Cespedes launches slam in Tigers' Grapefruit opener

Cespedes launches slam in Tigers' Grapefruit opener

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Seven years after Miguel Cabrera marked his Tigers debut in Spring Training with a home run, Yoenis Cespedes' first hit in a Detroit uniform also had a similar impact. He drove a grand slam down the left-field line in the fourth inning of the Tigers' Grapefruit League opener against the Orioles on Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The Tigers scored 11 runs on just four hits over the first four innings, thanks to three hit batters and a handful of walks. Two of the hits, however, landed on the left-field berm. The biggest came from Cespedes, who nearly became the fourth batter hit instead.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kang goes deep in first spring game for Bucs

New shortstop connects on solo shot against Blue Jays in third inning

Kang goes deep in first spring game for Bucs

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jung Ho Kang did not wait long to flash his power -- or his first "Z."

The sensation from Korea slugged his first home run in a Pirates uniform in his second at-bat of Tuesday's Grapefruit League opener, and it was impressive.

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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.

Ellsbury-Gardner tandem could top Yanks' lineup often

Manager Girardi intrigued by potential of maximizing speed atop batting order

Ellsbury-Gardner tandem could top Yanks' lineup often

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Yankees are intrigued by the speedy combination of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner atop their lineup, and manager Joe Girardi said that it could be seen often this season.

"It's definitely a possibility," Girardi said. "I think that both of them are capable of leading off. Ells has done it a little more in his career than Gardy, but I just kind of like the combination of those two guys together."

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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.

Cuban slugger's super slow home run trot

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Cuban slugger's super slow home run trot

Cuban outfielder Alfredo Despaigne is largely considered one of the greatest international sluggers of his era. And if you weren't on board with that categorization before Monday, you should be now.

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Mattingly slots Rollins at top of batting order

Dodgers skipper believes new shortstop will be staple as leadoff man

Mattingly slots Rollins at top of batting order

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly put shortstop Jimmy Rollins atop his batting order posted a day ahead of Wednesday's exhibition opener, and said that's where he'll stay for the season.

Mattingly wouldn't go further than that when pressed for a regular-season lineup, but the exhibition opener looked like a pretty good tipoff.

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

Marlins opt to hold Stanton out of UM exhibition

Slugger gets at-bats in sim game, should be 'ready to roll' for Grapefruit opener

Marlins opt to hold Stanton out of UM exhibition

JUPITER, Fla. -- After consideration, the Marlins decided to keep Giancarlo Stanton out of the lineup on Tuesday against the University of Miami. Instead, the 25-year-old slugger participated in simulated games on the back fields at the Roger Dean Stadium complex.

The initial plan was for Stanton to be the designated hitter and get one at-bat against the Hurricanes on the main field.

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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.

Wilson to visit Rangers camp at end of March

Seahawks quarterback will dress for game vs. Padres, meet with Minor Leaguers

Wilson to visit Rangers camp at end of March

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has led his team to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, will make his annual visit to the Rangers' camp on March 28 when they play the Padres.

Wilson will work out with the Rangers in the morning, dress out for the game and have a group session with the Minor League players later in the day. Wilson was in camp last year as well on March 3.

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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.

V-Mart hopeful he'll be ready for Opening Day

V-Mart hopeful he'll be ready for Opening Day

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Victor Martinez was thinking what most Tigers fans were probably thinking.

When his left knee gave out on him in January -- playing catch, of all things -- he thought back to a few years ago.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mind back on baseball, Almora emphasizing mental approach

Father's health a constant concern a year ago

Mind back on baseball, Almora emphasizing mental approach

MESA, Ariz. -- Immediately after the final out of Class A Daytona's games last season, Cubs prospect Albert Almora would rush into the clubhouse to check his phone to see if his father was still alive.

"People can't imagine what I went through in games," Almora said. "I'd finish a game and check my phone to see if something happened. People don't understand that. People just look at the box scores and they don't understand what happens off the field."

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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.

Strasburg appreciates Gwynn's style of play, work ethic

Pair grew up and work out in San Diego

Strasburg appreciates Gwynn's style of play, work ethic

VIERA, Fla. -- Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was pleased to learn that the Nationals signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a Minor League deal Monday night. Gwynn is expected to join the team on Wednesday.

Strasburg and Gwynn saw a lot of each other during the offseason, working out in San Diego. When he was a kid, Strasburg remembered watching Gwynn play high school basketball. Strasburg also played college baseball for Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Sr. at San Diego State.

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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.

Rays prospect Beckham targets Smyly's car

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Rays prospect Beckham targets Smyly's car

Rays starter Drew Smyly drives a BMW. BMW's are nice cars. So nice that one miiiight not want to park them right outside the left-field fence at Spring Training. Particularly when former No. 1 MLB Draft pick Tim Beckham is taking batting practice.

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Peraza set to showcase talent in bid for roster spot

Braves' top prospect has backer in manager Gonzalez

Peraza set to showcase talent in bid for roster spot

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Now that the Braves' coaching staff has had a chance to watch Jose Peraza progress through the early days of his first big league camp, they find themselves among those debating when the heralded top prospect should make his Major League debut.

"Half [of the coaches] say he's ready to go and the other half say, 'Nah, give him a couple months, he hasn't gotten any higher than Double-A,'" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's always a good discussion. It will play out. We'll see."

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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.

Hart's foot recovering nicely from hot tub misfortune

Hart's foot recovering nicely from hot tub misfortune

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Corey Hart moved about McKechnie Field's clubhouse evenly Tuesday morning, displaying no outward sign of the freak accident that will keep him sidelined until the weekend.

Hart wore regular athletic socks and shoes on his feet, including the left one, the side of which had three stitches to close the cut he had suffered Sunday upon entering a whirlpool in the training area of Pirate City.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

MLB Pipeline checks in from Red Sox camp

Top two prospects -- Swihart, Owens -- look fit, determined at Spring Training

MLB Pipeline checks in from Red Sox camp

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, while others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates throughout the team's system. MLBPipeline.com is visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Boston Red Sox.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sometimes, the rich get richer.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Finnegan among spring decisions for Royals

Finnegan among spring decisions for Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Spring Training games are finally on deck, and Royals manager Ned Yost can soon begin the process of determining the 25-man roster that he will break camp with later this month.

The Royals open the Cactus League schedule against the Rangers on Wednesday at Surprise Stadium.

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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.

Harang scratched with lower back discomfort

Need for chiropractor's aid 'normal' for righty; Slowey gets Wednesday's start

Harang scratched with lower back discomfort

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang will not make his scheduled Grapefruit League start on Wednesday (1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and MLB Network) against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla.

Harang, 36, had his lower back wrapped on Tuesday morning at Bright House Field. He said he woke up the other morning with something amiss and decided he needed to have a chiropractor adjust his back -- a process the right-hander said "is normal for me."

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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.

No regrets: Ruiz happy choosing baseball over football

No regrets: Ruiz happy choosing baseball over football

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tyrell Jenkins did not know that he and Rio Ruiz shared the distinction of having passed on the opportunity to be a quarterback for one of college football's elite programs. But he was well aware of Ruiz's baseball prowess long before the two were united as part of the impressive prospect crop the Braves brought to this year's Spring Training.

"When I came back from shoulder surgery last year, he hit a home run off me and I was thinking, 'Who is this kid?'" Jenkins said. "Then I faced him in the [Arizona] Fall League and I said, 'I remember him.'"

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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

Barry M. Bloom

Wacha puts tough postseason in the past

Cards righty gave up walk-off, pennant-winning homer in Game 5 of 2014 NLCS

Wacha puts tough postseason in the past

JUPITER, Fla. -- The first two years in the Major Leagues have presented the highest of highs and lowest of lows for Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha.

"It has been a crazy last couple of years," Wacha said on Tuesday before the Cards worked out on their fields behind Roger Dean Stadium. "Honestly, I couldn't have imagined everything that's happened since I've been drafted. Just making the big leagues, it's obviously a dream come true."

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New delivery still a work in progress for Ubaldo

New delivery still a work in progress for Ubaldo

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ubaldo Jimenez had hoped his new simplified delivery would lead to more success this season. It didn't start off well on Tuesday.

The inconsistent right-hander recorded four outs in his first Spring Training start against the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium, and he was charged with six runs (five earned) on two hits, two walks and two hit batsmen. Jimenez, whose throwing error resulted in a run one batter later, also had a wild pitch in the disappointing 42-pitch outing.

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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.

Courageous teenager works out with Wood, Braves

Ritter played with titanium rods in back after removal of foot-long tumor

Courageous teenager works out with Wood, Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As he has undergone multiple surgeries to remove a foot-long tumor from his spine and continued to play high school sports with titanium rods in his back, Thompson Ritter has maintained a passion for baseball that was enriched when he accepted Alex Wood's invitation to work out with the Braves during Monday's practice.

Wood extended the invite on Sunday night after hearing the 17-year-old Ritter tell his inspirational story to a group of individuals who traveled to the Orlando area to participate in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Birdies and Baseball golf scramble, which was played Monday afternoon.

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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.

Bogaerts finding comfort zone entering second season

Moving, thinking faster could have major impact on Red Sox shortstop's defense

Bogaerts finding comfort zone entering second season

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For all the talk to this point in Spring Training about the improved first-step quickness of Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, the other area he's gotten quicker in is every bit as important.

Bogaerts is now thinking faster entering his second full season, and that could have an immeasurable impact on his defense at the all-important position of shortstop.

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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.

Sharp Harvey focuses on curve in live BP session

Mets batters largely unsuccessful as ace returns to original out pitch

Sharp Harvey focuses on curve in live BP session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- This early in spring, live batting practice is an exercise inherently stacked against hitters. David Wright calls facing a game-ready pitcher "impossible" at a time when he and his peers are simply trying to rediscover their timing at the plate.

So it was entirely unsurprising to Wright when Matt Harvey unleashed a tumbling curveball Monday and the third baseman not only swung through it, but dropped his shoulder, put his head down and half-whiffed, half-walked out of the batter's box.

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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.

Alderson expects Gee on Opening Day roster

Alderson expects Gee on Opening Day roster

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Despite continued speculation that the Mets could trade a shortstop between now and Opening Day, general manager Sandy Alderson reiterated Tuesday that his club has had little talk with other teams. The Mets expect Dillon Gee, in particular, to break camp as part of the roster.

"Yeah, I think that's fair to say," Alderson said. "I think most clubs, including ours, are focused on what's going on in camp and evaluating what they already have. If there's going to be any significant trade talk, I think typically it's going to happen later in Spring Training, unless there's an injury of some sort. But by and large, I think that comes more in the second half of Spring Training."

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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.

Johnson, 1970 AL batting champion, dies

Detroit native won crown on final at-bats for Angels; also stood out with Reds, Indians, Rangers

Johnson, 1970 AL batting champion, dies

Alex Johnson, the 1970 American League batting champion, died Saturday at age 72, reportedly due to complications from cancer.

The Detroit News and WXYZ-TV in Detroit reported Johnson's death, and visitation and memorial information was posted by a funeral home in his native Detroit.

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

Renovation of Wrigley Field progressing as planned

Renovation of Wrigley Field progressing as planned

CHICAGO -- Phase One of the Wrigley Field 1060 Project remains relatively on target despite a cold winter, Cubs officials said Monday afternoon during a media tour of the construction zone.

The left-field concourse work and plaza development are going smoothly, while the bleachers remain a bit behind schedule, as previously announced at Cubs Convention. The center- and left-field bleachers will be ready May 11, with the right-field bleachers opening in early to mid June.

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

Souza impressing Cash with disciplined approach

Outfielder has worked on hitting to all fields, using size productively

Souza impressing Cash with disciplined approach

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Kevin Cash didn't know much about Steven Souza Jr. when the Rays acquired him in the three-way trade with the Padres and Nationals in December.

"We watched some film on him," the Rays manager said. "Some of his at-bats. The big clips. You saw the one where he hit a bomb to center field somewhere and saved the no-hitter for [Jordan] Zimmermann [with a diving catch]."

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

Latino push helps At Bat app top North American charts

MLB teams up with LatinWorks on diversity effort to help better reach Latino fans

Latino push helps At Bat app top North American charts

MLB.com At Bat has been dominating North America since its big update over the weekend, topping app store rankings in the U.S. and Canada as the highest grossing sports app on both iPhone and iPad entering Tuesday's first day of Spring Training games between Major League clubs. The app's new bilingual feature also has it on top of the charts in Mexico, part of a larger effort by Major League Baseball to expand its relationship with Latino fans.

To further that effort, MLB announced that it has named LatinWorks, the award-winning full-service cultural branding firm, as the league's creative agency to reach Latino fans. LatinWorks will direct MLB's national campaign to emphasize its multicultural diversity and connect with its Latino fans more directly and extensively. There were 193 foreign-born Latino Major League players -- 22.6 percent of the league -- on Opening Day rosters last season, playing alongside many U.S.-born players of Latino descent.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

No target date set for Votto's Cactus League debut

Price wants his first baseman to be completely ready before getting into lineup

No target date set for Votto's Cactus League debut

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- To contend in the National League Central, the Reds will be counting heavily on contributions from a healthy Joey Votto during the regular season. But the club will not rush its first baseman into the starting lineup during Spring Training.

Votto, who missed 100 games last season with a distal strain of his left quadriceps, does not currently have a target date for making his Cactus League debut.

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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.

Hendricks hard at work to keep No. 4 spot in Cubs rotation

Righty confident in reaching goal of 200 innings

Hendricks hard at work to keep No. 4 spot in Cubs rotation

MESA, Ariz. -- No one said anything to Kyle Hendricks, but the right-hander did get the news that he is slotted into the No. 4 spot in the Cubs' rotation. Now, he has to get to work to keep it.

Joe Maddon indicated Monday that Hendricks would follow Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel in the rotation, although the manager did caution that things can change. Hendricks knows that.

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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.

Brewers hint at Opening Day plan with spring rotation

Lohse starting Thursday's Cactus League tilt, in line for April 6 assignment

Brewers hint at Opening Day plan with spring rotation

PHOENIX -- The Brewers offered a clue about their Opening Day plans by revealing their Cactus League pitching rotation on Tuesday.

After Mike Fiers starts an exhibition against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wednesday, Kyle Lohse will start in Tempe, Ariz., against the Angels on Thursday (2:10 p.m. CT on MLB.TV), and Matt Garza will pitch against the Dodgers on Friday (2:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV). They will be followed by Wily Peralta, Fiers again, and then Jimmy Nelson.

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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.