Stream teams: Phils-Yanks today on MLB.TV

Grapefruit, Cactus League play begins as part of 6-game slate

Stream teams: Phils-Yanks today on MLB.TV

Major League Baseball is back with the beginning of this year's spring exhibitions. Both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues open play today with a six-game slate that features plenty of intrigue.

Among those games are the expected debuts of Madison Bumgarner and Michael Fulmer, along with the Yankees' first contest at the new-look George M. Steinbrenner Field. Fans can catch the Yankeess matchup against the Phillies as well as much of this spring's exhibition action streaming live on MLB.TV Premium.

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

Maddon looking at Schwarber for leadoff spot

Outfielder not known for speed, but has shown he can get on base

Maddon looking at Schwarber for leadoff spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Who will be the Cubs' leadoff man now that Dexter Fowler is gone? Manager Joe Maddon likes the idea of Kyle Schwarber at the top of the lineup, although don't expect the outfielder to be setting any stolen base records, and that's not because of a lack of speed.

Schwarber, who missed virtually all of the 2016 regular season after tearing two ligaments in his left knee, must continue to get on base. Asked if the outfielder had a green light on the bases, Maddon quickly responded, "No."

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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.

Harper, Werth recreate 'Step Brothers' poster

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Harper, Werth recreate 'Step Brothers' poster

This week at Spring Training facilities around the country, MLB stars gathered together for the annual rite of spring known as Photo Day.  

The 2008 film "Step Brothers" has remained relevant almost a decade after its release thanks to the zany comedy stylings of its co-stars, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. (Trust us, the previous two sentences are related. Just wait.)

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MLB.TV weekend slate features 16 games

Streaming service begins 15th year with Phillies-Yankees tilt

MLB.TV weekend slate features 16 games

MLB.TV, the world's longest-running and most successful live streaming sports product, returns for its 15th-anniversary year, starting with Phillies at Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET today, followed by seven live games on Saturday and another eight on Sunday.

The gradual rollout of nearly 300 Spring Training select streams on more than 400 supported connected and mobile devices is an annual harbinger that Major League Baseball is back, and subscriptions to MLB.TV Premium are available now for $112.99 yearly or $24.99 monthly. Full features will be available on Opening Day, and for a big added treat, U.S. subscribers can watch the entire World Baseball Classic from March 6-22.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com and a baseball writer since 1990. 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.

Braves sign former NFL player to Minors deal

Sanders Commings played for Chiefs in 2013

Braves sign former NFL player to Minors deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sanders Commings has played defensive back for the University of Georgia and the Kansas City Chiefs since last playing baseball. But the Braves were intrigued enough by his athleticism to sign him to a Minor League deal.

"We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What's the downside here?"

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cardinals bond over aliens, pirate treasure

Team shakes up the norm with escape room field trip

Cardinals bond over aliens, pirate treasure

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals took their workouts off campus on Thursday for a team-building exercise that featured, among other things, alien abductions and pirates' treasure.

It was an unexpected field trip for players, who split up into two groups and took turns boarding a bus to depart for a destination unknown. When they disembarked, players found themselves thrust into an escape room challenge. The goal: Work with your teammates to solve puzzles and escape a themed room within 60 minutes.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fan honors Keuchel, who returns favor

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Fan honors Keuchel, who returns favor

Spring Training is finally here, and the games that count are just around the corner. Starting rotations are beginning to take shape. Mike Trout is running around with weights on his back.

As a fan, it's also time to prepare. Dust off your lucky hat. Make sure your shirsey collection has been properly updated. And make sure to follow the lead of one intrepid Astros fan, who brought his love for Dallas Keuchel all the way to his iPhone.

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MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

Baseball faithful not big fans of change

Baseball faithful not big fans of change

If you had to pick just one thing that separates baseball fans from football and basketball and hockey fans, well, it might be this: Baseball fans love the game's rules. This is true for golf too, by the way. Golf fans love the rules. Golf fans can rhapsodize for hours about just Rule 13-1 -- "The ball must be played as it lies."

But this is even more true of baseball. Football, you probably know, changes its rules every other day. Now they're kicking from the 35 yard line. Now they're kicking from the 30. The goalpost many years ago was in the front of the end zone. That was silly, so they moved it to the back. One minute a quarterback in the grasp is sacked, the next minute a quarterback in the grasp is not sacked. A catch one year is an incomplete pass the next, and a catch the year after that. And don't even try to get into the differences between illegal contact, holding and pass interference -- it will make your head hurt, and by the time you figure it out, they will have changed it anyway.

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MLB.com columnist Joe Posnanski is a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author, an Emmy Award-winning writer and has been awarded National Sportswriter of the Year. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ilitch's legacy celebrated at Detroit ceremony

Late Tigers owner revered for generosity, heralded as 'tireless worker'

Ilitch's legacy celebrated at Detroit ceremony

Detroit celebrated the life of Mike Ilitch on Wednesday by bringing together a congregation of the town's most respected sports figures at the historic Fox Theatre, an apt venue given the late Tigers and Red Wings owner's impact on the city and its restoration efforts.

Ilitch bought and renovated the Fox in 1987 -- five years before he purchased the Tigers -- and then moved his suburban Little Caesars Pizza corporate headquarters into the building as one of many investments to revitalize downtown Detroit. It was a fitting platform for the entrepreneur's memorial, which drew some of the city's most prominent figures and former President George W. Bush.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Russell's power breakout has already begun

10 second-half home runs was third on Cubs behind Bryant, Rizzo

Russell's power breakout has already begun

Where does Addison Russell fit in the structure of baseball's young stars? He was an important part of the Cubs' magical World Series run, sure, but larger names like Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and even Joe Maddon command more attention. Russell is one of the best young shortstops, clearly, but given that we're in something of a golden age of young shortstops, the names of Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor must come up before his.

That being the case, Russell currently operates in the odd space where he's both extremely valuable -- thanks to his plus defense, his 6.9 Wins Above Replacement (per FanGraphs) are the sixth highest among shortstops over the past two years -- yet he hasn't really had that true breakout season, because he's been a slightly below-average hitter in each of his two years with the Cubs. So far, his career line of .240/.314/.404 (93 wRC+, where 100 is league average) is more in line with Chase Headley and Angel Pagan in 2015-16 than it is with the stars above.

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Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

From full-court heaves to half-court buckets, Joe Kelly and Hanley Ramirez put on a basketball clinic

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From full-court heaves to half-court buckets, Joe Kelly and Hanley Ramirez put on a basketball clinic

The Boston Celtics stood pat as Thursday's NBA trade deadline came and went, opting to "buy in" on the team that currently sits behind the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. 

Maybe that's because they'd rather just sign Joe Kelly of the Red Sox, who is apparently no slouch with a basketball in his hands. In fact, as the video below shows, he made a perfect swish on a full-court heave on Thursday night.

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Tanaka, Betances dominate hitters in live BP

Tanaka, Betances dominate hitters in live BP

TAMPA, Fla. -- Pitchers are generally ahead of hitters at this point of the spring, but for Brett Gardner and Chase Headley, taking their first at-bats of the year against Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka proved to be an especially unfair matchup.

The Yankees right-handers worked crisply and efficiently on a back diamond of the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex on Thursday morning, preparing for their respective assignments. Betances is gearing up to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, while Tanaka is eyeing his third consecutive Opening Day start.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Votto at crossroads as Reds eye resurgence

'We're happy to quietly sneak up on everyone,' 10-year veteran says

Votto at crossroads as Reds eye resurgence

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was a mere two springs ago that plenty of people wondered if Joey Votto could still be great. Votto, ever the realist, understood the doubt.

"So if I've got this massive contract in my backpack and I'm carrying it around and not performing as well as everyone wants or expects, that's really going to bother me," he said Thursday morning. "That's going to sit with me."

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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.

Bogaerts returns to World Baseball Classic stage

All-Star Red Sox shortstop has helped put the Netherlands on the map

Bogaerts returns to World Baseball Classic stage

The first time Xander Bogaerts represented the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, he hadn't yet suited up for the Red Sox. Four years ago, Bogaerts was considered a top prospect, and he was thrilled to be playing in the international showcase at the age of 20. This time, however, it is even more meaningful. Bogaerts has since established himself as one of the best shortstops in the game, and he's become a cornerstone for the Netherlands' squad.

"I remember I was really young; I didn't know a lot," said Bogaerts. "I just went up there with a little information and tried to do my best. This year, I'm much better prepared."

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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.

Odor on list of Rangers who may get extension

Second baseman signs pre-arbitration one-year deal

Odor on list of Rangers who may get extension

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers continue to use Spring Training as a time to discuss contract extensions with key players.

Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy may be the two most important since they are eligible for free agency. But second baseman Rougned Odor is also on their list, even though he won't be eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. He may be the latest in a line of Rangers players who received a contract extension either in Spring Training or early in the season.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Pool C scouting report: Can Colombia surprise?

Manager Urueta confident his club can compete with favorites D.R., Team USA

Pool C scouting report: Can Colombia surprise?

Luis Urueta is the 36-year-old manager of the Colombian national baseball team. He learned the game in his native Barranquilla at the British International School, where his parents, Alejandro and Carmela, both taught. He signed with the D-backs at age 17 and peaked at Class A Advanced with the Cardinals in 2003, before playing four seasons in Italy.

He speaks Spanish, English and Italian. He just spent the winter in the Dominican Republic, on the coaching staff of the legendary Tigres del Licey. He lives with his family in Arizona, where the D-backs recently promoted him to Minor League field coordinator.

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

Strasburg's stuff solid in intrasquad game

Scherzer set to throw first bullpen session Saturday

Strasburg's stuff solid in intrasquad game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals held an intrasquad game Thursday afternoon, a chance to get their pitchers facing hitters in game situations ahead of their Spring Training opener Saturday.

It offered yet another strong indicator for Stephen Strasburg's health coming off a torn pronator tendon that ended his 2016 season Sept. 7. If Strasburg was not 100 percent, then he would not have been pitching Thursday.

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

MLBPA on Kang: 'Our duty to support guys'

Executive director Clark says Players Association will 'stay engaged' with third baseman's legal situation

MLBPA on Kang: 'Our duty to support guys'

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Major League Baseball Players Association will "stay engaged" with Jung Ho Kang's legal situation in South Korea, executive director Tony Clark said Thursday.

As part of the union's annual trip around spring camps, Clark stopped by Pirate City on Thursday, addressed the players in an early morning meeting and met with the media afterward. Clark answered questions about the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and potential rule changes but also touched on several issues specific to the Pirates, including Kang.

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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.

Bowman looks to stick as Cards' ground-ball ace

Bowman looks to stick as Cards' ground-ball ace

JUPITER, Fla. -- There was a flashback, Matt Bowman admitted, when he walked into the Cardinals' spring clubhouse for the start of camp. It had been a year since he first entered the same space, uncertain whether he'd find a home with this organization, and, if so, how he would fit.

Bowman, a Rule 5 pick then, comes now with a year of Major League service time and a proven repertoire that the Cardinals believe can help fill the void left by Seth Maness' departure.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clippard revels in Yanks return, shot to play for USA

Clippard revels in Yanks return, shot to play for USA

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tyler Clippard's phone buzzed with a message from an unknown number, and it took the Yankees reliever a few moments to digest what was happening. Team USA was offering a roster spot for the World Baseball Classic, and it was an opportunity he couldn't let get away.

Adding to the surreal nature of the moment was that the text came from Clippard's first big league manager, Joe Torre, who had welcomed the then-rookie to The Show as a midseason callup with the Yanks in 2007. Clippard quickly tapped back to Torre that he was "very interested."

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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.

Zimmerman turning to analytics to improve

Nats' first baseman taking cue from Murphy to boost launch angle

Zimmerman turning to analytics to improve

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy loves talking about hitting. He is constantly studying the craft, watching video and making adjustments. He joked that his teammates think he's crazy. He is a self-professed geek who reads articles on Fangraphs.com and learns what he can from analytics.

During the offseason, Murphy came across articles using Statcast™ data to explain Ryan Zimmerman's rough 2016 season, where he hit a career-worst .218/.272/.370 with a 69 OPS+, despite having an Exit Velocity among the best in the Majors last season. A lot of his struggles can be explained by his low Launch Angle, as outlined previously by MLB.com's Mike Petriello. Murphy, whose swing adjustments led to his breakout '16, believes he can help.

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

New-look Yankees, stadium ready for opener

Steinbrenner Field to unveil $40 million facelift Friday

New-look Yankees, stadium ready for opener

TAMPA, Fla. -- As the ongoing renovation of George M. Steinbrenner Field continues, a remodeled Yankees lineup will be on display for the first time this season on Friday as New York hosts the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he plans to have his frontline lineup on the field for the Grapefruit League opener, sans outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who reported late to camp so he could be present for the birth of his daughter.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Tale of the fantasy tape: Cubs vs. Cardinals

Which National League Central rival has superior fantasy assets?

Tale of the fantasy tape: Cubs vs. Cardinals

Though the Cardinals seized the National League Central crown every year from 2013-15, the Cubs have since gained the advantage -- defeating St. Louis in the '15 NL Division Series before winning both the division and the World Series last season.

Before these teams write the next chapter in their storied rivalry, we can get a head start on assessing them by comparing the fantasy value of their key players for the upcoming campaign.

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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.

Panda among quartet of Sox with happy return to action

Boston tops Northeastern in opener of spring game slate

Panda among quartet of Sox with happy return to action

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It seemed like everywhere you looked, someone from the Red Sox was making a comeback from a prolonged absence on Thursday.

Those stories, and Mitch Moreland's three-run homer in his first game action with Boston, are what made the 9-6 victory over Northeastern in the opening of spring exhibition play most meaningful.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Conforto taking cues from Bruce, if not at-bats

Young RF is learning from similar left-handed slugger Mets acquired from Reds

Conforto taking cues from Bruce, if not at-bats

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Welp, this is awkward. Or at least, it would be, if the personalities involved were as unstable as the situation itself.

But in the Mets' clubhouse, the fact that Jay Bruce is blocking Michael Conforto from getting the kind of developmental opportunity Bruce himself got long ago with the Reds hasn't prevented the pair from developing a mentor/mentee relationship.

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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

Barry M. Bloom

Pain-free A-Gon eagerly anticipating Classic

Pain-free A-Gon eagerly anticipating Classic

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Adrian Gonzalez told MLB.com that his right elbow is now free of pain early Thursday morning before the team worked out on the backfields of Camelback Ranch.

That assessment was corroborated shortly thereafter by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

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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.

Andy Green (jokingly) suggests a Home Run Derby after the 12th inning to shorten games

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Andy Green (jokingly) suggests a Home Run Derby after the 12th inning to shorten games

For a brief moment, Andy Green almost seemed serious about his plan to streamline extra-inning games.

"Probably after the 12th inning, I'd have a Home Run Derby," the Padres skipper said with a smirk. "The fans would gravitate to that, save the arms, let those guys hit. It'd be like a shootout in soccer."

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Better version of Panik in the making

Giants second baseman setting high standards for 2017

Better version of Panik in the making

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Given Joe Panik's array of accomplishments, improving means excelling.

Panik made the National League All-Star team in 2015. Last year, the Giants second baseman won a Gold Glove Award and established himself as the toughest player in the Major Leagues to strike out.

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Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Flash letting a challenging 2016 go

Flash letting a challenging 2016 go

JUPITER, Fla. -- Whether he's taking part in drills on a back field in Spring Training or at the plate in a big league ballpark, Dee Gordon plays with the same passion.

No matter the venue, the Marlins' second baseman is ready to go. He arrives early to camp with a clear focus on what's ahead, and not rehashing the events of 2016.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.

Mariners get what they wish for on Glove Day

Pitcher Whalen eager to get hands on custom Wilson gloves

Mariners get what they wish for on Glove Day

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Starting pitcher Rob Whalen was all smiles as he watched Shigeaki Aso pound his brand new, custom fielder's glove at the Mariners' Spring Training camp Thursday.

Aso is the "glove guru" for Wilson baseball gloves. He works with players like Whalen, infielders Robinson Cano and Mike Freeman, outfielder Nelson Cruz, former first-round Draft pick D.J. Peterson, catcher Carlos Ruiz, utility man Shawn O'Malley, and pitchers Dan Altavilla and Yovani Gallardo to custom design gloves for them.

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