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.

Odor on list of Rangers who may get a new deal

Odor on list of Rangers who may get a new deal

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.

Friday's spring slate marks return of MLB.TV

Streaming service begins 15th year with Phillies-Yankees tilt

Friday's spring slate marks return of MLB.TV

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 on Friday, 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.

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.

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.

Seager says he didn't have 'A' swing in '16

NL ROY, MVP candidate claims he wasn't comfortable at times

Seager says he didn't have 'A' swing in '16

PHOENIX -- Here's a stunning revelation, passed along by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts: Corey Seager said he didn't have his "A" swing last year.

"I thought I could be better at times mechanically than I was," Seager confirmed Wednesday. "I wasn't always 100 percent comfortable. Still competing, not uncomfortable, but not comfortable. I wasn't exactly where I wanted to be."

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Japan heavily favored in Classic's first round

Cuba, Australia, China have work cut out for them in Pool B

Japan heavily favored in Classic's first round

The first three World Baseball Classics, in brief:

Team USA's best finish was a loss in the semifinals. Team Japan's worst finish was a loss in the semifinals.

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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.

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.

Bait & pitch: Mets fin-ish strong, reel in shark

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Bait & pitch: Mets fin-ish strong, reel in shark

Imagine, if you will, a relaxing afternoon fishing. Maybe you're sitting on a boat, maybe you're standing in a river in your waders … either way, it's a pretty peaceful afternoon, right? Well, not for Mets Steven Matz and Sean Gilmartin, who appeared on the internet fishing show "BlacktipH" this week.

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Oblique improving, Britton to wait on spring debut

Closer, coaching staff want symptoms to dissipate before lefty's first game

Oblique improving, Britton to wait on spring debut

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Zach Britton says his left oblique muscle is feeling better, and he's progressing towards making his 2017 spring debut, but the Orioles' closer won't pitch in a game until his symptoms are gone.

"We all agreed there's no reason to go out there and go through the motions and possibly do any damage," Britton said. "We have time right now on our side, so kind of just stay in here and treat it today and come in in the morning and see how I feel."

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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.

Herrera welcomes pressure as Royals' closer

Herrera welcomes pressure as Royals' closer

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- New Royals closer Kelvin Herrera thought it'd be a good thing this offseason to check in with former closer Wade Davis, now with the Cubs, on what this full-time gig will be like.

As one might expect, Davis told Herrera he would do just fine.

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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.

And the Oscar Azocar goes to ... Vote now!

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And the Oscar Azocar goes to ... Vote now!

It's Oscars time and Azocars time -- named for Oscar Azocar, a beloved outfielder and pinch-hitter in the early 1990s. Yes, some of the categories are obvious like Best Pitcher. And some, well, OK, maybe we stretched a little. (Note: This is not an award for 2016 but something more present: Who do you think is the best pitcher right now? Who do you think is the best actor right now?)

Anyway, vote away, we'll announce the winners on Oscar Sunday.

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Hamilton back in Rangers camp after left knee exam

Veteran has no structural damage but will proceed with caution this weekend

Hamilton back in Rangers camp after left knee exam

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Josh Hamilton is back in camp with the Rangers after an examination of his left knee showed no significant structural damage.

Hamilton will back off his workouts through the weekend. His goal is still to be on the Opening Day roster, but that wasn't helped by this recent setback of feeling discomfort in his left knee.

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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.

Red Sox exec Steward paved unique path

Longtime front-office staffer became first African-American woman in her position

Red Sox exec Steward paved unique path

Elaine Steward's path as a pioneer for African-American women in baseball began in one of the most chance ways imaginable. As a teen, Steward was hired by Mets outfielder Felix Millan as a babysitter.

That was how Steward became interested in the game she's now spent her entire professional career working in, nearly all of it for the Boston Red Sox.

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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

Fred Zinkie

Sweet relief: Jansen is best fantasy closer

Chapman, Britton also among top options at volatile position

Sweet relief: Jansen is best fantasy closer

With more volatility than any other group, relievers can be the most frustrating assets for fantasy owners to manage.

Over the course of the season, many relievers go from being valuable producers one day to waiver-wire fodder the next. Accordingly, wise owners will spread out their investment in the position -- drafting at least one elite closer and another from the middle tiers, before taking a risk on a late-round option.

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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.

Report: Papi could join NESN broadcasts

Retired slugger was commentator for FOX during 2014 World Series

Report: Papi could join NESN broadcasts

David Ortiz is enjoying retirement. That much is clear, especially after the former slugger posted a long video on Twitter over the weekend of himself enjoying his vacation.

But Ortiz is expected to make an appearance at Red Sox camp at some point during Spring Training, and fans shouldn't be surprised if they hear his voice adding commentary to some Boston games this season.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

A cut above: Melancon brings stability to Giants' 'pen

Offseason acquisition expected to be major boost at closer

A cut above: Melancon brings stability to Giants' 'pen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In their first Spring Training together with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013, catcher Russell Martin had a simple message for reliever Mark Melancon.

"Listen, we're going to throw that cutter all the time, and you're just going to stick to it," Martin said.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Which potential free agents might be moved?

Which potential free agents might be moved?

After the 2016 season went south for the Royals, general manager Dayton Moore had to decide whether to jump-start a rebuilding process and look for packages of quality young players in exchange for potential free agents or make a final bid for another World Series championship with the team's core still in place.

Moore, however, opted for Door No. 3.

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

White Sox to retire Buehrle's uniform No. 56

White Sox to retire Buehrle's uniform No. 56

For 12 seasons, Mark Buehrle provided White Sox fans with some of the most indelible moments in franchise history, including the club's 2005 World Series title and the lefty's perfect game in 2009.

Now, Buehrle's legacy will live in team history forever.

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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

King Felix throws first BP of spring

King Felix throws first BP of spring

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez threw his first live batting practice session Wednesday as he continued gearing up for his initial Cactus League start next week.

The Mariners ace will make his Spring Training debut Tuesday against the White Sox at 12:10 p.m. PT at Camelback Ranch in Glendale in Seattle's fourth Cactus League game. That will be the first of two spring starts for the 30-year-old before he joins the Venezuela national team to compete in the World Baseball Classic.

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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

Contreras catches on quick, earns place as backstop

Contreras catches on quick, earns place as backstop

MESA, Ariz. -- Among hundreds of good decisions that allowed the Cubs to break their World Series drought, one of the best was made when Willson Contreras put on shinguards for the first time.

Boredom, more than brilliance, triggered Contreras' move from third base and the outfield to catcher. It happened, in large part, because of what he did when he was left out of the lineup one day in instructional league, at almost the exact time that Theo Epstein was being hired to run the Cubs.

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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.

Story wants to pen tale on defense

Story wants to pen tale on defense

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Any discussion of Rockies shortstop Trevor Story begins with home runs and segues to the bat after he hit 27 home runs as a rookie in 2016. But Story would like his glove to be in the conversation.

"I'm really prideful of my defense, probably more than offense," Story said. "It's huge, especially at shortstop. You've got to have a good defender there. I don't really just want to be good. I want to be one of the great shortstops."

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Classic could set comeback stage for Marquis

Veteran righty ready to showcase skills with Team Israel

Classic could set comeback stage for Marquis

Jason Marquis was on his way to Arizona on Wednesday, continuing to prepare for a 2017 season that could end before Opening Day or extend through October.

"I've trained this offseason like I'm going to pitch for seven months," said Marquis. "I want to be ready for the long haul -- if it happens that way."

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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.

Hurl power: Twins reliever's pitching secret

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Hurl power: Twins reliever's pitching secret

MLB players are a diverse bunch, and they bring with them a rich tapestry of pregame routines: A series of complex stretcheskissing the manager's forehead, dancing, whatever it takes to get ready to perform at the highest caliber. So really, is it so weird that Twins reliever Ryan O'Rourke has a Bill Russell-esque proclivity to vomit before he pitches?

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MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Prospects impress at International Showcase

Sixth annual event taking place this week in Dominican Republic

Prospects impress at International Showcase

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Former Major League infielder Orlando Cabrera bounced around the infield during the 60-yard dash at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal just like he did during his playing days.

He jogged his way to several groups of scouts seated in the stands during the batting-practice portion of the tryout. He moved around, chatting with top baseball officials when the international prospects took the field for the first game of the day.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Francona's health will determine how long he manages Tribe

Francona's health will determine how long he manages Tribe

PHOENIX -- In four years at the helm, manager Terry Francona has guided the Indians to two postseason appearances and one American League pennant. Based on what they have on their current roster, the Indians are expected to go deep in the postseason again this October.

Francona, 57, has entered his 17th season as a manager. When asked if he might have at least 15 more years in the tank, Francona wasn't so sure.

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Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Watch a kid hit moving car with a BP homer

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Watch a kid hit moving car with a BP homer

If you want to be a big league slugger, you have to practice hitting. And if you're like Jack Tannehill of Oxford, Miss., you also (inadvertently) practice windshield-smashing home runs.

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Arizona an early outpost of integration in MLB

Cactus League Hall of Fame inducts four pioneering African-American players

Arizona an early outpost of integration in MLB

The Major League Baseball landscape and the social fabric of the country were both going through a dramatic transformation when Spring Training baseball came to Arizona in 1947.

While the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson were preparing to break Major League baseball's racial barrier, the game was expanding to new western frontiers, with the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants moving their Spring Training camps to Arizona.

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

Cubs host young fans from Chicago hospital

Nine children and their families treated with VIP trip to spring camp

Cubs host young fans from Chicago hospital

MESA, Ariz. -- Nine patients from Advocate Children's Hospital in Chicago were treated to a day with the Cubs on Wednesday. The kids ranged in age from 7 to 14, and included a spina bifida patient, another dealing with heart defects, another battling Crohn's disease, and a girl who was in hospice care. Despite their difficult situations, there were lots of smiles.

"It's a chance of a lifetime," said Adrienne Balow of Des Plaines, Ill., whose 11-year-old son, Aidan, was a guest on the trip.

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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.

Quick to judge: Jury duty can't slow Trea

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Quick to judge: Jury duty can't slow Trea

Trea Turner is a native of Lake Worth, Fla., which is only a few miles from Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where the Nationals hold their Spring Training. So, when he was summoned for jury duty on Wednesday, he had no excuse to get out of it.

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