It's not strange to feel a strong pull toward Mike Trout. To want to hug him. To squeeze him. To pucker up your lips and kiss him. I mean, when he does things like this:
It's not often that you see major trades made in the week before Opening Day, which is a shame, because this should be a time when teams should be trying to fill holes that have appeared during Spring Training.
In hopes of spurring some action, here are five trades I'd love to see happen before Opening Day. These are not trades I expect to happen, mind you, but deals that I think make sense for the parties involved.
Jim Duquette is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went deep again on Saturday. This time he wasn't throwing a bomb to Doug Baldwin, but taking Rangers third-base coach Tony Beasley over the left-field fence in batting practice.
"I lasered one out in left-center field," Wilson said during what has become an annual visit to Rangers camp in Spring Training. "That was good. I stayed back and was able to drive it to left-center. It feels good hitting a home run. There's something special about throwing a touchdown, because it's so hard to get touchdowns, but getting a home run is a good feeling too."
Opening Day is right around the corner, and teams are beginning to make the final evaluations for their regular-season roster. The final week of games could loom large in the decision-making process for some teams. For others, it's just a matter of letting their players get primed for a healthy April.
Here are a couple of things to watch for in Sunday's games:
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Victor Sanchez, one of the Mariners' top pitching prospects, died in Venezuela from head injuries sustained in a boating accident in his home country six weeks ago.
The Mariners confirmed the news Saturday night after MLB.com initially learned of Sanchez's death from his agent, Rafa Nieves. Sanchez was 20 years old and had been in the Mariners' Minor League system since signing as an international free agent at 16.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has demonstrated effective pitching throughout the spring, but Saturday's outing was about as smooth as it could have been.
Against a Cubs split-squad, Chapman -- serving as the Reds' starting pitcher -- faced three batters and struck out the side in his only inning of work. Leadoff batter Dexter Fowler was called out on a 3-2 pitch. Arismendy Alcantara swung and missed on a fastball following a changeup for strike three. Jorge Soler ended the inning on a called third strike.
One year ago, Hank was a scared and lonely stray with matted white hair when he stumbled upon Brewers camp.
The next 12 months were a whirlwind. After making the team and becoming its mascot, winning a Dog of the Year Award along the way, Hank returned to Phoenix, the Brewers' spring home. He's looking plenty different than those first days:
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets and Lucas Duda are discussing a long-term contract extension, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations, which would keep the first baseman in Flushing well into his 30s. The Mets have not publicly acknowledged the negotiations, and general manager Sandy Alderson declined comment on Saturday afternoon.
Duda, 29, is set to make $4.2 million this season as an arbitration-eligible player, more than twice what he earned a year ago. He is under team control through the 2017 season, meaning any extension would be at least four years long -- covering his final three years of team control plus his first year of free agency. Such a deal would take Duda at least through his age-32 season, guaranteeing him a measure of security while giving the Mets a proven cleanup hitter for the foreseeable future.
With Opening Day just around the corner, you're hearing a lot of people talking about "breakout players." In that spirit, here are 10 players I expect to make a leap toward stardom in 2015.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles
Gausman was dominant down the stretch last year, posting a 2.87 ERA with a strikeout per inning in his final five starts. He already has mid-90s heat and is just a click away from commanding a wicked slider that will make him a true No. 1 starter.
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.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said the left knee soreness that forced him from Friday night's game was from fatigue. He doesn't anticipate any lasting issues.
Gonzalez underwent surgery last August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee. Gonzalez was ready for Spring Training games sooner than expected, and has performed well (.333, three doubles in 27 at-bats entering play Saturday). He felt the soreness after chasing down a third-inning fly ball and making a throw during Friday night's 7-5 loss to the Padres, and left the game after his following at-bat.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- This is a story about Frank Viola. No, not the Frank Viola who currently serves as the Las Vegas 51s pitching coach, who won the 1988 American League Cy Young Award and who pitched in the World Series run for the '87 Twins.
We are talking about Frank Viola III, the 29th-round selection of the White Sox in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, who looked as if he had left baseball behind following the '10 season spent with the Independent League St. Paul team. But the 30-year-old is back in Chicago's camp, albeit on the Minor League side, relying on a new friend known as the knuckleball to get him to the Majors in the second go-around.
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.
Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
When I ventured down to Florida for the first annual Cut4 Spring Training Road Trip a-paloozafest Extravaganza earlier this month, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Clearwater -- home to Phillies Spring Training and the Hulk Hogan-themed retail capital of the world.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Not knowing where he stands hasn't stopped Joc Pederson from knowing what he needs to do.
"There's always stuff I need to work on, and I need to continue to impress," Pederson said after launching his fifth home run of the spring Saturday, boosting his batting average to .373.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
With Sporting Kansas City in Yankee Stadium to face off against the also Yankees co-owned NYCFC on Saturday afternoon, the players knew there were only three things they had to do:
1. Score goals.
Presumably you already have his rookie card, and the numbers say you probably also own his jersey, so get excited because it's finally time to see your favorite Rangers prospect in Spring Training action. Yes, on Saturday, former NC State second baseman Russell Wilson reported to Surprise, Ariz.
Oh, he plays some other sport too … what was it again? Anyway, here he is, working out at second.
Guerrero, the second batter of the afternoon, launched a high fly ball off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker to straightaway center. Trout -- who also caught the game's first out -- tracked back to the wall and made a leaping grab in front of the 420-foot sign to rob Guerrero of at least extra bases.
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Just as the Cardinals began to allow themselves to get excited about what a healthy Jaime Garcia could add to their rotation, the lefty suffered another medical setback that will almost certainly preclude him from making the Opening Day roster.
Manager Mike Matheny announced after the club's 4-3 loss to the Tigers that Garcia was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday after he alerted the team's medical staff on Saturday afternoon that "he's feeling something that isn't right."
CARY, N.C. -- Maria Tiburcio had the best view the entire week.
On Friday night, she shivered in the drizzling rain in the stands as she rooted on the team of international prospects in the first game of the International Prospect Series on the main field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Word of advice to serious sports fans: Book your October hotel rooms in Seattle early. Space can get tight out there, and you don't want to get caught off guard.
In one wonderful stretch last fall, the Chiefs hosted the Patriots in a Monday Night Football game as the Royals were preparing to face the A's in the American League Wild Card Game across the parking lot at Kansas City's Truman Sports Complex. The place basically looked like Woodstock for about 36 hours, minus sitar music and rivers of mud.
Phil Rogers joined MLB.com in 2013, and has covered Major League Baseball since 1984.This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards stood outside the Angels' clubhouse beaming.
The right-hander had just finished throwing his second Minor League game of the spring, and the line looked good: five innings, one hit, no runs and five strikeouts, with 47 strikes out of 69 pitches.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In the company of one of the liveliest bands of players in baseball, Alex Rios is reinvigorated. The American League champion Royals are taking the graceful, athletic right fielder back to his youth following a dark, injury-derailed season in Texas.
"I'm 34 years old," Rios said, "and I feel like a 20-year-old kid."
Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jacob deGrom kept thriving, David Wright and Curtis Granderson kept mashing and everything continued going swimmingly for the Mets on Saturday in a 10-2 win over the Nationals.
Granderson and Wright hit back-to-back home runs off Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg in the third, giving deGrom all the cushion he would need. In his penultimate spring start, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year fired seven innings of one-run ball, the only damage coming on a leadoff homer by Bryce Harper in the sixth. That lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.45, tops amongst all pitchers with more than 20 innings.
PHOENIX -- The 2014 Brewers led the Major Leagues in conflicting outcomes. So the 2015 version does not lend itself to one-step analysis.
The '14 Brewers were in first place in the National League Central for 150 days, but they finished the season losing 22 of their last 31 games, including one stretch in which they dropped 13 of 14. The root cause of the late-season demise was a hitting slump that included almost the entire lineup.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Joe Maddon may be closer to finding the "mystery man" to fill the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup, and it might not be who you'd imagine.
While Chris Coghlan is a strong candidate for the spot, Maddon has other ideas.
Angels team photographer Matt Brown had a new intern on Thursday.
His name was Chris -- "Chris Wilson" -- and he brought his own gear.
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are hopeful that rest will help Didi Gregorius' sprained left wrist after the shortstop was injured diving for a second-inning ground ball Saturday against the Orioles.
Precautionary X-rays were negative, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his plan is to give Gregorius three days off, aiming to get him back into action Wednesday.
Santana, making his fourth Grapefruit League start, gave up just one run on five hits while striking out two. The lone run he allowed came in the third inning on an RBI single from Odubel Herrera to score Cesar Hernandez, who led off the inning with a double.
The 2015 season is going to a whole different kind of new for Shelby Miller.
The right-hander is beginning his first season with a team other than the Cardinals, who traded him to the Braves this offseason.
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera hit his second home run in as many games before Alex Avila's game-tying solo homer and Jordan Lennerton's go-ahead double led the Tigers to a 4-3 win over the Cardinals Saturday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Cabrera continues to swing with little if any rust from an offseason of rehab from foot surgery. After hitting a line-drive home run two days earlier and taking Friday off, Cabrera came back Saturday and lofted an opposite-field shot that the wind carried to the batting cage building beyond right field.