Sox savor Sale's skills in first live BP of spring

Young: 'It's a lot more fun facing him knowing he's your teammate'

Sox savor Sale's skills in first live BP of spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox who stepped in against Chris Sale for Monday's live batting practice session got a glimpse of what American League East hitters are going to have to deal with regularly this season.

The most apt word? Nasty.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Vote for your favorite Presidential first pitch

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Vote for your favorite Presidential first pitch

Since William Howard Taft threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day in 1910, 18 presidents have carried on the tradition. And with the advent of modern audio/visual technology, there is video of every president since John F. Kennedy showing off his arm.

Now we have a new president who has experience with first pitches, but has not yet thrown out one as POTUS. On President's Day, you should let him know which one of his predecessors' first pitches you think is the best. This time next year, we might have another to add to the poll. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Zobrist enjoys spoils, eyes repeat World Series

Super-utility star understands incredible effect title had on Cubs fans

Zobrist enjoys spoils, eyes repeat World Series

MESA, Ariz. -- Somewhere amid the celebrations and parades and sheer joy of helping the Chicago Cubs win a World Series for the first time in 108 years, Ben Zobrist was struck by something that may stay with him forever.

"You realize it's not really about us," the World Series Most Valuable Player Award winner said Sunday morning.

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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.

Lagares gets pic with Yo's latest crazy car

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Lagares gets pic with Yo's latest crazy car

Mets Spring Training was just a few days old last year when Yoenis Cespedes showed up in what appeared to be an actual Transformer. The next week, he drove another one. And then there was a tricycle. (This isn't even touching on that time he literally rode in on horseback.)

The Mets are now back in Port St. Lucie, and Cespedes is back filming his Fate of the Furious audition tape in real time. This time around, though, fellow New York outfielder Juan Lagares was determined to snag a photo.

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MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Healthy Pence, Giants' success go hand in hand

Healthy Pence, Giants' success go hand in hand

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence came to camp this year with two solid goals in mind -- winning the World Series again after a two-year drought and remaining healthy for the entire season.

For those who might have had any doubt in the matter, the Giants are a much better team with a fully ambulatory Pence in the lineup.

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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.

Dude awakening: Star has talent to spare

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Dude awakening: Star has talent to spare

Baseball hasn't had a professional two-sport athlete since Drew Henson played in eight games with the Yankees in 2002-03 and nine others with the Cowboys and Lions. Mookie Betts could be the latest. Instead of football, Betts is a star bowler. After appearing in the World Series of Bowling and tossing a perfect game last winter, Betts took part in Chris Paul's annual Celebrity Invitational Charity Bowling Tournament. 

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Hamilton harnessing thunder once again

Hamilton harnessing thunder once again

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The storms moved east from the Phoenix area and the White Tank Mountains on Monday, and blue skies soared over the Texas' training complex to greet the Rangers.

But there was still some thunder in the area, and it came from Field No. 1 behind the main stadium. Josh Hamilton, who missed last season because of left knee surgery, was taking batting practice.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stroman expecting a dominant year on mound

Stroman expecting a dominant year on mound

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman has been an Opening Day starter. He's also started five postseason games, including the win-or-go-home American League Wild Card match-up against the Orioles last October. Toronto won.

Still, the 25-year-old -- now two years removed from surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee -- indicated after Monday's workout that he believes the best is yet to come.

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

The secret baseball career of Eisenhower

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The secret baseball career of Eisenhower

It wasn't much of a career, all told: one summer spent with the Junction City Soldiers of the Class D Central Kansas League back in 1911. According to Baseball-Reference, the outfielder -- known only by the name "Wilson" -- hit .355 over just 31 at-bats. There were no Major League aspirations -- the third of six brothers growing up in Abilene, Kan., Wilson was headed to college that fall and simply needed the extra cash.

It's just one of countless curious footnotes in baseball's history book. Except this one very nearly altered the course of American history: "Wilson" was the alias of Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his three months in the Minors almost derailed his career.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Mookie the embodiment of a perfectionist

Mookie the embodiment of a perfectionist

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- We saw him in his other natural environment over the weekend, the six-strike string he put together in Chris Paul's Celebrity Invitational Charity Bowling Tournament that finished with a Larry Bird-like lookaway on the last roll. Mookie Betts in a bowling alley is arguably as enthralling as Mookie Betts on a baseball field.

"I've done it for a long time," he said, "so I just try to have fun with it."

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Fantasy 411 chat: Will Harvey bounce back?

Fantasy 411 chat: Will Harvey bounce back?

MLB.com fantasy expert Fred Zinkie fielded questions from fans during a live Twitter chat (at @fantasy411) on Monday. Read through the best of the Q&A below. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity.

@mrossi2257: Should I keep Gary Sanchez with a Round 20 penalty or Trevor Story with a Round 18 penalty?

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Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nutting: Bucs would love to keep core intact

Pirates owner expresses desire to retain Huntington, Hurdle, McCutchen beyond '17

Nutting: Bucs would love to keep core intact

BRADENTON, Fla. -- As the Pirates ramp up their Spring Training workouts, the futures of three organizational pillars remains uncertain. But owner Bob Nutting said Monday that the Bucs would love to keep general manager Neal Huntington, manager Clint Hurdle and right fielder Andrew McCutchen beyond the life of their current contracts.

Perhaps coincidentally, all three are signed to similar deals: Their contracts are guaranteed through 2017 with club options for '18. McCutchen spent the offseason surrounded by trade rumors, fueling speculation that this may be his last season in Pittsburgh. The club has yet to extend either Huntington or Hurdle, or pick up their options for next year.

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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.

Verlander benefits from showdown with Miggy

Verlander benefits from showdown with Miggy

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera sounded like a heavyweight fighter as he lurked behind the batting cage on one of the back fields at Tigertown on Sunday.

"Get ready, Verlander," he shouted toward the end. "Get ready."

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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.

Baseball icon O'Neil made history with Cubs

Negro League legend became MLB's first black coach in 1962

Baseball icon O'Neil made history with Cubs

CHICAGO -- When Dexter Fowler led off Game 1 on Oct. 25, he became the first African-American player to appear in a World Series game for the Cubs. Ernie Banks and Billy Williams never had that opportunity. Chicago's last World Series appearance before last fall was in 1945, two years before Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with the Dodgers.

"It's crazy to even think about that, because you look back and you look at your parents -- my parents weren't even alive then," Fowler said. "It's a lifetime. It's awesome to be the pioneer, the first one."

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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.

Feliz eager to get started with Brewers

Closer has rediscovered fastball after pair of injury-plagued seasons

Feliz eager to get started with Brewers

PHOENIX -- Rob Scahill remembers glancing up at the scoreboard last season and thinking something along the lines of, "This is the guy I watched in the World Series." Scahill was working relief for the Pirates alongside Neftali Feliz, the one time Rangers closer who had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and took years to rediscover the zip on his fastball.

In 2016, Scahill and everyone else saw that it was back.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cruz says Mariners are 'more ready' in 2017

Slugger excited to defend World Baseball Classic crown with Dominican

Cruz says Mariners are 'more ready' in 2017

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nelson Cruz had only been back at Mariners camp for a day, but the slugger has already adopted manager Scott Servais' new slogan for 2017: "Whatever it takes."

For Cruz, that fits right with his professional mantra of being prepared and willing to help his Mariners in any way possible, as they look to end the longest postseason drought in the Major Leagues.

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

Cash happy with results from early camp drills

Cobb tosses live batting practice as fielders hone popup skills

Cash happy with results from early camp drills

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Alex Cobb threw live batting practice on Monday, and the right-hander told reporters, "It was a good day."

"There weren't too many hitters, I had a lot of injured guys in my group who were kind of just tracking," Cobb said. "I had Brad Miller, who was swinging, and he swung often, thankfully [which allowed Cobb to see how a hitter reacted to his pitches]. But it was good.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weaver picks No. 27, wants to be like Mike

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Weaver picks No. 27, wants to be like Mike

Jered Weaver racked up 150 victories and three top-five Cy Young Award finishes with the Angels, but he collected only four singles, with the last coming back in 2012. Not too surprising considering that he's, you know, a pitcher in the American League. But when it came time to pick out his number after signing with the Padres, Weaver knew the best person to emulate: Mike Trout and his No. 27.

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Niese 'proud' to wear Yankees uniform

According to Girardi, versatile lefty competing for spot in 'pen

Niese 'proud' to wear Yankees uniform

TAMPA, Fla. -- Now that Jonathon Niese has traded the Mets' orange and blue for Yankees pinstripes, he's hoping to find out what it will be like to pitch on the other side of a Subway Series this summer.

After agreeing to a Minor League contract with the Yankees, Niese was in uniform for Monday's workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Niese will compete for a spot in the bullpen.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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

Betances has 'no regrets' about his comments

Day after replying to Levine, reliever part of Yanks' first full-squad workout

Betances has 'no regrets' about his comments

TAMPA, Fla. -- One day after responding to comments made by Yankees president Randy Levine, Dellin Betances said he had "no regrets" after participating in the team's first full-squad workout Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"I'm in a good mindset. I feel good in that area," Betances said. "I don't regret anything I said [Saturday]. I had to get it off my chest and I did. I'm just trying to put it behind me. I'm back with the guys and I feel at ease when I'm here practicing."

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ellis fitting in among familiar Marlins faces

Veteran catcher also providing guidance for Realmuto

Ellis fitting in among familiar Marlins faces

JUPITER, Fla. -- A.J. Ellis may be a newcomer to the Marlins, but the veteran catcher is certainly no stranger to the organization.

Coming up through the Dodgers' system, Ellis previously played for Miami manager Don Mattingly, formerly his hitting coach and manager in Los Angeles. He's also been coached and managed at the big league and Minor League levels by bench coach Tim Wallach and outfield coach Lorenzo Bundy. Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon also is a former teammate of Ellis in Los Angeles.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro 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

MLBPA's Clark on challenges of rule changes

MLBPA's Clark on challenges of rule changes

PHOENIX -- He's for putting everything on the table. Raising the strike zone? Sure, let's have a chat. Automatic intentional walks? Absolutely, worth a discussion.

And that's as far as Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, has gotten. In terms of actually instituting a host of rules changes being considered, he's not there yet.

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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.

Maton emerging as bullpen option

23-year-old with unique repertoire attempting to earn bullpen spot

Maton emerging as bullpen option

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was the easiest job Austin Hedges ever had.

Phil Maton, promoted for Triple-A El Paso's title push, was handed the closer role in September. And Hedges knew exactly what to ask for: fastballs. High-spin, four-seam fastballs -- in every count.

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

Breaking down the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects

Toronto's farm system poised to play bigger role in near future

Breaking down the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects

A late-season surge up the American League East standings thrust the Blue Jays into the postseason for the second time in as many years in 2016. They continued to surge in October, beating the Orioles in dramatic fashion in the AL Wild Card Game, and then knocking off the Rangers to advance to the Championship Series, where they were defeated by the World Series-bound Indians in five games.

The Blue Jays did all of that with minimal help from their farm system, as only one player on the team's 2017 Top 30 prospects list, right-handed reliever Danny Barnes, enters the season with big league experience. That should change, though, with an aging team set to give way to an inevitable turnover in the coming years.

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

Donaldson could miss 2-3 weeks with calf strain

Donaldson could miss 2-3 weeks with calf strain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson says he could miss two to three weeks of Spring Training due to a right calf strain he sustained on Friday.

Addressing reporters for the first time, Donaldson said he had been feeling "phenomenal" in prior workouts, but he felt something grab in his muscle while running sprints. The three-time All-Star was walking with the assistance of crutches in the clubhouse on Sunday to take pressure off his leg, and he expects to remain on them for a few days.

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Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Top pick Burdi White Sox closer of future?

Top pick Burdi White Sox closer of future?

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With a fastball reaching 100 mph and slightly beyond, a pretty good slider and a feel for the changeup, there are some who believe Zack Burdi and his three pitches eventually could become a starter for the White Sox.

Burdi is willing to do whatever is asked of him. But the right-hander truly seems born to be a closer.

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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.

5 breakout hitters seek to duplicate success

5 breakout hitters seek to duplicate success

Breaking out at the Major League level is hard. Repeating that success may be even more difficult.

Opponents adjust, injuries strike and natural regression takes its toll. So for every Mike Trout who puts up huge numbers year after year, there are plenty of players who soar one season and fizzle the next.

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

Roberts sees Puig as primary right fielder

With Pederson in center, players will compete for time in left

Roberts sees Puig as primary right fielder

PHOENIX -- There are enough outfielders on the Dodgers roster to platoon at any of the three spots, but manager Dave Roberts' perfect world apparently would have Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig playing regularly in center and right, respectively.

"We all know Yasiel as a defender; if he's out there he can impact a game on the defensive side," said Roberts. "Now you look at at-bat quality vs. right or left. If it's consistent, there should be no reason why he wouldn't be out there virtually every day. Yasiel is very motivated, he wants to do what's best for the club. I expect him to play a lot.

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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.

d'Arnaud, Mets raring to begin title chase

Catcher energized by team's clubhouse, on-field camaraderie

d'Arnaud, Mets raring to begin title chase

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Early on Monday morning, Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud was fighting a smirk as he talked to the media.

d'Arnaud wasn't reacting to a funny response to a question, or to a reporter nearly bumping into a table of players doing crossword puzzles, though.

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Jake Elman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gio enjoying Spring Training close to home

Lefty, who lives an hour from new facility, has sights set on ASG in nearby Miami

Gio enjoying Spring Training close to home

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez didn't need a map to find the team's new Spring Training facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The center of trade rumors in the offseason, the only change in Gonzalez's immediate plans is the move with his Nationals teammates to a brand new Spring Training facility that is much closer to his home.

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Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.