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.
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.
Wilson's baseball career was nearing its end, but his leadership abilities were on full display as he helped take control of a potentially dangerous situation.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Major League Baseball issued a memo to its clubs on Tuesday night that acknowledged new regulations for Cuban players that were published earlier this month by federal officials, and reminded teams that the League's current policies for Cuban players remain intact until further notice.
The one-page memo states the League, its legal counsel and the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control are discussing the changes. For now, Major League Baseball will continue to require an OFAC unblocking license prior to players being allowed to enter a contract. The scouting of Cuban players and travel to the island by club personnel or representatives remain prohibited, the memo states.
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.
Lindsay Berra is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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.
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.
Now that we know Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette isn't going anywhere, it's time to find out something else about the guy who earned multiple Executive of the Year Awards for his work in 2014.
Is he also a miracle worker?
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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.
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.
From the moment he was drafted by the Red Sox in 2007, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo began racking up the personal achievements. He mashed 32 home runs last season and earned his first All-Star selection.
But those accomplishments pale in comparison to Rizzo's biggest victory yet -- a victory in his battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
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.
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.
Giancarlo Stanton knows that along with his massive contract comes massive expectations.
Just a few months away from beginning the first year of his record-breaking $325 million contract, Stanton joined MLB Network for a special feature Tuesday evening -- "The Offseason: Hope in Chicago and Miami" -- to discuss the Marlins' offseason and his aspirations for the next 13 years in Miami.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.