See Jake rake: Arrieta crushes 465-foot HR

See Jake rake: Arrieta crushes 465-foot HR

SCOTTSDALE -- Jake Arrieta led Cubs pitchers with two home runs last season, and got his swing tuned up on Thursday in his first at-bat in an eventual 5-5 tie against the D-backs.

Making his third Cactus League start, Arrieta launched a 1-2 pitch from Arizona's Zack Greinke onto the berm in left-center field leading off the third inning. It was his first at-bat; the Cubs used the designated hitter in Arrieta's previous starts.

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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.

Theo No. 1 leader in world? List says so

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Theo No. 1 leader in world? List says so

Angela Merkel is No. 10. Elon Musk is No. 30. Pope Francis is No. 3. But topping Fortune magazine's list of the world's greatest leaders is (drum roll, please) … Theo Epstein.

That's right -- the Cubs' president of baseball operations beat out multiple heads of state, tech CEOs and even Chance the Rapper.

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MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

10 burning questions 10 days before season

Brantley's status, back end of Red Sox's rotation up in air

10 burning questions 10 days before season

Meanwhile, back to our regular programming.

As players from Team USA and Puerto Rico return to their MLB teams after an excellent three-week adventure, the good news is that Opening Day is right around the corner. So with that in mind, here are 10 questions that still need to be answered in the next 10 days.

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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.

Hahn won't budge on asking price for Quintana

Hahn won't budge on asking price for Quintana

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Trying to decipher potential Jose Quintana trade destinations from this week's latest batch of rumors really isn't that difficult, even with Quintana throwing 5 2/3 perfect innings against the Reds on Thursday in front of 17 scouts during a 4-2 White Sox victory at Camelback Ranch.

In fact, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn summed up the matter in a conversation with MLB.com, although he wasn't speaking directly about Quintana, who allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings Thursday.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Classic stars back to spring action on MLB.TV

Classic stars back to spring action on MLB.TV

With several MLB stars from the World Baseball Classic returning to their clubs to resume Spring Training, intriguing matchups abound in Friday's Cactus and Grapefruit League action.

Following the United States' 8-0 win over Puerto Rico to claim its first Classic title Wednesday, players like Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Danny Duffy and others are rejoining their squads, and you can see them on MLB.TV.

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

Historic 2017 Classic smashes event records

Fourth tournament sets marks for attendance, TV ratings and more

Historic 2017 Classic smashes event records

The 2017 World Baseball Classic has reached its conclusion, and the returns say the tournament was one for the history books.

The fourth installment of the Classic set new event records for attendance, television ratings, digital consumption and merchandise sales, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. The tournament concluded Wednesday night with the United States defeating Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the championship final in front of 3.1 million American television viewers across MLB Network, ESPN Deportes and a Spanish language simulcast on ESPN2 -- a new record for any single Classic game.

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Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Managers rewrite rules on bullpen usage

Francona's fearlessness in 2016 World Series a blueprint for future

Managers rewrite rules on bullpen usage

PHOENIX -- If you want the real lesson baseball people took from the way bullpens were managed during last fall's postseason, it's this: Indians manager Terry Francona is very good at his job. Spectacularly good. Hall of Fame good.

He was creative, aggressive and fearless in leading his team on an improbable run to Game 7 of the World Series, and if there's a blueprint for how to manage postseason baseball, he surely has written it.

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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.

Classic contest: Best half-frames of WBC '17

Classic contest: Best half-frames of WBC '17

With Team USA's 8-0 championship game win over Puerto Rico on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, a thrilling 2017 World Baseball Classic is in the books after 40 games of great action.

With that in mind, here's a new way to remember some of the tournament's best highlights. We've combed through the archives to come up with a "game" comprised of the most unforgettable individual half-innings of the Classic.

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Zachary Finkelstein is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

After ejection, Asdrubal goes for stroll

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After ejection, Asdrubal goes for stroll

The thing about The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, the shared Spring Training home of the Nationals and Astros, is that the only way out is through the right-field gate. So, when Asdrubal Cabrera was ejected in the fourth inning of the Nationals' 1-0 win over the Mets on Thursday, he had to walk from first base to the Mets dugout to the very far corner of the outfield.

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Mom's advice gave Buxton boost he needed

Strong September for former top prospect has carried over to spring

Mom's advice gave Buxton boost he needed

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As Byron Buxton learned last year, sometimes the best scouts don't even work in baseball.

Shortly before his September callup to the Twins, his mom, Carrie, told him she had watched video of him, and had diagnosed why the former No. 1 overall prospect had struggled in his first stints in the Majors.

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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Be a GM with Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball

Be a GM with Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball

Since the final out of the 2016 World Series settled in Anthony Rizzo's glove, giving the Cubs a championship 108 years in the making, baseball's general managers have been preparing their clubs for success in '17.

And now, with Opening Day quickly approaching, you can join in on the excitement.

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Zachary Finkelstein is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The 10 best moments from the 2017 World Baseball Classic

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The 10 best moments from the 2017 World Baseball Classic

In its fourth iteration, the World Baseball Classic proved to any and all doubters the sheer awesome power of an international baseball competition. With record-setting attendance, exciting play and big moments that likely put a strain on Twitter's servers when every baseball fan needed to shout "WOW" into the void, 2017's tournament may have been the best one yet. 

Now that it's over, and with 10 days to go until Opening Day, let's say goodbye to the Classic with 10 of the very best, brightest and most exciting moments. 

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Back tightness keeps Miggy day to day

Back tightness keeps Miggy day to day

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera is back from the World Baseball Classic. He is not back to action with the Tigers.

Cabrera's timetable depends on the tightness in his back, which looms larger than the precautionary concern it was characterized to be when he was held out of Venezuela's final game last weekend.

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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.

Huntington: Kang on OD roster 'unrealistic'

Bucs' fifth-starter competition still ongoing; McCutchen, Harrison returning from Classic

Huntington: Kang on OD roster 'unrealistic'

BRADENTON, Fla. -- With Jung Ho Kang still awaiting his work visa in South Korea, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington acknowledged Thursday it is "unrealistic" to expect Kang to be on Pittsburgh's Opening Day roster.

Kang has not reported to Spring Training, and it is unclear when he will arrive in the United States. He has been working out in South Korea but hasn't faced live pitching. Kang received a suspended eight-month sentence for his December DUI arrest, his third such charge since 2009, and he is reportedly appealing the sentence in an attempt to more quickly secure his visa.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Black sharing insight with Rockies' young arms

New Colorado skipper and former MLB hurler brings 'pitcher's perspective' to job

Black sharing insight with Rockies' young arms

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One of the first things Bud Black said when the Rockies hired him as their skipper was that he "sees the game through the pitcher's eyes," and sometimes those words are meant to be taken literally.

Black was watching Jon Gray throw a bullpen session here early in Spring Training camp, and he noticed that Gray's eyes were peeking too long on his leg lift as he went through his motion on the mound when they ought to be aimed at the catcher's mitt. Repetition is a pillar of pitching, and bad habits aren't easily unbound. But Black's observation was one small thing that Gray is attempting to address each time he takes the ball.

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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.

Kershaw in top form with 11 K's, 6 scoreless

Dodgers' ace holds Texas to 2 hits after rocky last time out

Kershaw in top form with 11 K's, 6 scoreless

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Those who were panicky after Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw served up three homers in his previous start can chill after Thursday.

Kershaw rebounded with Cy Young form in a 10-2 win over the Rangers, fanning 11 in six scoreless innings on two hits. He even sounded fairly pleased afterward.

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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.

Felix dominates Giants in Cactus League return

Felix dominates Giants in Cactus League return

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Mariners blanked the Giants for six innings Thursday, riding a masterful pitching performance behind their ace, Felix Hernandez. The Giants could muster only one hit through the first six innings as Seattle went on to a 9-2 triumph.

Hernandez was in rare form in his first start since pitching a pair of games for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The Mariners' Opening Day starter was perfect through 3 2/3 innings before Jarrett Parker hit a grounder to third that went into left field for a double. The Mariners infield was shifted far to the right side of the diamond, leave a gaping hole at third. No other Giant reached base in Hernandez's six innings on the hill.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Giants on Thursday.

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

The heroic tale of an MLB.com beat reporter risking life and limb to catch a hot dog

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The heroic tale of an MLB.com beat reporter risking life and limb to catch a hot dog

How far would you go for a hot dog? 

It's an important question and one that MLB.com's Todd Zolecki answered for himself, for us and for the rest of the world during Thursday's Phillies-Twins Spring Training game. Here is his firsthand account of his battle with the Phillie Phanatic's famous hot dog cannon in the ninth inning. Take notes, frankfurter aficionados.

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Freeman ends 12-pitch at-bat with HR off Verlander

Freeman ends 12-pitch at-bat with HR off Verlander

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Freddie Freeman concludes his career, he likely won't have vivid memories of too many of the home runs he has hit during Spring Training. But there's a good chance he'll remember the one he hit immediately after he and Justin Verlander exchanged smiles in the midst of a long battle.

Freeman emerged victorious as he recorded his first home run of the spring at the end of a 12-pitch at-bat waged against Verlander during the first inning of Thursday night's 2-1 win over the Tigers. After the eighth foul ball went sailing into the stands behind the third-base dugout, the two veterans exchanged smiles.

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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.

Verlander has arsenal ready for season

Tigers ace retires 15 straight Braves, feels he's ahead of where he was last year

Verlander has arsenal ready for season

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Justin Verlander came to Spring Training six weeks ago with a goal to get himself closer to top form around Opening Day and avoid the first-half struggles that slowed his 2016 season. He won't know for sure how well he did that until he takes the mound at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago in a week and a half, but he at least has given it his best shot.

Verlander's slider still isn't quite where he wants it, and he hasn't fired those fastballs at 97-plus mph yet. He didn't summon the latter Thursday evening during his 12-pitch battle with Freddie Freeman that ended with a 95-mph fastball that Freeman lined over the right-field fence.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

D will be key for Cards to return to postseason

Addition of Fowler in CF, greater lineup stability should pay dividends

D will be key for Cards to return to postseason

JUPITER, Fla. -- In just the past two seasons, the St. Louis Cardinals went from being one of baseball's best defensive teams to one of its worst. Not coincidentally, a five-year run of postseason baseball ended in 2016.

And that's the story of their Spring Training. Back to basics. Back to the Cardinal Way.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Mark Feinsand

Q&A: Cashman on 30-plus years with Yanks

GM discusses The Boss, the champiosnhips and the current youth movement

Q&A: Cashman on 30-plus years with Yanks

When he began his internship with the Yankees in 1986, Brian Cashman didn't envision a career in baseball. When he was named the team's general manager in '98, he knew the shelf life on such jobs under George Steinbrenner were typically shorter than most.

Cashman enters his 20th season as the team's GM, looking to lead the Yankees back to the top of the mountain for the first time since 2009 -- an eight-year drought that feels like a lifetime in the Bronx.

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Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Price pondered Votto batting leadoff in 2016

Price pondered Votto batting leadoff in 2016

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In the context of facing the Cubs last Thursday and witnessing their innovative approach in leading off Kyle Schwarber, Reds manager Bryan Price admitted he pondered the prospect of Joey Votto in the one hole last year.

To be sure, Price is committed to batting Votto third for the better part of 2017, but in seeing Schwarber and the Indians' success with Danny Santana leading off, Price said he loosely considered moving Votto from third to first in the lineup.

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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.

A's hand Opening Night start to Graveman

With Gray on the mend, right-hander to be followed by Manaea, Cotton

A's hand Opening Night start to Graveman

MESA, Ariz. -- A's right-hander Kendall Graveman has been called on to make the first Opening Day start of his career, a gesture he considers a "very humbling honor."

After A's manager Bob Melvin delivered the news to Graveman on Thursday morning, the pitcher had a message of his own. 

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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Anderson wins spot in Cubs' rotation

Anderson wins spot in Cubs' rotation

MESA, Ariz. -- Not many teams have the luxury of having the Major League's ERA leader as their No. 5 starter, but the Cubs can do just that.

On Thursday, manager Joe Maddon announced Brett Anderson had won a spot in the Cubs' rotation, but will be inserted into the fourth spot while Kyle Hendricks, who led the Majors last year with a 2.13 ERA, will be fifth. The Cubs will open the season with Jon Lester starting on Opening Day followed by Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Anderson and Hendricks.

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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.

Pedey, Panda pace high-flying Sox vs. Bucs

Pedey, Panda pace high-flying Sox vs. Bucs

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With both teams trotting out similar lineups to the ones they'll have against each other on Opening Day in Boston, the Red Sox downed the Pirates, 10-7, in a Thursday afternoon slugfest at JetBlue Park.

The replica Green Monster served as a backdrop as both teams took their share of healthy swings. Starling Marte hit a grand slam for the Bucs.

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

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Thursday.

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

Moncada, Giolito, Lopez reflect on Sox camp

Top prospects reassigned to Minors, discuss feelings upon departure

Moncada, Giolito, Lopez reflect on Sox camp

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez held court before the White Sox 4-2 victory over the Reds at Camelback Ranch after the team's top prospects per MLBPipeline.com were returned from big league Spring Training to Minor League camp Tuesday. Here's a look at some of their comments.

Moncada

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hamilton returns from Achilles inflammation

Hamilton returns from Achilles inflammation

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Billy Hamilton, who had been sidelined since Saturday due to Achilles inflammation, returned as the designated hitter in Thursday's 4-2 loss to the White Sox. Hamilton went 0-for-3, and was one of the many victims of a lights-out Jose Quintana, who carried a perfect game into the sixth inning.

Hamilton, who missed four spring games, likely would have played if those games were in the regular season, manager Bryan Price said earlier this week. Hamilton is scheduled for a workout day Friday and will resume center field during a split series this weekend against the Cubs in Las Vegas.

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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.