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.

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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MLB.TV weekend slate features 16 games

Streaming service begins 15th year with Phillies-Yankees tilt

MLB.TV weekend slate features 16 games

MLB.TV, the world's longest-running and most successful live streaming sports product, returns for its 15th-anniversary year, starting with Phillies at Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET today, followed by seven live games on Saturday and another eight on Sunday.

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.

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.

'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.

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.

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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Cubs extend Strop's deal through '18

Club holds '19 option on veteran righty reliever

Cubs extend Strop's deal through '18

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.

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.

Ilitch's legacy celebrated at Detroit ceremony

Late Tigers owner revered for generosity, heralded as 'tireless worker'

Ilitch's legacy celebrated at Detroit ceremony

Detroit celebrated the life of Mike Ilitch on Wednesday by bringing together a congregation of the town's most respected sports figures at the historic Fox Theatre, an apt venue given the late Tigers and Red Wings owner's impact on the city and its restoration efforts.

Ilitch bought and renovated the Fox in 1987 -- five years before he purchased the Tigers -- and then moved his suburban Little Caesars Pizza corporate headquarters into the building as one of many investments to revitalize downtown Detroit. It was a fitting platform for the entrepreneur's memorial, which drew some of the city's most prominent figures and former President George W. Bush.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. 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.

Harper, Werth recreate 'Step Brothers' poster

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Harper, Werth recreate 'Step Brothers' poster

This week at Spring Training facilities around the country, MLB stars gathered together for the annual rite of spring known as Photo Day.  

The 2008 film "Step Brothers" has remained relevant almost a decade after its release thanks to the zany comedy stylings of its co-stars, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. (Trust us, the previous two sentences are related. Just wait.)

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Nats, Astros share new park, same expectations

Nats, Astros share new park, same expectations

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- They have everything. But do they have enough?

The question pervades the state-of-the-art scene where the Astros and Nationals -- two win-now teams with new facilities but one obvious source of roster uncertainty apiece -- get ready for 2017.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. 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.

Classic gives Yost chance to watch prospects

Royals will have six veterans leaving camp for international play

Classic gives Yost chance to watch prospects

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost sees the bright side of sending players to the World Baseball Classic in the middle of Spring Training: He'll get to see some of his younger players longer.

The Royals have six players on their 40-man roster committed to the Classic: first baseman Eric Hosmer, catchers Salvador Perez and Drew Butera, shortstop Alcides Escobar, left-hander Danny Duffy and reliever Joakim Soria.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon looking at Schwarber for leadoff spot

Outfielder not known for speed, but has shown he can get on base

Maddon looking at Schwarber for leadoff spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Who will be the Cubs' leadoff man now that Dexter Fowler is gone? Manager Joe Maddon likes the idea of Kyle Schwarber at the top of the lineup, although don't expect the outfielder to be setting any stolen base records, and that's not because of a lack of speed.

Schwarber, who missed virtually all of the 2016 regular season after tearing two ligaments in his left knee, must continue to get on base. Asked if the outfielder had a green light on the bases, Maddon quickly responded, "No."

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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.

Braves sign former NFL player to Minors deal

Sanders Commings played for Chiefs in 2013

Braves sign former NFL player to Minors deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sanders Commings has played defensive back for the University of Georgia and the Kansas City Chiefs since last playing baseball. But the Braves were intrigued enough by his athleticism to sign him to a Minor League deal.

"We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What's the downside here?"

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals bond over aliens, pirate treasure

Team shakes up the norm with escape room field trip

Cardinals bond over aliens, pirate treasure

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals took their workouts off campus on Thursday for a team-building exercise that featured, among other things, alien abductions and pirates' treasure.

It was an unexpected field trip for players, who split up into two groups and took turns boarding a bus to depart for a destination unknown. When they disembarked, players found themselves thrust into an escape room challenge. The goal: Work with your teammates to solve puzzles and escape a themed room within 60 minutes.

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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.

Fan honors Keuchel, who returns favor

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Fan honors Keuchel, who returns favor

Spring Training is finally here, and the games that count are just around the corner. Starting rotations are beginning to take shape. Mike Trout is running around with weights on his back.

As a fan, it's also time to prepare. Dust off your lucky hat. Make sure your shirsey collection has been properly updated. And make sure to follow the lead of one intrepid Astros fan, who brought his love for Dallas Keuchel all the way to his iPhone.

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MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

Baseball faithful not big fans of change

Baseball faithful not big fans of change

If you had to pick just one thing that separates baseball fans from football and basketball and hockey fans, well, it might be this: Baseball fans love the game's rules. This is true for golf too, by the way. Golf fans love the rules. Golf fans can rhapsodize for hours about just Rule 13-1 -- "The ball must be played as it lies."

But this is even more true of baseball. Football, you probably know, changes its rules every other day. Now they're kicking from the 35-yard line. Now they're kicking from the 30. The goalpost many years ago was in the front of the end zone. That was silly, so they moved it to the back. One minute a quarterback in the grasp is sacked, the next minute a quarterback in the grasp is not sacked. A catch one year is an incomplete pass the next, and a catch the year after that. And don't even try to get into the differences between illegal contact, holding and pass interference -- it will make your head hurt, and by the time you figure it out, they will have changed it anyway.

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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.

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.

Tanaka, Betances dominate hitters in live BP

Tanaka, Betances dominate hitters in live BP

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters at this point of the spring, but for Brett Gardner and Chase Headley, taking their first at-bats of the year against Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka proved to be an especially unfair matchup.

The Yankees right-handers worked crisply and efficiently on a back diamond of the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex on Thursday morning, preparing for their respective assignments. Betances is gearing up to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, while Tanaka is eyeing his third consecutive Opening Day start.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Votto at crossroads as Reds eye resurgence

'We're happy to quietly sneak up on everyone,' 10-year veteran says

Votto at crossroads as Reds eye resurgence

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was a mere two springs ago that plenty of people wondered if Joey Votto could still be great. Votto, ever the realist, understood the doubt.

"So if I've got this massive contract in my backpack and I'm carrying it around and not performing as well as everyone wants or expects, that's really going to bother me," Votto said Thursday morning. "That's going to sit with me."

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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.

Bogaerts returns to World Baseball Classic stage

All-Star Red Sox shortstop has helped put the Netherlands on the map

Bogaerts returns to World Baseball Classic stage

The first time Xander Bogaerts represented the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, he hadn't yet suited up for the Red Sox. Four years ago, Bogaerts was considered a top prospect, and he was thrilled to be playing in the international showcase at the age of 20. This time, however, it is even more meaningful. Bogaerts has since established himself as one of the best shortstops in the game, and he's become a cornerstone for the Netherlands' squad.

"I remember I was really young; I didn't know a lot," said Bogaerts. "I just went up there with a little information and tried to do my best. This year, I'm much better prepared."

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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.

Odor on list of Rangers who may get extension

Second baseman signs pre-arbitration one-year deal

Odor on list of Rangers who may get extension

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers continue to use Spring Training as a time to discuss contract extensions with key players.

Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy may be the two most important since they are eligible for free agency. But second baseman Rougned Odor is also on their list, even though he won't be eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. He may be the latest in a line of Rangers players who received a contract extension either in Spring Training or early in the season.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Pool C scouting report: Can Colombia surprise?

Manager Urueta confident his club can compete with favorites DR, Team USA

Pool C scouting report: Can Colombia surprise?

Luis Urueta is the 36-year-old manager of the Colombian national baseball team. He learned the game in his native Barranquilla at the British International School, where his parents, Alejandro and Carmela, both taught. Urueta signed with the D-backs at age 17 and peaked at Class A Advanced with the Cardinals in 2003, before playing four seasons in Italy.

Urueta speaks Spanish, English and Italian. He just spent the winter in the Dominican Republic, on the coaching staff of the legendary Tigres del Licey. Urueta lives with his family in Arizona, where the D-backs recently promoted him to Minor League field coordinator.

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

Strasburg's stuff solid in intrasquad game

Scherzer set to throw first bullpen session Saturday

Strasburg's stuff solid in intrasquad game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals held an intrasquad game Thursday afternoon, a chance to get their pitchers facing hitters in game situations ahead of their Spring Training opener Saturday.

It offered yet another strong indicator for Stephen Strasburg's health coming off a torn pronator tendon that ended his 2016 season Sept. 7. If Strasburg was not 100 percent, then he would not have been pitching Thursday.

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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.

MLBPA on Kang: 'Our duty to support guys'

Executive director Clark says Players Association will 'stay engaged' with third baseman's legal situation

MLBPA on Kang: 'Our duty to support guys'

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Major League Baseball Players Association will "stay engaged" with Jung Ho Kang's legal situation in South Korea, executive director Tony Clark said Thursday.

As part of the union's annual trip around spring camps, Clark stopped by Pirate City on Thursday, addressed the players in an early morning meeting and met with the media afterward. Clark answered questions about the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and potential rule changes but also touched on several issues specific to the Pirates, including Kang.

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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.

Clippard revels in Yanks return, shot to play for USA

Clippard revels in Yanks return, shot to play for USA

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tyler Clippard's phone buzzed with a message from an unknown number, and it took the Yankees reliever a few moments to digest what was happening. Team USA was offering a roster spot for the World Baseball Classic, and it was an opportunity he couldn't let get away.

Adding to the surreal nature of the moment was that the text came from Clippard's first big league manager, Joe Torre, who had welcomed the then-rookie to The Show as a midseason callup with the Yanks in 2007. Clippard quickly tapped back to Torre that he was "very interested."

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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.

Zimmerman turning to analytics to improve

Nats' first baseman taking cue from Murphy to boost launch angle

Zimmerman turning to analytics to improve

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy loves talking about hitting. He is constantly studying the craft, watching video and making adjustments. He joked that his teammates think he's crazy. He is a self-professed geek who reads articles on Fangraphs.com and learns what he can from analytics.

During the offseason, Murphy came across articles using Statcast™ data to explain Ryan Zimmerman's rough 2016 season, where he hit a career-worst .218/.272/.370 with a 69 OPS+, despite having an Exit Velocity among the best in the Majors last season. A lot of his struggles can be explained by his low Launch Angle, as outlined previously by MLB.com's Mike Petriello. Murphy, whose swing adjustments led to his breakout '16, believes he can help.

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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.

Fans for the Cure celebrates All-Stars in prostate cancer fight

Annual event raises awareness of disease, funds for research

Fans for the Cure celebrates All-Stars in prostate cancer fight

NEW YORK -- On the one hand, you had guys like Al Leiter (who intentionally walked 53 batters) and Steve Garvey (who was intentionally walked 113 times) talking about the expected intentional walk rule change, both of them citing their 19-year Major League Baseball careers and shrugging off any significance of those familiar formality pitches.

On the other hand, you had prostate cancer.

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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