Donaldson takes BP for first time since calf strain

Donaldson takes BP for first time since calf strain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson took batting practice Tuesday as he continues to recover from a right calf strain sustained on Feb. 17.

Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP Award winner, was expected to miss two to three weeks with the injury, but manager John Gibbons said there's no real timetable for his return.

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Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Greinke gets second Opening Day nod for D-backs

Greinke gets second Opening Day nod for D-backs

Right-hander Zack Greinke will start on Opening Day for the D-backs, manager Torey Lovullo announced Wednesday.

It marks the second Opening Day assignment in a row for Greinke, who suffered a loss vs. the Rockies in last year's opener. Overall, he was 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA in 26 starts last season, his first with the D-backs.

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

Hanley may undergo more testing on shoulder

Slated to join DR at Classic on Friday, Red Sox DH dealing with soreness

Hanley may undergo more testing on shoulder

SARASOTA, Fla. -- There has been no change in the sore right shoulder that has slowed Hanley Ramirez early in Spring Training, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning. Ramirez is scheduled to leave camp Friday to join the Dominican Republic team in preparation for the World Baseball Classic.

"It would be safe to say if no improvements or ramping up in the throwing program in the next 24-48 hours, additional testing is probably needed at that point," Farrell said. "But as of today, no revelations in any way."

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Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watch Theo Epstein take BP vs. Dempster

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Watch Theo Epstein take BP vs. Dempster

Pretend for a moment that you're a baseball executive with a reputation for breaking curses. Let's say you've helped two historically downtrodden teams win World Series, and that you've casually joked around with Barack Obama. What's the next step in your career?

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Classic a stage for breakout stars

Classic a stage for breakout stars

The upcoming World Baseball Classic will provide an opportunity to see talented players from around the globe battle it out in an exciting 16-team tournament.

The event brings together some of today's top players -- more than 60 former All-Stars are participating -- as well as some who could develop into headliners in the coming years.

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Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Counting down MLB's Top 10 farm systems

Pirates check in at No. 7, followed by Rockies, Reds and Rays

Counting down MLB's Top 10 farm systems

What makes an organization rank as one of the top farm systems in baseball? Simply put, it's a combination of quality and quantity. The MLBPipeline.com staff ranked the Top 10 systems in the game by considering which organizations have an abundance of elite-level prospect talent as well as depth, in terms of future big leaguers up and down the system.

Prospect Points are determined by awarding a team 100 points for the No. 1 prospect on the Top 100 list, 99 points for No. 2 and so on, down to one point for No. 100. Points are then tallied by team.

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MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

All business: Felix focused on return to form

Mariners' ace aims to move past down season in major way

All business: Felix focused on return to form

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right away, you see it: Felix Hernandez is different. He has put on 17 pounds of muscle, but that's not quite it. Hernandez has cut his hair and doesn't play around with different hair dyes like usual. But that's not it either. He doesn't wear his socks up for the moment, he smiles a little less, and he pitches with force in February, something he hasn't done in years. But none of those things individually quite gets at what's different about Hernandez.

Instead, all of those things, combined, paint a picture: Hernandez isn't fooling around. Not this year. Not when the world begins to doubt him. That's what's different.

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MLB.com columnist Joe Posnanski is a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy Award-winning writer and has been awarded National Sportswriter of the Year. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

De Leon 'can't wait' to make Rays debut

Prospect to start against Red Sox on Thursday

De Leon 'can't wait' to make Rays debut

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jose De Leon will make his Rays debut Thursday afternoon when he starts against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

"I'm really excited about it," De Leon said. "Can't wait."

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Keuchel on track to see spring game action soon

Keuchel on track to see spring game action soon

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- If he keeps progressing, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel could be in line to appear in his first Grapefruit League game in the next 10 days or so. Keuchel, who's on an individualized throwing program this spring, threw his second live batting practice of the spring on Wednesday and came through fine.

Keuchel threw his full arsenal to hitters Jake Marisnick, Garrett Stubbs, Alejandro Garcia and Ramon Laureano on a back field at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. He's focusing on fastball command at this point and said his cutter and slider are still taking "baby steps."

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Farms that should crack the 2018 Top 10 list

Farms that should crack the 2018 Top 10 list

With Spring Training underway, MLBPipeline.com's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have not only been rolling out their 2017 Top 30 Prospects lists for each of the Major League teams, they've also been busy ranking their Top 10 farm systems in baseball. The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of their Pipeline podcast with Tim McMaster, in which they discuss which teams look to be on the cusp of breaking into next year's Top 10.

To hear more from the MLBPipeline.com experts, subscribe to the podcast by clicking here.

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Prospect Harvey could return by midseason

O's first-round pick in '13 recovering from Tommy John surgery

Prospect Harvey could return by midseason

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's been a long and bumpy road for Hunter Harvey. Beset by injuries, the Orioles' first-round pick in 2013 has appeared in just 30 Minor League games.

The right-hander, who underwent Tommy John surgery last July 26, missed the 2015 season after he suffered a broken leg on a comebacker in Spring Training. The year before, he battled elbow soreness.

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Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross to compete on 'Dancing with the Stars'

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Ross to compete on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Nothing can contain David Ross. Father Time gave up its battle with Ross years ago, as the great gray beard excelled through his age-39 season despite playing one of the most demanding positions in the game. Pitchers gave up trying to beat him as he managed to reach double-digit dingers in his final big league season ... including a fairly notable one deep into October

The Cubs' front office knew full well the team would not be able to repeat as World Series champs without him, so quickly made sure to bring Ross into the fold in the offseason as a special assistant

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Venditte's approach as unusual as his specialty

Mariners switch-pitcher tailors mechanics for each arm

Venditte's approach as unusual as his specialty

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In his head, there are two Pat Vendittes.

When the Mariners reliever -- the lone switch-pitcher in the Majors -- takes the mound and peers out from behind his custom six-finger glove, each at-bat is an adventure.

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Fabian Ardaya is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Move to 'pen changed everything for Davis

Cubs' new closer has been among MLB's best relievers over past 3 years

Move to 'pen changed everything for Davis

MESA, Ariz. -- Wade Davis, the Cubs' new closer, never set out to be baseball's most dominant reliever, and isn't it funny how these things sometimes work out? Actually, he was adamant about it.

Davis was going to be a starting pitcher -- period, end of story, thanks for asking. When the Royals acquired him from the Rays in December 2012, they had the same thing in mind.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Frazier being cautious with oblique injury

White Sox third baseman has no timetable for return

Frazier being cautious with oblique injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Todd Frazier is still working his way back from a strained left oblique and he told MLB.com on Wednesday morning that there's no timetable yet for his Cactus League debut.

"I don't know, I don't know, there's no real timetable right now," Frazier said in the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch, hours before the White Sox played the D-backs here. "If it was during the season I'm sure there would be a timetable. I'm sure it's one of those things where you can get back going quicker. But we have a whole other month so we have plenty of time."

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dempster preparing to return for Classic with Canada

Former Cubs right-hander hasn't pitched since 2013

Dempster preparing to return for Classic with Canada

MESA, Ariz. -- The last time Ryan Dempster pitched for Team Canada, it was 1994 and he was 17 years old, playing for a junior team. On Sunday, he'll head to Tampa, Fla., to join his country's team to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

"Twenty-three years later, to do this again is pretty cool," Dempster said Wednesday.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Duda swings bat in 'normal day' at camp

Back spasms had limited first baseman to defensive drills since last week

Duda swings bat in 'normal day' at camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Lucas Duda resumed swinging a bat Wednesday for the first time since suffering back spasms last week, as part of what he called a "normal day" at Mets camp. Previously, Duda had been limited to defensive drills as he recovered from a cortisone shot in each hip.

"It just took a little bit of time, because we were afforded that luxury," Duda said Wednesday morning. "I'll get back at it today and see how it feels."

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Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nats', Astros' new park opens with walk-off HR

Nats', Astros' new park opens with walk-off HR

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Construction crews have been working vigorously for the past 15 months and virtually around the clock for the past few weeks to prepare for Tuesday, the opening of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. In the first game between the Nationals and Astros in their new Spring Training home, Washington outfielder Michael Taylor ended the game with a two-out, walk-off home run in the ninth inning to lead the Nats to a 4-3 victory.

It was part of a spectacular inning for Taylor, who in the top half of the ninth threw out the potential go-ahead run from center field to keep the game tied.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Bumgarner happy with progress in 2nd start

Giants ace gets work in vs. Padres; Melancon stays perfect in spring

Bumgarner happy with progress in 2nd start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Giants ace Madison Bumgarner doesn't want anyone to misinterpret his words.

He's not trying to be pedestrian or even be a wise guy. But really, all the left-hander was trying to do in Tuesday afternoon's 9-5 loss to the Padres was get his work in and get ready for the season. And no, he didn't have a game plan against San Diego's hitters, and no, it didn't matter that he was facing a National League West opponent.

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Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Global phenomenon: Classic a marquee event

Now in its fourth iteration, baseball's pre-eminent global tourney delivers for fans

Global phenomenon: Classic a marquee event

Every four years, sports fans are reminded of how the forces of nationalism dominate our beloved pastimes. Soccer fans -- or football, depending on your reference point -- pack stadiums, pubs or anywhere with a large TV to raucously cheer for their respective countries during the World Cup. Across the world, medal counts and broken records dominate the conversation for more than two weeks as the Olympic Games play out. And for the World Baseball Classic, the mood is largely the same.

Fans from the sport's traditional powerhouses, like Japan and the Dominican Republic, pack venues across the globe in a show of support for their nations' stars. But even the most unlikely participants, like the Netherlands and Australia, revel in the experience as fans rally behind them, decked out in their countries' colors and rooting hard for an upset.

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Allison Duffy-Davis is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Return to Pirates' lineup on horizon for Bell

Return to Pirates' lineup on horizon for Bell

BRADENTON, Fla. -- If all goes well, Pirates first baseman Josh Bell could be back in the lineup at some point next week.

Bell is in the "final stages" of game preparation following Feb. 1 surgery to remove a loose body from his left knee, head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday. The plan is to have Bell run the bases and participate in simulated games later this week. He has been hitting, fielding and running on the field.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Marlins will keep Ellis on shelf for 2 days

Backup catcher questionable for World Baseball Classic

Marlins will keep Ellis on shelf for 2 days

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A strained left hamstring has shut down A.J. Ellis for the next two days, and while the Marlins are confident their backup catcher will be ready for Opening Day, his status for the World Baseball Classic is in question.

Miami is saying it's too early to tell about whether Ellis will be able to join Team USA. First, the club is waiting to see how he responds after no baseball activities on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Manfred seeks continued talks with MLBPA

Commissioner to meet with union reps soon about potential changes

Manfred seeks continued talks with MLBPA

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Commissioner Rob Manfred plans to continue dialogue with the Major League Baseball Players Association and its executive director, Tony Clark, about any potential rules changes beyond 2017.

Speaking on Tuesday before the opening of the new Spring Training home for the Nationals and Astros, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Manfred said he and Clark are expecting to meet in the coming weeks, along with a group of players, to discuss any potential adjustments.

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

Twins' Kirilloff to have season-ending elbow surgery

Outfielder is ranked No. 3 prospect in organization, No. 98 in baseball

Twins' Kirilloff to have season-ending elbow surgery

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff, the Twins' first-round pick in the 2016 Draft, suffered a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on March 8. Dr. David Altchek will perform the surgery in New York.

Kirilloff, who is ranked as Minnesota's No. 3 prospect and No. 98 overall by MLBPipeline.com, suffered the injury on a throw during a game with Rookie-level Elizabethton on Aug. 28, general manager Thad Levine said. Kirilloff, 19, spent the offseason rehabbing after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection, but the symptoms returned while trying to throw this spring.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rajai's reunion with Tribe elicits Game 7 memories

Rajai's reunion with Tribe elicits Game 7 memories

MESA, Ariz. -- Rajai Davis has not completely left the Indians' clubhouse. On Tuesday morning, Brandon Guyer reached into his locker and pulled out a pack of new blue arm bands for the upcoming season. Stitched onto a white patch is a cartoon rendering of Davis' smiling face.

After all Davis did for the Tribe last year -- topped off by one of the great home runs in World Series history -- Guyer figures the bands might bring him a little luck.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

If the shoe fits: Artsy Delabar colors up cleats

If the shoe fits: Artsy Delabar colors up cleats

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A pair of bright blue cleats were placed inside Chris Colabello's locker inside the Indians' clubhouse on Tuesday morning. The first baseman had been waiting for these special spikes, which he plans on wearing while playing for Team Italy during the World Baseball Classic.

Stretching from the toe box and across the side of the shoes was the green, white and red Italian flag, painted to look as though it were waving in the wind. The spikes were modified for Colabello by Cleveland pitcher Steve Delabar, who has taken up shoe personalization art as a hobby over the past couple years.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Help us rank the best new haircuts and facial hair styles of 2017

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Help us rank the best new haircuts and facial hair styles of 2017

A ballplayer's offseason usually consists of relaxing Caribbean vacations interspersed with endless workouts to ensure they arrive to camp in the Best Shape of Their Life. 

For some, the "best shape" includes new hairstyles and/or facial hair artistry, with Spring Training presenting an opportunity for a fashion runway. Which looks work and which need to be taken back to the hair salon? That's where you come in.

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MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

New Nats, Astros park opens to much fanfare

Commissioner praises state-of-the-art facility

New Nats, Astros park opens to much fanfare

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals and Astros fans were given their first glimpse of baseball's newest Spring Training facility on Tuesday, when the two clubs played their first game on the field of The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

As is the case with the opening of every brand-new ballpark, Tuesday's game was preceded by a festive pregame ceremony that officially ushered in the new era of spring baseball on the east coast of Florida. In attendance at the ceremony were Commissioner Rob Manfred, Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane and Nationals principal owners Ted and Annette Lerner.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.