed starter Jeremy Guthrie pitched 4 1/3 no-hit innings.

      Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 2

      Jose Bautista and Deon Travis each recorded a run-scoring double as Toronto edged Boston at Dunedin, Fla. Troy Tulowitzki added a run-scoring single and left-hander J.A. Happ allowed one earned run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays. Bryce Brentz clubbed a two-run homer for the Red Sox.

      Pirates 4, Rays 0

      Right-hander Trevor Williams allowed three hits over five shutout innings as Pittsburgh blanked Tampa Bay in Bradenton, Fla. Phil Gosselin went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Pirates. Daniel Robertson had two of the Rays' four hits.

      Astros 2, Mets 0

      Reid Brignac had an RBI single and J.D. Davis slugged a pinch-hit homer as Houston blanked New York at Port St. Lucie, Fla. Derek Fisher stole three bases to raise his spring total to 10 for the Astros and seven pitchers combined on a five-hitter. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard allowed one run and four hits in six innings.

      Dodgers 13, Diamondbacks 6

      Bobby Wilson smashed a two-run homer to help Los Angeles roll past Arizona at Glendale, Ariz. Logan Forsythe, Yasmani Grandal and Scott Van Slyke also drove in two runs apiece for the Dodgers. Reymond Fuentes went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs for the Diamondbacks.

      Athletics 8, White Sox 2

      Chris Parmelee reached base three times and had two RBIs to help Oakland cruise past Chicago at Mesa, Ariz. Ryon Healy added a two-run homer for the Athletics while right-hander Kendall Graveman allowed one run and five hits in seven innings. Chicago right-hander Zach Putnam retired just one batter while being charged with five first-inning runs.

      Reds 12, Brewers 11

      Arismendy Alcantara hit a two-run double to center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Cincinnati over Milwaukee at Goodyear, Ariz. Brandon Dixon drove in three runs and Zack Cozart homered among three hits for the Reds. Jesus Aguilar went 4-for-4 and scored three runs and Manny Pina slugged his fourth homer of the spring for the Brewers.

      Rangers 4, Padres 3

      Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer to help Texas defeat San Diego at Surprise, Ariz. Left-hander Martin Perez gave up three hits in five shutout innings and Delino DeShields collected two hits for the Rangers. Jamie Romak slugged a two-run homer for the Padres.

      Mariners (ss) 4, Royals 3

      Kyle Seager hit a two-run shot for his first homer of the spring as Seattle edged Kansas City at Peoria, Ariz. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma gave up one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Mariners. Jorge Soler smashed a two-run homer and Paulo Orlando hit a solo shot for the Royals.

      Giants 6, Rockies 5

      Brandon Belt delivered a three-run homer to help San Francisco defeat Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz. Denard Span had three hits and Chris Marrero hit a solo shot for the Giants. Rockies right-hander Jon Gray gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings before departing due to soreness in his left foot.

      Marlins 3, Nationals (ss) 0

      Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored as Miami blanked Washington at Jupiter, Fla. Right-hander Jose Urena struck out five and gave up three hits in four shutout innings for the Marlins. Clint Robinson had two of the Nationals' six hits.

      Orioles 5, Twins 5 (9)

      Trey Mancini smacked a tying three-run homer in the seventh inning for Baltimore in the standoff with Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla. Chris Johnson added a solo shot for the Orioles. Byron Buxton went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for the Twins.

  • MLB notebook: Pirates 3B Kang denied visa
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been denied a work visa, leaving the South Korean unable to enter the United States and his status for the 2017 season in doubt.

    • According to a Korean media news report Friday, the U.S. Embassy rejected Kang's visa application.

      Kang was convicted in South Korea earlier this month after leaving the scene of a DUI accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. He received a suspended eight-month jail sentence and recently filed an appeal, which will reportedly be heard in early April. It was Kang's third drunk-driving arrest in his home country after previously being charged in August 2009 and May 2011.

      Kang is also suspected of a drunk-driving offense in a country other than Korea or the U.S., according to the Korean news outlet.

      --Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez is expected to miss up to four weeks due to a right foot injury.

      Martinez was diagnosed with a sprain of the Lisfranc ligament during an examination at Charlotte, N.C. He will wear a cast for seven to 10 days before being re-evaluated.

      Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was surprised by the timetable.

      "It's longer than I thought it would be," Ausmus said after Detroit's exhibition victory over Atlanta. "No question our lineup is better with J.D. Martinez's bat in it, but we will deal with it.

      "When you think about it, it's three to four weeks from today and 10 days of that are while we're still in spring training. So if it goes four weeks, that's only 2 1/2, three weeks of missed time in season."

      --Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon could open the season on the disabled list after he was scratched from his Friday start due to left biceps tightness.

      Rodon was scheduled for an MRI exam.

      "It's too early to speculate how long we'll be without Carlos," general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com. "Since we are slowing down his schedule by having him miss a start today, the odds are probably that he'll start the season on the DL."

  • White Sox LHP Rodon (biceps) slated for MRI
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon could open the season on the disabled list after he was scratched from his start on Friday due to left biceps tightness.

    • Rodon was scheduled for an MRI on Friday.

      "It's too early to speculate how long we'll be without Carlos," general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com. "Since we are slowing down his schedule by having him miss a start today, the odds are probably that he'll start the season on the DL."

      Rodon made his first exhibition start on Sunday, pitching five scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels and allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five.

      Hahn said Rodon felt some tightness in his upper left biceps on Thursday and was examined by team doctors. Hahn said while "it appears there is nothing structural," the team wants to cautious.

      The 24-year-old Rodon owns an 18-16 mark with a 3.90 ERA in 54 appearances (51 starts) over parts of two seasons with the White Sox.

  • Tigers OF Martinez sidelined with foot injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez is expected to miss up to four weeks due to a right foot injury.

    • Martinez was diagnosed with a sprain of the Lisfranc ligament on Friday during an examination at Charlotte, N.C. He will wear a cast for seven to 10 days before being re-evaluated.

      Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was surprised by the timetable.

      "It's longer than I thought it would be," Ausmus said after Detroit's exhibition victory over Atlanta. "No question our lineup is better with J.D. Martinez's bat in it, but we will deal with it.

      "When you think about it, it's three to four weeks from today and 10 days of that are while we're still in spring training. So if it goes four weeks, that's only 2 1/2, three weeks of missed time in season."

      Martinez, 29, batted .307 with 22 homers and 68 RBIs last season. He established career highs for homers (38) and RBIs (102) in 2015 when he was a member of the American League All-Star team.

  • Pirates' Kang denied visa to enter U.S.
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been denied a work visa, leaving the South Korean unable to enter the United States and his status for the 2017 season in doubt.

    • According to a Korean media news report Friday, the U.S. Embassy rejected Kang's visa application.

      Kang was convicted in South Korea earlier this month after leaving the scene of a DUI accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. He received a suspended eight-month jail sentence and recently filed an appeal, which will reportedly be heard in early April. It was Kang's third drunk-driving arrest in his home country after previously being charged in August 2009 and May 2011.

      Kang is also suspected of a drunk-driving offense in a country other than Korea or the U.S., according to the Korean news outlet.

      Pirates team president Frank Coonelly responded to the report with a statement Friday.

      "A Korean news outlet has reported on a purported development in Jung Ho Kang's effort to secure permission to travel to the United States for purposes of continuing his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates," Coonelly's statement read, "and added speculation regarding a driving incident in a 'third country.'

      "The facts, as we know them, are that Kang still has not been granted permission to travel to the United States under a work visa. We continue to work with Kang and his representatives to present materials and information to the appropriate parties in the United States government that we believe establish that Kang should be permitted to travel to the United States under a work visa and we remain hopeful that such a resolution will be reached in the near future. We have no indication that Jung Ho has had a driving incident in a country other than Korea."

      Kang has been the Pirates' starting third baseman for the last two years, and David Freese is expected to fill that role in his absence.

      Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Thursday that Kang will not be ready for the season opener on April 3.

      "We're to a point in time where it's unrealistic to think Jung Ho's going to be ready for Opening Day," Huntington said. "We remain optimistic we're going to get him here hopefully sooner than later. Now the challenge is if we don't, if it takes some time, we've built this club and feel good about the guys we have here."

      Kang finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015, after batting .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 126 games. Last season, he had 21 homers and 62 RBIs, along with a .255 batting average, in 103 games.

      Kang, who is in the third year of a four-year, $11 million contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2015, reportedly agreed to participate in an alcohol treatment program in the U.S.

      "We're focusing on the men we have here. That's the best I can tell you," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told MLB Network radio on Friday morning. "We'd love to have him back. We don't have him back. We're going to adapt, improvise and overcome."

  • MLB roundup: Wong helps Cardinals down Marlins
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Kolten Wong tripled and knocked in two runs Thursday as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 5-3 in Jupiter, Fla. Adam Wainwright allowed five hits and an earned run over four innings for the Cardinals, while Dan Straily gave up six hits and three runs in four innings for the Marlins. Dee Gordon was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Miami.

    • Twins 4, Phillies 2

      Tommy Field belted a two-run homer as Minnesota subdued Philadelphia in Clearwater, Fla. Byung Ho Park and Ehire Adrianza added RBI singles for the Twins, while Odubel Herrera cracked a two-run homer for the Phillies. Starter Aaron Nola worked 5 2/3 innings for Philadelphia, fanning six but allowing six hits and four runs.

      Nationals 1, Mets 0

      Anthony Rendon's double in the bottom of the third inning was the game's only offense as Washington blanked New York in West Palm Beach, Fla. Erick Fedde twirled five shutout innings for the Nationals, giving up just two hits and whiffing three. Robert Gsellman pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Mets, allowing four hits and an unearned run.

      Red Sox 10, Pirates 7

      Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-4 with three RBI as Boston outslugged Pittsburgh in Fort Myers, Fla. Dustin Pedroia was 3-for-3 with two runs for the Red Sox, while starter Steven Wright pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Starling Marte cracked a grand slam for the Pirates, while Alen Hanson was 1-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base.

      Yankees 5, Rays 5

      Tyler Wade stole third base and scored on Tampa Bay's fourth error of the day in the top of the ninth, enabling New York to forge a tie in Port Charlotte, Fla. Ronald Torreyes homered for the Yankees, while Jordan Montgomery fanned eight over 4 1/3 innings. Jake Bauers slashed a two-run double for the Rays and starter Austin Pruitt worked four scoreless innings.

      White Sox 4, Reds 2

      Jose Quintana breezed through seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out three in Chicago's win over Cincinnati in Glendale, Ariz. Nicky Delmonico paced the White Sox with a two-run homer and an RBI double. Taylor Trammell's two-run single in the eighth accounted for the Reds' scoring.

      Indians 8, Rockies 3

      Corey Kluber fanned eight and allowed one earned run in seven innings as Cleveland beat Colorado in Goodyear, Ariz. Erik Gonzalez and Adam Moore cracked solo homers and Abraham Almonte knocked in two runs for the Indians. Rafael Ynoa belted a solo shot for the Rockies.

      Padres 6, Angels 2

      Hunter Renfroe and Jamie Romak each knocked in two runs and San Diego defeated Los Angeles in Peoria, Ariz. Ryan Schimpf drilled a solo homer for the Padres. Luis Perdomo allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. Ricky Nolasco worked 6 1/3 innings for the Angels, yielding two runs and five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

      Athletics 15, Brewers 5

      Yonder Alonso homered twice as Oakland walloped Milwaukee in Mesa, Ariz. Trevor Plouffe and Max Schrock also went yard for the Athletics, which collected 18 hits and led 12-0 after four innings. All 12 runs were charged to Brewers starter Junior Guerra, who gave up 10 hits and saw his spring ERA soar to 5.93.

      Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 5

      Chicago starter Jake Arrieta homered and lasted five innings on the mound against Arizona in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tommy La Stella also belted a homer for the Cubs. Jake Lamb and Oswaldo Arcia each homered for the Diamondbacks. Zack Greinke allowed six hits and three runs in five innings for Arizona, walking two and whiffing four.

      Dodgers 10, Rangers 2

      Clayton Kershaw fanned 11 batters and allowed only two hits over six scoreless innings in Los Angeles' rout of Texas at Surprise, Ariz. Chase Utley and Rob Segedin each homered for the Dodgers, who scored in each of the first four innings and pounded out 13 hits. Drew Robinson's two-run homer in the ninth enabled the Rangers to avoid a shutout.

      Mariners 9, Giants 2

      Felix Hernandez allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings, and Seattle routed San Francisco at Scottsdale, Ariz. Ben Gamel hit a two-run homer for the Mariners. Giants starter Matt Moore was tagged for four runs on four hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.

  • Kinsler clarifies Latin America comments
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler told ESPN that "everyone should be celebrated" after his two-run homer ignited Team USA to an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic.

    • Kinsler's comments on Wednesday came one day after his quote to the New York Times regarding the passionate play of Latin American teams drew criticism over social media.

      The 34-year-old was asked about what the American team reaching the title game would do for popularity of the World Baseball Classic in the United States.

      "I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays," Kinsler said. "That's not taking anything away from them. That just wasn't the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way."

      Kinsler elaborated on his view Wednesday, admitting that flair and style are positive for the game.

      "What I said was that American kids can watch American players play, Puerto Rican kids can watch Puerto Rican players play, Venezuelan kids can watch Venezuelan guys play, and that's who they emulate," Kinsler said. "That's who they watch. That's who they want to be like. There's nothing wrong with an American kid watching a Puerto Rican player and wanting to be like them, or a Puerto Rican kid watching an American player and wanting to play that way.

      "You should play the way you want, and the way you feel will put you in the best position to win -- the way you feel the best and perform the best. Everybody is different. I play differently than a lot of my teammates on this team; I play with a little more emotion than most players during the season. Everybody has their own style! That's all I was saying."

  • Cubs' Epstein named World's Greatest Leader
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Theo Epstein was tabbed World's Greatest Leader by Fortune magazine, which published its annual list on Thursday morning.

    • The Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations found himself atop a list that included Alibaba founder Jack Ma (No. 2), Pope Francis (No. 3), Melinda Gates (No. 4) and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (No. 5).

      LeBron James was the next greatest leader, according to the magazine. The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar is listed at No. 11 on the list.

      "The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles," Fortune wrote of its decision to select Epstein. "... But most important of all was the evolution of the club's president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he'd had with the Boston Red Sox."

      Epstein did his best to put his gaudy new "title" in perspective in a text to ESPN's Buster Olney.

      "Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house. That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous," Epstein wrote. "It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If (Ben) Zobrist's ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

      Epstein, 43, previously built the 2004 Red Sox team that ended that club's 86-year championship drought before guiding the club to another title in 2007.

      He took over in Chicago ahead of the 2012 season, and the Cubs endured three more losing years before making the playoffs in 2015.

      Chicago took a major step up the following season, going a baseball-best 103-58 before besting the Cleveland Indians in seven games to end the club's 108-year World Series title drought.

  • Stroman, USA shut down Puerto Rico to win WBC
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- That's Stroman, as in no-no-man.

    • Marcus Stroman avenged a loss to Puerto Rico by taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the United States used a two-run homer by Ian Kinsler and two RBIs apiece by Brandon Crawford and Andrew McCutchen for an 8-0 victory in the World Baseball Classic final on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

      Stroman gave up a walk to Carlos Beltran in the second inning and retired 14 in a row before Angel Pagan lined an opposite-field double down the left field line to open the seventh inning. The U.S. led 7-0 at that point.

      Manager Jim Leyland then removed Stroman, who received a thunderous ovation from the crowd of 51,565. The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander was greeted with hugs in the dugout as the U.S. won in its first appearance in the title game in the fourth WBC.

      "I love pitching in these moments," Stroman said. "I love the atmosphere. I feel like the bigger the game, the more I'm able to get up, the more effective I am. I truly try to pride myself on being a big-game pitcher. I'll be back in four years to defend the title."

      Kinsler's two-run homer off Seth Lugo broke a scoreless tie in the third inning, and Christian Yelich and McCutchen had run-scoring singles in the fifth.

      Crawford hit a two-run single and Giancarlo Stanton had an RBI single in the seventh inning. McCutchen drove in the final run with an infield single in the eighth.

      "It is a very special moment," said Leyland, who won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997. "We got through it totally healthy, totally happy, and we are the winners. We had the right players. We had the players that wanted to be here. All these teams are really good, and we beat them all."

      Puerto Rico, which outscored its opponents 55-18 while winning its first seven games, beat Stroman and the United States 6-5 in the second round Friday.

      Stroman, named the tournament MVP, struck out three and walked one while throwing 73 pitches. He finished with a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings during the tournament.

      Sam Dyson, Pat Neshek and David Robertson each threw a scoreless inning to complete the United States' three-hit shutout.

      Pagan had two hits.

      "I think the best two teams were out there tonight, and they beat us in all phases of the game," Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "They're loaded with All-Star players. They came out today to play. They outpitched us. They outscored us. They outhit us. I mean, it was a great game."

      Crawford was 10-for-26 (.385) with three doubles and six RBIs in eight WBC games. Yelich had two hits Wednesday and finished 9-for-29 (.310).

      "I think it makes it more special that America hadn't done it before," Crawford said.

      Jonathan Lucroy singled to open the third inning before Kinsler hit an 0-1 fastball to left-center field for his first homer of the WBC. Center fielder Enrique Hernandez leaped at the fence but did not have a play.

      The United States hit three homers off Lugo in their two meetings. Buster Posey and Adam Jones hit bases-empty homers in Puerto Rico's 6-5 victory in the second round at Petco Park in San Diego.

      Lugo, who had victories in each of the first two rounds, gave up five hits and four runs in four-plus innings. He struck out seven and walked four.

      NOTES: The all-tournament team was Puerto Rico C Yadier Molina, U.S. 1B Eric Hosmer, Puerto Rico 2B Javier Baez, Puerto Rico SS Francisco Lindor, Puerto Rico 3B Carlos Correa, U.S. LF Christian Yelich, Dominican Republic CF Gregory Polanco, Netherlands RF Wladimir Balentien, U.S. RHP Marcus Stroman, Japan RHP Kodai Senga and Israel RHP Josh Zeid. Molina, Hosmer and Balentien were unanimous selections. ... The Puerto Rican team gathered outside the dugout and took a knee afterward. Then led by Molina, the squad walked en masse toward the celebrating U.S. players, tipped their caps and applauded. ... U.S. CF Adam Jones said the team had extra motivation: "Before the game, we heard there were some championship T-shirts made, and we didn't make them." ... During pregame introductions, Puerto Rico's starters removed their caps and brought their hands to their heads to display their newly blond hair. Clean-head Carlos Beltran brought his hand to his bleached beard. The players changed hair color during training as a show of team unity. ... Puerto Rico won three of the previous five meetings against the United States in the WBC. Puerto Rico eliminated the U.S. in 2013 with a 4-3 victory in the second round of pool play.

  • Former MLB manager Green dead at 82
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Dallas Green, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980, died on Wednesday. He was 82.

    • The Phillies confirmed the news on Twitter, but a cause of death was not given.

      "The game lost a great baseball man today," Phillies chairman David Montgomery said. "Dallas held many different positions in baseball, and his passion and love for the game was evident in every role he played.

      "He was a big man with a big heart and a bigger-than-life personality. Having known Dallas since 1971, he was one of my first phone calls upon becoming Phillies president because of his perspective and advice. All of us at the Phillies had tremendous respect for Dallas as a baseball man and friend. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Sylvia, and his children, Dana, John, Kim and Doug."

      Green, who was originally signed by Philadelphia in 1955 out of Delaware, worked as a player, manager, coach, farm director, general manager and team president with the club.

      After serving as the skipper of the Phillies for three seasons (1979-81), Green joined the Chicago Cubs as the general manager and executive vice president from 1982-87. He also managed the New York Yankees in 1989 and the Mets from 1993-1996.

      Green posted a 20-22 career mark with a 4.62 ERA in 185 appearances with the Phillies, Washington Senators and Mets.

  • MLB roundup: Cardinals beat Scherzer, Nationals
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, back from an issue with a knuckle on his ring finger, made his first Grapefruit League outing of the spring and took the loss Wednesday in a 6-1 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals at Jupiter, Fla.

    • Scherzer allowed two runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Matt Carpenter drove in four runs for St. Louis and right-hander Carlos Martinez tossed five innings of three-hit shutout ball.

      Yankees 7, Phillies 3

      Greg Bird drilled two homers to raise his spring total to six and drove in five runs as New York defeated Philadelphia at Clearwater, Fla. Masahiro Tanaka pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings of three-hit ball to improve to 3-0 for the Yankees.

      Reds 5, Cubs 2 (five innings)

      Adam Duvall slugged a two-run homer to spark a five-run fourth inning as Cincinnati beat Chicago in a rain-shortened game at Goodyear, Ariz. Scott Feldman allowed two runs and three hits while pitching all five innings for the Reds. Kyle Schwarber slammed a two-run homer in the fifth for the Cubs' runs.

      Blue Jays 5, Tigers 4

      Toronto's Shane Opitz smacked a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Toronto past Detroit at Dunedin, Fla. Dominic Ficociello hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to give Detroit a 4-2 lead.

      Marlins 15, Mets 9

      Tyler Moore homered twice and drove in four runs as Miami outlasted New York in a slugfest at Port St. Lucie, Fla. J.T. Realmuto had three hits and Matt den Dekker drove in three runs for the Marlins while Curtis Granderson had two homers and five RBIs for the Mets.

      Astros 8, Twins 4

      Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer and George Springer smashed his first homer of the spring as Houston knocked off Minnesota at West Palm Beach, Fla. Twins starter Phil Hughes was roughed up for six runs (five earned) and nine hits in two innings.

      Orioles 7, Rays 4

      Chance Frisco slammed a three-run tiebreaking blast in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Baltimore over Tampa Bay at Sarasota, Fla. Pedro Alvarez had a pair of hits and scored twice for the Orioles while Colby Rasmus clubbed a two-run homer for the Rays.

      Giants 6, Brewers 4

      Jae-Gyun Hwang hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning and Denard Span belted a two-run shot in the third as San Francisco knocked off Milwaukee at Phoenix. Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar hit a two-run homer off Giants starter Matt Cain, who allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings.

      Rangers 7, Angels (ss) 4

      Delino DeShields stole two bases in Texas' three-run first inning to improve to 9-for-9 in the spring and James Loney capped the uprising with a two-run double as Texas prevailed over Los Angeles at Tempe, Ariz. Mike Trout hammered his first homer of the spring and scored twice for the Angels.

      Angels (ss) 9, Mariners 8

      Ben Revere went 3-for-3 with a walk and his first homer of the spring to pace Los Angeles, which built a 7-0 lead at Peoria, Ariz., before holding off Seattle's rally. Jean Segura belted a two-run homer for the Mariners, who scored all their runs in the sixth through eighth innings.

      Royals 6, Padres 2

      Cheslor Cuthbert homered and had three RBIs in Kansas City's win at Surprise, Ariz., including a two-run double in the first inning off San Diego's Jered Weaver. Weaver lasted only two-thirds of an inning and allowed four runs and three hits, pushing his spring ERA to 10.13.

      Athletics 5, White Sox 3

      Stephen Vogt delivered a two-run double in the first inning and Matt Joyce had a two-run single in the second as Oakland defeated Chicago at Glendale, Ariz. Yolmer Sanchez homered and Melky Cabrera doubled and had two RBIs for the White Sox.

      Rockies 10, Indians 2

      Kyle Freeland allowed one run in five innings and delivered a two-run single and Colorado rocked Cleveland starter Danny Salazar for seven runs in five innings during an easy victory at Scottsdale, Ariz. Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story each went 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Rockies.

  • Twins RHP May undergoes Tommy John surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Minnesota Twins right-hander Trevor May underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow on Wednesday.

    • Left-hander Craig Breslow was added to the roster in place of May, who was put on the 60-day disabled list. The rehab process traditionally takes approximately 12 months, which means May could be ready for Opening Day 2018.

      The 27-year-old May was bidding to make a return to the starting rotation after moving to the bullpen during the 2015 season. He sustained the injury while pitching against Team USA in an exhibition game on March 8.

      May posted a 2-2 record with a 5.27 ERA in 44 relief appearances last season with Minnesota. He owns a 13-17 career mark with a 5.14 ERA in 102 games played (25 starts) -- all with the Twins.

      Breslow, 36, went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 relief appearances last season with the Boston Red Sox. He owns a 22-29 career mark with eight saves and a 3.35 ERA in 539 games played (two starts) while playing for seven different teams.

  • Mid-spring snapshot: Farm report for all 30 teams
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    As spring training begins to wind down, teams are finalizing their assessments of their top prospects. Many youngsters are headed back to the minors for further seasoning, while some will crack Opening Day rosters.

    • Here is a mid-spring farm report for each team as determined by The Sports Xchange's national network of baseball correspondents.

      NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

      ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

      Left-hander Anthony Banda, the only D-back listed in Baseball America's preseason top 100 prospects, made two scoreless relief appearances in spring training, striking out five and giving up one hit and one walk in four innings before being reassigned to minor league camp. Obtained by Kevin Towers in the 2014 trading deadline deal that sent Gerardo Parra to Milwaukee, Banda had a 2.88 ERA in 26 starts evenly split between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, and he could be ready to contribute shortly. Right-hander Jimmy Sherfy, 25, had two saves in three scoreless spring appearances and leads with a mid-90 mph fastball.

      COLORADO ROCKIES

      Shortstop/second baseman Brendon Rodgers, 20, possibly reaches the majors in 2019 and right-hander Riley Pint, 19, the following year. The third overall pick in 2015, Rodgers, who has elite bat speed, will move up to high Single-A Lancaster after hitting .281/.342/.480 with 19 homers and 73 RBI at low Single-A Asheville. That's where Pint, the fourth overall pick last year, should pitch this season. He sits at 96-99 mph with a fastball that easily touches 100, 101 mph, good secondary stuff and, best of all, a more compact and repeatable delivery thanks to extensive offseason work.

      LOS ANGELES DODGERS

      First baseman Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers' top prospect, is hitting just .196 with a .283 slugging percentage through Sunday and will start the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. Observers consider the 21-year-old Bellinger to be the probable replacement for 1B Adrian Gonzalez, whose contract expires after next season. Right-hander Walker Buehler, 22, made the biggest impression despite not appearing in a major league game this spring. "It's elite stuff," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt told MLB.com. "The actual pitch-ability and actual stuff ranks up there pretty much with anybody." The team selected Buehler in the first round of the 2015 draft.

      SAN DIEGO PADRES

      Right-hander Cal Quantrill and left-hander Eric Lauer, two of the Padres three first-round draft picks last June, will likely open the season at Advanced Single-A Lake Elsinore with dreams of pitching in the Majors by the end of 2017. They are the leaders of a youth movement. Between the draft, trades and international signing period, the Padres added more than 80 players to their system last year. The system produced three position players this year -- catcher Austin Hedges and outfielders Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. The next wave includes relievers Phil Maton and Jose Torres and starting pitchers Dinelson Lamet and Walker Lockett but most of the best prospects start at Single-A or lower.

      SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

      Tyler Beede and Kyle Crick both pitched well enough in the spring to warrant consideration for spots in many teams' starting rotations. But not the Giants. With four front-line starters locked into position, the No. 5 spot is Matt Cain's to lose. And if he loses it, it almost certainly will go to Ty Blach, a late-season sensation in 2016. That should leave Beede and Crick battling it out at Triple-A for the honor of being the club's first in-season pitching call-up.

      NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

      CHICAGO CUBS

      With a solid core returning from a 2016 World Series championship, there's not much room for a rookie to break through. But some kids could see time with the parent club as the season progresses. INF Ian Happ is batting .400 with a .725 slugging percentage through 20 spring games. The Cubs also took a long look at top prospect Eloy Jimenez before he was assigned to Minor League camp last week. Jimenez, a 20-year-old OF, batted .321 in 16 games, with two homers and a pair of doubles.

      CINCINNATI REDS

      Left-hander Amir Garrett's bid to make the Opening Day rotation is off to a good start. In five spring starts, Garrett is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA with four earned runs allowed in 16 1/3 innings. He had 10 strikeouts and three walks. Left-hander Cody Reed, looking to rebound from a rough big-league debut last season has posted a 3.24 ERA in five appearances including three Outfielder Jesse Winker is hitting .293 with a double, homer and five RBIs in 37 at-bats.

      MILWAUKEE BREWERS

      Many of the top prospects in Milwaukee's resurgent farm system spent the last few weeks in big league camp but are now getting their assignments. Outfielder Lewis Brinson reinforced his standing as top prospect during Cactus League play but will begin the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He'll be joined there by fellow outfielders Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips, while right-hander Josh Hader, the Brewers' top pitching prospect, will anchor the Sky Sox rotation. The rebuilding Brewers figure to dip into their crop of young talent at some point, so expect to see all four in Milwaukee sooner rather than later.

      PITTSBURGH PIRATES

      Outfielder Austin Meadows, drafted ninth overall in 2013, is batting .313 with a .936 OPS .993 OPS through 32 at-bats. He dominated at Class AA Altoona but dropped off some in 37 games Class AAA Indianapolis last year. A strong start at Indy could earn him his first crack with the Pirates. ... Right-hander Tyler Glasnow, 23, looked more like a longer-term project than someone ready to be the fifth starter. In four appearances (two starts), Glasnow has a 6.10 ERA.

      ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

      A pair of young outfielders, Harrison Bader and Magneuris Sierra, have looked more advanced than their billing coming into spring training. Neither will break camp with the big club, but in Bader's case, he could be there later this summer. Bader is batting .310 with two home runs in 38 spring at-bats, showing the ability to hit to all fields and flashing occasional power. Sierra is hitting .387 with three doubles in 31 at-bats and is one of the fastest players in the organization. Sierra will need to control the strike zone a bit better to get past Double-A Springfield this year.

      NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

      ATLANTA BRAVES

      Infielder Ozzie Albies missed the first start of spring training because of the fractured elbow he suffered last September, but he quickly showed why he considered one of the Braves' top prospects. The 20-year-old speedster, who won the Double-A Southern League batting title a year ago, will start the season in Triple-A, but it will be tough to keep him there all year. The Braves envision having Dansby Swanson at shortstop and Albies at second base for many seasons to come.

      MIAMI MARLINS

      The Marlins are ranked near the bottom in terms of prospect depth and talent. The system is so barren that left-hander Braxton Barrett, last year's first-rounder, jumped to the top of their prospect list despite being a couple of years from the majors. The No. 2 prospect was right-hander Luis Castillo, who has since been traded, and the No. 3 player, right-hander Tyler Kolek, was ineffective in the low minors before elbow surgery. That leaves left-hander Dillon Peters, 24, as a possible breakthrough rookie this year. He is 15-10 with a 2.69 ERA in the minors and likely starts this year with Double-A Jacksonville.

      NEW YORK METS

      It will be a surprise if right-hander Robert Gsellman, who retains rookie eligibility after throwing 44 2/3 innings last season, doesn't spent most of 2017 in the majors. Shortstop Amed Rosario, widely viewed as one of baseball's top 10 prospects, will likely open at Double-A Binghamton after hitting .267 in Grapefruit League action and is on track to become the Mets' starter next season. First baseman Dominic Smith, whose power began developing at Binghamton last year, should start at Triple-A Las Vegas but looked farther away than Rosario after hitting .176 in 34 spring at-bats.

      PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

      Shortstop J.P. Crawford was sent to minor league camp after hitting .207 in 29 at-bats this spring but he may make his debut in 2017. Outfielder Mickey Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft reportedly added 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame and projects to start 2017 in Single-A Lakewood. Moniak doesn't turn 19 until May and is still a few years away from the major leagues. Catcher Jorge Alfaro had a brief stint with the Phillies late last season and is the only top prospect to reach the major leagues.

      WASHINGTON NATIONALS

      RHP Erick Fedde has seen time with RHP Tanner Roark on the USA roster for the World Baseball Classic and while RHP Max Scherzer works his way back from an issue with his right ring finger. Fedde could be in the mix if the Nationals need a starter at some point late in the season. Fedde was a combined 8-5 with a 3.12 ERA in 23 games at two minor league levels last year. OF Rafael Bautista, one of the game's top prospects, hit .313 before being sent to Triple-A on March 17.

      AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

      HOUSTON ASTROS

      Francis Martes is the Astros' top overall prospect and is rated by MLB.com as the fifth-best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball. He was assigned to minor league camp on March 19, two days after his best performance of the spring: three hitless innings in a split-squad game against the Red Sox. Martes posted a 1-1 record and 3.86 ERA over four appearances and seven innings this spring, and while he's just 21, his stuff and competitive fire are intriguing enough that a big-league debut this summer isn't out of the question.

      LOS ANGELES ANGELS

      First baseman Matt Thaiss, considered the Angels' second-best prospect, was productive and consistently got on base this spring. The 21-year-old Thaiss, the Angels' first-round selection in last year's draft, begins his first full season of professional baseball. Left-hander Nate Smith, 25, returns to Triple-A Salt Lake after allowing two earned runs in four innings this spring but could be recalled if the Angels' rotation has problems. Unheralded infielder David Fletcher, 22, hit .333 (9-for-27) with three doubles and four RBIs. Fletcher likely will start the season at Double-A Mobile and could be in Anaheim in two years.

      OAKLAND ATHLETICS

      All eyes were on top infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman this spring. Barreto at times appeared to be the best Athletic on the field, yet was sent to minor league camp despite a .481 batting average. Chapman, on the other hand, struggled at the plate, but remained in the mix for the 25-man major league roster. Chances are they'll begin the season as teammates at Triple-A, and in Oakland by the end of the season.

      SEATTLE MARINERS

      Outfielder Tyler O'Neill, who might push for a midseason promotion, got some valuable experience with the Canadian Olympic team. O'Neill is one of the top minor league hitters in the organization, and he did enough this spring to validate that claim. First baseman Dan Vogelbach, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last season, is getting on base at a high rate despite a low batting average and is competing to be the Opening Day first baseman.

      TEXAS RANGERS

      Drew Robinson isn't the top prospect in the organization but the 24-year-old has carved a niche for himself in spring training with his versatility. Robinson, 24, batted .257 in Triple-A last year with 20 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He's shown those flashes this spring with three homers and three steals to go along with the ability to play both the infield and corner outfield spots. The chances of him breaking camp with the Rangers are slim, but if something happens to either Jurickson Profar or Ryan Rua, Robinson is the next-best option.

      AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

      CHICAGO WHITE SOX

      Top-rated prospect Yoan Moncada has lived up to some lofty expectations in his first spring with the White Sox, who acquired him from the Red Sox in December as part of the trade for Chris Sale. Moncada batted .317 (13-for-41) with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 17 games. The 21-year-old likely will start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, but it is only a matter of time before the second baseman is starting games on Chicago's South Side.

      CLEVELAND INDIANS

      Outfielder Bradley Zimmer and catcher Francisco Mejia, the top two minor league prospects in the Indians' organization, were the two most-watched prospects in camp. Both performed well. In his first 18 spring training games Zimmer hit .354 (17-for-48), with three home runs and a team-high 12 RBI. Mejia hit .421 (8-for-19), with two home runs and eight RBI. Zimmer will likely start the season at Triple-A Columbus, and could make his major league debut sometime during the 2017 season. Mejia will start the season at Double-A Akron, with an estimated arrival to the majors in 2018.

      DETROIT TIGERS

      Center fielder JaCoby Jones is Detroit's highest profile rookie and with a good spring he's due to play for the Tigers this season. Hard-throwing right-handed reliever Joe Jimenez only worked two spring games and needs to hone a slider and changeup before he gets called up. Right-hander Arcenio Leon, 30, was signed as a minor league free agent but positioned himself for a possible early callup by working 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his first four spring games. Infielder Dixon Machado and outfielder Steven Moya are out of options; Machado should stick as a reserve but Moya seems destined for waivers.

      KANSAS CITY ROYALS

      First baseman Ryan O'Hearn has received more playing time with Eric Hosmer in the WBC. Manager Ned Yost said he likes O'Hearn "compact swing." Reliever Yender Caramo is not listed among the Royals' top prospects, but he opened eyes as a non-roster invitee in spring training, allowing one run over 7 1/3 innings. Both will likely open the season with Triple-A Omaha. Top pitching prospect Josh Staumont has allowed one run in five appearances and struck out five in three scoreless innings last Thursday against the San Diego Padres. He could be in the Royals' bullpen before the season ends.

      MINNESOTA TWINS

      The news for Minnesota's top prospects hasn't been too good this spring. Outfielder Alex Kiriloff, the team's first-round last year, had to have Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. The Twins also announced recently that LHP Tyler Jay, the 2015 No. 6 overall pick, would be moved back to the bullpen after Minnesota drafted the college reliever and hoped to make him a starter. LHP Stephen Gonsalves and RHP Fernando Romero did look good in short time with the major league club this spring, totaling a combined 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

      AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

      BALTIMORE ORIOLES

      First baseman/outfielder/DH Trey Mancini and catcher Chance Sisco are the top two prospects now, and both could see time at the big-league level this season. Mancini could make the team out of camp but the Orioles might keep him at Triple-A Norfolk to get daily playing time. However, it's a good bet that he'll be here at some point by mid-season. Sisco's best chance to join the Orioles seems to be -- unless injuries happen -- later in the year. A full year at Norfolk is what's best for him now, not sitting on the bench in Baltimore.

      BOSTON RED SOX

      The Red Sox have been dealing their prospects in major deals but that doesn't mean the cupboard is bare. Baseball America dropped the Sox on their prospect rankings list but still had them at No. 14. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi has already arrived, but there are others still on the way -- slugger Sam Travis and 3B Rafael Devers top the hitters' list and LHP Jason Groome the top-rated remaining pitcher.

      NEW YORK YANKEES

      Outfielder Clint Frazier likely will start this season in Triple-A. He could reach the majors at some point this year if not next year. While also getting attention for his hair, Frazier also is batting .316 and if he is good as advertised, it might result in Brett Gardner getting traded at some point. Right-hander James Kaprielian, New York's first-round pick in 2015, was demoted to minor league camp last week after his debut and could be in the majors by 2018 if he pitches well and does not get hurt. For now, he will start the season with Single-A Tampa.

      TAMPA BAY RAYS

      First baseman Jake Bauers hasn't played above Double-A ball yet, but he's been the Rays' most productive hitter this spring, mashing a team-high four home runs for 11 RBIs and a .353 batting average. The 21-year-old isn't likely to open the season in the majors, but his strong spring makes it just a matter of when. Right-hander Jaime Schultz, 25, has topped 160 strikeouts in each of the last two seasons, playing at AA Montgomery and AAA Durham. He has struck out 19 in 12 1/3 innings this spring, with a 2.13 ERA, making a case for a bullpen spot.

      TORONTO BLUE JAYS

      First baseman Rowdy Tellez, 22, likely will open in Triple-A but the left-handed hitter has advanced enough that he could be in Toronto this season. Outfielder Anthony Alford, 22, hampered by injuries in 2016, has made rapid improvement over last year. He might need another season before reaching the majors. Tim Mayza, 25, a left-hander who throws 95 to 98, could see the majors once he harnesses his stuff. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., a 23-year-old Cuban, looks like the real deal. His ability to play infield and outfield could speed his rise to the majors.

  • Mid-spring snapshot: Spring surprises for all 30 teams
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    As spring training begins to wind down, teams are getting surprise performances from players they might not have anticipated. Now is the time to figure out where those players fit in a team's plans, whether it is in the major leagues or in the minors.

    • Here is a look at the biggest surprises of spring training for each team, as determined by The Sports Xchange's national network of baseball correspondents.

      NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

      ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

      It is not really a surprise considering his work ethic and commitment, but Brandon Drury reported to camp thinner after a shift to second base and has shown the ability to handle the position on both sides of the ball. One major league talent evaluator called him a Jeff Kent type. Drury, who had 16 homers and a .786 OPS as a rookie third baseman/outfielder last season, has eight extra-base hits in 43 at-bats this spring.

      COLORADO ROCKIES

      Right-hander Antonio Senzatela, 22, who has yet to pitch at the Triple-A level, was limited to seven starts last year at Double-A Hartford, none after June 15 because of recurring shoulder inflammation and a return to his native Venezuela where his 52-year-old mother died in August of cancer. But with one walk and 15 strikeouts in 15 Cactus League innings, the competitive and poised Senzatela is contending for a place in the Opening Day rotation thanks to outstanding command of a mid-90s fastball, an average slider that should become a plus pitch and good arm speed on an average changeup.

      LOS ANGELES DODGERS

      The Dodgers expected LHP Scott Kazmir to rejoin their rotation when he signed a two-year contract worth $35.3 million in December. Yet on March 6, Kazmir left his second spring start after 14 pitches with a tight left hip. Since then, Kazmir's velocity unexpectedly and drastically dropped. Last year, the 33-year old averaged 91.6 mph on his fastball despite chronic hip, back and neck problems. But during a five-inning bullpen session Thursday against minor league batters, Kazmir averaged only 82-83 mph, threw just 44 strikes in 71 pitches and allowed two home runs.

      SAN DIEGO PADRES

      Jabari Blash has five homers this spring while hitting .273 with eight walks thanks to an adjustment in his swing. With left fielder Alex Dickerson probably opening the season on the disabled list with a protruded disk in his lower back, Blash might have played his way into the starting lineup as well as an Opening Day roster spot. A Rule 5 pick by the Padres in December of 2015, Blash struggled in 2016 after a good spring. But he looks far more mature this spring at the age of 27.

      SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

      When Buster Posey left to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, the door swung open for Nick Hundley to prove he's worthy of the club's backup role this season. Instead, journeyman Tim Federowicz is making the most noise with six doubles among his first seven hits. Federowicz and Hundley are both hitting over .300, creating a stiff completion for the reserve catching role and potentially giving the Giants depth behind the plate.

      NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

      CHICAGO CUBS

      Kyle Schwarber leading off and playing ... right field? Schwarber missed the 2016 regular season following left knee surgery only to return in time for a spectacular World Series, batting .412 average in five games. Normally a catcher, there's not much room for regular time with Willson Contreras in the top role and Miguel Montero as backup. Schwarber has also played in left field. With Dexter Fowler gone, Manager Joe Maddon has toyed with having him lead off and lately has pondered a right field role. The Cubs need his potent bat no matter what position he plays.

      CINCINNATI REDS

      Brandon Astin spent some time as a starter in college and in the minors, but his fastball-slider combo is thought to be best-served in the bullpen. Despite no Triple-A experience, Astin was considered an unlikely candidate to make the Opening Day roster. But, a 1.17 ERA in seven spring appearances helped his chances, as did his 12 strikeouts and no walks and one save in 6 2/3 innings. Heading into the final two weeks of camp there's a crowd looking to claim the final two bullpen spots, but Astin might be at the head the class.

      MILWAUKEE BREWERS

      Outfielder Keon Broxton has opened eyes with some impressive numbers this spring, but the transition of Scooter Gennett from second baseman to utility player has made things much easier for manager Craig Counsell. Gennett lost his starting job when Jonathan Villar was moved to accommodate top prospect Orlando Arcia. So Gennett took most of his spring work in left field, right field and third base. He's embraced the new role and figures to make the opening day roster as a jack-of-all-trades.

      PITTSBURGH PIRATES

      Surprises don't always favor the club. LHP Tony Watson's struggles are concerning. He inherited the closer job last year when Pittsburgh traded the reliable Mark Melancon to Washington. Watson has had trouble keeping his pitches down and getting batters out this spring. Through 4 1/3 innings over five outings, he had a 16.62 ERA with eight runs allowed on eight hits, three walks and six strikeouts. On March 19 against Toronto, he allowed five runs on three hits.

      ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

      Outfielder Jose Martinez appears to have a good chance at sticking on his first Opening Night roster. Martinez is batting .400 this spring with four homers and 13 RBI, adding nine walks for an on-base percentage of .510. What's more, Martinez has played on occasion at first base, giving him another avenue to occasional starts. During the offseason, the son of former Major Leaguer Carlos Martinez spoke eloquently about what making an Opening Night roster would mean to him. Unless he slides badly in the last two weeks of spring training, it looks like he'll realize that goal.

      NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

      ATLANTA BRAVES

      SPRING SURPRISE: It looked like left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty had about run out of major league chances. His career was the victim of wear and tear and a series of injuries. The Braves brought him back on a minor league contract and the veteran turned heads with his work in exhibition games after undergoing offseason elbow surgery. The team will go with eight relievers and three could be lefties -- O'Flaherty, Ian Krol and Paco Rodriguez.

      MIAMI MARLINS

      The Marlins may start the season without a lefty specialist. Mike Dunn, who signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies filled that lefty role for Miami with some success the past six years. Left-hander Jeff Locke (biceps injury) could eventually replace Dunn, but he will start the season on the disabled list. Left-handerHunter Cervenka was not effective in the bullpen when the Marlins acquired him last year, and might not make the club. Jarlin Garcia and Justin Nicolino are lefties on the 40-man roster but both are in the minors and are being trained as starters.

      NEW YORK METS

      The Mets have to be thrilled with how good right-hander Jacob deGrom looks after undergoing ulnar nerve surgery last September. DeGrom has shown no ill effects in uncorking a fastball regularly clocked at 97 mph, which is more than three mph faster than his average fastball last year. If deGrom -- who has a 2.74 ERA in his first three seasons -- is all the way back and then some, the Mets may have the best 1-2 punch in baseball with him and ace Noah Syndergaard.

      PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

      First baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi has done pretty much everything he can to make the Opening Day roster and it still may not be enough. Stassi, 27, a 33rd-round pick by the Phillies in 2011, is among the spring leaders in home runs (five) and RBI (15). The left-handed hitting first baseman has also spent time this spring in left and right field. He could serve as a reserve to Tommy Joseph, a backup in a corner outfield spot and -- simply -- a left-handed hitting pinch hitting option. Stassi, whose 1.209 OPS is among the best in baseball this spring, is not currently on the team's 40-man roster.

      WASHINGTON NATIONALS

      Right-hander Koda Glover, 23, was 2-0 with a 5.03 ERA last season as he made his big league debut with the Nationals, pitching in 19 games. The Nationals feel he has the mentality to be a closer one day. Glover began last year at the Single-A level. "It can only help him," pitching coach Mike Maddux said of Glover's cup of coffee last year. "It was quite a first trip to the big leagues. He has a five-pitch mix and is ultra-aggressive." Glover had a 1.13 spring training ERA in eight innings.

      AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

      HOUSTON ASTROS

      While the Astros already employ a valuable utility infielder in Marwin Gonzalez, the strong spring training performance of veteran Reid Brignac had increased the likelihood of the club adding another versatile infielder to their bench. A non-roster invitee with 369 career games spread across six clubs, Brignac posted a slash line of .324/.375/.514 with eight RBIs over his first 19 games and 37 at-bats. Gonzalez shouldered a heavy load filling in multiple roster gaps in 2016. Brignac might be a viable option to alleviate pressure on Gonzalez.

      LOS ANGELES ANGELS

      When right-hander Garrett Richards tore his ulnar collateral ligament in May, most observers thought he would miss all of this season. But instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery, Richards relied on injections of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma to regenerate the tissue. So far, so good. After doctors cleared him to throw in August, Richards pitched during the fall in Arizona's instructional league with no ensuing damage. This spring, Richards' fastball reached 100 mph in his second outing. "He's just where he should be," manager Mike Scioscia told the Orange County Register.

      OAKLAND ATHLETICS

      The A's signed the 29-year-old Ryan Lavarnway to serve as a veteran backup at Triple-A. Predictably, he rarely saw the light of day early on in camp in a crowded room of catchers. But what had to catch A's management's eye -- perhaps more so than anything else a catcher did -- was how the journeyman tore up the pitching in the Seoul pool of the World Baseball Classic, earning MVP honors in Israel's surprising 3-0 start.

      SEATTLE MARINERS

      Offense hasn't been a problem, even while stars Robinson Cano, Jean Segura and Nelson Cruz were playing at the WBC. Youngsters such as outfielders Mitch Haniger, Guillermo Heredia and Tyler O'Neill helped provide plenty of offense on a team that spent a good part of the offseason renovating a lineup that scored the third-most runs and hit the second-most home runs in the American League last season.

      TEXAS RANGERS

      After a sub-par sophomore season that saw him get sent to Triple A, a slimmed down Delino DeShields has played himself back into the outfield conversation and could see more playing time than the No. 4 outfield spot he was pegged for. The Rangers plan to play Shin-Soo Choo at designated hitter more than in right field to keep him healthy. That means the speedy DeShields, who has a .388 on-base percentage this spring, has worked his way into a spot competing for playing time with Ryan Rua.

      AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

      CHICAGO WHITE SOX

      Journeyman outfielder Peter Bourjos knew that nothing would be guaranteed when he signed a minor league deal with the White Sox during the offseason. Several months later, Bourjos looks like the favorite to win the starting job in center field. The 29-year-old is hitting .333 (13-for-39) with two doubles, three triples and two RBIs in 16 spring games. Bourjos could start ahead of rookie center fielder Charlie Tilson, who has been plagued by injuries throughout the spring and will open the season on the disabled list.

      CLEVELAND INDIANS

      Second baseman Jason Kipnis will start the season on the disabled list due to right shoulder inflammation. Kipnis only appeared in two spring training games, both early in camp, and both as a designated hitter. The original prognosis was he'd sit out some of the early spring training games, but the shoulder condition has persisted. On March 18 the Indians announced that Kipnis was approximately four to six weeks away from being ready to play in a major league game.

      DETROIT TIGERS

      Left-hander Matt Boyd has had a solid spring and seems to have nailed down a spot in Detroit's rotation. Boyd, who faded down the stretch last year, has continued to work with a lowered arm slot in his delivery with positive results. His fastball is up a tick or two, his control is better to both sides of the plate, his curve and changeup are sharper and Boyd is throwing more strikes early in at-bats. He gets hurt throwing fastballs in fastball counts. Getting ahead in the count gives him four options to throw in four strike zone areas.

      KANSAS CITY ROYALS

      Nathan Karns has a power arm but is unproven. He also had not pitched since July 29 when a herniated disk sidelined him with the Mariners. Karns, however, came to camp healthy and with an improved slider. He beat out veteran Chris Young and left-hander Travis Wood for the fifth and final rotation slot. Karns went 6-2 with a 5.15 ERA last season with Seattle. He was acquired in a January trade for outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Young and Wood open the season as long men in the bullpen.

      MINNESOTA TWINS

      While the starting lineup appears all but set, Byung-ho Park might have changed the plans for the designated hitter spot. Park hit .191 last year in his arrival from South Korea, had wrist surgery and was even taken off the 40-man roster before spring training. This spring, Park leads the team with four home runs and is hitting .361. More importantly, he's handled fastballs better after struggling to adjust to harder throwers in the North America. Kennys Vargas was expected to be the designated hitter, but he's only had 13 at-bats because he's been away for the WBC.

      AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

      BALTIMORE ORIOLES

      Craig Gentry and Joey Rickard's success have made an already confusing corner outfield situation tougher to figure out. The veteran Gentry has a .282 average through 21 games while Rickard (.343, 21 games) has played well after missing most of the second half of an impressive rookie year with a thumb injury. The Orioles already have other possible corner outfielders, and the question is where (or if) these two could make the Opening Day roster. But that's a nice problem to deal with.

      BOSTON RED SOX

      Veteran right-hander Kyle Kendrick is 81-81 in his career but didn't pitch in the major leagues last year and has battled shoulder trouble. He's healthy and decided to defy the odds and enter a crowded Red Sox staff and rotation picture. Through six games, five starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA, allowing 17 hits, walking four and striking out 20 in 23 innings.

      NEW YORK YANKEES

      Gleyber Torres is projected to be a major leaguer by 2019 or even 2018 but is impressing during his first major league spring training so much that manager Joe Girardi compared him to Miguel Cabrera last week. Torres, who has yet to play above high Single-A, is hitting .448 during spring training. While he will be in the minors on Opening Day, it's accurate to say Torres is making a bigger impression on the Yankees than anticipated.

      TAMPA BAY RAYS

      Rickie Weeks was a late addition on a minor league contract, but he's impressed as a consistent bat, hitting .360 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, all close to the team lead. Weeks can help at first base, where the Rays have searched for consistency since releasing James Loney before last season. He also can provide another key bat, especially early when OF Colby Rasmus and SS Matt Duffy are likely to open the season on the disabled list.

      TORONTO BLUE JAYS

      Darrell Ceciliani played in only 13 games for the Blue Jays last season, spending most of the season at Triple-A Buffalo, where he dealt with a shoulder injury. His hard-nosed style has made a fan of manager John Gibbons. Ceciliani had a five-RBI game against the Philadelphia Phillies that included a grand slam on March 17. The 26-year-old left-handed hitter could force his way into an outfield role, especially with a platoon being used in left field and 36-year-old right fielder Jose Bautista could be spelled at times during the season.

  • Yankees' Gregorius (shoulder) likely to miss April
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    One of the biggest fears of a Major League Baseball team is having one of its players injured during the World Baseball Classic.

    • And for the second time, it happened to the New York Yankees, as shortstop Didi Gregorius sustained a strained subscapularis muscle in his right (throwing) shoulder while playing for the Netherlands in the WBC.

      "It is not what I wanted to hear," said Gregorius, who batted .276 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs with the Yankees last season.

      Gregorius, who was injured during an exhibition game Saturday, likely will not return until May at the earliest, according to New York general manager Brian Cashman.

      "Those are some concerns you have when players go to WBC," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You always worry about the injury thing. I know it is important for the game, but he is really important to our team."

      Gregorius will not participate in any baseball activities for two weeks.

      The 27-year-old Amsterdam native was 8 for 23 (.348) with a home run, four doubles and eight RBIs in six games for the Netherlands, which was eliminated by Puerto Rico 4-3 loss in 11 innings Monday in the semifinals.

      New York's options to replace Gregorius include utility man Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, originally slated for Triple-A. The Yankees also have veterans Ruben Tejada and Pete Kozma at their disposal.

      Then-Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who retired after last season, injured his wrist in the 2013 WBC.

  • MLB notebook: Bonds back with Giants
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Barry Bonds, major-league baseball's all-time home runs leader, is re-joining the San Francisco Giants as a special advisor to CEO Larry Baer and will join the team at spring training on Wednesday.

    • "We are delighted to welcome Barry back home to the Giants," Baer said in a statement. "As one of the greatest players of all time, Barry's contributions to our organization are legendary."

      Bonds, 52, spent the last 15 seasons of his 22-year career with the Giants and became the game's home run king during his final season in 2007. He hit 762 career homers, including 586 with San Francisco.

      Bonds served as the Miami Marlins' hitting coach during the 2016 season, but was fired. Miami ranked fourth in team batting average (.263) but 27th in runs scored.

      --Shortstop Tim Anderson and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a contract worth up to $25 million, the richest deal in baseball history for a player with less than one season of service time.

      The six-year contract includes two additional options that would keep Anderson with the White Sox until 2022.

      Anderson, 23, is viewed as a foundation piece for a rebuilding franchise and earns $850,000 this season, and has a $1 million buyout on the contract after the sixth year of the deal. Anderson could be with the White Sox through his age 31 season.

      --Outfielder Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers might miss Opening Day after an MRI exam revealed a herniated disk in his lower back.

      Ethier received a pain-killing epidural injection, but he cannot perform any baseball-related activities for a week to 10 days.

      Ethier has dealt with soreness in his back and hip for much of March, and he was unable to get it loose for Sunday's game.

      --The Toronto Blue Jays and manager John Gibbons agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to multiple reports.

      The agreement also includes an option for the 2020 season.

      Gibbons, 54, has guided the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series in each of the past two seasons. The team went 89-73 in 2016 after going 93-69 the previous season.

  • Gibbons, Blue Jays agree to two-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    The Toronto Blue Jays and manager John Gibbons agreed to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday, according to multiple reports.

    • The agreement also includes an option for the 2020 season.

      Gibbons has guided the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series in each of the past two seasons. The team went 89-73 in 2016 after going 93-69 the previous season.

      Gibbons, 54, is 339-309 in four seasons in his second managerial stint with Toronto. He compiled a 305-305 mark in parts of five seasons from 2004-08.

      Earlier Tuesday, Gibbons fielded a question about a possible extension.

      "It's common knowledge we've been talking about things," Gibbons told reporters in Sarasota, Fla. "We've made progress. Hopefully it all falls into place. These guys have been good to me. No complaints. We've been talking about it."

      Gibbons has a 644-614 overall mark in parts of nine seasons.

  • Dodgers OF Ethier (back) might miss Opening Day
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Outfielder Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers might miss Opening Day after an MRI exam revealed a herniated disk in his lower back.

    • Ethier received a pain-killing epidural injection, but he cannot perform any baseball-related activities for a week to 10 days.

      Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the Los Angeles Times it would be "tough" for Ethier to be ready by April 3.

      Ethier has dealt with soreness in his back and hip for much of March, and he was unable to get it loose for Sunday's game.

      Roberts said the injection alleviated some of the pain, but the team is not rushing to get Ethier back by the opener.

      "We're just not trying to put so much emphasis on that," Roberts said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "And Andre understands that too. The No. 1 thing is we've got to get him back healthy and feeling good.

      "So whenever that day is, whether it's prior to Opening Day or it's not, that's our goal."

      Ethier sustained a broken right leg last March, and that limited him to 16 games last season, when he hit .208 with one home run.

      Andrew Toles was fighting to earn a spot on the Dodgers roster this spring, but now he might be the team's starting left fielder on Opening Day.