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.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Eleven-year-old Nicole Parker, of Ellicott City, Md., had a once-in-a-lifetime experience on Tuesday, as the aspiring sportswriter -- who started an Orioles blog of her own about a month ago -- got to visit O's camp and meet some of her heroes.
Parker, who came down with her father, Alex, to take in a little Spring Training action, wore a Manny Machado Orioles jersey and was surprised when the All-Star third baseman paid a visit to the media workroom to do an interview.
Commissioner: Meaningful rule changes will take time
By Joe Trezza
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday in Phoenix the league won't see any "meaningful" rule changes brought to MLB play in 2017, though he hopes to see rules implemented in the future to address pace of play and rate of action issues.
"Unfortunately, it now appears there really won't be any meaningful rule change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said at Cactus League Media Day. "I've tried to be clear, that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed, as some people have suggested, and I think last season was a concrete demonstration of the potential of our game to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."
Pitcher wins, as you probably know, have been going out of style for about a decade now. There have been campaigns against them, like Brian Kenny's "Kill The Win." There are numerous examples of how random the win has become; a pitcher is now more likely to pick up a victory pitching an inning in relief than pitching seven good innings as a starter. And, anyway, the way the game is pointing -- with pitch counts and fewer complete games -- the win loses meaning every year.
And so we ask: Will there ever be another 300-game winner?
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.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The Nationals had been the speculated landing spot for free-agent catcher Matt Wieters this offseason, and the two sides reached a deal on Tuesday, pending a physical, manager Dusty Baker confirmed.
The deal reportedly is for $21 million over two years, with an opt-out after the first season. Wieters will be paid $10.5 million in 2017 and the same amount if he returns for '18, with $5 million deferred through '21, according to The Washington Post.
Zack Greinke's first season in the desert hardly went as intended, and that's not exactly a controversial statement. "It didn't go as planned, for the team and myself for the most part," he told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert last October. "I didn't do that good when I came back [from the disabled list]," he added after reporting to camp earlier this month. "I kind of didn't pitch as good as I probably could have or should have."
That's not really in dispute, not after his ERA ballooned from a stunning 1.66 in 2015 with the Dodgers to an inflated 4.37 ERA with the D-backs in 2016. After missing six weeks in the summer with a left oblique strain and his final two starts of the year with a sore right shoulder, certainly better health would help. Better performance on Greinke's end would help, too.
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.
Four umpires promoted to replace retiring veterans
New full-timers include first product of MLB Umpire Camps initiative
By David Adler
Major League Baseball announced the retirement of longtime umpires Bob Davidson, John Hirschbeck, Jim Joyce and Tim Welke on Tuesday. All four had spent several decades calling big league games.
That brings four new umpires to the full-time Major League ranks -- Adam Hamari, Pat Hoberg, Gabe Morales and Carlos Torres.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles closer Zach Britton will not pitch in Wednesday's intrasquad game as the lefty is dealing with early signs of an oblique issue.
The O's want to be extra cautious with Britton, which is why manager Buck Showalter said right now they'll take it day by day. Baltimore had half of its pitchers throw in Tuesday's intrasquad game and the other half were slated for Wednesday.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Four years ago, Angels infielder Andrelton Simmons played a pivotal role in helping the Netherlands reach the semifinals of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Simmons, a native of Curacao, started at shortstop and hit .333 with two home runs, three doubles and six RBIs in eight games, an effort that helped the Netherlands secure its best finish in the tournament.
Next week, Simmons will depart for Seoul to represent the Netherlands in his second career World Baseball Classic. He'll join a loaded infield that will also feature the Yankees' Didi Gregorius, the Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts, the Orioles' Jonathan Schoop and the Rangers' Jurickson Profar, many of whom are childhood friends of Simmons.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Watch out, opposing teams: Evan Gattis and Brian McCann could be planning a Parent Trap
By Michael Clair |
Were Evan Gattis and Brian McCann accidentally separated at birth? Are they merely the result of top secret human cloning? Was the Astros acquisition of McCann all a ploy to trick the opposition using top secret subterfuge? Just one week into Spring Training and the baseball world already can't separate the two players.
The Mets are pretty stocked with pitching this year. Although they lost a legendary pitcher/hitter in the offseason, the return of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to a staff that already includes Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Jacob deGrom should strike fear in hitters around the league.
But just in case it doesn't, Mets fans needn't worry, for Yoenis Cespedes is working on his knuckleball this spring.
JUPITER, Fla. -- Ichiro Suzuki needed directions to the training room. He'd never been there before -- ever. For the first time in his illustrious career, the 43-year-old Marlins outfielder sought medical assistance after colliding with non-roster invitee Brandon Barnes in what was ironically enough a communication drill late in Tuesday's Spring Training workout.
Ichiro, playing center, and Barnes, who was in right field, were chasing a fly ball. The two called for it simultaneously and neither heard the other.
TAMPA, Fla. -- When Alex Rodriguez needs a moment to clear his mind, he'll sometimes reach for one of his old game-model bats, now stashed near his office desk. Those indoor swings are enough for the three-time American League Most Valuable Player, who says that he is retired and has "zero" urge to play again.
Rodriguez arrived in Yankees camp on Tuesday, embracing his new role as a special guest instructor. Just six months after stepping into the box for what he promises was his final Major League at-bat, Rodriguez's new assignment will be to help guide the team's next generation of players.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Lucas Giolito likes the way the ball is coming out of his hand, a noticeable difference even through just one week of Spring Training pitching with the White Sox.
"Much better than last year," said Giolito, the league's No. 11 overall prospect, per MLBPipeline.com. "I made a lot of positive changes in the offseason trying to simplify things -- get back to basics, let the ball kind of come out of my hand instead of forcing it. And it's feeling very good."
A hypothetical question: If a genie came down and granted you the ability to move anywhere in the country, where would you go? (And no, "more wishes" is not an option.) You'd want to be near a Major League Baseball team, obviously, but that doesn't narrow it down very much -- there are 30 of those, after all, in every part of the country. How to choose?
Luckily, we've got just the thing: Take the quiz below -- backed by our exclusive, ballpark snack-fueled algorithm -- and your new dream destination will be revealed.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Still recovering from having four wisdom teeth removed, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is slowly working his way into baseball drills. On Tuesday, Correa worked out at the team's complex, where he took about 50 swings in the cage and said he felt good.
"I'm still a little sore, obviously, because it was kind of like a surgery, but I'm feeling better. It's pain I can tolerate, and I can go out there and do most of the work."
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.
Ozzie aims to help bolster Cardinals' defense
Hall of Fame shortstop working on mental approach in spring camp
JUPITER, Fla. -- On the heels of a season dotted with fundamental lapses, the Cardinals prioritized defensive work this spring and they summoned the most distinguished defensive player in franchise history to assist with that instruction.
Hall of Fame shortstop and 13-time Gold Glove Award winner Ozzie Smith arrived at the team's Spring Training complex on Tuesday for a weeklong stay in which he intends to be more than a quiet bystander. His hope is to help the Cardinals recalibrate defensively following a season that he described as "uncharacteristic of the organization."
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.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- You still see hard hats interspersed with the caps and helmets at the Nationals' new camp, with construction work going on inside and outside the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and the practice fields where the team trains. On Tuesday morning, for instance, workers were drilling into the exterior wall near the clubhouse entrance as they hung a team logo on what had been an empty space, thereby taking care of a finishing touch.
Turns out, the Nats' roster is/was similarly unfinished.
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.
Zaidi: A-Gone to get strategic rest in 2017
Urias may begin season in extended spring training
PHOENIX -- General manager Farhan Zaidi, speaking at the annual Cactus League Media Day on Tuesday, touched on a few minor issues his loaded Dodgers face on the first day of full-squad workouts.
Zaidi repeated manager Dave Roberts' desire to find more days off for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who earlier in the day said he will learn from team doctor Neal ElAttrache in the first week of March whether he will be cleared to begin hitting. Gonzalez has been shut down with right elbow tendinitis, and he added that if he can play in at least one Dodgers exhibition game, he will join Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic the second week of March.
MESA, Ariz. -- The A's are still awaiting the arrival of their newest reliever and hold out hope Santiago Casilla will be in camp "any day," manager Bob Melvin said Tuesday.
The veteran right-hander is held up in the Dominican Republic by visa paperwork that was delayed because he was a late sign, only committing to a second tour with the A's -- via a two-year, $11 million deal -- in late January.
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers held their first full-squad workout on Tuesday, and the talk of camp was basketball.
Club officials said part-owner Magic Johnson's status with the Dodgers hasn't changed because he just took over running the Los Angeles Lakers, but camp interest in Johnson's new job was a sign that things are relatively calm at Camelback Ranch-Glendale. Manager Dave Roberts addressed his 63 players in camp and reminded them of the unfinished business by falling two games short of the World Series last season.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After Wednesday's exhibition game against Grand Canyon University, the D-backs will have two days before opening the Cactus League schedule against the Rockies on Saturday.
"Then we've got two more work days, two more fundamental work days, where we're going to do as much as we can before it starts to really pick up speed and the games start," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.
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.
Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF
22-year-old Dahl replaced injured Parra at position last season
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Mensch on the Bench lives, and a full-size version of it is sitting in the passenger seat of Cody Decker's SUV. It traveled with him here from his home in Santa Monica, Calif., and will make the trip with Team Israel to Seoul, Korea, in early March for the opening round of the World Baseball Classic.
"I told my friends in L.A. that he's riding with me so I could use the diamond [high occupancy] lanes on the freeway," Decker said over lunch in a local pizza joint the other day. "He'll be on the bench with us again for the Classic."
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.
Brantley optimistic about recovery process
Indians outfield plans on hold with uncertainty of former All-Star
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Michael Brantley is not just Jason Kipnis' teammate, but one of his closest friends. Publicly, Brantley is a master at concealing his emotions and putting a positive face on a comeback that has spanned 18 months. Kipnis has seen Brantley behind the scenes, and understands how difficult things have been for the outfielder.
This offseason, Brantley remained in Cleveland to focus on his rehab from the right biceps tenodesis surgery he underwent in August. In December, after attending a wedding in Ohio, Kipnis made the drive to Progressive Field to spend some time with his friend.
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.
Reds leaders don't want to settle for 'moral victories'
Price, Williams focusing on winning, not just rebuilding
PHOENIX -- As Reds manager Bryan Price and general manager and president of baseball operations Dick Williams gathered with their peers at the Cactus League Media Day event on Tuesday afternoon, many of the reporters' attention was trained on the teams that are viewed as contenders in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Reds are still largely viewed as a rebuilding club. Both Price and Williams would like to see that tag removed, but realize it has to be done by team performance on the field.
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.
Cishek excited about first throws of spring
Reliever recovering from microfracture hip surgery
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Playing catch may not seem like a huge deal for most Major League pitchers, but Mariners reliever Steve Cishek took great joy in an easy 25-toss session with one of the team's trainers on a side field behind the rest of his teammates Tuesday.
After undergoing microfracture hip surgery in October, this was Cishek's first chance to throw, and he began his Spring Training in an admitted small step in a recovery process he hopes gets him back on the mound in the opening months of the regular season.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Breaking down the Mets' Top 30 Prospects
New wave of talent takes over NY's system, headlined by position players Rosario and Smith
It had appeared like the top prospects had all graduated to the big leagues. After all, how could there be more impactful talent after the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz graduated off of the Mets' Top 30 list? Well, sometimes looks can be deceiving.
While it's true there weren't guys coming up and throwing gas and looking like future National League Cy Young Award candidates, a still-eligible Matz did get an NL Rookie of the Year Award vote to extend the Mets' streak of getting at least one ROY vote to three years, starting with deGrom's win in 2014. But the contributions from the farm system came from more unlikely sources.