Cueto back at camp; return to mound imminent

Reds expect ace right-hander to start on Opening Day against Pirates

Cueto back at camp; return to mound imminent

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds ace Johnny Cueto made his awaited return to camp on Thursday morning, following a delayed flight to Phoenix that brought him to town late Wednesday night.

Cueto, who went home to the Dominican Republic last week for a family emergency, was on the field with the team when it stretched, and he worked among the pitchers on fielding and rundown drills.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Consensus top pick Trout talks fantasy baseball

Consensus top pick Trout talks fantasy baseball

Mike Trout doesn't play fantasy baseball, but he certainly hears about it a lot. How could he not, as the consensus No. 1 pick in fantasy leagues throughout the country for three years running? Trout is a fantasy owner's dream. He racks up singles (321 from 2012-14), doubles (105), triples (26), homers (93), RBIs (291), runs (353) and stolen bases (98), all in one 23-year-old package that is widely considered the best all-around talent in the game.

An avid fantasy football player, Trout understands the passion and competition that fantasy leagues inspire. In advance of Opening Day, MLB sat down with the Angels' superstar center fielder to discuss the allure of fantasy sports and his critical place in the midst of it all.
 
MLB.com: The Angels have a pretty competitive fantasy football league every year. What's the draw of playing in a fantasy league?

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Red Sox want Cecchini to work on versatility

Top pitching prospect Owens reassigned to Minors camp

Red Sox want Cecchini to work on versatility

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With Pablo Sandoval entrenched at third base for the Red Sox, the club will have prospect Garin Cecchini move around the diamond at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Cecchini, among the latest round of players who were optioned on Thursday, will start getting reps at first base and the outfield, as well as third base.

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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.

Ellsbury swings bat, optimistic for opener

Outfielder takes cuts for first time since straining his oblique on March 15

Ellsbury swings bat, optimistic for opener

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury said that he is excited to pick up a bat for tee work and soft toss on Thursday, which he believes will be a good test as he attempts to be ready for the Yankees' Opening Day lineup.

Ellsbury has not played in a game since March 15 due to a right oblique strain that the Yankees have characterized as "extremely mild." Manager Joe Girardi has said that as long as Ellsbury can play in a game by March 31, he is unconcerned about the season opener on April 6.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Dan O'Dowd

Five toughest roster dilemmas this spring

Cubs, White Sox, Mariners, D-backs, Red Sox face difficult decisions on young players

Five toughest roster dilemmas this spring

Every Spring Training, general managers have to deal with major dilemmas regarding top prospects: Do you bring them north because you believe they give you the best chance to win now, or do you let them simmer in the Minors to work on some areas of improvement while also keeping their service time in check?

Here is a look at the five clubs I believe have the toughest decisions to make this spring when it comes to prospects and the 25-man roster.

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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.

Cubs prospect Bryant to see action in left field

Cubs prospect Bryant to see action in left field

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant will get to play the outfield on Thursday.

Bryant has played third base and was the designated hitter while limited because of fatigue in his right shoulder in Cactus League games so far. He's been doing outfield drills this week with bench coach Dave Martinez, and Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday that the plan is to have Bryant try left field.

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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.

Fall Out Boy to rock Opening Night pregame

Chicago natives excited to play at Wrigley Field before official start of 2015 season

Fall Out Boy to rock Opening Night pregame

It's a new era in Major League Baseball, and fittingly the 2015 regular season will open a week from Sunday with a new tradition to get everything started.

MLB announced on Thursday that Chicago's own award-winning rock band Fall Out Boy will headline MLB Opening Night's first live musical performance as part of the pregame festivities April 5 at Wrigley Field. Fall Out Boy will perform three songs live on-field for fans before the Cardinals and Cubs renew their rivalry in the first official game of the 2015 season.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Questions develop on top talent in 2015 Draft

Rodgers expected to go first, but others have yet to separate themselves from pack

Questions develop on top talent in 2015 Draft

Brendan Rodgers, the consensus No. 1 Draft prospect entering 2015, has held serve and still looks like the favorite to go first overall to the D-backs on June 8. But few of the other highest-rated talents have met expectations so far this year, leaving many more questions than answers at the top of the Draft.

A shortstop from Lake Mary (Fla.) High, Rodgers continues to demonstrate outstanding offensive potential for his position along with a strong arm and solid speed and defense. But most of the players right behind him on MLBPipeline.com's Draft Top 50 rankings from December have gotten hurt or regressed, including the two pitchers who figured to be Rodgers' main competition to be the top pick.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hair Cutch: Pirates star happy with new 'do

All-Star's dreadlocks will be auctioned off to raise money for Pirates Charities

Hair Cutch: Pirates star happy with new 'do

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Andrew McCutchen is going to need a new hat.

The Pirates center fielder arrived at McKechnie Field on Thursday morning sporting a newly shorn look after cutting off his trademark dreadlocks on Wednesday.

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

Astros trade non-roster invitee Johnson to Reds

Astros trade non-roster invitee Johnson to Reds

The Astros traded first baseman Dan Johnson to the Reds on Wednesday in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

A nine-year Major League veteran, Johnson appeared in 14 games for Houston this spring as a non-roster invite. He was hitting .158 (3-for-19) with six walks.

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

Archer named Opening Day starter

Right-hander becomes 11th different pitcher to get call in opener

Archer named Opening Day starter

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Chris Archer will be the Tampa Bay Rays' Opening Day starter.

Rays manager Kevin Cash confirmed what appeared to be the obvious choice prior to Thursday's game against the Yankees.

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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.

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.

Delabar optioned by Blue Jays; move shocks reliever

Decision indicates club will use rookies Osuna, Castro in bullpen

Delabar optioned by Blue Jays; move shocks reliever

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- In a surprising move, the Blue Jays optioned right-hander Steve Delabar to Minor League camp on Thursday morning.

Delabar admitted he was shocked by the news and said he was expecting to be with the club on Opening Day. Instead, he'll likely begin the year with Triple-A Buffalo.

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies acquire Lohman from Reds

Phillies acquire Lohman from Reds

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies announced Thursday they have acquired shortstop Devin Lohman from the Reds for future considerations.

He will report to Minor League camp.

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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.

Rodon showcases nasty stuff, strikes out 9 Royals

Allows four hits over four; Avi, Barnum homer

Rodon showcases nasty stuff, strikes out 9 Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon gave the Kansas City Royals an early glimpse of his talents on Wednesday night. His division rivals to-be can't have liked what they saw.

Rodon, Chicago's top prospect and the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, allowed just four singles and struck out nine Royals over four innings, as the White Sox knocked off their American League Central foes, 6-0, at Surprise Stadium.

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AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils scratch Asche with balky back

Phils scratch Asche with balky back

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies have scratched Cody Asche from Thursday's lineup because of tightness in his back.

The team said he felt something during team stretch.

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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.

Butler brings his quest for a World Series title to Bay Area

Butler brings his quest for a World Series title to Bay Area

Last season ended oh so close for Billy Butler, as his Royals team came up 90 feet short of tying the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series.

Now, Butler's ready for a new season in a new place, as he begins his first season in Oakland.

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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.

Ryu says left shoulder issue similar to last year

Dodgers lefty unhappy to start season on DL, will work on conditioning, preparing arm

Ryu says left shoulder issue similar to last year

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu said he wasn't surprised doctors discovered no new damage to his left shoulder in an MRI earlier this week.

"I wasn't too worried," Ryu said Wednesday. "It's very similar pain to last year."

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

Friendships forged, strengthened in waning days of camp

Friendships forged, strengthened in waning days of camp

It's not classified among the all-encompassing menu of on-field maneuvers labeled "baseball activities," but it might as well be filed with that stuff, too.

On a damp Tuesday morning in Goodyear, Ariz., a few hours before the sun will dry out the complex and allow for an afternoon game at the stadium up the street, young Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton is sitting in a chair next to the locker of slightly older Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. They are chatting about any number of things.

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

Remembering Andrew McCutchen's hair through the ages

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Remembering Andrew McCutchen's hair through the ages

There are few things as jarring as a neatly-shorn Andrew McCutchen. So, it's understandable that there was a collective gasp throughout MLB when the former MVP revealed that he'd cut off his dreadlocks -- for charity.

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Hand to start Friday with Cosart nursing blister

Hand to start Friday with Cosart nursing blister

JUPITER, Fla. -- Having a surplus of starting pitching is turning out to be a good thing for the Marlins. On Thursday, the team announced left-hander Brad Hand will start on Friday against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla.

Hand is getting the nod after the team revealed Jarred Cosart, initially scheduled to pitch, has a blister on his right middle finger. Cosart played catch on Thursday, and he will be re-evaluated.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Veteran catcher Buck announces retirement

Played for seven teams in 11 seasons, was AL All-Star in 2010

Veteran catcher Buck announces retirement

Veteran catcher John Buck, who was in Spring Training camp with the Braves, announced his retirement Thursday in order to spend more time with his family.

The 34-year-old played for seven teams in 11 Major League seasons from 2004-14. He appeared in 1,090 games and collected 844 hits.

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

Puig's strong arm, powerful swing on display in same inning

Dodgers right fielder nabs runner at first base, then crushes two-run blast

Puig's strong arm, powerful swing on display in same inning

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yasiel Puig showed off his throwing arm and bat flip in the first inning of Wednesday's Dodgers-Padres game, which the Dodgers won, 9-5, at Camelback Ranch.

San Diego's Wil Myers led off the game with a single past first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to right field, where Puig casually fielded the ball and saw that pitcher Juan Nicasio snuck behind Myers to cover first. Nicasio took Puig's powerful throw and easily tagged Myers out.

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

Tanaka working on improving two-seamer

Righty not eliminating four-seamer, but says pitch was vulnerable in 2014

Tanaka working on improving two-seamer

TAMPA, Fla. -- If it appears that Masahiro Tanaka isn't lighting up the radar gun like he did during his terrific rookie campaign, the Yankees right-hander is armed with a good explanation, and it's one which he says is unrelated to last year's elbow injury.

Tanaka revealed on Wednesday that he has decided to throw his two-seam fastball more this spring, a pitch that has less velocity than his four-seamer but adds downward movement. Tanaka said that he thought his four-seamer was vulnerable last season, and so he is looking to make an adjustment.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Walker: Always room to improve despite dominant spring

Righty's Cactus League scoreless streak at 18 innings after start vs. Cubs

Walker: Always room to improve despite dominant spring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It's hard to imagine Taijuan Walker pitching much better or doing much more to impress in his battle for the Mariners' fifth-starter position, but the 22-year-old insists there's more in the tank even after running his scoreless streak to 18 innings this spring in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory over the Cubs.

"You can always be better," Walker said after holding the Cubs to two singles and a walk in six frames. "Zero walks. Especially toward the end, I got a little tired. As spring goes on, that kind of goes away."

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oblique strain shelves prospect Crawford 4-6 weeks

Oblique strain shelves prospect Crawford 4-6 weeks

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It is not a crippling blow, but top Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford suffered a setback nonetheless this week.

Crawford strained his left oblique, which the Phils said could sideline him four to six weeks.

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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.

Hollands exploring options, but elbow surgery likely

Phillies reliever weighing rest and PRP for torn common flexor tendon

Hollands exploring options, but elbow surgery likely

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mario Hollands has a firm grip on reality, but he still has a sliver of hope he will avoid surgery on his left elbow.

Hollands has a torn common flexor tendon, which is the same injury that is likely to end Cliff Lee's career. Hollands visited Phillies physician Michael Ciccotti this week in Philadelphia to discuss his recent MRI results. Surgery has been recommended because Hollands' first attempt at rehab failed -- the injury first surfaced in September, which ended his 2014 season -- but he has two other options: rest and PRP (Platelet-Rich Plasma) injection.

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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.

A teenager asked Jason Castro to prom by mistake

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A teenager asked Jason Castro to prom by mistake

Remember what it was like to be a teen? (Unless you are still a teen, in which case, please explain Kik to us.) Before you know it, it's time to ask someone to prom. Since this is the Internet Age, the more spectacular your prom-posal, the better. And if you can involve an MLB star, you definitely score extra points.

Or, you know what? Why not just ask a professional baseball player to be your date in the first place?

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Veteran's Stadium comes back to life on The Goldbergs

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Veteran's Stadium comes back to life on The Goldbergs

There are some things from our childhoods that we know we'll never be able to do again, like drink Surge or rent VHS tapes. But thanks to ABC's "The Goldbergs," we can revisit one thing we thought was gone forever: The Vet.

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Playing games in Mexico high on CEO Dee's to-do list

Team president also wants to expand Padres' footprint in nearby Southern Calif. counties

Playing games in Mexico high on CEO Dee's to-do list

PEORIA, Ariz. -- On April 9, the Padres will unveil the largest video board in the National League for the team's home opener at Petco Park against the Giants.

On July 12, 2016, the team will host baseball's All-Star Game, the first time the Midsummer Classic has been played in San Diego since 1992.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.