MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Better than Cespedes? Cuban phenom wowing scouts

Teen outfielder Luis Robert has emerged as the most intriguing prospect on international market

Better than Cespedes? Cuban phenom wowing scouts

BAJOS DE HAINA, Dominican Republic -- The grass was freshly cut, the white chalk lines were neatly marked, and it was a peaceful Friday morning on the main baseball field at the Fundacion San Judas Tadeo complex, except for the barking black German Shepherd at third base and the red rooster near the mound that wouldn't stop crowing.

By 8:30 a.m., several teenage prospects from the Born to Play Baseball Academy were chatting in the batting cages and stretching near the first-base dugout made of cinder blocks and painted lime green. A few minutes later, Cuban outfielder Luis Robert walked around the corner and immediately turned an ordinary workout into an international event.

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Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Judge's scoreboard HR offers peek at ceiling

Judge's scoreboard HR offers peek at ceiling

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees hit three home runs as they lifted the curtain on a refurbished George M. Steinbrenner Field complex on Friday, but it was Aaron Judge's moonshot off the left-field scoreboard that had these Baby Bombers dreaming about the future.

Judge extended his arms to swat a first-pitch fastball from the Phillies' Elniery Garcia in the fifth inning of New York's 9-4 Grapefruit League victory, wowing the announced crowd of 8,845 with a titanic clout that dented the top of a beer advertisement before falling back to the playing field.

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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.

Big-time weekend awaits on MLB.TV

Streaming service begins 15th year with 15 games on Saturday, Sunday

Big-time weekend awaits on MLB.TV

MLB.TV, the world's longest-running and most successful live streaming sports product, is returning for its 15th-anniversary year this weekend, and the first action continues with seven live games on Saturday and another eight on Sunday -- including a relaxed rematch of the most recent World Series.

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.

Greinke throws live BP, feels 'OK'

Greinke throws live BP, feels 'OK'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs ace Zack Greinke faced hitters for the first time Friday as he threw about 20 pitches in a live batting practice session.

"I felt OK," Greinke said. "Everything was coming out of my fingers pretty good. It was pretty sharp. Command was OK. Everything was OK. Maybe I could have thrown a couple more, but no one wants to push it too fast this early. There's not too much of a need. Maybe it was a good amount."

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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.

First start about building strength for Bumgarner

First start about building strength for Bumgarner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In Madison Bumgarner's view, the less said about his outing Friday, the better.

Asked how he felt about his one-inning performance in the Giants' 6-4 win in the Cactus League opener Friday against the Cincinnati Reds, Bumgarner allowed himself a tiny smile and said, "I felt."

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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.

Cards ink Cuban outfielder to Minors deal

Jose Adolis Garcia was MVP of Cuba's Serie Nacional

Cards ink Cuban outfielder to Minors deal

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals, who hoped to enhance their outfield depth before the start of the season, have found another candidate to compete for a job as one of the team's backup outfielders.

Cuban outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia, the younger brother of Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia, agreed to a Minor League contract with the team on Friday. The deal includes an invite to Major League camp, and it will pay Garcia a $2.5 million bonus, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

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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.

Shoeless Joe has family ties at Texas camp

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Shoeless Joe has family ties at Texas camp

Joe Jackson was at the Rangers' Spring Training complex on Friday, and no, you did not somehow step into a time machine and travel back to the 1910s. It was Joe Jackson, the 24-year-old Minor Leaguer who, yes, is the great-great-grandnephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson.

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Baseball Hall of Fame Tour returns for '17

Traveling experience to hit the road March 11; tickets on sale now

Baseball Hall of Fame Tour returns for '17

Tickets are on sale now for the Baseball Hall of Fame Tour, which returns March 11 for a second season. After traveling to five cities across the United States in 2016, the We Are Baseball experience -- a cutting-edge collaboration of baseball and technology -- is scheduled to spend two weeks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Spring Training home of the D-backs and Rockies in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Tour -- a one-of-a-kind traveling collection of Hall of Fame artifacts, interactive games and displays, unique virtual reality experiences, and the first and only mobile IMAX movie -- proved to be a draw last year for casual fans and baseball diehards alike, not to mention some Hall of Famers themselves.

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Allison Duffy-Davis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kershaw set for LA opener on Saturday

Dodgers will need to figure out last two spots in rotation

Kershaw set for LA opener on Saturday

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Dodgers open the Cactus League season this Saturday, and manager Dave Roberts has the weekend's starting pitching mapped out.

Ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw is slated to pitch an inning against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch in Saturday's opener. Game time is 12:05 p.m. PT; watch it live on MLB.TV. Rich Hill is scheduled to start Sunday, while Kenta Maeda will pitch Monday.

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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.

Baez celebrates Cubs' title with new tattoo

Baez celebrates Cubs' title with new tattoo

MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez will never forget his first World Series championship, and he has a new tattoo on his left shoulder to commemorate it.

The tattoo was completed Thursday night, and features the trophy, the year, the Major League Baseball logo, and "World Series Champions" plus part of the Cubs' logo. It's just the start of what Baez has planned for his left arm.

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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.

Brinson pops 2 HRs in first game with Crew

Top prospect sparks offense in exhibition matchup with UW-Milwaukee

Brinson pops 2 HRs in first game with Crew

PHOENIX -- Lewis Brinson's first game in a Brewers uniform was a blast.

Milwaukee's top prospect homered twice and drove in four runs in the Brewers' 11-0 exhibition win over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers on Friday at Maryvale Baseball Park. Scooter Gennett followed Brinson's second home run of the day with a solo shot, and Jesus Aguilar added a three-run homer for the Brewers in an eight-run fourth inning to put the game away.

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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.

Tigers pay tribute to Ilitch before spring game

Tigers pay tribute to Ilitch before spring game

LAKELAND, Fla. -- On the day the Tigers officially opened their new-look Spring Training ballpark, they bid farewell to the beacon who guided the franchise to such lofty heights.

After ceremonies honoring Mike Ilitch in Detroit, Friday was the Tigers' turn to pay tribute to their longtime owner, who passed away two weeks ago at age 87. Virtually everyone on the team Ilitch brought together helped play a part in a touching ceremony prior to the 2-0 loss to the Orioles at renovated Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.

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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.

Playing spring opener important step for Pence

Playing spring opener important step for Pence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Do not underestimate Hunter Pence's enthusiasm.

Participating in the Giants' Cactus League opener Friday against the Cincinnati Reds was a top priority for the right fielder, who believed that he made a statement to all onlookers by digging in the batter's box for two plate appearances and playing three innings in right field.

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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.

Ryu progressing; Kazmir working out kinks

Pair of lefties battled injuries last season but are healthy this spring

Ryu progressing; Kazmir working out kinks

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers are seeing more good things early from Hyun-Jin Ryu than expected this spring.

Ryu, limited to just one game the past two seasons because of shoulder and elbow operations, had another impressive outing Friday, pitching two innings of live batting practice to Dodgers hitters. He could advance into game action next week.

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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.

Still a rookie, Benintendi not seen as one by Sox

Outfielder, 22, could win AL award after impressing teammates in brief 2016 stint

Still a rookie, Benintendi not seen as one by Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- He is here from the beginning this season, and Andrew Benintendi could make it one to remember.

No Red Sox player has won the American League Rookie of the Year Award since Dustin Pedroia 10 years ago. And perhaps no Boston player was as well-positioned to win the award in the last decade as Benintendi is now.

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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.

Did Joe Mauer have rap studio in his house?

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Did Joe Mauer have rap studio in his house?

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's episode of the Cut4Cast podcast. To hear more of the Cut4 staff's weekly banterings about which position player is the best at pitching or how baseball would work in outer space, subscribe to the Cut4Cast by clicking here.

In this week's edition, Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger joined Gemma Kaneko to discuss team bonding, dance moves and Joe Mauer's deepest, most delightful secrets.

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Rizzo has 'difficult' talk with Norris about Wieters

Nationals GM likes depth at catcher, feels Scherzer will be ready by Opening Day

Rizzo has 'difficult' talk with Norris about Wieters

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had a long conversation with Derek Norris, whom he selected in the fourth round of the 2007 Draft, traded away in December 2011 and then re-acquired last December with the idea that he would be his starting catcher this season. However, Rizzo wanted to tell Norris that the team was closing in on signing free-agent catcher Matt Wieters, a deal that was completed Friday morning.

"It's a difficult conversation to have, but it's part of the business and Derek knows that," Rizzo said. "We have a good, long relationship with him so that helped."

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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.

Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

Encarnacion to debut in Tribe's Cactus opener

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The goal for Edwin Encarnacion during his first two weeks of camp was to get to know his new Indians teammates and become comfortable with his change of scenery. On the eve of Cleveland's first Cactus League game, Encarnacion has been impressed with the atmosphere around the Tribe.

"This team, they are together," Encarnacion said on Friday. "Everybody is together. They are one team. That's a difference you see in other teams sometimes. Here, everybody is together. The American guys, Latin guys. it's all one. That's a big difference from other teams."

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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.

Bumgarner's start ends with Giants walk-off

Bumgarner's start ends with Giants walk-off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Marrero blasted a three-run, walk-off homer as the Giants rallied past the Reds, 6-4, in Friday's Cactus League opener at Scottsdale Stadium.

Marrero, who finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs after replacing first baseman Brandon Belt in the fifth, followed Orlando Calixte's walk and Christian Arroyo's single off Reds right-hander Kevin Shackelford.

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Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat 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

Mike Petriello

Addison's power breakout has already begun

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

Addison'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.

Quintana eager to face USA, teammates in Classic

Quintana eager to face USA, teammates in Classic

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Colombia's starting pitcher against Team USA on March 10 during Miami's first-round pool play of the 2017 World Baseball Classic will look very familiar to White Sox fans.

"Yeah, it's really exciting. I'm happy to be part of this tournament the first time for Colombia," said White Sox ace Jose Quintana, who will get the call for Colombia, as he should on April 3 at home against the Tigers for the White Sox Opening Day. "That's an honor to have the first game.

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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.

After injection, Forsythe ready for Cactus opener

Veteran infielder set for Dodgers debut; Kershaw to throw an inning

After injection, Forsythe ready for Cactus opener

PHOENIX -- Fans get their first look at new second baseman Logan Forsythe on Saturday when the Dodgers open Cactus League play against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch-Glendale.

Forsythe, the Dodgers' most significant acquisition of the offseason, said he's ready to go after receiving a Synvisc injection in his left knee earlier in the week. The injection, similar to what Justin Turner said he has received the last three years, supplements the fluid in arthritic joints for added cushion and lubrication, providing up to six months of pain relief.

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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.

Mauer, Dozier will ease into spring games

Mauer, Dozier will ease into spring games

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- First baseman Joe Mauer and second baseman Brian Dozier were both held out of the starting lineup for the Twins' Grapefruit League opener against the Rays on Friday. Mauer isn't expected to play until Wednesday against the Pirates, while Dozier is slated to make his debut on Sunday against the Nationals.

Neither is injured, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he's easing them into games early this spring because Spring Training is longer this year with the World Baseball Classic.

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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.

Team Cano rallies past Cruz in hitting game

Fun contest signals last day before Cactus League action

Team Cano rallies past Cruz in hitting game

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It ended in controversy, with "coach" Nelson Cruz arguing valiantly that his team got robbed in its situational hitting contest Friday against a team captained by Robinson Cano. But for the Mariners, this was the perfect windup to their first week of camp as they prepare for Saturday's Cactus League opener.

Manager Scott Servais eschewed the traditional intrasquad scrimmage as a final warmup for a second straight year. He split the position players in half and let them battle it out for fun in an informal game where points were tallied based on the ability to advance runners in different situations and taken away when the opposite occurred.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

A's young talent knocking at door

A's young talent knocking at door

MESA, Ariz. -- Another season, another math problem for the Athletics: How to be last in the division in spending and remain competitive over 162 games?

That's been the perennial question for Oakland and will remain the case until it builds the new stadium the team has been seeking for more than a decade. The good news is that Billy Beane was an early adapter at this game, helping his team reach the postseason eight times in a 15-year stretch, and the formula of pitching, platoons and precocious talent still works.

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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.

Rays prospect Stanek has few fastball peers

Rays' fireballing prospect has clocked in at 103 mph

Rays prospect Stanek has few fastball peers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jaime Schultz found himself holding the radar gun and charting pitches last summer because he would be starting Triple-A Durham's game the following night. That's when something caught his eye.

Ryne Stanek was on the mound for the Bulls and he uncorked a fastball.

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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.

Passionate Anderson to start Rockies' Cactus opener

Passionate Anderson to start Rockies' Cactus opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson realizes the two innings or 30 pitches he'll throw in Saturday's Cactus League opener against the D-backs aren't likely to be remembered in October -- or April, for that matter. But Anderson is a competitive fellow.

The game will start at 1:10 p.m. MST at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick with Gameday Audio available. 

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ozuna's training partners: Cano, Puig, more

At M's star's baseball academy, Marlins outfielder got down to business

Ozuna's training partners: Cano, Puig, more

JUPITER, Fla. -- On any given day in the offseason, it's basically a "who's who" of big league talent that gathers at Robinson Cano's baseball academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.

Cano -- the All-Star second baseman with the Mariners -- opens his place up to his friends, and there's no shortage of star power that trains in his gym and on his field. Among the regulars is Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, a fellow Dominican.

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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.

How to draft Posey, other top-tier fantasy catchers

How to draft Posey, other top-tier fantasy catchers

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's catcher discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.

On this week's pod, Fred and Matthew break down the fantasy-catcher landscape heading into draft season. We'll pick up the discussion with Leach identifying the Tier 1 backstops for 2017.

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Perez eyes big '17 in Texas, starting with spring opener

Rangers left-hander wants to throw 200 innings this season

Perez eyes big '17 in Texas, starting with spring opener

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Martin Perez isn't afraid to say it. He believes this is going to be a big season for him on the mound and has a clear goal in mind.

"Last year was good, but this year, I'm going to throw more than 200 innings," Perez said. "That's my goal. Just stay healthy. If I stay healthy, I'll be able to do what I want."

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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.