Before donning special helmet, Stanton takes first live BP

Having not faced a pitcher since being hit in face, slugger tracks pitches, but doesn't swing

Before donning special helmet, Stanton takes first live BP

JUPITER, Fla. -- The result wasn't very eventful, but the occasion was monumental for the Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton stepped into the batter's box on Thursday morning and saw live pitching for the first time since being struck in the face by a pitch at Milwaukee last September.

It was a significant step, but it wasn't very exciting, as Stanton tracked all 10 pitches he saw. The slugger didn't swing at any of the five offerings from right-hander Henderson Alvarez in his first round and lefty Brad Hand in his second.

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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.

Cards relieved Wainwright's injury not serious

Ace will take it easy while abdomen heals, should make Opening Day

Cards relieved Wainwright's injury not serious

JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright's visit to a St. Louis-area specialist Thursday brought some relief to Cardinals camp, as they learned soon after that the staff ace is dealing with an abdominal strain that should not keep him from being ready for the season opener on April 5.

General manager John Mozeliak called the diagnosis "good news," adding that Wainwright is cleared to continue throwing while he allows the abdominal area to heal. Nevertheless, the Cardinals will have Wainwright "take it slow for about four or five days" with an eye on then having him at full strength in a couple of weeks.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix opens road toward Opening Day start

Mariners have mapped out ace's Spring Training path for April 6 at Safeco Field

Felix opens road toward Opening Day start

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez made his spring debut for the Mariners on Thursday, throwing his first bullpen session as the progression begins toward his club-record eighth Opening Day start.

Hernandez punctuated his 30-pitch outing with a full 360-degree leap after his final toss, looking like a man who was happy to be back on the mound again after a long winter.

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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.

Johan signs Minor League deal with Blue Jays

Johan signs Minor League deal with Blue Jays

Johan Santana is back in baseball as the Blue Jays have signed the two-time Cy Young Award winner to a Minor League contract on Thursday.

Santana injured his shoulder in 2013 and hasn't pitched in the Majors since '12.

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

Huge snake pays visit to Astros clubhouse

Not everyone happy to see Sunshine, 11-foot Burmese python

Huge snake pays visit to Astros clubhouse

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros welcomed a guest into the clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium on Thursday morning that more than a few players hoped would have just stayed away.

Before taking the field for the morning work, some players posed for photos with Sunshine, an 11-foot albino Burmese python from nearby attraction Gatorland. Dallas Keuchel, Chad Qualls and Jed Lowrie were among those to pose with the reptile

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McCutchen declares Pirates' outfield baseball's best

Former MVP states case for Pittsburgh trio over Kemp's group in San Diego

McCutchen declares Pirates' outfield baseball's best

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Three years ago, when Matt Kemp showed up for Spring Training with a National League Gold Glove in his bag, Andrew McCutchen had a message for his buddy.

"You've got it now, but I'm coming to get it," warned McCutchen, who sure enough ousted Kemp from the NL's Gold Glove outfield in 2012.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Girardi, Yankees adjusting to life without Jeter

Manager calls it 'strange' not to see shortstop on field at spring camp

Girardi, Yankees adjusting to life without Jeter

TAMPA, Fla. -- As the Yankees went through their drills Thursday, Joe Girardi wandered around the lip of the outfield grass, exchanging pleasantries with the infielders. When he reached the shortstop position, he had to remember why Derek Jeter was absent.

"You get used to seeing guys out there on the field, it's a little abnormal when they're not out there," Girardi said. "It was a little strange not seeing Derek out there today. We looked and we were doing the mass infield and he wasn't there. It was kind of strange to me."

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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.

K-Rod inks two-year deal with Brewers

All-Star closer saved 44 games a season ago in Milwaukee

K-Rod inks two-year deal with Brewers

PHOENIX -- It's Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers ... again.

The veteran reliever agreed Thursday to a two-year, $13 million free-agent contract that includes a club option, giving the Brewers their closer and reuniting Rodriguez with the team that has acquired him on five separate occasions since July 2011. Milwaukee won't make a formal announcement until Rodriguez passes a physical exam and the club clears a 40-man roster spot.

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Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ellsbury: Yankees have 'chip on their shoulder' after '14 finish

Entering second season in Bronx, center fielder feeling great following ankle issue

Ellsbury: Yankees have 'chip on their shoulder' after '14 finish

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury said that there is a comfort level as he prepares for his second Spring Training with the Yankees, and senses that his teammates are "definitely motivated" to improve upon last year's second-place finish in the American League East.

"They worked hard, seeing them in the clubhouse, and obviously you can tell they put on some strength from their size," Ellsbury said. "I think guys have a chip on their shoulder and want to go out there and perform at the highest level."

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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.

Harvey set for first spring start on March 6

Harvey set for first spring start on March 6

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Matt Harvey will take a significant step forward in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on March 6, when he is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League start against the Tigers. It will be Harvey's first live game action since Aug. 24, 2013, also against Detroit.

Dillon Gee will open Grapefruit League play for the Mets on Wednesday, followed by Bartolo Colon and Harvey on March 5 and 6, respectively. Jacob deGrom and Matt Bowman will start the two halves of New York's split-squad games on March 7, Steven Matz will pitch March 8 against the Red Sox, Jon Niese will start March 9 and Zack Wheeler will go on March 10.

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

A-Rod participates in Yankees' first full workout

A-Rod participates in Yankees' first full workout

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez said that he felt "like I'm a rookie all over again" as he slipped the pinstripes for the first time in more than a year Thursday, taking batting practice and fielding drills with his Yankees teammates at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Rodriguez took 32 swings, smacking three home runs, and heard nothing but encouragement from a small crowd that assembled under overcast skies for the Yankees' first full-squad workout of the spring. Rodriguez said that he felt nervous before pulling on that familiar No. 13 jersey.

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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.

Maddon emphasizes 'Respect 90' message

Saying painted on first-base line encourages running hard, making good things happen

Maddon emphasizes 'Respect 90' message

MESA, Ariz. -- Ernie Banks used to come up with a saying every year for the Cubs. This season, manager Joe Maddon's message has been painted along the first-base line of Field 1 at the Cubs' complex: Respect 90.

Last Dec. 3, Maddon posted the message on his Twitter account @CubsJoeMadd: "Respect 90 ... going to make daily push for our players to respect that distance .. run hard for 90 feet, and the respect will come back to you." It's also on his Twitter profile.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Halos have options to replace Hamilton's production

With left fielder's status uncertain, Joyce and Cron among Angels' in-house candidates

Halos have options to replace Hamilton's production

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There are 62 players squeezed into the Angels' clubhouse here at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the quarters cramped enough that there are a couple places where two low men on the totem pole share a locker or a chair. This is the setup even without Josh Hamilton's outsized presence taking part in these spring proceedings, and Hamilton's recovery from shoulder surgery now combines with the threat of a disciplinary suspension from Major League Baseball as reasons for the Angels not to have bothered issuing their left fielder a locker.

We really don't know how long to expect the Angels to be without Hamilton in 2015 (the latest injury-related prognosis had been early May), but his injury history had already compelled general manager Jerry Dipoto to shore up the roster depth in left and at DH this winter. And now, with Hamilton's status truly up in the air, the alternate options assembled here in Arizona and potentially available elsewhere in the annual spring swap market are worth evaluating all the more.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

Victorino likely to resume switch-hitting

Injuries forced veteran to hit from only right side of plate starting in '13

Victorino likely to resume switch-hitting

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Look for Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino to return to switch-hitting this season, something he hasn't done since August 2013.

Thanks to a variety of injuries, Victorino hit right-handed only for the final two months of Boston's World Series championship season in 2013, and he got red-hot in the process. He remained as an exclusive right-handed hitter for that postseason, and in his injury-plagued season of '14.

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miggy's injury rehab continuing to progress

Miggy's injury rehab continuing to progress

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera has been hitting and throwing at Joker Marchant Stadium since arriving to Spring Training. He could begin working out at first base soon, too.

Cabrera, somewhat limited at the start of camp by his surgically repaired right foot, ran while carrying 65 percent of his body weight Wednesday, using the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill the Tigers ordered for him.

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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.

5 players we'd like to see Mariano face

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5 players we'd like to see Mariano face

Mariano Rivera retired in 2013. He's the all-time leader in games finished (952), saves (652) and ERA+ (205). He finished his final season in top form (at the age of 43!) with 44 saves and 2.11 ERA. He was as dominant as dominant gets. 

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Posey unseats Wright as 2015 'Face of MLB'

Giants All-Star catcher beats Mets star in Network's social-media vote

Posey unseats Wright as 2015 'Face of MLB'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The newest "face of MLB" wore a day-old beard and a mildly amused expression as he discussed his latest honor Thursday morning.

Giants catcher Buster Posey emerged victorious in MLB Network's "Face of MLB" competition, which was determined by a widespread fan vote. The Network announced Thursday that Posey beat out Mets third baseman David Wright, baseball's reigning "face," in the finals.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spaceman does some yoga at Red Sox camp

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Spaceman does some yoga at Red Sox camp

We all know that at some point in his career, former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee probably won the paper plate award for "Most Likely to Get Really, Really Into Yoga." After all, his nickname is "Spaceman" and he reads books by self-described "mystics."

So it's not a huge surprise that he appears to be turning Boston's Spring Training facilities in Fort Myers into a great place to practice his downward dog.

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Rangers 'playing it over-cautiously' with Moreland, Choo

Texas wants to ensure both, coming off surgery, remain at full strength throughout spring

Rangers 'playing it over-cautiously' with Moreland, Choo

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Mitch Moreland and Shin-Soo Choo are at full strength in Spring Training. But both are coming off surgery and the Rangers are going to monitor them carefully to make sure they leave that way.

Moreland had season-ending surgery on his left ankle on June 23. He has been working out all winter, but the Rangers still want him to take it slowly, especially with the running.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Banister reinforces contender potential in first meeting

New Rangers manager says team has 'shut the door on last year,' is ready to rebound

Banister reinforces contender potential in first meeting

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister had a simple message for his team in his meeting before the first full-squad workout on Thursday.

Why not us?

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Bachelor' Juan Pablo visits Royals camp

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'Bachelor' Juan Pablo visits Royals camp

Former star of ABC's "The Bachelor" Juan Pablo Galavis, known to most as, simply, Juan Pablo, is something of an honorary Major Leaguer. He's thrown out a (not great) first pitch before a Marlins game:

And he's good friends with several current players, even serving as a representative of the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame. Seriously.

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Hamilton meets with MLB about disciplinary issue

Hamilton meets with MLB about disciplinary issue

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton met with Major League Baseball officials at the Commissioner's Office on Wednesday regarding a disciplinary issue, the Angels confirmed, but the team declined to provide specifics about the meeting, wasn't certain when it might hear from MLB and was bracing for the possibility of a suspension.

The Los Angeles Times first reported news of the meeting in New York. CBSSports.com reported that Hamilton, who was suspended from 2004-06 because of issues related to cocaine and alcohol abuse, admitted to having a drug-related relapse this offseason, which is what precipitated the meeting.

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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.

Murphy focused on task at hand with Mets

Murphy focused on task at hand with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Six and a half years ago, Daniel Murphy arrived in Houston as a little-known 13th-round Draft pick trying to help the Mets win a pennant race. He spent much of the next half-decade trying to prove he belonged -- first in the big leagues, then at second base. Consistently, Murphy defied the odds.

Yet while the Mets have always appreciated Murphy's old-school skill set and attitude, they never rewarded him with a long-term contract extension. Instead, Murphy enters this season on an $8 million arbitration settlement, with no guarantees beyond it.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Pitching will eventually determine Red Sox's fate

Lack of ace to lead rotation not a concern to Farrell, Nieves

Pitching will eventually determine Red Sox's fate

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There has been much attention paid to a dramatically improved Red Sox lineup, and justifiably so.

But so often, entire seasons rise or fall on the performance of the pitching, particularly the starting pitching.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Frisco RoughRiders get presidential with logo

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Frisco RoughRiders get presidential with logo

When the 26th President of the United States said "Speak softly and carry a big stick," he wasn't talking about foreign policy. The big stick he was talking about, actually, was a baseball bat.

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Back to school: Appel tasked with teammate report

Prospect doing interviews, taking notes for presentation

Back to school: Appel tasked with teammate report

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Despite being a No. 1 overall pick, right-hander Mark Appel is participating in the same rituals the Astros' other young players are doing this spring. Young players are getting singled out each morning so the veterans can find out more about them.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch has given Appel the assignment of making a presentation about every player on the team, which means Appel has spent the past few mornings interviewing his teammates and taking notes in a small notebook.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Jackson an X-factor for motivated Mariners

Center fielder's glove work, speed add dimension to playoff-hungry squad

Jackson an X-factor for motivated Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The stars have aligned in Seattle, where Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager welcome Nelson Cruz to the troupe. With the national media focused on a big four the Mariners will stack up against any in the game, the key to the whole operation could be Austin Jackson, the center fielder Seattle acquired from Detroit last July 31.

Jackson struggled offensively in his new environment, but he's proven goods: an exciting leadoff catalyst who steals runs with his glove.

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

Royals staying hungry for World Series title

Royals staying hungry for World Series title

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- How devoted are the Royals to getting back to the World Series?

They won't even eat cheeseburgers.

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

A's pitcher Pat Venditte talks switch-pitching

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A's pitcher Pat Venditte talks switch-pitching

A's reliever Pat Venditte is a professional right-handed pitcher. He is also a professional left-handed pitcher. Often, he does both in the same game. Welcome to the world of ambidextrous pitching.

The Minor Leaguer scored an invite to Spring Training this season and with his career 2.54 ERA and average 10 strikeouts per nine innings, it's not difficult to see why. This week, the switch-pitching Venditte went on Hot Stove to break down his baseball superpower for us mortals.

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Frustration fuels Cozart's motivation for 2015

Shortstop determined to rebound offensively

Frustration fuels Cozart's motivation for 2015

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A lack of offensive production often killed the Reds last season, leaving many hitters with a lot to prove during the 2015 campaign. Coming off of the worst year of his career, shortstop Zack Cozart is one of them.

"I tell everyone that I'm at the top of the list," Cozart said. "I want to prove I'm the hitter I was before last year. I look at last year and throw that one out of the door."

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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.