BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are moving closer to landing the best free-agent starter still available: Yovani Gallardo.
An industry source confirmed to MLB.com Wednesday afternoon that Gallardo and Baltimore were in serious contract discussions on a three-year deal that would give the O's a key rotation piece. Gallardo -- who has been on the Orioles' radar all offseason -- has reportedly dropped his desired contract length with Spring Training approaching, and the O's have ramped up their efforts.
Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa vying for spot in 2017 tournament
By Niall Adler
Special to MLB.com |
The first leg of the 2017 World Baseball Classic gets underway with the first of four qualifying tournaments starting at Blacktown International Sportspark just outside Sydney on Thursday (9 p.m. ET Wednesday). Australia, the favorite, will host New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa.
The modified double-elimination tournament is scheduled to be played over four days. Sunday's finale, however, will be a winner-take-all game rather than part of the double elimination. The team that wins on the first two days gets an off-day on Saturday. Four of the six games, including the final, will be aired live on MLB Network, and all of the games will stream live on MLB.com and WorldBaseballClassic.com. ESPN Pac-Rim will broadcast games across the Oceania region, and the games will also appear on Solar Sports in the Philippines.
PHOENIX -- Shohei Otani is the next heralded player coming out of Japan. He's a 6-foot-4 right-hander for the Nippon Ham Fighters with a 100-mph fastball and four other pitches that dance like darts around the plate.
And oh yeah, at 21, Otani is so productive with the bat that his Nippon Professional Baseball team utilizes him as a designated hitter in many of the the games he doesn't start on the mound. That's a first in Japan, where pitchers start only once a week. And it's never happened in Major League Baseball, either.
KANSAS CITY -- Yet another sign that Spring Training is almost here: It was Royals Truck Day at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday.
Royals clubhouse personnel packed almost 60,000 pounds worth of bats, balls, luggage, video equipment, medical supplies, strength and training equipment, jackets, pine tar, bubble gum, sunflower seeds and much more into an 18-wheeler headed for Surprise, Ariz., in preparation for the beginning of Spring Training next week.
TORONTO -- Construction has begun, and the Blue Jays are well on their way to having an all-dirt infield installed at Rogers Centre in time for the start of the 2016 season.
The work began Monday morning and will continue until the end of March. That will give the grounds crew a full week to groom, treat and monitor the conditions in preparation for the home opener against Boston on April 8.
Padres, Braves, Nationals, Brewers, Cards, Phils, Rangers most aggressive
By Jesse Sanchez
The start of the international signing period is months away, but teams have been hard at work scouting prospects across Latin America and the Caribbean since last summer in search of future stars.
The Padres, Braves and Nationals have been very aggressive on the international market, and each team expects to have a solid class of prospects for the next international signing period that starts July 2. Milwaukee, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Texas have also been very busy and expect to sign a good crop of teenagers.
The collective efforts of your rabbit's foot, horseshoe and four-leaf clover have paid off -- you have been tabbed to pick first in your upcoming fantasy draft. But now the real fun begins. Because three players -- Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt -- each present a compelling case to anchor your 2016 squad, the dilemma at the top of the draft is unusually difficult this year. Making the best choice could be the difference between a narrow victory and an agonizing defeat.
These balls managed to leave the yard despite having a high or low launch angle
By Andrew Simon
To hit a home run, a batter must accomplish two main goals.
First, he has to hit the ball hard. Or, in the parlance of Statcast™, he has to generate a high exit velocity. The second piece of the puzzle is perhaps less sexy but, as we have learned, no less important. The batter also must strike the pitch at the proper angle.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Fans brave snow for Red Sox Truck Day
Over 20,000 baseballs among tons of equipment making 1,400-mile trip to Fort Myers, Fla.
By Aaron Leibowitz
Special to MLB.com |
BOSTON -- As light snow fell outside Fenway Park on Van Ness Street Wednesday morning, the early spring forecasted last week by Punxsutawney Phil seemed anything but imminent. And yet, for the diehard fans assembled to watch the Red Sox's equipment truck get loaded up for the 1,472-mile trek to the team's Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., spring has officially sprung.
"It's the first day of spring," said Linda Collins of Charlton, Mass., who has attended Truck Day several times with her husband, Harry. "I can't wait for baseball season. This is the first sign of hope."
Braves fans seem to be more optimistic than management about this upcoming season, especially with the new lineup. Can you offer your opinion, please?
-- Lee J., Tallahassee, Fla.
While it's important to remain somewhat realistic, management seems rather optimistic about how this year's team might fare. Yes, depth could significantly strengthen the bullpen and the offense could benefit from a healthy Freddie Freeman and a consistent Ender Inciarte in the leadoff spot. But there's a reason teams place a heavy emphasis on starting pitching. And the inexperience that will exist within the Braves' rotation is reason enough to avoid becoming too optimistic about what this year's team might do.
The countdown to Feb. 18, the official report date of Yankees pitchers and catchers, is underway. Activity has already started at the team complex in Tampa, Fla., and anticipation is kicking into high gear for the upcoming season.
In the second installment of our Spring Training preview package, "The New Guys," MLB.com will take a quick glance at some of the players who will be showing up to try on their pinstripes for the first time.
CHICAGO -- Very little gray area exists for Melky Cabrera when judging his team's success.
If his squad reaches the postseason, then put that year in the win column. If his team isn't playing into October, then mark it down as a failure. So even though the White Sox improved from 73 wins in 2014 to 76 in '15, Cabrera knows this talented squad didn't reach its primary goal.
None of the teams that ranked among the top nine in terms of payroll last season won a postseason series, most notably the Dodgers, who despite a record-setting big league payroll of more than $270 million were eliminated by the Mets in the National League Division Series in five games.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays were not going to downplay the accomplishments of Josh Donaldson, but now that the arbitration process has been avoided, the risk of upsetting their star player is no longer a concern.
Toronto officially signed the reigning American League MVP Award winner to a two-year contract worth $28.65 million on Wednesday. Donaldson is set to make $11.65 million in 2016 and $17 million in '17, then he will have one final year of arbitration in '18.
KANSAS CITY -- As we gear up for the beginning of Spring Training, we continue our series of previews with Part II: The New Guys.
The Royals certainly didn't get crazy with offseason free-agent signings. Royals general manager Dayton Moore maintains it is a flawed way of building a roster. But their primary focus was on retaining two key pieces to their 2015 championship run -- left fielder Alex Gordon and right-hander Chris Young -- while strengthening the bullpen and the rotation.
DETROIT -- The Tigers head to Spring Training with more prominent new faces than they've brought in over any offseason since 2009, the year after their previous last-place finish. GM Al Avila was part of that offseason, serving as then-general manager Dave Dombrowski's top assistant. This offseason was different.
PITTSBURGH -- Snow covered the field at PNC Park early Wednesday morning as winter weather finally settled in along the Allegheny River. But down the dugout stairs, in the tunnel underneath the stands, was one of the first signs of spring.
Wednesday was "Truck Day" for the Pirates. Clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett and his staff packed up a moving truck and sent it on its way to Bradenton, Fla., where the Pirates will begin Spring Training next week. Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to work out on Feb. 19, and the first full-squad workout is set for Feb. 23.
With the start of Spring Training almost here, anticipation is building for the 2016 season. MLB.com is going around the horn to break down each area of the Yankees' roster, continuing this week with the starting rotation.
The Yankees never tried to keep their offseason plan a secret, sending smoke signals that they were ready and willing to make a deal that would upgrade their fragile starting rotation.
CINCINNATI -- Funeral arrangements have been set for longtime Reds clubhouse manager Bernie Stowe, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80.
Visitation for Stowe will be from 3-7 p.m. ET on Sunday, at the Schaeper Center in Elder High School on 4005 Glenway Ave. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. ET on Monday at the Holy Family Church, on 3006 West 8th St.