Stray cat led La Russa on rescue mission

Hall of Famer started Animal Rescue Foundation after on-field incident in Oakland

Stray cat led La Russa on rescue mission

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe Tony La Russa wouldn't have cared so much if the Oakland A's had lost the darn game.

But they didn't, the chilly night of May 7, 1990, when that cat made herself at home on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum field, scampering out of the bullpen into center field, making a beeline for the first-base line, strolling over the on-deck circle and around home plate toward the third-base dugout.

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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.

Kuroda reportedly returning to Japan to pitch

Kuroda reportedly returning to Japan to pitch

Hiroki Kuroda is returning to Japan to pitch for Nippon Professional Baseball, according to multiple reports.

A Japanese newspaper first reported the story on Friday, and CBSSports.com later confirmed the report. The CBSSports.com report also mentioned that Kuroda plans to pitch for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, the team he pitched for prior to coming to the United States.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

10 things to watch in MLB heading into '15

10 things to watch in MLB heading into '15

It has been one of the busiest offseasons in recent years, but there are still some issues that teams have to address. Here are 10 heading into the New Year.

Angels (Josh Hamilton): After being limited to 240 games in his first two years with the Halos, Hamilton needs to provide a legitimate power bat to offset the more than $90 million the Angels owe him over the next three years. Johnny Narron, Hamilton's guiding force as a youth and with the Rangers, was hired to be the organization's Triple-A hitting coach but will get plenty of time with Hamilton in the spring. The Angels did win an MLB-best 98 regular-season games last season, but they were swept in the American League Division Series by Kansas City. To take the next step they need the Hamilton of the Rangers to return. The Angels have a big enough hole as it is at DH, where only two players had more than 100 at-bats last season (Albert Pujols 163 and C.J. Cron 125).

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

New York is excited for Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl

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New York is excited for Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl

It's hard to be a baseball fan during the winter. There comes a point when you can no longer watch your 1979 World Series box set on repeat and baseball video games just can't cut it anymore. Fortunately, on Saturday afternoon, there will be some action at Yankee Stadium. 

Sure, it's a college football bowl game between Boston College and Penn State instead of a baseball game, but by virtue of being played at Yankee Stadium, you can pretend it's baseball. Touchdowns become super grand slams worth seven runs, interceptions become home run-robbing catches, and power running plays become sacrifice bunts. 

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Nationals sign Uggla to Minor League deal

Three-time All-Star second baseman has played for Marlins, Braves and Giants

Nationals sign Uggla to Minor League deal

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training on Friday.

Uggla has struggled the past three years, hitting a combined .194 with 43 home runs for the Braves and Giants. He was selected by the D-backs in the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, when Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was Arizona's scouting director.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Celebrate Fisk's birthday with his World Series HR

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Celebrate Fisk's birthday with his World Series HR

The former catcher has enjoyed a pretty spectacular life. He played baseball for 24 years (in four different decades!), was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000 and is routinely referred to as one of the top five to ever play his position. He fully embraced the heated Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. There's rappers named after him.

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MadBum earns place in history with epic performance

Unexpected postseason run immortalizes young Giants left-hander

MadBum earns place in history with epic performance

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the most dynamic performances in recent baseball history was rooted in an understatement.

In the hours before Game 7 of the World Series on Oct. 29, Giants manager Bruce Bochy held a brief interview session with Giants beat reporters and affirmed that Madison Bumgarner, who threw 117 pitches three nights earlier in his 5-0, Game 5 triumph over the Kansas City Royals, might be able to appear in the Fall Classic finale. This was the usual day for Bumgarner's between-starts throwing session -- meaning that, by Bochy's estimate, the left-hander could throw as many as three innings.

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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.

Library of Congress offers window into baseball's evolution

Library of Congress offers window into baseball's evolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nation's greatest storehouse of knowledge has developed a healthy baseball habit. The Library of Congress has traced the history and maturation of America for more than 200 years, and baseball has weaved its way into the national consciousness in surprising ways.

First, there are the intimate touches -- the century-old photographs of the first baseball teams and the Civil War-era paintings of teams playing the game. And then there are the letters, buried deep in the personal papers of great historic figures that tell of the game's tangential connections to history.

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

BC, PSU gear up for Pinstripe Bowl at Stadium

BC, PSU gear up for Pinstripe Bowl at Stadium

NEW YORK -- Bowl games don't always bring such an interesting contrast in styles.

Boston College and Penn State have both distinguished themselves on defense, but Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl will bring two key elements together. B.C. has ranked as one of the top rushing teams in the country this season, but nobody has been better against the run than Penn State.

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

Nats return to top of NL East in exciting '14 campaign

Zimmermann's no-hitter, walk-off-filled 10-game win streak among highlights

Nats return to top of NL East in exciting '14 campaign

WASHINGTON -- The 2014 regular season was great for the Nationals. They won their second division title in three years, this time by 17 games over the Braves and Mets. It helped that they had a dominant pitching staff, led by Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

Despite major injuries to players such as Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos, the Nationals managed to stay consistent at the plate. It helped they had Denard Span and Anthony Rendon producing at the top of the order.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ken Griffey Jr. gives us a case of sweater envy

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Ken Griffey Jr. gives us a case of sweater envy

There are ugly Christmas sweaters and then there are sweaters that are, unquestionably, downright beautiful. Ken Griffey Jr.'s new Christmas sweater is the latter:

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NC State wins Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field

NC State wins Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, took on a different role on Friday night by hosting the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.

Baseball fans still have 99 days to wait until the Rays' home opener, but Tampa Bay sports fans were treated to an entertaining college football game as North Carolina State posted a 34-27 win over Central Florida.

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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.

Logan Morrison has a stunning ugly X-mas sweater

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Logan Morrison has a stunning ugly X-mas sweater

Everyone loves a good Ugly Christmas Sweater. They've become as traditional as egg nog, yule logs and long poems about Santa. And just as everyone loves ugly sweaters, everyone has different definitions of what truly makes a Christmas sweater ugly with a capital-U: bows, bells, teddy bears unwrapping presents or any combination.

But we think everyone can agree that Mariners outfielder Logan Morrison takes the cake in 2014:

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Happy Holidays! These are the 12 Days of GIFs

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Happy Holidays! These are the 12 Days of GIFs

People celebrate the holidays in various ways. Here, at Cut4, we're honoring the season by counting down, from Dec. 25 through Jan. 6, our 12 favorite GIFs of 2014 that best represent everyone's favorite (right?) Christmas song. Check back every day to see if your player/team made the list. 

Our true love knows we only want the best -- very refined tastes, you see. And so we only receive the best gifts -- nay, GIFs -- for Christmas. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Banister's positivity a result of perseverance

Banister's positivity a result of perseverance

Just to show you that good things do sometimes happen to good people, there's Jeff Banister. He's the new manager of the Texas Rangers. To get his first managerial shot at 50 years old says so many good things about this guy, it would be difficult to know where to begin.

"I wake up every morning, put my feet on the floor and thank God I've been given this opportunity," he said.

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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.

Giants' latest title fueled by proven bunch

Bumgarner's heroics clinch championship set up by roster's perfect blend

Giants' latest title fueled by proven bunch

SAN FRANCISCO -- Many observers have maintained that Madison Bumgarner won the 2014 World Series for the Giants single-handedly. After all, he won Games 1 and 5 before saving Game 7 with five stunning scoreless innings of relief that capped a remarkable postseason.

But other Giants also had a hand in the club's excellence.

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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.

Have yourself an MLB little Christmas

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Have yourself an MLB little Christmas

You may not be able to stick them on your refrigerator, but holiday tweets from your favorite MLB players are just as good as Christmas cards.

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Astros outright Downs, Petit to Triple-A Fresno

Astros outright Downs, Petit to Triple-A Fresno

The Astros announced Friday that left-hander Darin Downs has been outrighted to Triple-A Fresno and infielder Gregorio Petit has accepted his assignment to Fresno.

Downs made a career-high 45 appearances for Houston in 2014, and his 5.45 ERA was also a career high. He struck out 27 batters in 34 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .226 batting average.

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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.

Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

Mets' star extends invitation to camp, seat in dugout for spring games

Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

David Wright picked up the phone and made a difference on Christmas Eve.

The Mets third baseman reached out to the two sons of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos on Wednesday, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

All I want: Holiday wishes for the league

All I want: Holiday wishes for the league

As David Byrne famously sang, "I can't seem to face up to the facts."

It's too late for last-minute shopping. The best you can do at this point is to extend New Year's wishes.

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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.

Gray wears wreath glasses, wins Christmas

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Gray wears wreath glasses, wins Christmas

It all began simply enough. A's starter Sonny Gray tweeted a picture of his dog dressed as Santa. But as we all know, Christmas is a competition and Gray's former teammate, Josh Donaldson, wasn't about to let him coast to an easy victory. 

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Ishikawa's life changed since walk-off, but he hasn't

Ishikawa's life changed since walk-off, but he hasn't

SAN JOSE -- Scant hours after hitting one of the most monumental home runs in Giants history, Travis Ishikawa noticed how life had changed.

Seeking a well-deserved late-night snack after his walk-off, three-run drive off St. Louis' Michael Wacha had lifted the Giants to a 6-3 victory in the Game 5 National League Championship Series clincher on Oct. 16, Ishikawa and his wife, Rochelle, pulled into a burger joint. Though the Ishikawas opted to enter the restaurant, a patron in the drive-through lane peered beyond the window and noticed the Giants hero standing in line. Suddenly wanting more than just a double cheeseburger, the driver pulled over as soon as he received his order and rushed into the dining area to have his picture taken with Ishikawa.

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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.

CarGo takes swings, brings holiday joy

CarGo takes swings, brings holiday joy

DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has offered some baseball-related holiday cheer on social media.

In posts Tuesday on Instagram and Wednesday on Facebook, Gonzalez announced that he has finally been allowed to practice hitting for the first time since undergoing surgery in August to repair the patella tendon in his left knee. Problems in the knee bothered him for well more than a year before he finally underwent the procedure, performed by Dr. Tom Hackett in Frisco, Colo., on Aug. 18.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fister's Xmas gift: A free coffee for you!

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Fister's Xmas gift: A free coffee for you!

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear ... unless you're a Major League pitcher with enough zeroes in the bank account to justify buying everyone on the Internet a cup of coffee, in which case: do that.

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Check out the best MLB vines of 2014

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Check out the best MLB vines of 2014

2014 is drawing to a close, so it's time to remember all the things that made the year fantastic. What's on your list? Friends? Family? The fact that Spring Training really isn't that far away? Well, the MLB year was so packed with amazing things that we can't fit them all in one post. For now, let's just take a look at the best Vines from the 2014 season. 

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Lone Star: Pence giving back to Houston kids

Popular outfielder draws crowds, support with All-Star Camp

Lone Star: Pence giving back to Houston kids

HOUSTON -- If there is somewhere in this country where Hunter Pence can blend in with the crowd, largely unnoticed, it's probably the place that he still considers home base, even as numerous professional and personal obligations pull him in a dozen different directions.

But let's not kid ourselves. Even in Houston, where it all began, Pence can only blend in so much. He stands out, no matter where he is, for a couple of reasons. One, obviously, he's a Major League star who has won two World Series titles in the past three years with the San Francisco Giants.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young returns to Orioles on 1-year deal

Outfielder/designated hitter posted .302 average over 83 games in 2014

Young returns to Orioles on 1-year deal

The Orioles have agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder/designated hitter Delmon Young, a source tells MLB.com, helping the club add the right-handed bat it needed. The club has not confirmed.

The agreement is still pending a physical, which will be done after the holidays. Young is slated to make a base salary of $2.25 million that could reach $3 million if he hits all of the deal's incentives.

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Pierzynski agrees to 1-year deal with Braves

Seventeen-year vet expected to mentor catching prospect Bethancourt

Source: Pierzynski agrees to 1-year deal with Braves

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's trip to Honeybaked Ham led to the revelation that his club and A.J. Pierzynski have agreed to a one-year deal. The club has not confirmed the contract.

While waiting to pick up his ham for the holiday season on Wednesday, Gonzalez was telling his son that Pierzynski was an option to fill the Braves' need for a backup catcher. The father of Aaron Lunsford, the drummer for a rock band named "As Cities Burn," overheard the news and informed his son, who tweeted the information from his @darrenstains account.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Winter Meetings in San Diego among the wildest in history

Winter Meetings in San Diego among the wildest in history

There's never been a time like this in Major League Baseball. Maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising that the Winter Meetings were the wildest we've seen since Bill Veeck set up his famous table in the hotel lobby in 1975, trading 22 players in three days.

No owner or general manager was quite that overt in San Diego, but the activity in suites and on cellphones was positively Veeckian.

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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.

Bernadina set to join Rockies on Minor League deal

Bernadina set to join Rockies on Minor League deal

The Rockies have reportedly signed outfielder Roger Bernadina to a Minor League deal, according to Baseball America. The club has not confirmed the report.

Bernadina, 30, appeared in 53 games with the Reds and the Dodgers last season, batting just .167 with a homer, nine RBIs and two stolen bases.

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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.