Panda hits a half-court shot sitting down

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Panda hits a half-court shot sitting down

Pablo Sandoval is an accomplished professional baseball player. He is a two-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion and, this past offseason, a highly coveted free agent who ended up signing a five-year deal with the Red Sox. But that isn't enough. He wants to conquer the world of trick-shot basketball, too.

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In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

Rome Braves GM Dunn saw qualities in quarterback during tragedy

In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

ATLANTA -- As a frightening string of destructive tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on April 27, 2011, Mike Dunn took precautionary measures to protect his Class A Rome Braves players and the visiting Asheville Tourists club that included a young second baseman named Russell Wilson.

Long after the afternoon game scheduled that day had been postponed, primarily to allow State Mutual Stadium's parking lot to be used as a command center for emergency crews, the Tourists evacuated their four-story hotel in Rome and returned to the stadium to seek shelter.

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

Blue Jays, Brewers talk potential trade for Papelbon

Blue Jays, Brewers talk potential trade for Papelbon

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are still talking to the Brewers and Blue Jays about a Jonathan Papelbon trade.

Two sources said on Tuesday evening that the talks are alive, although the seriousness of those discussions is unclear. Yahoo! Sports first reported Friday that the Phillies and Brewers were in serious negotiations. FOXSports.com mentioned the Blue Jays' interest.

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

Smoltz recalls bellhop joke he played on teammates

Smoltz recalls bellhop joke he played on teammates

John Smoltz, one of the electees to the Baseball Hall of Fame, once spent time as a bellhop. Well, not exactly. But he pretended to be one once for about 30 minutes to pull off a joke on his teammates after they arrived at a hotel late one morning on a road trip.

Smoltz told his "Glory Story" on Tuesday on MLB Network, and it had nothing to do with any of his many accomplishments on the baseball field.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Lindsay Berra

Players, coaches discuss impact of the infield shift

Players, coaches discuss impact of the infield shift

MLB's new Commissioner, Rob Manfred, got people's attention right out of the gate.

In an interview that aired on ESPN on Sunday, his first official day at the helm, Manfred responded to a query by Karl Ravech by saying he was open to the possibility of doing away with defensive shifts. This stirred up immediate chatter in social media, on sports radio and among sportswriters, which was a good thing, according to the game's 10th Commissioner.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Time for hitters to counter defensive shifts

Time for hitters to counter defensive shifts

New Commissioner Rob Manfred certainly wasn't speaking in binding terms when he floated the possibility of eliminating or limiting the defensive shifts that have become so prevalent in baseball. In fact, he was simply replying to a question about any "radical" changes he might consider. That said, the impact of shifting is a topic many executives, coaches and players have bandied about in the office or locker room at a time when offensive production is at its lowest levels in decades.

But as is the case with so many of the game's evolutions in circumstances and strategy, the players themselves will probably dictate the direction taken here. Shifts, after all, are the byproduct of historical data, and they inherently create present and future areas of vulnerability on the field. And so it is incumbent upon the hitters to disrupt the data with revolutionary results.

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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.

Prospect Watch: Top 10 third basemen

Bryant, Gallo, Sano bring plenty of power to the hot corner

Prospect Watch: Top 10 third basemen

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

If chicks dig the long ball, then there's no doubt third base is the sexiest position among prospects. It's home to the three best power prospects in the game in Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Joey Gallo (Rangers) -- the last two Minor League home run champions -- and Miguel Sano (Twins). It will be interesting to see how many of these guys remain at the hot corner in the long term, because position changes have been hinted at for at least eight of them, and only Jake Lamb (D-backs) projects as a quality defender.

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Astros legend Bagwell to rejoin organization

Former first baseman will aid players as guest Spring Training instructor

Astros legend Bagwell to rejoin organization

HOUSTON -- Jeff Bagwell, who has been largely out of baseball since he decided not to remain as hitting coach of the Astros following the 2010 season, will return to the organization after accepting an offer from the team Tuesday to become a guest instructor at Spring Training.

Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said Bagwell will be in Kissimmee, Fla., for a few days in March, marking his first appearance in spring camp in five years. Ryan and manager A.J. Hinch had worked for weeks trying to get Bagwell back in the fold, and Bagwell told Ryan on Tuesday he would lend his knowledge to the Astros.

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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.

Rangers acquire Ranaudo from Red Sox for Ross

Right-hander gives Texas another option for back end of rotation

Rangers acquire Ranaudo from Red Sox for Ross

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers added another strong candidate to their rotation competition by acquiring rookie right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo from the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Texas did so by dealing from the one area of its pitching staff it was most concerned about by sending left-handed reliever Robbie Ross Jr. to the Red Sox. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said they weren't looking to trade Ross, but they couldn't pass up the opportunity to acquire another quality starting pitching prospect.

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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.

Crushing can in face has Blackmon in shape

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Crushing can in face has Blackmon in shape

There are a lot of great ways to stay in shape during the offseason. You can get into winter sports. You can work out while wearing terrifying oxygen masks. Or, if you're Charlie Blackmon, you can pump up those face muscles by smashing a beer can with them. 

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Tom Brady says Derek Jeter is his favorite athlete

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Tom Brady says Derek Jeter is his favorite athlete

With most of the NFL world still talking about Deflate-gate, there's a new controversy for New England Patriots fans: who Tom Brady's favorite athlete is. 

While speaking at Super Bowl Media Day, Brady listed Derek Jeter first:

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At 36, Lohse feeling on top of his game

Projected Opening Day starter hoping to win with Brewers

At 36, Lohse feeling on top of his game

MILWAUKEE -- Statistically, Kyle Lohse is in the prime of his career, with four of his best seasons in terms of ERA+ and fielding independent pitching in the past five years. And with the trade of Yovani Gallardo to Texas, Lohse is the presumptive pick to start for the Brewers on Opening Day.

But he is also 36 years old, which explains why Lohse is asked more and more these days about his post-playing career plans. It's an uncomfortable question.

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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.

Dave Winfield's favorite player: Giancarlo Stanton

Dave Winfield's favorite player: Giancarlo Stanton

Dave Winfield knows what it means to be a great outfielder. The Hall of Famer was a 12-time All-Star who won seven Gold Glove Awards and six Silver Slugger Awards.

Winfield's favorite big leaguer to watch these days? Giancarlo Stanton.

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

Eaton enjoys reporting duties at Super Bowl Media Day

White Sox center fielder serves as correspondent for Comcast SportsNet Chicago

Eaton enjoys reporting duties at Super Bowl Media Day

CHICAGO -- For the immediate future, Adam Eaton is more than satisfied to serve as the catalyst at the top of the White Sox batting order and anchor center field for what looks to be an up-and-coming team in 2015.

But on Tuesday in Phoenix, the charismatic Eaton got thrown into the fire in a new profession as part of Super Bowl Media Day at US Airways Center. Eaton, an outstanding interview in his everyday baseball venue, and his wife, Katie, served as correspondents for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Arbitration-eligible Crawford gets $3.175 million

Giants shortstop avoids hearing, agrees to reported midpoint between player, team

Source: Arbitration-eligible Crawford gets $3.175 million

The Giants have avoided arbitration with shortstop Brandon Crawford by agreeing to a one-year, $3.175 million deal, a source told MLB.com's Paul Hagen on Tuesday.

The club has not confirmed the agreement.

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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.

Starling to get taste of bigs at Spring Training

MLB Network crew not ready to give up on prospect who has struggled in Minors

Starling to get taste of bigs at Spring Training

Once a mega-prospect considered by many to be the future of the Royals, center fielder Bubba Starling hasn't quite lived up to the massive expectations heaped on his shoulders.

So the Royals are taking a bit of an unconventional approach in his development: They're inviting him to Major League Spring Training.

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

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I'd just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish -- now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.  

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Ichiro, Marlins finalize 1-year deal

Miami to introduce 10-time All-Star at news conference Wednesday in Tokyo

Ichiro, Marlins finalize 1-year deal

MIAMI -- Ichiro Suzuki's pursuit of a championship and personal milestones will continue in Miami.

The Marlins on Tuesday night announced the signing of the 41-year-old free agent outfielder to a one-year contract. Ichiro, who will wear No. 51, becomes the first Japanese-born player in franchise history. He will be introduced as a Marlin at a news conference scheduled for 10 p.m. ET Wednesday in Tokyo. Club president David Samson, president of baseball operations Michael Hill and general manager Dan Jennings will be on hand.

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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.

Wilhelmsen will move his way into any role for Mariners

Versatile reliever is a 'long shot' to earn spot in deep rotation

Wilhelmsen will move his way into any role for Mariners

SEATTLE -- Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen proved his versatility -- and personality -- once again at last weekend's FanFest with several impromptu singing and dancing performances atop the Mariners' dugout at Safeco Field. But the looming question for Wilhelmsen now figures to be where exactly he fits into Seattle's pitching plans when the games begin this spring.

Wilhelmsen is a unique talent, and not just in terms of his entertainment value for fans and fellow relievers. After getting out of baseball and working as a bartender from 2004-08, the lanky right-hander became one of the game's better human-interest stories by landing a bullpen job with the Mariners in 2011 and saving 53 games as Seattle's closer from '12-13.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Manfred ready for Majors from Day 1

New Commissioner ahead of baseball curve thanks to advanced 100-day plan

Manfred ready for Majors from Day 1

NEW YORK -- Rob Manfred's first day in the office as Major League Baseball's 10th Commissioner was, well, normal.

"It has been more routine than I would have expected, in the sense that I'm just dealing with the kind of everyday issues that come along," Manfred said on Monday afternoon.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jeremy Guthrie channels John Legend

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Jeremy Guthrie channels John Legend

Jeremy Guthrie's love of popular music has been well-documented. He hangs out with Justin Timberlake, believes the Backstreet Boys "have the best songs" and can readily name all of the members of New Kids on the Block. In other words, he is much cooler than you or I.

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Visitation, service for Banks to be held Friday, Saturday

Visitation, service for Banks to be held Friday, Saturday

CHICAGO -- Public visitation and memorial services for Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, will be held Friday and Saturday at Fourth Presbyterian Church, the Cubs announced.

The public visitation will be from 12-8 p.m. CT at the church, located at 126 East Chestnut Street, Chicago. On Saturday, there will be limited public seating available for the memorial service, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT at the church.

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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.

Orioles acquire Snider in trade with Pirates

Outfielder joins Baltimore outfield; lefty prospect Tarpley to Pittsburgh

Orioles acquire Snider in trade with Pirates

The Orioles, who have lost Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz to free agency during a mostly quiet offseason, moved to bolster their outfield by acquiring Travis Snider from the Pirates on Tuesday night. Left-handed pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley was sent to Pittsburgh in the deal, which also includes a player to be named.

Snider, a left-handed hitter who turns 27 next week, is coming off his best season in the Major Leagues. In 140 games for Pittsburgh, he hit .264/.338/.438 with 13 home runs and a career-high 38 RBIs.

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

Pirates bolster farm in dealing Snider to O's

Veteran outfielder nets Pittsburgh lefty Tarpley and player to be named

Pirates bolster farm in dealing Snider to O's

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Travis Snider, a force over the final two months of the 2014 season who stood to be pushed out of right field by Gregory Polanco's potential, was dealt on Tuesday by the Pirates to the Baltimore Orioles.

Since December's Winter Meetings, the Pirates have been looking for a way to turn Snider, 26, into prospects. Stephen Tarpley, a 21-year-old left-hander, and a player to be named later, possibly another lower-level Minor League pitcher, were acquired in the deal.

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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.

Nationals preparing for new right side of infield

Recent acquisition Escobar shifting from short to second; Zimmerman moving to first

Nationals preparing for new right side of infield

The Nationals might have a new Opening Day starter in Max Scherzer, and the infield standing behind the right-hander figures to look plenty different as well.

With Spring Training less than a month away, Washington is set to move trade acquisition Yunel Escobar from shortstop to second base, and longtime third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to first. While both of these shifts are down the defensive spectrum -- in other words, to easier spots -- that doesn't mean they don't come with challenges.

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

Dyson, Royals avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

Dyson, Royals avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

The Royals have avoided arbitration with outfielder Jarrod Dyson by agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. The club confirmed that the sides reached a deal, but did not disclose the terns.

The agreement was first reported by Kansas City Star and confirmed by a source to MLB.com. Dyson will receive a $25,000 bonus if he reaches 350 plate appearances in 2015 and a $50,000 bonus if he is named an All-Star.

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

Hot Coco, Freese make All-Blizzard lineup

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Hot Coco, Freese make All-Blizzard lineup

If you're located along the East Coast, you know that there's a blizzard coming. A snowpocalypse. Snowzilla. SNOW MERCY.

In honor of the storm, we decided to put together an All-Blizzard team of MLB players. Check it out below.

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Reds lock up Mesoraco with four-year pact

Homegrown catcher avoids arbitration, makes long-term commitment

Reds lock up Mesoraco with four-year pact

CINCINNATI -- Keeping their young and blossoming talent in the organization has been something the Reds have done the past few years. Homegrown players such as Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto were all signed to multiyear contracts as they approached their years of arbitration eligibility.

Catcher Devin Mesoraco became the latest Reds-developed player to join that list. On Monday, Mesoraco and the club avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a four-year, $28 million contract.

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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.

Giles aims to build on stellar rookie campaign

Giles aims to build on stellar rookie campaign

LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- Ken Giles lost his job this winter.

Giles said in September that he planned to spend much of his offseason working at an indoor baseball facility near his home in Peoria, Ariz. He said he hated sitting around the house in the offseason, so his weekday shifts kept him busy.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Pipeline Perspectives: Quinn the top Minor League burner

After impressive AFL showing, Phillies prospect primed to take stolen-base crown

Pipeline Perspectives: Quinn the top Minor League burner

There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com don't always see eye to eye. They discuss their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.

The Florida Panhandle produced several notable speedsters for the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. The fastest of them all was Gulf Coast Community College outfielder Terrance Gore, who rode his quickness alone to a spot on the Royals' postseason roster last fall.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.