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

    Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer made his first Grapefruit League outing of the spring due to an issue with the knuckle on his ring finger 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.

      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.

  • 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.



      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.


      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.


      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 "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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      Francis Martes is the Astros' top overall prospect and is rated by 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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.

  • MLB roundup: Red Sox's Sale whiffs 10 Yankees
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Chris Sale fanned 10 batters in six innings, improving to 2-0 this spring as the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees 4-2 on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla.

    • First baseman Sam Travis was 2-for-4 for the Red Sox.

      New York right-hander Bryan Mitchell struck out seven and allowed seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Matt Holliday belted a two-run homer in the sixth for the Yankees.

      Nationals 3, Braves 1

      Gio Gonzalez lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 1.10 to help Washington beat Atlanta in West Palm Beach, Fla. Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz gave the Braves five strong innings before the bullpen was tapped for two runs in the seventh off right-hander Chaz Roe. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers provided a solo homer against Gonzalez in the fourth.

      Rangers 4, White Sox 3

      Chicago starter James Shields struck out six and yielded three hits in six shutout innings in Surprise, Ariz. Texas' Cole Hamels yielded two runs (one earned) and three hits in four innings while the White Sox's Tim Anderson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run.

      Athletics 8, Mariners 5

      Trevor Plouffe, Yonder Alonso and Bruce Maxwell drove in two runs apiece for Oakland in Peoria, Ariz. Robinson Cano went 2-for-3 with three RBIs while starter Chris Heston allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings for Seattle.

      Angels 9, Reds 1

      Los Angeles scored nine runs, all after the fifth inning, thanks to eight walks by Cincinnati pitchers. JC Ramirez struck out six batters in five innings for the Angels in Goodyear, Ariz. Mike Trout was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and a walk.

      Brewers 5, Dodgers 4

      Manny Pina homered and drove in three runs for Milwaukee and caught Matt Garza, who fanned five in 3 2/3 innings, giving up one run on six hits in Glendale, Ariz. Justin Turner was 3-for-3 and Hyun-Jin Ryu worked four scoreless innings for the Dodgers.

      Giants 5, Padres 3

      San Francisco catcher Nick Hundley drove in four including a solo home run in the second inning, the only blemish in veteran Trevor Cahill's five innings for San Diego in Scottsdale, Ariz. San Francisco scored three in the seventh and the game winner -- Chris Marrero's fifth spring homer -- in the bottom of the eighth.

      Diamondbacks 4, Royals 2

      Peter O'Brien's seventh spring home run to dead center started the scoring in the seventh but Kansas City couldn't keep up with Arizona in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Diamondbacks plated runs on Chris Herrmann's home run in the second, a triple by Gregor Blanco in the fifth and a throwing error that plated Blanco. Jorge Soler tagged his first home run with the Royals in the top of the fifth inning.

      Astros 2, Marlins 1

      Mike Fiers fanned five in four scoreless innings and Houston's offense came from Yulieski Gurriel in the form of an RBI double, and left fielder Derek Fisher's third-inning home run off of Miami starter Wei-Yin Chen at Jupiter, Fla.

      Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2

      Leadoff man Kevin Pillar had two hits and drove in a pair to lead the Toronto offense, which plated four in the fourth against Ubaldo Jimenez at Sarasota, Fla. Jimenez has a 5.94 ERA this spring and allowed five hits and three walks in four innings. Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez was pulled in the fourth inning after his fourth walk but surrendered only one run on Chris Davis' homer.

      Pirates 5, Rays 4

      With two outs in the ninth inning at Bradenton, Fla., Adam Frazier walked, stole second base and scored on a single to right field by Gift Ngoepe, who has 14 hits in his last 25 at bats. Backup catcher Jacob Stallings tied the game with a home run in the eighth for Pittsburgh. Pirates rookie Jose Osuna continued his push for a roster spot with two more hits to boost his spring average to .436.

      Phillies 9, Twins 5

      Aaron Altherr's homer to right field sparked Philadelphia's six-run rally in the top of the ninth to overcome a 5-3 deficit at Fort Myers, Fla. Minnesota erupted for five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning off of right-hander Alec Asher, who allowed a solo shot to Ehire Adrianza and two-run blast to Travis Harrison in surrendering five earned runs on 26 pitches.

  • Bonds returns to Giants as advisor
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Barry Bonds is headed back to McCovey Cove.

    • MLB's all-time home runs leader is re-joining the San Francisco Giants as a special advisor to CEO Larry Bear 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.

      "I am excited to be back home with the Giants and join the team in an official capacity," Bonds said in a statement. "San Francisco has always been my home and the Giants will always be my family."

      The 14-time All-Star and seven-time National League MVP also holds the record for most home runs in a single season, blasting 73 in 2001. He is a career .298 hitter with 1,996 RBIs and an MLB-record 2,558 walks.

      Bonds was issued 688 intentional walks, 386 more than the next player on the list (Albert Pujols, 302).

      The slugger's career was plagued by allegations of performance enhancing drug use. Bonds received 53.8 percent of the Hall of Fame vote last January, well short of the 75-percent threshold.

      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.

      He joins a distinguished list of former Giants greats currently serving as advisors that includes Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda.

  • White Sox sign SS Anderson to $25M deal
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    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 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.

      Anderson, 23, has a .333 batting average in spring training but missed a third consecutive game on Monday to handle what he labeled "personal problems."

      He was the 17th pick in the 2013 draft and has played in only 99 career games.

      The White Sox traded centerfielder Adam Eaton and left-handed ace Chris Sale in the offseason in a prospect-driven overhaul of the roster. Two other pitchers, left-handed starter Jose Quintana and closer David Robertson, are reportedly on the trade block.

      Anderson's contract breakdown was announced by the White Sox as $1 million in 2018, $1.4 million in 2019, $4 million in 2020, $7.25 million in 2021 and $9.5 million in 2022. The White Sox hold club options for 2023 at $12.5 million and 2024 at $14 million. If either option is declined, Anderson will receive a $1 million buyout.

  • Mid-spring snapshot: Unanswered questions for all 30 teams
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    As spring training begins to wind down, teams are starting to make the tough roster decisions. Many clubs are attempting to fill the back end of the rotation or determine which reserves deserve a bench job. For the few fortunate teams, such as the defending champion Chicago Cubs, the key remaining issue might be deciding the pecking order in a packed bullpen.

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



      The Diamondbacks entered spring training with six starters for five spots, but that appears to have sorted itself out with Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin appearing to claim the final two spots ahead of Archie Bradley. An outfield issue has cropped up, though. Yasmany Tomas (oblique) has been out since March 9 and shows no signs of being ready for Opening Day, although the D-backs have not ruled him out. Non-roster invitee Gregor Blanco seems certain to make the team, and Chris Herrmann, one of three catchers on the roster, could see some time in the outfield.


      The Rockies have to fill out the final two spots in their rotation and will do so with inexperienced pitchers. Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson and Tyler Chatwood are set as starters. The other rotation candidates are Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, left-hander Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela. The latter two have not made their major league debuts, while Hoffman (eight games, six starts) and Marquez (six games, three starts) received limited experience upon reaching the big leagues last season for the first time.


      Can Yasiel Puig harness his talent? A revelation in his first two seasons, the right fielder had his performance and attitude deteriorate so much last year that the Dodgers tried to trade the former All-Star before optioning him to Triple-A Oklahoma City in August. Puig has hit well this spring, yet on Thursday, he was ejecting for slamming his bat into the ground after a called strike. Puig then waved at the umpire while walking down the left field line to the Dodgers' clubhouse. If Puig remains a problem, expect Andre Ethier or Scott Van Slyke to replace him.


      The rotation is unsettled with the candidates largely disappointing thus far, and shortstop seems to be an elimination duel between Luis Sardinas and Erick Aybar. But the biggest question right now is who plays second and third. The Padres have three candidates at the two spots -- switch hitter Yangervis Solarte, who was the regular third baseman last year, and left-handed hitters Cory Spangenberg and Ryan Schimpf. The Padres might like Solarte better at second and Spangenberg or Schimpf better at third. But any change has been delayed because Solarte was away at the World Baseball Classic and Schimpf has been hurt.


      What's right about left? While much of the focus of the Giants' spring has been on whether Matt Cain can be trusted as the No. 5 starter (every indication is he can't), a bigger issue appears to be left field. San Francisco began the spring hoping youngers Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker could platoon in Angel Pagan's old spot. The Giants are ending the spring experimenting with iron-gloved Michael Morse out there.



      The World Series champs still need to sort out their bullpen options with Aroldis Chapman back in the Bronx. Wade Davis, acquired in a trade with the Royals for Jorge Soler, appears ready to take over the ninth-inning role. He looks healthy after spending part of last season on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. Hector Rondon (77 career saves) and Koji Uehara (93 career saves) could appear at any point in the late innings. Carl Edwards Jr. emerged late last season as a capable reliever, and he appears suited for a setup role, too.


      Reds manager Bryan Price doesn't want to carry more than two catchers on his Opening Day roster, so if Devin Mesoraco isn't quite ready, Price would rather start him on the disabled list. Entering the final two weeks of spring training, Mesoraco was progressing well after appearing in just 16 games last season before undergoing hip and shoulder surgeries. He was showing no physical issues in camp. Tucker Barnhart is the likely starter behind the plate for Cincinnati, at least initially. Rob Brantly and Rule 5 pick Stuart Turner also are in the mix.


      The top of Milwaukee's rotation is set with Junior Guerra drawing the Opening Day assignment and Zach Davies expected to follow. After that, it is a crapshoot. The Brewers have five candidates to fill the final three spots. Veteran Matt Garza along with Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson are the favorites, but all have something to prove after disappointing campaigns. Chase Anderson was in the rotation last season but could serve as the long man to start the year, while Tommy Milone could sneak into the mix as the lone left-hander of the bunch.


      It is unclear when third baseman Jung Ho Kang (restricted list) will report after his third DUI arrest in his native South Korea and subsequent work-visa delays. David Freese can fill in, but Kang, 29, offers a cleanup-spot option, and his power (21 homers in only 370 plate appearances last season) will be sorely missed. General manager Neal Huntington has said even after issues are resolved and Kang reports, the third-year Pirate will need time in extended spring training.


      Pretty much everything has been settled with two weeks left before Opening Night. The rotation is determined, the everyday lineup seems set, and most spots in the bullpen are spoken for, so all that's left is deciding the backup catcher role and figuring out how many pitchers to keep for the bullpen. The best guess is that Eric Fryer, who spent the first half of last year with the Cardinals, will back up Yadier Molina so that Carson Kelly can play every day at Triple-A Memphis. It is likely the club will keep 12 pitchers on the roster.



      After losing versatile free agent signee Sean Rodriguez to a shoulder injury that might keep him out for the season, the Braves acquired second baseman Brandon Phillips from Cincinnati as a veteran stopgap. The bench, though, remains weak, with no pinch-hitting threat or a proven outfielder to back up the starters. Someone like free agent Angel Pagan might be a perfect fit if the price was right. Pagan spent the spring as the leadoff hitter for the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic.


      When third baseman Martin Prado pulled a right hamstring muscle while representing Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, it disrupted Miami's plans. Prado, who hit .305 with eight homers, 75 RBIs and a .775 OPS last year, said he does not anticipate being ready for Opening Day. The Marlins have yet to tip their hand at Prado's replacement, but it will likely be Derek Dietrich (.798 OPS) if manager Don Mattingly wants more offense or Miguel Rojas (.613 OPS) if defense is the bigger concern. Mattingly could platoon the two since Dietrich bats left-handed and Rojas right-handed.


      Who will be the fifth starter? In one-time phenom Zack Wheeler as well as last year's two revelations, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, the Mets have a trio of pitchers who would be rotation mainstays almost anywhere else. Wheeler is throwing in the high-90s but hasn't pitched for the Mets since 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, so it is likely he will be eased in as a reliever. Gsellman probably has the edge over Lugo, who has thrived for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic but has more professional experience as a reliever.


      The Phillies need to determine which outfielders will come off the bench. Aaron Altherr seems like a lock to grab one reserve outfield spot. The Phillies also brought in veterans Chris Coghlan and Daniel Nava to spring training, and both are capable of making the roster. Nava, 34, has outperformed Coghlan, 31 -- .429 to Coghlan's .241 batting average through Monday -- but Coghlan's versatility to play multiple positions, including in the infield, may leap him ahead. Cameron Perkins and Brock Stassi are also in the mix.


      The most pressing question since Mark Melancon signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants in December is who would be the Nationals' closer. It appears Washington will fill that in-house to start the season at least, with veteran right-handers Blake Treinen and Shawn Kelley emerging as candidates. Kelley was 3-2 with seven saves and a 2.64 ERA in 67 games last year, while Treinen was 4-1 with one save and a 2.28 in 73 games. If they fail, general manager Mike Rizzo may be looking for a closer at the trade deadline.



      The Astros are unwavering in their commitment to Yulieski Gurriel at first base despite his inexperience at the position. Gurriel, a standout third baseman in his native Cuba, played just five games at first after signing with the Astros last July. He has worked with Hall of Fame first baseman Jeff Bagwell this spring and hasn't yet experienced any egregious missteps making the transition, but the club would be wise to groom a viable backup -- former prospect A.J. Reed perhaps -- to prepare for the possibility of Gurriel struggling defensively.


      The bullpen makeup remains uncertain. Huston Street, the team's closer since being acquired from the Padres in July 2014, will begin the season on the disabled list after straining his back while pitching in the Angels' first Cactus League game on March 3. That leaves Cam Bedrosian and Andrew Bailey to compete for the role. Bedrosian has the better spring training statistics, but Bailey, the American League Rookie of the Year in 2009, has the experience. Whoever loses likely will become the setup specialist. Competition elsewhere in the bullpen remains wide open.


      Is the staff ace's future sunny or gloomy? The A's began spring training gushing about their options at the bottom of the rotation. They are ending it deeply concerned about the guy at the top. That is, if you can still consider Sonny Gray at the top. A strained lat is expected to sideline the two-time 14-game winner well into April ... if not longer. A strained right forearm limited Gray to one inning after Aug. 6 last year.


      Daniel Vogelbach has not yet done enough to solidify the starting job at first base. Acquired last July in a deadline trade that sent future World Series hero Mike Montgomery to the Cubs, the 24-year-old Vogelbach is being given every opportunity this spring. He started with a hot bat but has cooled off over the past week, his average down to .226 through Monday. He is competing with converted third baseman Danny Valencia, and the two could wind up in a platoon.


      The Rangers still have to decide on a No. 5 starter to open the season. Andrew Cashner has been slowed by right biceps soreness, opening the door for Dillon Gee, Michael Hauschild and Eddie Gamboa. All are right-handers. Hauschild, a Rule 5 pick, could have the upper hand, but he hasn't separated from the pack, posting a 4.05 spring ERA through Monday. The Rangers are also considering using a four-man rotation because of off days in hopes that Cashner could be ready to help before the end of April.



      Are the White Sox finished dealing? General manager Rick Hahn launched a long-term rebuilding project when he shipped ace left-hander Chris Sale to the Red Sox and sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals in exchange for top prospects. However, other trade chips remain on the roster, including left-hander Jose Quintana, closer David Robertson and third baseman Todd Frazier. Could Hahn shed another veteran or two before the team heads north? For now, Quintana is projected as the team's Opening Day starter.


      The question that was being asked at the beginning of camp has yet to be answered: Can Michael Brantley finally make a complete recovery from his lingering shoulder injury? Brantley played only 11 games last year due to a right shoulder condition that required two separate surgeries. However, with less than two weeks remaining in spring training, there was guarded but growing optimism that Brantley may have turned the corner in his recovery. He played in his first major league spring training game on Monday, and he had not experienced a setback all spring.


      The Tigers are unsettled in center field. Odds favor left-handed-hitting Tyler Collins as part of a platoon with offseason acquisition Mikie Mahtook, the right-handed-batting half. However, highly regarded rookie JaCoby Jones could show enough offensively to avoid playing the first half of the season with Triple-A Toledo. The job goes to Jones when he shows he can control the strike zone and not chase off-speed and outside pitches; it is up to the Tigers whether he learns those skills in the majors or the minors.


      Second base was up for grabs when spring training started. It is still unsettled as camp winds down. Raul Mondesi had started nine games there, Whit Merrifield seven, Christian Colon five and Cheslor Cuthbert four through Monday. Colon and Cuthbert are out of minor league options, which make it a more intriguing decision. Whether Cuthbert, a true third baseman, has the range to play 100-plus games at second remains a question.


      The rotation is the biggest issue. Twins starters had the worst ERA in baseball last year. The expectation is Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Hector Santiago will be starters. Hughes appears healthy after thoracic outlet syndrome ended his 2016 season. Behind them, Trevor May will miss the season due to a torn elbow ligament. Jose Berrios has pitched sparingly this spring while with Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. Rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia had a 1.88 spring ERA through Monday. Tyler Duffey is in the mix, as well as Rule 5 pick Justin Haley and veteran Ryan Vogelsong.



      When will Chris Tillman will be ready to go? He won't start Opening Day after receiving a cortisone shot last week in his bothersome right shoulder (for soreness that is hanging around). He said that he felt better after the shot and hopes to be throwing soon, but the long-term plans certainly are up in the air. Right-hander Kevin Gausman looks as if he will get the Opening Day start now, but Tillman's situation is a worrisome one since the right-hander ran into similar issues last season.


      Pablo Sandoval missed last season due to shoulder surgery, and he returns as a trimmer version of his former self. Can he provide both offense -- needed with David Ortiz gone -- and defense at third base? The early answer was yes. He hit two homers Saturday, then added two doubles Monday to give him a .349 average (15-for-43) with three homers and 13 RBIs this spring. His defense was just fine as his return to Panda status was in full bloom.


      Who gets the last two spots in the rotation? It is a crowded field, and right-hander Luis Severino appeared to be close to securing one of those jobs until struggling Sunday. Also in the competition are Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and Adam Warren. Another name to follow is left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who intrigues the Yankees. Even if he does not win the fifth spot, Montgomery could make the team as a reliever and occasional starter, filling the role Ramiro Mendoza once held.


      Who opens the season as the starting shortstop? Matt Duffy remains sidelined as he recovers from heel surgery, so it could mean Tim Beckham (.303, six walks, four RBIs in 14 spring games through Monday) gets the nod until Duffy is fully healthy. Prospect Daniel Robertson had a shot at a backup role at least but was hitting only .147 in the Grapefruit League, so that role might go to versatile Nick Franklin, who was hitting .406 and can help as a corner outfielder if necessary.


      Left field has been an ongoing question after the loss of Michael Saunders to free agency. The solution appears to be a platoon, with Melvin Upton Jr. and Ezequiel Carrera, holdovers from last season, the leading candidates. Newcomer Steve Pearce also could see some time there, as well. Dalton Pompey likely will start the season in the minors but could be promoted to see some action in left field during the season. Darrell Ceciliani, who spent most of 2106 at Triple-A Buffalo, was making a case with a strong spring training.

  • MLB roundup: Donaldson makes spring training debut
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    Josh Donaldson went 0-for-2 in his spring training debut Monday as the Toronto Blue Jays dropped an 8-2 decision to the Minnesota Twins in Dunedin, Fla. Donaldson returned from a calf injury and reached base twice with a walk and a fielding error by Minnesota second baseman Benji Gonzalez. Justin Smoak belted a pinch-hit home run for Toronto, while Byung-ho Park and Miguel Sano homered for Minnesota.

    • Tigers 5, Mets 1

      Matt Harvey dropped his fourth decision of the spring as Detroit beat New York in Lakeland, Fla. Harvey, who is working his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome, has a 7.30 ERA after allowing three runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. James McCann and Nick Castellanos hit solo home runs for Detroit while starter Anibal Sanchez pitched four scoreless innings.

      Red Sox 7, Orioles 4

      Pablo Sandoval continued his productive spring with a two-run double and another two-base hit as Boston beat Baltimore in Fort Myers, Fla. Sandoval raised his average to .349 with a two-run double in the first inning and hit another double in the fourth. Hanley Ramirez drove in three runs for Boston. Pedro Alvarez homered for Baltimore.

      Marlins 9, Braves 3

      Marcell Ozuna hit his fourth home run of the spring and Brian Anderson drove in three runs as Miami routed Washington in Kissimmee, Fla. Miami starter Stephen Fife pitched four scoreless innings. Atlanta's R.A. Dickey allowed six runs (four earned) and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

      Yankees 9, Nationals 3

      Matt Holliday hit a two-run home run and New York defeated Washington in West Palm Beach, Fla. Gleyber Torres added a two-run double for the Yankees, and starter Michael Pineda allowed three runs and one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Bryce Harper had two hits for the Nationals.

      Pirates 5, Rays 4

      Jose Osuna and Jordy Mercer hit two-run home runs off Blake Snell and Pittsburgh edged Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte, Fla. Snell gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings. Jameson Taillon allowed two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings for the Pirates.

      Indians 14, Dodgers 5

      Michael Brantley wasted no time getting into the swing of things, singling in his second and third at-bats of the spring in a victory over the Dodgers in Goodyear, Ariz. Brantley, who left for a pinch runner in the fifth inning, played only 11 games last season after right shoulder surgery. Joc Pederson hit his fifth homer of the spring, and Chase Utley had three hits and his first homer for the Dodgers.

      Giants 3, White Sox 2

      Rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez gave up two hits and struck out four in six scoreless innings, but Chicago fell to San Francisco in Glendale, Ariz. Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto gave up one hit, Peter Bourjos' third triple, and one run in five innings in his second start. Ryder Jones hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning for the Giants.

      Reds 10, Royals 6

      Arismendy Alcantara singled twice in an eight-run eighth inning, driving in the first run of the frame and the last two as Cincinnati emerged victorious in Surprise, Ariz. Reds rookie Rookie Davis gave up one run in four innings in his third spring start. Rookie Ryan O'Hearn homered and doubled, and Jason Hammel gave up one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings for Kansas City.

      Cubs 9, Rockies 6

      Matt Szczur had three hits -- including a two-run homer in a six-run eighth inning -- as Chicago defeated Colorado in Scottsdale, Ariz. Kyle Hendricks gave up two runs in 4 2/3 innings for the Cubs, allowing six hits and striking out four. Tyler Anderson surrendered two earned runs in five innings, and shortstop Trevor Story had his fifth double for the Rockies.

      Padres 3, Rangers 2

      Alberth Martinez hit a game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning, and Christian Bethancourt belted a walk-off solo shot in the ninth as San Diego topped Texas in Peoria, Ariz. Travis Jankowski had two hits for the Padres. Rangers starter Nick Martinez tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

      Diamondbacks 10, A's 6

      Kevin Cron socked a two-run homer and added an RBI single, leading Arizona to a victory over Oakland in Mesa, Ariz. Sergio Alcantara and Jeremy Hazelbaker each knocked in two runs for the Diamondbacks. A's starter Sean Manaea gave up just one unearned run on three hits in five innings. He struck out five.

  • Reds give Feldman Opening Day nod
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    The Cincinnati Reds named right-hander Scott Feldman as their starting pitcher for Opening Day on April 3 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

    • Feldman earned the nod over left-hander Brandon Finnegan, who will be starter in the second game, manager Bryan Price announced Monday.

      Feldman will be opposed by right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who was named the Phillies' Opening Day starter on Sunday.

      The Reds signed the 34-year-old Feldman to a one-year deal on Jan. 26 to pitch either in the team's rotation or bullpen. He also started openers for the Texas Rangers (2010) and Houston Astros (2014).

      "Baseball is one of those funny games, you never really know what's going to happen, you can't predict the future, so you just stay ready for everything," Feldman said Monday. "It's just an honor to take the ball on Opening Day and hopefully build off of it and have a great season."

      Feldman was used mostly in relief last season, making only five starts. In 40 appearances with the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, he went 7-4 with a 3.97 ERA over 77 innings, with 56 strikeouts and 19 walks.

      Feldman moved to the top of the rotation for the Reds after injuries to Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani.

      "His experience and the way he commands the strike zone I think really makes him the best candidate," Price said of Feldman. "It really comes down to him and Finnegan. My interpretation of Scott throughout spring training is that he's exactly the guy we were looking for and targeted -- a veteran guy with presence that commands the zone and has a veteran savvy that will serve us well. That will work well in an Opening Day environment."

      Finnegan, who started 31 games for the Reds last year, gets the start in the second game on April 5. The 23-year-old went 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA over 172 innings.

  • Yankees SS Gregorious (shoulder) ruled out of WBC
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, March 20, 2017

    New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius injured his throwing shoulder over the weekend and will not play for the Netherlands in the final round of the World Baseball Classic.

    • Gregorius had a preliminary MRI exam on Sunday and was traveling back to the Yankees' spring training headquarters in Tampa, Fla., for further tests.

      Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters Monday that the MRI revealed the 27-year-old Gregorius has a hematoma of the subscapularis muscle in his right shoulder.

      "It's obviously not what you want to hear. Hopefully it's something short," Girardi said. "The evaluation from the doctor was his strength was really good, but we've got to see him. He'll have more MRI tests tomorrow."

      Gregorius batted .348 (8-for-23) with four doubles, a home run and eight RBIs in six games to help the Netherlands advance to the WBC semifinals.

      Girardi said the five-year veteran initially felt pain in his shoulder while throwing before Saturday's WBC exhibition game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

      "That's always your concern when guys play in the WBC, is they're not with you," Girardi said. "They're not in your hands and that's the hard part. I mean, arm injuries can happen, that's the bottom line. The thing is, he hasn't played a ton of defense."

      Gregorius batted .276 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs in 153 games for the Yankees last season, setting career highs in hits (155), doubles (32), homers, RBIs and extra-base hits (54).

      Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN that even if Gregorius is out to begin the season, top prospect Gleyber Torres will not be the team's Opening Day shortstop.

      Torres, 20, entered Monday hitting .444 in 27 spring training at-bats but is expected to start the season at Double-A Trenton.

  • MLB roundup: Rays shut down Phillies in win
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    Corey Dickerson clouted a solo homer and four Tampa Bay Rays pitchers took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Sunday in an 8-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Phillies in Port Charlotte, Fla. Steven Souza went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs for the Rays, while Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff was effective over six innings, allowing just four hits and two runs with nine strikeouts.

    • Tigers 7, Orioles 1

      Matt Murton and John Hicks each belted two-run homers as Detroit beat Baltimore in Sarasota, Fla. Matt Boyd got the win for the Tigers after scattering six hits over five innings, allowing a run and fanning four. Orioles starter Kevin Gausman dominated in his five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.

      Cardinals 5, Braves 2

      Lance Lynn cruised through five scoreless innings, scattering four hits and earning the win for St. Louis over Atlanta in Kissimmee, Fla. Matt Adams went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, scoring twice and stealing a base, while Tommy Pham added an RBI double. Nick Markakis and Jace Peterson each knocked in runs for the Braves.

      Nationals 10, Marlins (ss) 4

      Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and scored three runs as Washington walloped a Miami split squad in Jupiter, Fla. Clint Robinson doubled and knocked in three runs for the Nationals, while Stephen Strasburg worked 4 1/3 innings to earn the win. Destin Hood went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI for the Marlins.

      Twins 13, Red Sox 8

      Benji Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two run-scoring doubles and three RBI as Minnesota outslugged Boston in Fort Myers, Fla. Ben Paulsen added a solo homer for the Twins and was 3-for-3, scoring four runs. Hanley Ramirez and Bryce Brentz clouted solo shots for the Red Sox, while Mitch Moreland was 3-for-3 with an RBI.

      Marlins (ss) 7, Mets 5

      Matt den Dekker belted a pair of solo homers as a Miami split squad built a 7-0 lead and then held off New York in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Brandon Barnes added a two-run homer that capped a six-run sixth inning for the Marlins. Jacob deGrom pitched 5 1/3 innings for New York, giving up seven hits and four runs. The Mets scored all their runs in the bottom of the ninth.

      Yankees 6, Astros 4

      A two-run wild pitch and throwing error gave New York three ninth-inning runs and a win over Houston in West Palm Beach, Fla. Chase Headley added a two-run double in the first for the Yankees, while Colin Moran paced the Astros by going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.

      Blue Jays 11, Pirates 11

      A wild ninth inning led to a tie between Toronto and Pittsburgh in Bradenton, Fla. D.J. Davis' two-run single capped a four-run rally for the Blue Jays that gave them an 11-8 lead, but the Pirates came back with three in their half of the inning, Austin Meadows' RBI single knotting the score again. Ezequiel Carrera and Michael Suchy homered for Toronto and Pittsburgh, respectively.

      Rangers 3, Mariners 2

      Ryan Rua's solo homer in the fourth inning was the game-winning blow as Texas edged Seattle in Surprise, Ariz. Carlos Gomez cracked a two-run shot in the third for the Rangers, while Eddie Gamboa fanned six and allowed no earned runs over five innings. Mitch Haniger and Tyler O'Neill knocked in runs for the Mariners.

      Rockies 9, Athletics 2

      Charlie Blackmon tripled home two runs and blasted a solo homer as Colorado routed Oakland in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tony Wolters added a two-run single for the Rockies, while Jon Gray rolled through five innings, giving up two hits and a run while fanning seven. Adam Rosales gave the Athletics a short-lived 1-0 lead with a second-inning single.

      Reds 9, Padres 4

      Scott Schebler, Patrick Kivlehan and Jesse Winker each homered as Cincinnati rallied for a win over San Diego in Peoria, Ariz. Schebler knocked in three runs for the Reds, while Amir Garrett worked the first five innings for the win. Hunter Renfroe walloped a two-run homer in the first for the Padres, who also got two hits from Wil Myers.

      Diamondbacks 4, Indians 4

      Michael Perez and Sergio Alcantara collected RBI singles in the top of the ninth inning as Arizona rallied to tie Cleveland in Goodyear, Ariz. Chris Herrmann cracked a solo homer for the Diamondbacks, while Yandy Diaz went 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Indians. Josh Tomlin gave up just two hits and an earned run over five innings for Cleveland, whiffing six.

      Brewers 6, Giants 4

      Kyle Davies carved up San Francisco for 5 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and fanning six as Milwaukee won in Scottsdale, Ariz. Hernan Perez and Kirk Nieuwenhuis slugged back-to-back homers off Jeff Samardzija in the fourth, while Christian Arroyo belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the Giants.

      White Sox 11, Angels 2

      Yoan Moncada went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and finished with four RBIs as Chicago walloped Los Angeles in Tempe, Ariz. Matt Davidson also homered for the White Sox, while Carlos Rodon fanned five and gave up only one hit in four scoreless innings. Sherman Johnson collected a run-scoring double for the Angels.

      Royals 6, Cubs 2

      Ian Kennedy struck out seven in six scoreless innings, leading Kansas City to a win over Chicago in Mesa, Ariz. Mike Moustakas hit a solo homer and finished with two RBIs for the Royals. Addison Russell collected two of the Cubs' six hits.

  • Indians 2B Kipnis will likely miss 4-to-5 weeks
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    The American League champion Cleveland Indians will open defense of their title without standout second baseman Jason Kipnis.

    • Kipnis is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to the season opener after receiving a second opinion on his sore right shoulder over the weekend. The consensus between Dr. Keith Meister and Indians' medical staff is that Kipnis should rest for a week, then begin light throwing and hitting, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

      If he does not suffer any setbacks, Kipnis will need four to five weeks to recuperate and build enough strength back in the joint.

      Last season, Kipnis hit .275 with 23 homers, 82 RBI and 15 stolen bases while playing in 156 games.

      The Indians also announced on Sunday, that right-handed pitcher Cody Anderson will miss the entire season.

      Anderson, 26, has a "UCL sprain along with a mild flexor strain" according to the Indians' media release. He will have elbow reconstruction surgery and be out for the entire season.

      Anderson was in the Tribe starting rotation at the beginning of last season, but had arm troubles throughout most of the campaign. He went 2-5 with a 6.68 ERA and had "impingement" elbow surgery after the 2016 season.

  • Marlins 3B Prado (hamstring) to miss season opener
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 19, 2017

    Miami Marlins third baseman Martin Prado will not be ready for Opening Day after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 right hamstring strain.

    • Prado was injured Wednesday playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He also is dealing with a calf strain.

      "I want to make sure that I'm 100 percent and not trying to rush this," Prado told the Miami Herald. "First of all, I just have to get pain-free running. That's our main goal now and after that be strong enough to hold up with a healthy hamstring."

      Prado was hurt trying to beat out an infield single during the sixth inning of Venezuela's 4-2 loss Wednesday against the United States.

      The 33-year-old Prado signed a three-year, $40 million contract in the offseason. He batted .305 with eight homers and 75 RBIs last season.

      The Marlins won't rush Prado back to action.

      "Hamstrings take a little bit of time, and we'll let the doctors determine what grade it is and see what we're going to have to do," manager Don Mattingly said. "You're just guessing at a timeline with guys getting back."

  • Torn hamstring could end Diamondbacks C Thole's season
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Josh Thole suffered a torn hamstring and probably will be sidelined the rest of the season, according to a report Saturday.

    • The report by was based on the assessment of Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.

      Thole is seeking a second opinion on his injury but it could require surgery. He was injured while running the bases during a game last Wednesday. He said he felt his hamstring pop and had to be helped off the field.

      Thole, 30, signed a minor-league contract with the Diamondbacks in January, and he was hoping to make the team as a backup.

      He hit .169 with one homer in 50 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. Thole's best season was in 2010, when he hit .277 for the New York Mets.

  • Tebow goes 1-for-3 in latest game for Mets
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Tim Tebow continues to receive chances with the New York Mets and continues to take advantage of them.

    • Expected to be banished to the minor-league camp following his two-hit game Wednesday, Tebow was back in the lineup Saturday and finished 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout.

      A former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner at Florida, the 29-year-old Tebow is attempting to make the transition from the gridiron from the diamond.

      Tebow drilled an opposite-field single off St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha in his first trip to the plate Saturday and is 3-for-6 in his last two contests.

      "He's worked very hard," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We're here to help. That's what we're here for. We're here to help him try to get better."

      Collins said after Wednesday's game that Tebow had likely played in his last Grapefruit League game and would be heading to the minors for the remainder of the spring. Collins amended that thought process Saturday, saying he may "borrow" Tebow two or three more times.

      "Being around these guys at this level, he can see what it is to be a big league player," Collins said. "He can hopefully carry that into wherever he's going to start the year."

      Tebow, who signed a $100,000 minor league contract with the Mets on Sept. 8 after holding a workout in front of dozens of scouts, is 4-for-17 in six games this spring.

  • MLB roundup: Tavarez HR lifts Orioles over Yankees
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 18, 2017

    Anuery Tavarez's home run in the top of the ninth inning Saturday lifted the Baltimore Orioles to a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees in Tampa, Fla.

    • Chris Johnson and Pedro Alvarez also belted homers for the Orioles, while Billy McKinney cranked a solo shot for the Yankees that tied the game at 4-4 in the eighth. C.C. Sabathia struck out five in four innings for New York.

      Rays 3, Blue Jays 2

      Jake Bauers' two-run homer in the fourth inning broke a scoreless tie and led Tampa Bay to a win over Toronto in Dunedin, Fla. Dayron Varona added an RBI double for the Rays, who got four shutout innings and four strikeouts from Chase Whitley. Bauers' homer was the only hit allowed over 3 2/3 innings by Blue Jays starter Mat Latos.

      Mets 5, Cardinals 4

      Xorge Carrillo's RBI double in the top of the ninth led New York to a victory over St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla. Juan Lagares and Kevin Plawecki each cracked solo homers while Tim Tebow started in left field and went 1-for-3 for the Mets. Starter Michael Wacha gave up five hits and three runs over four innings with a walk and four strikeouts for the Cardinals.

      Tigers (ss) 5, Marlins 4

      Scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, a Detroit split squad edged Miami in Lakeland, Fla. Justin Verlander tossed five scoreless innings for the Tigers, allowing four hits and fanning four. Dan Straily whiffed six in five innings for the Marlins, although he did yield a solo homer to Alex Presley. Detroit's J.D. Martinez left with a leg injury.

      Astros 5, Nationals 4

      Alejandro Garcia's RBI single in the top of the ninth inning lifted Houston to a win over Washington in West Palm Beach, Fla. Grant Green cracked a solo homer for the Nationals to tie the game in the seventh, while Trea Turner and Bryce Harper also knocked in runs. Starter Charlie Morton fanned seven over four innings for the Astros.

      Tigers (ss) 7, Braves 5

      Alex Castellanos went 2-for-3 with three RBIs as a Detroit split squad knocked off Atlanta in Orlando, Fla. Jose Iglesias added two hits and an RBI for the Tigers, while Kurt Suzuki led the Braves' 11-hit attack by going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Starter Bartolo Colon struggled in his 3 2/3 innings for Atlanta, giving up eight hits and six runs.

      Pirates 13, Phillies 8

      Eury Perez, John Jaso and Elias Diaz each homered as Pittsburgh prevailed in a slugfest in Clearwater, Fla. Jaso finished with four RBIs for the Pirates while Phil Gosselin added a two-run triple. Maikel Franco clubbed a grand slam for the Phillies, but starter Jeremy Hellickson was charged with nine hits and eight runs (five earned) in five innings.

      Red Sox 12, Twins 5

      Pablo Sandoval crushed a solo homer and a three-run shot as Boston outscored Minnesota in Fort Myers, Fla. Mitch Moreland knocked in four runs for the Red Sox while Opening Day starter Rick Porcello was touched for nine hits and five runs in four innings. Brian Dozier had three hits and a run for the Twins.

      Rangers (ss) 8, Indians (ss) 4

      Cesar Puello's three-run homer started a barrage of four Texas long balls that gave it a win over a Cleveland split squad in San Antonio. Scott Heineman, Alex Burg and Chuck Moorman also went deep for the Rangers' split squad. Daniel Robertson and Dorssys Paulino collected RBI singles for the Indians and Brandon Guyer drew a bases-loaded walk for an RBI.

      Indians (ss) 4, Royals 4

      Peter O'Brien's homer in the bottom of the ninth enabled Kansas City to tie a Cleveland split squad in Surprise, Ariz. Christian Colon and Alex Gordon added RBI doubles for the Royals, while Richie Shaffer and Todd Hankins launched solo homers for the Indians. The game was called after neither team scored in the 10th inning.

      Athletics 2, Padres 1

      Adam Rosales’ RBI single in the bottom of the seventh lifted Oakland past San Diego in Mesa, Ariz. Kendall Graveman lasted six innings for the Athletics, allowing just two hits and a run while whiffing six. Dusty Coleman cracked a solo homer for the Padres, which got five innings out of Luis Perdomo, who yielded just three hits and a run.

      Rangers (ss) 3, Reds 3

      Joey Gallo walloped a two-run homer in the first inning for a Texas split squad, helping it tie Cincinnati in Goodyear, Ariz. Yu Darvish pitched 4 2/3 innings for the Rangers, giving up just two hits and one earned run with six strikeouts. Billy Hamilton knocked in a run for the Reds, who scored their other two runs thanks to two of Texas’ five errors.

      Mariners 6, Giants 5

      Bases-loaded walks to Tyler O'Neill and Chantz Mack in the bottom of the eighth allowed Seattle to edge San Francisco in Peoria, Ariz. Jarrett Parker and Chris Marrero cracked solo homers for the Giants, while starter Matt Moore pitched five scoreless innings, fanning four. Kyle Seager supplied an RBI triple in the sixth for the Mariners.

      Angels 9, Rockies 3

      Scoring in the second through seventh innings, Los Angeles routed Colorado in Mesa, Ariz. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols each supplied RBI singles in the fourth, while Carlos Perez belted a two-run homer to cap the scoring in the seventh. Stephen Cardullo and Anthony Bemboom each walloped solo shots for the Rockies.

      Brewers 13, Cubs 7

      Three-run homers by Manny Pina and Kyle Wren helped Milwaukee outscore Chicago in Maryvale, Ariz. Dustin Houle also homered for the Brewers, while Ivan DeJesus knocked in two runs. The Cubs got two-run homers from Anthony Rizzo and Jacob Hanneman, as well as solo blasts from John Andreoli and Addison Russell. The teams combined for 33 hits.

      Dodgers 13, White Sox 7

      Rob Segedin, Bobby Wilson, Brett Eibner and O’Koyea Dickson each homered as Los Angeles outslugged Chicago at Glendale, Ariz. Kenta Maeda scattered five hits over 4 1/3 innings for the Dodgers, allowing a run as he picked up the win. Jacob May went 4-for-6 with two runs for the White Sox, finishing a homer shy of the cycle.

  • MLB roundup: Yankees combine to no-hit Tigers
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 17, 2017

    The New York Yankees' Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka, combined with two relievers to no-hit the Detroit Tigers in a 3-0 win on Friday in Lakeland, Fla. Tanaka struck six and walked two in 4 1/3 innings. Chasen Shreve got the final two outs in the fifth and Jordan Montgomery closed out the gem with four perfect innings.

    • Cubs 7, White Sox 3

      Kyle Schwarber belted a three-run homer and drove in four runs as both teams had an Opening Day look for the sold-out crowd in Glendale, Ariz. Kris Bryant add a two-run single in the win.

      Mariners (ss) 9, Diamondbacks (ss) 5

      Down 5-2 entering the top of the ninth, Seattle exploded for seven runs with a grand slam from Ryan Casteel accounting for the big hit. Jay Baum had a two-run double in the inning as the Mariners struck for six hits and coaxed three walks off relievers Yuhei Nakaushiro and Gabriel Moya.

      Astros (ss) 6, Red Sox 2

      Reid Brignac's double sparked a four-run sixth inning and starter Brad Peacock allowed one run in three innings. Boston middle relievers Joe Kelly and Noe Ramirez combined to give up all six runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.

      Astros (ss) 5, Braves 4

      Houston scored four times in the bottom of the ninth inning to steal the victory. Three straight singles loaded the bases for Derek Fisher. His double drove in two runs and set the table for Jack Mayfield, who stepped up and singled to center to drive in the game-winning run.

      Twins 4, Rays 2

      Brian Dozier belted a first-inning, three-run homer, Jorge Polanco crushed a solo shot and five Minnesota pitchers held Tampa Bay to four hits. Phil Hughes started and went five innings and struck out four to earn the win.

      Blue Jays 7, Phillies 5

      Toronto's Darrell Ceciliani went 2-for-4 and drove in five runs as Toronto scored five times in the fifth inning. Marco Estrada walked two and gave up only one hit in 3 2/3 innings, but he did give up three runs, two of them earned.

      Orioles 8, Pirates 6

      Baltimore jumped all over Pittsburgh starter Drew Hutchison and turned seven hits and two walks into six earned runs in a game that featured 26 hits, including nine for extra bases. The Orioles scored twice in the second with Trey Mancini's homer being the big blow. In the third, Baltimore parlayed two walks, a single and a double into three runs and a 5-1 lead.

      Mets 16, Cardinals 2

      New York scored four runs in the first, six more in the second and four times in the third on the way to a laugher. Wilmer Flores went 2-for-2 and drove in six runs, including a second-inning grand slam to highlight the Mets' 17-hit attack. His first-inning double to deep left scored Jay Bruce and Lucas Duda.

      Nationals 5, Marlins 5

      Miami scored two in the first and three in the second, but Washington stormed back with a four-run seventh in a game called after nine innings. Starter Erick Fedde gave up five runs in two innings, the big blow a three-run homer by Marcell Ozuna. The Nationals tied it up with three hits in the sixth with Isaac Ballou's two-run double being the big blow.

      Royals 8, Brewers 5

      Alex Gordon went 2-for-4 and Kansas City roughed up Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson for five runs in three innings. Kansas City took a 3-0 lead in the first, but the Brewers bounced back and scored four runs in the bottom of the first off Nathan Karns. Jose Colon gave the Royals the lead for good with a lead-off homer in the second.

      Diamondbacks (ss) 3, Athletics 2

      Chris Owings' two-run triple in the first inning and Brandon Drury's RBI double in the fifth scored all the runs Arizona pitchers would need. Archie Bradley went five innings and gave up five hits and one earned run.

      Rangers 6, Angels 5

      Texas came back from being down 3-0 early to beat Los Angeles on the strength of a two-run homer by James Loney and a three-run shot by Ronald Guzman. Loney tagged Manny Banuelos, who had not allowed a run in his first 6 2/3 innings of work this spring. Guzman slugged his homer in the seventh inning off Austin Adams.

      Indians (ss) 3, Rangers 2

      Lonnie Chisenhall, Abraham Almonte and Erik Kratz hit solo homers, and a Cleveland split squad beat Texas in San Antonio. Cleveland starter Danny Salazar struck out nine while allowing two runs in five innings. Rangers starter A.J. Griffin gave up the three homers but no other hits in a five-inning stint.

      Reds 7, Indians (ss) 3

      Cincinnati scored five times in the seventh inning to blow past a Cleveland split squad at Goodyear, Ariz. Wandy Peralta threw two scoreless, hitless innings for the win after Reds starter Brandon Finnegan yielded three runs in four inning. Indians starter Corey Kluber limited Cincinnati to two runs on three hits while striking out six in five innings.

      Rockies 5, Giants 1

      Charlie Blackmon, Jordan Patterson and Stephen Cardullo each had two hits as Colorado beat San Francisco in Scottdale, Ariz. Rockies lefty Harrison Musgrave tossed three scoreless innings of one-hit ball. Giants starter Matt Cain was tagged for three runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

      Mariners 5 (ss), Dodgers 2 (ss)

      Tyler O'Neill and Leonys Martin hit home runs off Clayton Kershaw as a split Seattle squad beat a split Los Angeles squad in Glendale Ariz. Kershaw allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. Mariners starter Ariel Miranda allowed two runs and three hits in three innings.

      Padres 3, Dodgers 2 (ss)

      Peter Van Gansen scored on a throwing error by second baseman Willie Calhoun in the ninth inning and San Diego edged a split squad of Los Angeles in Peoria, Ariz. Joc Pederson homered for Los Angeles while Hunter Renfroe had two hits for San Diego. Dodgers' lefty Alex Wood allowed one run and two hits in 4 1/3 innings.

  • Rangers RHP Gonzalez has partial UCL tear
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 17, 2017

    Texas Rangers right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez will be sidelined indefinitely due to a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.

    • An MRI exam on Friday revealed the severity of the injury after Rodriguez complained of elbow soreness, the Dallas Morning News reported.

      Team physician Dr. Keith Meister prescribed six weeks of rest and an injection of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for the 25-year-old Rodriguez, a first-round draft pick in 2013.

      "Dr. Meister felt that with the area where the injury is, he has historically had a pretty good success rate for the conservative route of the (PRP) injection," Rangers assistant general manager Josh Boyd said. "He will then go six weeks without throwing and then we will re-evaluate and do another scan."

      Gonzalez appeared in 14 games, making 10 starts, in 2015 and compiled a 4-6 record and 3.90 ERA. He regressed last year and went 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA in three starts, allowing 13 runs, 21 hits and nine walks in 10 1/3 innings.

      Expected to compete for a spot in the back of the starting rotation this spring, Gonzalez has been knocked around for eight earned runs and 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings.

  • Shoulder surgery sidelines Athletics OF Smolinski
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 17, 2017

    Oakland Athletics outfielder Jake Smolinski underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and could miss a large chunk of the 2017 season.

    • The team said Smolinski underwent surgery Thursday to repair the labrum and to remove a bursa sac. He will be in a sling for four weeks and the team doesn't yet have a timetable for his return.

      "I texted with him a little bit yesterday and he felt good about it, too," Oakland manager Bob Melvin told reporters on Friday. "It's always good to have a positive frame of mind when you head into your rehab."

      Smolinski batted .238 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 99 games last season.

      The 28-year-old appeared in just three games this spring before being shut down.

  • Marlins 3B Prado suffers hamstring injury during WBC
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 17, 2017

    Miami Marlins third baseman Martin Prado is slated to undergo an MRI exam on Saturday after suffering a right hamstring injury during the World Baseball Classic.

    • Prado was injured while playing for Venezuela on Wednesday in San Diego. He was en route to South Florida on Friday and the Marlins want their medical team to determine the severity of the injury.

      "He's getting an MRI tomorrow," Marlins manager Don Mattingly told reporters Friday. "We'll let our doctors see him and make a decision, and we'll see where we think he's at right now.

      "There is no reason to speculate at this point. Obviously, it's a hamstring. Those things take a little time."

      The 33-year-old Prado signed a three-year, $40 million contract in the offseason. He batted .305 with eight homers and 75 RBIs last season.

      The Marlins see no reason to rush Prado back to action.

      "Hamstrings take a little bit of time, and we'll let the doctors determine what grade it is and see what we're going to have to do," Mattingly said. "You're just guessing at a timeline with guys getting back. Hopefully, it's a minor Grade 1, and we'll kind of continue moving and have him ready. We'll have to wait and see."