Didi gets Yanks going; Judge adds moonshot

Didi gets Yanks going; Judge adds moonshot

TAMPA, Fla. -- The first home run of Spring Training 2017 belongs to the Yankees' Didi Gregorius, who went deep on the first pitch he saw in Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies, a 9-4 win for New York.

Batting second, Gregorius launched a drive to right-center field off Phillies right-hander Alec Asher in the bottom of the first inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baez celebrates Cubs' title with new tattoo

Baez celebrates Cubs' title with new tattoo

MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez will never forget his first World Series championship, and he has a new tattoo on his left shoulder to commemorate it.

The tattoo was completed Thursday night, and features the trophy, the year, the Major League Baseball logo, and "World Series Champions" plus part of the Cubs' logo. It's just the start of what Baez has planned for his left arm.

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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.

Big-time weekend awaits on MLB.TV

Streaming service begins 15th year with 15 games on Saturday, Sunday

Big-time weekend awaits on MLB.TV

MLB.TV, the world's longest-running and most successful live streaming sports product, is returning for its 15th-anniversary year this weekend, and the first action continues with seven live games on Saturday and another eight on Sunday -- including a relaxed rematch of the most recent World Series.

The gradual rollout of nearly 300 Spring Training select streams on more than 400 supported connected and mobile devices is an annual harbinger that Major League Baseball is back, and subscriptions to MLB.TV Premium are available now for $112.99 yearly or $24.99 monthly. Full features will be available on Opening Day, and for a big added treat, U.S. subscribers can watch the entire World Baseball Classic from March 6-22.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. 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.

Tigers pay tribute to Ilitch before spring game

Tigers pay tribute to Ilitch before spring game

LAKELAND, Fla. -- On the day the Tigers officially opened their new-look Spring Training ballpark, they bid farewell to the beacon who guided the franchise to such lofty heights.

After ceremonies honoring Mike Ilitch in Detroit, Friday was the Tigers' turn to pay tribute to their longtime owner, who passed away two weeks ago at age 87. Virtually everyone on the team Ilitch brought together helped play a part in a touching ceremony prior to the game against the Orioles at renovated Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kershaw set for LA opener on Saturday

Dodgers will need to figure out last two spots in rotation

Kershaw set for LA opener on Saturday

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers open the Cactus League season this Saturday, and manager Dave Roberts has the weekend's starting pitching mapped out.

Ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw is slated to pitch an inning against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch in Saturday's opener. Game time is 12:05 p.m. PT; watch it live on MLB.TV. Rich Hill is scheduled to start Sunday, while Kenta Maeda will pitch Monday.

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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.

Did Joe Mauer have rap studio in his house?

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Did Joe Mauer have rap studio in his house?

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Cut4Cast podcast. To hear more of the Cut4 staff's weekly banterings about which position player is the best at pitching or how baseball would work in outer space, subscribe to the Cut4Cast by clicking here.

In this week's edition, Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger joined Gemma Kaneko to discuss team bonding, dance moves and Joe Mauer's deepest, most delightful secrets.

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Shoeless Joe has family ties at Texas camp

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Shoeless Joe has family ties at Texas camp

Joe Jackson was at the Rangers' Spring Training complex on Friday, and no, you did not somehow step into a time machine and travel back to the 1910s. It was Joe Jackson, the 24-year-old Minor Leaguer who, yes, is the great-great-grandnephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

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Baseball Hall of Fame Tour returns for '17

Traveling experience to hit the road March 11; tickets on sale now

Baseball Hall of Fame Tour returns for '17

Tickets are on sale now for the Baseball Hall of Fame Tour, which returns March 11 for a second season. After traveling to five cities across the United States in 2016, the We Are Baseball experience -- a cutting-edge collaboration of baseball and technology -- is scheduled to spend two weeks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Spring Training home of the D-backs and Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Tour -- a one-of-a-kind traveling collection of Hall of Fame artifacts, interactive games and displays, unique virtual reality experiences, and the first and only mobile IMAX movie -- proved to be a draw last year for casual fans and baseball diehards alike, not to mention some Hall of Famers themselves.

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

Ozuna's training partners: Cano, Puig, more

At M's star's baseball academy, Marlins outfielder got down to business

Ozuna's training partners: Cano, Puig, more

JUPITER, Fla. -- On any given day in the offseason, it's basically a "who's who" of big league talent that gathers at Robinson Cano's baseball academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.

Cano -- the All-Star second baseman with the Mariners -- opens his place up to his friends, and there's no shortage of star power that trains in his gym and on his field. Among the regulars is Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, a fellow Dominican.

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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.

Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The goal for Edwin Encarnacion during his first two weeks of camp was to get to know his new Indians teammates and become comfortable with his change of scenery. On the eve of Cleveland's first Cactus League game, Encarnacion has been impressed with the atmosphere around the Tribe.

"This team, they are together," Encarnacion said on Friday. "Everybody is together. They are one team. That's a difference you see in other teams sometimes. Here, everybody is together. The American guys, Latin guys. it's all one. That's a big difference from other teams."

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Addison's power breakout has already begun

10 second-half home runs was third on Cubs behind Bryant, Rizzo

Addison's power breakout has already begun

Where does Addison Russell fit in the structure of baseball's young stars? He was an important part of the Cubs' magical World Series run, sure, but larger names like Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and even Joe Maddon command more attention. Russell is one of the best young shortstops, clearly, but given that we're in something of a golden age of young shortstops, the names of Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor must come up before his.

That being the case, Russell currently operates in the odd space where he's both extremely valuable -- thanks to his plus defense, his 6.9 Wins Above Replacement (per FanGraphs) are the sixth highest among shortstops over the past two years -- yet he hasn't really had that true breakout season, because he's been a slightly below-average hitter in each of his two years with the Cubs. So far, his career line of .240/.314/.404 (93 wRC+, where 100 is league average) is more in line with Chase Headley and Angel Pagan in 2015-16 than it is with the stars above.

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

A's young talent knocking at door

A's young talent knocking at door

MESA, Ariz. -- Another season, another math problem for the Athletics: How to be last in the division in spending and remain competitive over 162 games?

That's been the perennial question for Oakland and will remain the case until it builds the new stadium the team has been seeking for more than a decade. The good news is that Billy Beane was an early adapter at this game, helping his team reach the postseason eight times in a 15-year stretch, and the formula of pitching, platoons and precocious talent still works.

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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.

Aybar sees bright future for nephew Franco

Talented 15-year-old turning heads on the international market

Aybar sees bright future for nephew Franco

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Wander Samuel Franco is a young, switch-hitting shortstop in the Dominican Republic with big league dreams and a serious chance to make a name for himself one day.

Erick Aybar knows exactly what that's like.

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

Fulmer 'rusty' in spring debut, but feels good

Reigning AL Rookie of the Year fires one scoreless inning vs. Orioles

Fulmer 'rusty' in spring debut, but feels good

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Michael Fulmer came to Spring Training last year looking for a spot on the Tigers' pitching staff. This year, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year took the mound in the Tigers' Grapefruit League opener looking for the outside corner with his fastball. He didn't quite command it in his 2017 debut Friday, but with a scoreless inning against the Orioles during the Tigers' 2-0 loss at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, he began his sophomore season smoothly.

Fulmer fell behind on three-ball counts to two of Baltimore's first three hitters as he tried to hit the corner of home-plate umpire Joe West's zone. He recovered to retire both Chris Dickerson and Hyun Soo Kim, but needed a groundout from cleanup hitter Trey Mancini to strand Johnny Giavotella in scoring position following his one-out single.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harper leads Nats into spring opener

Harper leads Nats into spring opener

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals will open their Grapefruit League schedule Saturday afternoon against the Mets with a potential preview of the top half of their Opening Day lineup.

Trea Turner will lead off while Adam Eaton bats second, in front of Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper. Whether Eaton or Turner would lead off has been a topic of discussion since the Nats first acquired Eaton, since both players fit the profile of a typical leadoff hitter. Dusty Baker estimates he has thought out his lineup "100 times" in his head, but has not settled on anything just yet.

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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.

Top prospect Martes 'electric' in first live BP

Reddick, Springer impressed with young Astros righty's movement, stuff

Top prospect Martes 'electric' in first live BP

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch watching from the field, top Astros prospect Francis Martes cranked up the heat for his first live batting practice session of the spring Friday morning at the team's complex at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Martes, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound right-hander who's been compared to Johnny Cueto, drew good reviews from hitters Josh Reddick and George Springer, both of whom were facing the hard-throwing Martes for the first time. Norichika Aoki also faced him and slapped a pair of balls into the outfield.

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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.

Glove Day arrives at Dodgers camp

Occasion a reminder how quirky some players are about their gloves

Glove Day arrives at Dodgers camp

PHOENIX -- Oh, the things you can learn when it's Wilson Glove Day in a Major League camp.

Manufacturer representatives visited Camelback Ranch-Glendale on Friday to deliver orders from Dodgers players that wear Wilson models.

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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cecchini, Conforto homer; Mets 2-hit Red Sox

Cecchini, Conforto homer; Mets 2-hit Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Three Mets pitchers combined to no-hit the Red Sox for six innings before Hanley Ramirez rifled a double into the gap in right-center to open the bottom of the seventh of New York's 3-2 victory over Boston on Friday at JetBlue Park.

Michael Conforto, who is trying to carve out a role in a crowded outfield, roped a solo homer to right in the third inning of the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

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.

Spring fling: Check Joe Kelly's full-court shot

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Spring fling: Check Joe Kelly's full-court shot

The Boston Celtics stood pat as Thursday's NBA trade deadline came and went, opting to "buy in" on the team that currently sits behind the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. 

Maybe that's because they'd rather just sign Joe Kelly of the Red Sox, who is apparently no slouch with a basketball in his hands. In fact, as the video below shows, he made a perfect swish on a full-court heave on Thursday night.

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Bowman looks to stick as Cards' ground-ball ace

Bowman looks to stick as Cards' ground-ball ace

JUPITER, Fla. -- There was a flashback, Matt Bowman admitted, when he walked into the Cardinals' spring clubhouse for the start of camp. It had been a year since he first entered the same space, uncertain whether he'd find a home with this organization, and, if so, how he would fit.

Bowman, a Rule 5 pick then, comes now with a year of Major League service time and a proven repertoire that the Cardinals believe can help fill the void left by Seth Maness' departure.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A-Rod shares lessons with prospects over dinner

A-Rod shares lessons with prospects over dinner

TAMPA, Fla. -- Embracing his new role as a Yankees special guest instructor, Alex Rodriguez said that he believed it would be valuable to take a group of young players out to a lengthy dinner, offering the Yankees hopefuls an opportunity to ask questions on a variety of topics.

Rodriguez and the prospects broke bread on Thursday evening, gathering at a local steakhouse to swap stories while digging into the challenges and rewards involved with making it in New York.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Strop, Cubs excited to finalize extension

Reliever signed through '18, with club option for '19

Strop, Cubs excited to finalize extension

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs awarded reliever Pedro Strop with a contract extension Friday through 2018 with a club option for '19.

Earlier this month, the sides agreed to a $5.5 million contract for 2017. The extension will pay Strop $5.85 million in '18 and there is a club option for $6.25 million for '19.

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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.

Yanks light up, and dent, scoreboard vs. Phils

Yanks light up, and dent, scoreboard vs. Phils

TAMPA, Fla. -- Didi Gregorius hit the first home run of Spring Training 2017, and Aaron Judge added a majestic drive as the Yankees denied the Phillies, 9-4, on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in each team's Grapefruit League season opener.

Gregorius followed up a career-high 20 homers last season by going deep on the first pitch he saw from Phillies starter Alec Asher, a solo drive to right-center field. Judge hit a titanic solo shot in the fifth inning off Elniery Garcia, denting the scoreboard in left field.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bucs lay out plan for OF trio ahead of WBC '17

Coaches, players set schedule for getting in necessary fielding practice, at-bats

Bucs lay out plan for OF trio ahead of WBC '17

BRADENTON, Fla. -- With all three starting outfielders bound for the World Baseball Classic, the Pirates must balance several factors as they plot out playing time.

Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will leave to join their respective national teams on March 5. That gives them eight days between the start of Grapefruit League play and their departure. Both Team USA and the Dominican Republic are expected to play deep into the tournament, possibly keeping the outfield trio away from the Bucs for most of March.

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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.

Now 40, Arroyo's celebration tastes have changed

Now 40, Arroyo's celebration tastes have changed

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Often the coolest person in the room and the most easygoing, it's hard to imagine Bronson Arroyo as the oldest guy anywhere. But the Reds pitcher hit the big milestone Friday, when he turned 40 years old.

How did Arroyo plan to mark the big day?

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Roster hopeful Conforto announces presence early

Outfielder, squeezed out by Bruce, Granderson, Cespedes, singles and homers in opener

Roster hopeful Conforto announces presence early

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There are but a handful of roles up for grabs at Mets camp this spring. One rotation job. Two bullpen gigs, at most. And one outfield spot that may or may not be Michael Conforto's to claim.

Capable -- maybe -- of forcing his way onto the Opening Day roster with a strong spring, Conforto began immediately with a home run and an opposite-field single Friday in the Mets' 3-2 win over the Red Sox in their Grapefruit League debut.

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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.

'Dr. Smooth is back,' but still on a short leash

Brantley looks sharp during rehab BP; Indians remain cautious

'Dr. Smooth is back,' but still on a short leash

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The repeated sound of baseballs meeting bats is a part of the Spring Training environment each morning. In the early hours of the Indians' workout on Friday, the cacophony coming from the indoor batting cage at Cleveland's complex came with increased signficance.

Inside the batting tunnel stood Michael Brantley, who took a series of normal batting practice swings and sprayed baseballs to the back of the black netting. One of the Tribe's athletic trainers looked on, as did hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. After the hitting session, Van Burkleo cracked a smile when asked how Brantley's swing looked.

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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.

Five baseball films you probably haven't seen

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Five baseball films you probably haven't seen

It's Oscars season, which means it's time for two things: obsessing over red carpet fashion and becoming an expert film critic (for 72 hours).

Given that we're spending so much time considering the glory of cinema, it's only natural (get it?) to let your mind wander to baseball movies. Instead of putting in that VHS of "Bull Durham" for the 8,000th time or debating the meaning of the "Field of Dreams" ghosts with your dad, take our advice and watch a baseball film you've never seen before. Try one of these five.

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Bogaerts gets work in at temporary home at third

All-Star shortstop prepping for move to his right during World Baseball Classic

Bogaerts gets work in at temporary home at third

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was early on Friday morning, and Xander Bogaerts was back at his brief home of third base.

The latest chapter at third is a temp job. Bogaerts will play there for the Netherlands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Red Sox infield instructor Brian Butterfield helped him get ready for the assignment by drilling him grounders.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cards trust Oh to be ready after WBC '17 run

Matheny on Korean reliever's preparation, attitude: 'This guy is a pro'

Cards trust Oh to be ready after WBC '17 run

JUPITER, Fla. -- Seung Hwan Oh had heard, secondhand, about the run on Cardinals merchandise in his home country of South Korea last season. He had been told stories about folks who had to resort to online shopping to buy Cardinals gear because stores no longer had any in stock.

And then, during an offseason autograph signing in Korea, Oh got a glimpse of that buzz. As he looked out on the line that had formed in front of him, nearly everyone, Oh said, was wearing a Cardinals hat.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.