What to watch for in today's games

Cactus and Grapefruit League action is winding down with the regular season just days away. A few aces will be on the mound today for their final spring tuneups, while others are out to prove they belong on Opening Day rosters.

Here are four things to watch for (all times ET):

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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Achilles tendinitis to sideline Brown to begin season

Achilles tendinitis to sideline Brown to begin season

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies informed Domonic Brown on Tuesday that he will open the season on the 15-day disabled list.

Brown has been sidelined since March 19 because of tendinitis in his left Achilles.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

After impressive spring, Bryant sent down by Cubs

Top prospect reassigned to Minors camp with Russell; Baez optioned to Triple-A

After impressive spring, Bryant sent down by Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon did not deny that he wants Kris Bryant in his lineup. Just not yet.

Bryant, the Cubs' top prospect, was assigned to Minor League camp on Monday along with shortstop Addison Russell, while Javier Baez was optioned to Triple-A Iowa. The Iowa team now may have one of the best infields in baseball.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Dan O'Dowd

Cubs' Bryant decision entirely defensible

In addition to service-clock issue, positional questions justify Epstein's call on top prospect

Cubs' Bryant decision entirely defensible

The Cubs' decision to send slugger Kris Bryant down to the Minors to start the season has divided the baseball world, with many wondering why the Cubs -- a team that hopes to contend -- would send one of their best players to the Minors.

Cubs president Theo Epstein is going to be questioned for this decision, but it's entirely defensible.

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Dan O'Dowd is an MLB Network analyst and MLB.com columnist who served as general manager of the Rockies for 15 years, building a National League pennant winner in 2007. Prior to his time with Colorado, he worked in the front offices of the Orioles and Indians. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

10 things you need to know before the 2015 season

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10 things you need to know before the 2015 season

Paid no attention to the Major League hot stove this winter? Accidentally thought you were a bear and hibernated for three months? Well, have no fear: This guide is here to help. 

As you rouse yourself from a winter of snoozing, here are 10 things you need to know: 

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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

15 Top 100 Prospects still vying for Opening Day spots

15 Top 100 Prospects still vying for Opening Day spots

Many of the game's top prospects have made their impressions and moved on from big league camp this spring. MLB.com has been documenting them and their ETAs.

But several of those on the Top 100 Prospects list are still in camp, hoping to push the timing of the future up just a bit. Some are sure-fire bets to break camp with the parent club. Some are still trying to make the team, or at the very least, attempting to make the decision to send them down a difficult one. Here's a look at the Top 100 prospects still making noise in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

With 'pen filling up, Bucs option Holdzkom, Scahill

Club also reassigns Wood as one open spot remains on big league club

With 'pen filling up, Bucs option Holdzkom, Scahill

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates' bullpen picture came into sharper focus on Tuesday morning, when right-handers John Holdzkom and Rob Scahill were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis and Blake Wood was reassigned to the Minor League camp.

Those moves left eight men -- including only one other reliever (Jared Hughes) with a remaining Minor League option -- for a bullpen that has seven seats.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

10 players facing make-or-break seasons

From MVP winners to former aces to onetime prospects, this group has plenty to prove in 2015

10 players facing make-or-break seasons

Time to step up, fellas. That's true for Mike Trout and King Felix and Giancarlo Stanton. Also Matt Carpenter and Max Scherzer and David Ortiz. Players will tell you they have to prove themselves every single season.

For some players, though, it's different. For some, it's getting late. There's doubt about what they're still capable of. There are questions about whether they'll ever be what they once were or what we long thought they'd be.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Walker doesn't flinch against Trout and Pujols

Walker doesn't flinch against Trout and Pujols

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Opening Day approaches. With every page that is torn off the calendar, as we say farewell to March and get ready to welcome April, the baseball just gets better.

On Monday afternoon at Peoria Sports Complex, the best pitcher in the Cactus League this spring, 22-year-old Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker, stood tall against Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, two of the best hitters of the last decade.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

R.B.I. Baseball 15 available on next-generation consoles

Cubs All-Star first baseman Rizzo is first cover athlete

R.B.I. Baseball 15 available on next-generation consoles

Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced that R.B.I. Baseball 15, with Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo as its first cover athlete, will be available on next-generation consoles beginning today. These editions of the iconic and easy-to-play game also will be available via GameStop.

R.B.I. Baseball is developed by MLBAM and officially licensed by MLB and the MLB Players Association. This year's game arrives with a host of all-new features ranging from stat tracking to online multiplayer mode to newly crafted authentic MLB ballpark designs for each club, so here are some questions and answers about what to expect:

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies release veteran right-hander Slowey

Phillies release veteran right-hander Slowey

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies released Kevin Slowey on Tuesday, as the veteran right-hander seemed to be the second of two in-house candidates to be their No. 5 starter.

It appears to leave Sean O'Sullivan as the fifth starter, which the team does not need until April 12. But the Phillies are looking outside the organization for starting-pitching help, although if they find somebody, it will be a low-cost option.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Get an edge in your league with Fantasy 411's Cheat Sheet

Get an edge in your league with Fantasy 411's Cheat Sheet

With fantasy-baseball-draft season in full swing, MLB.com put together a cheat sheet for fans in need of expert advice. Make sure to have the one-stop information shop on hand during your auctions or snake drafts.

For comprehensive coverage of the player pool, check out MLB.com/preview. And follow @Fantasy411 for daily- and annual-league tips all season long.

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Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Napoli crushes rare broken-bat homer

Napoli crushes rare broken-bat homer

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Mike Napoli finished his swing, all he had left to hold was a tiny part of his bat handle. The rest of the bat went to third base, where Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe fielded it.

The baseball? That soared over the Green Monster for the rare broken-bat home run.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Veteran Montero ready for latest challenge with Cubs

Veteran Montero ready for latest challenge with Cubs

Miguel Montero has been to the postseason with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and now the two-time All-Star is looking to return to baseball's biggest stage with the Chicago Cubs.

After starting his career with the D-backs, the 31-year-old Montero is taking on the new challenge of an up-and-coming Cubs team, providing veteran leadership for a franchise that has its sights set on getting back to the postseason and, perhaps, back to that elusive World Series.

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John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians read mean tweets about themselves

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Indians read mean tweets about themselves

This week, the Indians scrolled through their Twitter mentions and shared the most, uh, unique tweets with us.Like this friendly suggestion for Jason Kipnis, to which he had the perfect response. 

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The Final Four team every MLB fan should root for

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The Final Four team every MLB fan should root for

As a baseball fan with mere days left until the start of the MLB season, we won't blame you if you've completely forgotten that other sports exist. But they do! Lots of them, including college basketball.

You see, we just happen to be nearing the end of a little something called the NCAA tournament. Brackets have been busted, 64 teams have been eliminated and we now have the Final Four: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Duke. And, as you may no longer have a rooting interest left in the tournament, but you probably do have a favorite MLB team - and that's enough. Here's a guide to exactly which basketball team you should root for this weekend based on your favorite MLB franchise.

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Viera a constant inspiration for Cardinals

10-year-old with rare condition visits camp; he was an honorary coach for State College last year

Viera a constant inspiration for Cardinals

JUPITER, Fla. -- Outside his grandson's hospital room, Dave Bohner knew nothing except that he needed to pray.

On the second floor of the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, 1-year-old Josiah Viera was fading. His life had already been a perpetual fight of regular surgeries and an exhausting search for a diagnosis. When one finally came, it offered no solution and little hope. At best, Josiah might live another decade. At this moment, it seemed he'd likely not make it another day.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rendon sees Dr. Andrews about ailing left knee

Nationals third baseman sprained MCL while making diving play on March 9

Rendon sees Dr. Andrews about ailing left knee

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon traveled to meet with orthopedist Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Monday in order to receive a second opinion on the sprained MCL in his left knee.

Rendon was injured while making a diving play on March 9, and the knee has continued to bother him during even the most routine activity. He could not complete a light jogging exercise this past Friday without feeling soreness.

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Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Top-level analysis: Manfred a fan of fantasy baseball

Commissioner has finger on pulse of how game is changing for the better

Top-level analysis: Manfred a fan of fantasy baseball

As Commissioner Rob Manfred begins his inaugural season at the helm of Major League Baseball, the popularity of fantasy baseball continues to swell. Daily fantasy games and new, innovative scoring formats are just two of the latest developments embraced by fantasy enthusiasts. The Commissioner recently spoke about the role that fantasy baseball plays in engaging fans, the prevalence of analytics in baseball and the emergence of the latest wave of exciting young stars.

MLB.com: What are your overall thoughts on or experiences with fantasy baseball?

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Could 16-year-old Danner be No. 1 in 2017?

UCLA commit, 2011 Little League World Series star shines on another big stage at NHSI

Could 16-year-old Danner be No. 1 in 2017?

CARY, N.C. -- America's first introduction to Hagen Danner came nearly four years ago, in the 2011 Little League World Series. That summer, he starred for Huntington Beach's Ocean Valley Little League, helping the team win the championship in Williamsport, Pa.

In a game against the local favorites from Clinton County, Pa. -- with 31,000 fans in the stands and millions more watching on television -- Danner struck out 12 batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, and he also homered. He homered again in the title game against Japan.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

5 keys for clubs to contend for AL East crown

5 keys for clubs to contend for AL East crown

Any number of factors can conspire to decide a division race. But at the dawn of a new season, these are the five factors that look like they'll loom largest in the American League East.

1. A deck without an ace

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Who is the top player at each position in the AL East?

Who is the top player at each position in the AL East?

How does the American League East stack up, position by position? Here's a stab at predicting who will be the best player at each position in the division this season. Think of it as the preseason All-AL East team.

Catcher: Russell Martin, Blue Jays
A slam-dunk decision, especially with Matt Wieters still on the mend following last year's Tommy John surgery. Martin has firmly established himself as one of the game's best two-way players at this position, as his input in calling a game is extraordinary and his consistent contact and on-base ability (.402 OBP last year) make him an ideal fit for Toronto's No. 2 spot in the batting order.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Soler's talent, temperament evoke memories of Vlad

Cubs phenom reminds Maddon of Guerrero 'with plate discipline'

Soler's talent, temperament evoke memories of Vlad

MESA, Ariz. -- In any normal camp in any normal spring, Jorge Soler would be the focus of the kind of hype associated with brilliant young talents performing phenomenal athletic acts.

It is a testament to the power of the Kris Bryant Experience that Soler has managed to fly under the Cubs' radar in spite of soaring skills calling to manager Joe Maddon's mind the great Vladimir Guerrero.

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Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rays' stadium site search hits roadblock

Rays' stadium site search hits roadblock

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A revised proposal by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to allow the Rays to check out potential stadium sites in Hillsborough County came to a halt on Monday.

Kriseman and City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes decided not to place the memorandum of understanding (addressing the revised proposal) on the agenda for Thursday's council meeting because they felt they had not gained the necessary votes for the proposal to pass.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Verlander to miss next spring start

Right-hander recovering from right triceps cramp

Verlander to miss next spring start

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander will miss his previously scheduled Spring Training start Thursday. When the Tigers right-hander does pitch again at this point is anyone's guess.

"Especially [since] I didn't throw today, I don't think it's very feasible that I can go out and pitch Thursday," Verlander said Monday morning. "I think it's a day-by-day thing."

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Koji in holding pattern as hamstring discomfort lingers

Koji in holding pattern as hamstring discomfort lingers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox closer Koji Uehara still can't go with 100 percent intensity in side sessions, thanks to lingering discomfort in his right hamstring.

Uehara hoped to experience some progress when he threw 30 pitches in the bullpen on Monday, but to no avail.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Intangibles major reason for Posey's success

Giants pitchers widely credit catcher for their excellence on mound

Intangibles major reason for Posey's success

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Statistics cannot measure the core of Buster Posey's excellence. It consists of intangibles, manifested in behavioral and motivational tools that benefit the Giants' accomplished pitchers.

Pitching is baseball's currency, and the Giants have enjoyed a wealth of it while winning three of the past five World Series. Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Sergio Romo and their brethren created much of their own success during the seasons and postseasons when the Giants loomed over the game. But in many ways, Posey surveyed and supervised San Francisco's pitching ensemble from his director's chair behind home plate, a catcher who gives perhaps more than he receives.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cabrera OK after taking tumble at first base

Cabrera OK after taking tumble at first base

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The day Miguel Cabrera returned to first base last week, he put a scare into Tigers fans -- and likely some club officials -- when he made a diving stop on a ground-ball single. His play Monday was a little scarier when he took a tumble over Braves hitter Kelly Johnson trying to make a tag at first base.

Cabrera, who has worked his way back from offseason surgery to remove a bone spur from his right ankle and repair a stress fracture in his right foot, fielded a ground ball from Johnson with a runner on first in the second inning of Monday's 4-2 loss at Joker Marchant Stadium. Cabrera had no chance at the lead runner, so he waited to tag Johnson on his way down the line.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Price argues against altering strike zone to benefit hitters

Price argues against altering strike zone to benefit hitters

What can be done to inject more offense into baseball? This has been a popular Spring Training topic in both Florida and Arizona, but it isn't particularly popular with pitchers, who like the direction of the game, which has been going distinctly toward their dominance.

One of the best conversations I heard on this topic was with Bryan Price, a thoughtful man who manages the Cincinnati Reds. Price was a Minor League pitcher, and then a pitching coach with the Mariners, the D-backs and the Reds before taking his current position. That personal history is clearly reflected in his comments, but that doesn't make his position any less valid.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets find lefty reliever, land Torres from Padres

With Edgin out, New York bolsters 'pen, deals prospect Mazzoni to SD, den Dekker to D.C.

Mets find lefty reliever, land Torres from Padres

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Still smarting from Josh Edgin's season-ending elbow injury, the Mets addressed their left-handed relief problem in two quick strikes on Monday, acquiring Alex Torres from the Padres in exchange for pitching prospect Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named, then Jerry Blevins from the Nationals for outfielder Matt den Dekker.

"You've got to make moves," manager Terry Collins said. "You go in that room and you talk to these players, we were missing a piece. We talk about how successful we want to be. There was a piece we needed, and today we went out and filled that."

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.