When I ventured down to Florida for the first annual Cut4 Spring Training Road Trip a-paloozafest Extravaganza earlier this month, I had the pleasure of spending some time in Clearwater -- home to Phillies Spring Training and the Hulk Hogan-themed retail capital of the world.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brandon Magee has already played 17 games over two seasons in the National Football League. At some point this year, he might play his first baseball game professionally at one of the Minor League affiliates for the Boston Red Sox.
It all depends on what happens with football. The Tampa Bay Bucs released Magee on Tuesday, and he was at Spring Training the next day with the team that still has his baseball rights after taking him in the 23rd round in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Losing your keys might be one of the most frustrating experiences in the world, which might be what two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera had in mind when he decided to troll the Phanatic down at Spring Training on Sunday.
Relievers are a strange lot. Ostensibly the pitchers without the stamina, pitch repertoire or command to handle a starting role, they've taken on added importance. With runs coming at a premium, GMs have decided to load up on flame-throwing relievers and simply raze the opposition from the seventh inning on.
Though "Just look at the Royals" has become a common refrain this offseason -- for everything from speedy defenders to small-market principles -- the team's playoff push largely came on the backs of Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera.
Michael Clair is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The Cubs are emphasizing versatility among their position players, and trying to get all Minor Leaguers to play at least two positions.
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jabari Henry could relished his own moment in the sun, an amazing story on its own after being called off a Minor League field at the last moment and told by general manager Jack Zduriencik that he was needed to start as an injury fill-in for the Mariners' Cactus League game against the Padres ... and then proceeded to smack a home run in his second at-bat in Seattle's 8-5 loss at Peoria Stadium.
But the 24-year-old outfielder wasn't performing just for himself Sunday. His good friend and Minor League teammate Victor Sanchez died in Venezuela on Saturday and Henry was playing this one for the big right-hander.
"Take it easy," he said. "I need some hits."
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- At this stage of Alex Rodriguez's career, there are not many new experiences to be found between the white lines. Standing at first base, charging a ground ball and feeding it to a moving target qualified as one of them.
Making his first career appearance at first base, Rodriguez handled three chances in three innings at the position, grabbing that grounder and accepting two throws in the Yankees' 7-0 Grapefruit League victory over the Astros at Osceola County Stadium.
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Justin Verlander resumed throwing Sunday morning, but the Tigers still aren't sure if he'll make his scheduled start Thursday.
Verlander did some "light tossing" at Joker Marchant Stadium, manager Brad Ausmus said. The right-hander still felt some tightness in his arm, but he came through the throwing session feeling OK.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Time is running out for closer Koji Uehara to be ready for the start of the season. It now seems likely that Edward Mujica will be the primary closer on Opening Day, with others (Junichi Tazawa, Alexei Ogando, perhaps even Tommy Layne) chipping in when matchups present themselves.
Uehara has been battling a left hamstring strain for the last couple of weeks. Everything had to go just perfectly for the righty to be ready for the start of the season.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
It's not often that you see major trades made in the week before Opening Day, which is a shame, because this should be a time when teams should be trying to fill holes that have appeared during Spring Training.
In hopes of spurring some action, here are five trades I'd love to see happen before Opening Day. These are not trades I expect to happen, mind you, but deals that I think make sense for the parties involved.
Jim Duquette is an analyst for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
With fantasy-baseball-draft season in full swing, MLB.com put together a cheat sheet for fans in need of expert advice. Make sure to have the one-stop information shop on hand during your auctions or snake drafts.
Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
VIERA, Fla. -- After watching his team defeat the Marlins, 11-7, on Sunday afternoon, manager Matt Williams announced that reliever Casey Janssen will have an MRI on his right shoulder on Monday.
Janssen was scheduled to pitch against the Mets this past Saturday, but he had a tough time getting loose, according to the skipper, so he was scratched.
JUPITER, Fla. -- At the dawn of Spring Training, it seemed near-impossible that Matt Reynolds would make the Mets. Though Reynolds broke out a year ago at Triple-A Las Vegas, the Mets already had their starting middle infield set with Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy. Giving Reynolds a bit more seasoning in the desert seemed apt.
But Reynolds' strong spring, combined with Murphy's lingering right hamstring strain, has cast uncertainty over the situation. With each passing day, it appears less and less likely that Murphy will heal in time for Opening Day, meaning the Mets must choose amongst Reynolds, Danny Muno or Ruben Tejada at second base.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- David Robertson threw a scoreless inning of relief during the White Sox 4-1 victory over the Indians Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark. It was the first game for Robertson since March 21 against the Royals, as he has been working through soreness near his right forearm.
Robertson threw 10 of his 17 pitches for strikes in the fourth, inducing three ground balls to second baseman Micah Johnson, sandwiched around a Brandon Moss double. The White Sox closer is not scheduled yet for back-to-back games during this final week of Spring Training, but said Sunday that he could pitch one day and face one batter or throw a bullpen session the next.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Since brushing off the brief frustration he felt during his ugly Grapefruit League season debut, Shelby Miller has shown why the Braves are looking forward to having him in their rotation for at least the next four seasons.
Miller produced his most dominant outing of the spring as he limited the Pirates to one hit over six innings on Sunday afternoon at Champion Stadium. The 24-year-old right-hander retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced and surrendered just one run, which was tallied when Austin Meadows tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the third inning.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It isn't even your proverbial big league cup of coffee. A sip of decaf, maybe. To future Pirates, however, it is the nectar of their nascent careers.
Austin Meadows received the treat Sunday, starting in right field and playing the entirety of the Bucs' 4-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Braves.
MESA -- This may be one of those Billy Beane deals in which at first you go: "Oh, no!" And then later, calmed down and corrected you go: "Oh, I see."
How could the vice president/general manager of the Oakland Athletics possibly trade a player of the caliber of Josh Donaldson? One very good answer to that question was on the mound at Hohokam Stadium Sunday, pitching for the A's and building a big league future.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
There are few things in this mortal world as cool as hitting a home run, let alone a leadoff home run.
In contrast, there are few things less cool than tripping over your own feet.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Whether contractually or just congenially, the Pirates have been committed from Day 1 to having Jung Ho Kang on their season-opening 25-man roster. Korean Baseball Organization position players, as a whole, may be on trial through him. But Kang himself hasn't been on trial in Spring Training.
However, the Bucs have to be both delighted and relieved to have Kang dot some I's and cross some T's of their arrangement. And Kang put a big-time dot on a Michael Kohn pitch in the ninth inning Sunday, sending it far over Champion Stadium's left field fence for a two-run homer that gave the Bucs a 4-2 win.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- David Lough is not progressing as quickly as the Orioles would have hoped, with the outfielder -- who is dealing with a hamstring/back injury -- now a possibility to start the season on the disabled list.
"It's beginning to look like [a DL situation] more than it did," manager Buck Showalter said Sunday. "I was hoping we'd get him out there playing today or tomorrow and not have a problem. He wants to get out there. Talking to him and getting him to be real frank with us, I think he's actually pushing it a little bit where he shouldn't. He knows some of the decisions going on."
Ah, Spring Training: When all 30 teams have a shot at 90 wins, the division title, the pennant and a World Series championship. It's the time when hope springs eternal … or for the next week or so, at least.
JUPITER, Fla. -- Publicly, the Mets have still not deemed Dillon Gee their fifth starter. But Gee continued to make that little more than a formality on Sunday, actually raising his ERA to 2.49 by giving up two runs over seven innings against the Cardinals.
"He was patented Dillon Gee," manager Terry Collins said. "He was working on stuff. For the first few innings, he didn't throw a lot of breaking stuff because he was trying to locate the fastball, work on the cutter and the change. He doesn't get caught up in anything except trying to go out and make sure he's ready to start the year. You look up and that's what you get: seven innings and quality work."
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Mark Teixeira was diagnosed with a right knee contusion after being hit by a pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday morning, the Yankees announced.
Teixeira immediately left the game at the Yankees' Himes Avenue complex and appeared to be limping, but he told reporters that he was "fine." The club said Teixeira is receiving ice treatment and that no tests are scheduled.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
He confirmed Sunday that he plans to use Revere and Herrera in those spots on Opening Day.
JUPITER, Fla. -- Infielder Matt Reynolds, who is making a final push for a spot on the Mets' bench, singled and scored the go-ahead run during the sixth inning of New York's 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday.
Reynolds opened the inning with a hit off Cardinals reliever Seth Maness and moved to third on an Anthony Recker double. He then scored on a fielder's choice to push the Mets toward their Grapefruit League-best 16th win.
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg smirked Thursday when asked about his Opening Day starter.
"It's a secret," he said.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Every good starting pitcher grows up some time. He might be 22 and hitting the ground running, 25 and well prepared after a step-by-step climb through the Minor Leagues or 28 and ready to prove an organization or two wrong.
No matter how long it takes, the goal is to reach the point where he is ready to throw 200-plus innings on a contending team. The Indians hope that they have assembled that kind of rotation behind American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. But, at this point, all the Indians are doing is believing and hoping because they haven't yet seen a strong, complete Major League season from Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar, Zach McAllister or TJ House.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In the case of Adrian Gonzalez, understated evidently equates to underrated.
Gonzalez led the Majors in RBIs last season with 116 and is widely regarded as the game's premier defensive first baseman. He rarely misses a game and does his best work under pressure. Add it all up and this is what you get: Major League Baseball's most underappreciated superstar.
Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
National treasure Will Ferrell is still applying full-court pressure on his publicity tour for "Get Hard," his new movie with comedian Kevin Hart, which means he's got plenty of opportunities to discuss his recent tour de Cactus League.