Sprink Training! Water spray, game delay

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Sprink Training! Water spray, game delay

Spring Training is a time to shake the rust off and get back in the swing of things after months away from the diamond. This is true for the players, yes, but also for everybody else -- like, say, grounds crews. 

Case in point: Saturday's Reds-Indians game, which was headed to the bottom of the eighth inning when, well ...

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Bryce is right: Harper homers on first swing

Slugger sees immediate results after adding 15 lbs. of muscle over offseason

Bryce is right: Harper homers on first swing

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bryce Harper bulked up during the offseason, adding about 15 pounds of muscle to his frame. He has credited his offseason routine as a reason he entered Spring Training feeling strong.

Harper saw immediate results in his first at-bat of Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon, when he launched a solo home run over the right-center-field wall in the second inning of the Nationals' 8-6 victory over the Mets.

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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.

Series rematch highlights 8 today on MLB.TV

Cubs, Indians meet in Mesa; Blue Jays face Yanks in Tampa

Series rematch highlights 8 today on MLB.TV

The first weekend of spring baseball continues today with another full slate of games in both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues, headlined by a rematch of the 2016 World Series.

The Indians will look to exact a bit of revenge on the Cubs in their first meeting since November's historic World Series Game 7, which the Cubs won in extra innings for their first championship in 108 years. Of course, the stakes are not as high this time around, and the location will shift from Cleveland to Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. Still, it's an intriguing matchup early in Spring Training.

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

Mustache game strong for Mets starters

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Mustache game strong for Mets starters

The Mets lost both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom to season-ending injuries in 2016, leaving Noah Syndergaard as the lone member of their three-headed starting-pitching beast still standing as the team was eliminated from the postseason by Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in the NL Wild Card Game. But it's 2017 now, and the Mets' rotation once again boasts three of baseball's most fearsome starting pitchers.

Also, three of the gnarliest mustaches this side of Tom Selleck.

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MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

2017 Azocar Awards: And the winners are ...

In honor of Oscars weekend, we celebrate baseball's best and brightest

2017 Azocar Awards: And the winners are ...

There are people who noticed that the Oscar Azocar Awards -- the baseball awards we came up with to correlate with the upcoming Academy Awards -- seem to be based on a very flimsy coincidence: That "Best Pitcher" sounds a lot like "Best Picture."

I would like to tell you that there was more thought put into the Oscar Azocars.

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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.

Royals honor Ventura at Cactus opener

Royals honor Ventura at Cactus opener

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Minutes before the start of the Royals' Cactus League opener against the Rangers, the memory of Yordano Ventura was honored at Surprise Stadium.

The stadium flags flew at half-staff, as players and coaches from both teams stood along the foul lines to pay tribute to Ventura, who died last month in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Edwin gets first Indians RBI in debut vs. Reds

Edwin gets first Indians RBI in debut vs. Reds

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It didn't take long for Edwin Encarnacion to look comfortable in an Indians uniform. The sound of his powerful swing made that clear on Saturday afternoon, when Cleveland's new slugger delivered the club's first run of the spring season.

In the first inning of the Indians' 8-2 Cactus League win against the Reds, Encarnacion drilled a pitch from Reds left-hander Amir Garrett into left field for an RBI single. Encarnacion stood on first base amidst cheers from the Goodyear Ballpark crowd, which was dotted with Tribe jerseys. It was an early look into why the Indians invested heavily into Encarnacion this winter.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook 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

Kershaw's consistency awe-inspiring for teammates

'He expects perfection,' Kazmir says of Dodgers' ace

Kershaw's consistency awe-inspiring for teammates

PHOENIX -- If you'd like to understand what Clayton Kershaw means to the Los Angeles Dodgers, you can start with the area behind the bullpen mound in left field.

That's where Dodgers pitchers gathered prior to Saturday's 5-3 win over the White Sox to line up and watch their ace warm up for his first start of Spring Training. This is what respect looks like. There's surely some awe as well.

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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.

New right fielder McCutchen gets feet wet

New right fielder McCutchen gets feet wet

BRADENTON, Fla. -- As the Pirates took the field early Saturday afternoon, Andrew McCutchen ran out to assume his place in right field. He wouldn't say it felt weird, but it was different.

Pittsburgh unveiled its realigned outfield, featuring McCutchen in right for the first time since he broke into the Majors, as the Bucs opened their Grapefruit League schedule with a 6-2 split-squad win over the Orioles at LECOM Park.

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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.

Nine Oscar-nominated movies that would be better if they were about baseball

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Nine Oscar-nominated movies that would be better if they were about baseball

It's always fun to speculate about which films will win Academy Awards, but today we're going to indulge in an entirely different set of speculations. What if we lived in an alternate universe where all of the nominated movies were baseball-themed? Sounds pretty great, right? Lucky for you, we've chosen some possible winners from that different and better reality.

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Franco caps 2-HR day with inside-the-parker

3rd baseman shows off speed, power in Grapefruit game vs. Yanks

Franco caps 2-HR day with inside-the-parker

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Maikel Franco is known for his power, not his speed.

He still is, even after he hit an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning of Saturday's 6-5 walk-off victory over the Yankees in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Farms that should crack the 2018 Top 10 list

Farms that should crack the 2018 Top 10 list

With Spring Training underway, MLBPipeline.com's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have not only been rolling out their 2017 Top 30 Prospects lists for each of the Major League teams, they've also been busy ranking their Top 10 farm systems in baseball. The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of their Pipeline podcast with Tim McMaster, in which they discuss which teams look to be on the cusp of breaking into next year's Top 10.

To hear more from the MLBPipeline.com experts, subscribe to the podcast by clicking here.

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Luis Tiant would really like to know who or what a #SaltBae is

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Luis Tiant would really like to know who or what a #SaltBae is

Luis Tiant is 76 years old. When he made his Major League debut with the Indians, Lyndon Johnson was the President of the United States, The Four Seasons were on top of the Billboard charts and a gallon of gas cost 30 cents. 

He's been around for a while, is what we're saying. His meme knowledge isn't exactly exhaustive -- he predates the Internet by several decades after all. So, when Mookie Betts celebrated a single during Saturday's 8-7 win over the Twins with a pinch of salt ...

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Let's all take a moment to appreciate just how adorable Josh Donaldson's puppy is

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Let's all take a moment to appreciate just how adorable Josh Donaldson's puppy is

A little less than a month ago, we posed a profoundly important question: Of all the good baseball dogs, which was the vvery best baseball dog? The people made their voices heard, and we thought we had arrived at an answer.

... until Saturday, that is, when we were introduced to Josh Donaldson's puppy.

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Freeman honors mother by repping Canada

Freeman honors mother by repping Canada

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman always wears long sleeves, even on the hottest days. He does it to honor his mother, Rosemary, who died of skin cancer. He also wears a cross-shaped locket around his neck with her hair inside.

Beginning March 6, though, he's going to pay tribute in a way he wasn't sure would ever be possible. That's when he'll put on the uniform of Team Canada for the first workout in preparation for this year's World Baseball Classic.

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

Tigers hit 3 HRs in a row; Miggy plunked

Cabrera OK after getting hit on the arm in a homer-filled 3rd inning

Tigers hit 3 HRs in a row; Miggy plunked

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers needed 11 innings to put up their first run of Grapefruit League play at remodeled Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Once they finally crossed the plate they kept swinging for the fences, hitting three consecutive home runs off Astros reliever Edison Frias in the third inning Saturday during Detroit's 11-4 win.

None of those home runs came from Miguel Cabrera, who was hit by Frias' next pitch after the three home runs. Cabrera was unharmed, but Frias was ejected by home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt.

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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.

Fowler, Carpenter link up fast for Cardinals

New acquisition scores on first baseman's sacrifice fly, home run

Fowler, Carpenter link up fast for Cardinals

JUPITER, Fla. -- After watching two key pieces in the Cardinals' new-look lineup thrive in their roles, the club is hopeful that first impressions create a lasting one.

Dexter Fowler didn't put a ball in play in his organizational debut, but as the team's new leadoff hitter, he drew two walks and scored after each in St. Louis' 8-7 loss to Miami. Behind him, Matt Carpenter, who vacated that leadoff spot upon Fowler's arrival, tallied three RBIs from the third spot in the batting order, which is likely where he will settle once the season starts.

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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.

Oscars wiz Axford predicts tonight's winners

A's reliever correctly guessed all 18 winners in 2014

Oscars wiz Axford predicts tonight's winners

A's reliever John Axford, the film buff who was a perfect 18-for-18 in Oscar predictions in 2014, has shared his full selections again ahead of tonight's ceremony:

Best Picture: "La La Land"

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Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colon puts focus on location more than results

In debut, Braves hurler effective in 2 innings of work

Colon puts focus on location more than results

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As he prepares for his 20th Major League season, Bartolo Colon certainly isn't going to allow himself to be bothered by the results he garners during exhibition games. But at 43 years old, the ageless wonder can certainly take pride in the fact that he is still physically capable of doing what he has always done best.

Colon didn't necessarily have pinpoint command as he provided two innings for the Braves as they claimed a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays during a mutual Grapefruit League season opener on Saturday afternoon at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. But the beloved hurler still proved effective, while more importantly providing indication he still soundly understands the art of pitching.

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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.

Melancon: 'Executed pretty well' in first SF outing

Melancon: 'Executed pretty well' in first SF outing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mark Melancon's initial Cactus League appearance as a Giant was exactly what the ballclub expected.

Three batters up, three down against the top third of the Chicago Cubs' batting order. A pair of ground balls, which Melancon specializes in coaxing with his cut fastball. In short, he delivered a thoroughly uneventful outing in the Giants' 8-6 Cactus League triumph.

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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.

Verlander wastes no time getting into form

Right-hander mixes pitches, throws slider in spring debut

Verlander wastes no time getting into form

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander began his 12th Major League season trying to figure out when he was supposed to hit the field.

His first Spring Training outing of the year Saturday against the Astros was a 1:05 p.m. ET start, same as nearly all the other starts he has made at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium over the years. He's one of the most routine-oriented players in baseball, to the point where even a couple minutes' delay can throw him off his habits.

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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.

Five baseball stories that we'd most like to see turned into movies

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Five baseball stories that we'd most like to see turned into movies

Baseball is a game of stories.

From amazing individual player backgrounds to unrivaled accomplishments carried out by seriously larger-than-life personalities, there's just so much there to absorb, all the time.

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Desmond makes big debut in Rockies' win

Desmond makes big debut in Rockies' win

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ian Desmond made his Rockies debut Saturday and went 3-for-3 with an RBI as Colorado beat Arizona, 8-4, in the Cactus League opener for both teams at Salt River Fields.

Desmond, who was signed by the Rockies in December to a five-year, $70 million free-agent deal, played first base, a new position for him.

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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Indians prospect Bradley Zimmer hit a booming homer in front of his very proud grandma

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Indians prospect Bradley Zimmer hit a booming homer in front of his very proud grandma

The Indians already boast a rather potent offense, but reinforcements are on the way nonetheless: outfielder Bradley Zimmer, considered the club's No. 1 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, could have an impact sooner rather than later.

"Sooner" might as well have been "Saturday," judging by the display Zimmer put on in Cleveland's Spring Training opener against the Reds. 

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Betts notches two hits, scores twice in debut

Betts notches two hits, scores twice in debut

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox made JetBlue Park look like it was Fenway Park in the middle of the summer, riding a strong offensive attack en route to an 8-7 victory over the Twins on Saturday afternoon.

The Twins had plenty of firepower also, riding a second straight strong performance by Byungho Park, who is trying to win a roster spot after being designated for assignment in the offseason.

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Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

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

Miller tosses scoreless frame in spring debut

Left-hander is set to leave camp soon for World Baseball Classic

Miller tosses scoreless frame in spring debut

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Terry Francona threw convention out the window in his handling of relief ace Andrew Miller in the postseason last year. If it made the most sense to hand the ball to Miller as early as the fifth inning, Francona did not hesitate to summon him.

During Saturday's 8-2 victory over the Reds, Miller took the mound at Goodyear Ballpark in the fourth inning for his Cactus League debut. No, this was not another example of Francona pushing the boundaries of bullpen usage. That just happened to be the left-hander's scheduled inning after a pair of starters got their work in during the first three frames.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wright: Debuting at DH 'a good first step'

Following neck surgery, Mets captain still working on improving throwing

Wright: Debuting at DH 'a good first step'

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Designated hitter isn't exactly the position David Wright has in mind. But to the delight of Mets fans at the Grapefruit League home opener vs. Washington on Saturday, Wright made his first appearance even if it was only at the plate.

He isn't ready to take the field, still working diligently on strengthening his right arm for those accurate dealings across the diamond.

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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.

Bourn likely out 4 weeks; O's bring back Janish

Outfielder breaks finger days after being signed; veteran provides infield depth

Bourn likely out 4 weeks; O's bring back Janish

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Michael Bourn, whom the Orioles signed to a Minor League contract on Monday, broke his right ring finger catching a football in a workout Friday.

Bourn, who was added in an attempt to improve Baltimore's outfield defense, is expected to be out four weeks, manager Buck Showalter said.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Hazen, Lovullo aim to win while building

New D-backs GM, manager want to exceed expectations

Hazen, Lovullo aim to win while building

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Torey Lovullo has been everywhere in baseball, and Saturday he was exactly where he has always wanted to be. He was seated in a folding chair adjacent to the D-backs' dugout, a rookie manager watching his team play its first Cactus League game.

"I'm like any fan right now,'' Lovullo said. "I'm like anybody else that is getting a chance to watch our team. I can't wait to watch today's game.''

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

Collins, Moncada make Sox debuts in Cactus opener

Collins, Moncada make Sox debuts in Cactus opener

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Zack Collins and Yoan Moncada have played at Camelback Ranch before, as recently as this past November during the Arizona Fall League season.

But Saturday's appearance in the White Sox Cactus League opener, a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers, held a special meaning for this pair of top prospects.

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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.