Speakers, procession route for Banks' service announced

Former teammates, family, Chicago mayor among those giving remembrances

Speakers, procession route for Banks' service announced

CHICAGO -- Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Lou Brock, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be among the speakers Saturday at the funeral service for Cubs legend Ernie Banks.

Saturday's memorial service at Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 East Chestnut Street in downtown Chicago, will begin at 10 a.m. CT and will include remembrances, readings and tributes. The list of speakers also includes Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. A simulcast of MLB Network's coverage will stream live on MLB.com and cubs.com, starting at 9 a.m.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Bo knows brief baseball career, but has lasting legacy

Bo knows brief baseball career, but has lasting legacy

It was a festive Sunday at Angel Stadium, a celebrity softball game unfolding as part of the 2010 All-Star Game activities. In conversation were Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and Bo Jackson, the two-sport legend who could have been an all-time great outfielder if his career hadn't been cut short by a devastating football injury at age 28.

Henderson was telling Jackson how, as a kid in Oakland, his dream was to be a running back like his hero, Walter Payton.

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

Which prospects will make the Top 100 cut?

Buxton looking to defend No. 1 slot with 2015 rankings set to be unveiled

Which prospects will make the Top 100 cut?

After an offseason filled with transactions and intrigue, Spring Training is fast approaching. That means it's time for the unveiling of the latest MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.

The annual preseason ranking of the Top 100 prospects in baseball will be revealed Friday, with the Top 50 being unveiled during a one-hour special on MLB Network and MLB.com beginning at 9 p.m. ET, and the entire list on MLB.com. The show, hosted by Greg Amsinger, will feature analysis from MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, as well as MLB Network analyst Bill Ripken.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pablo Sandoval wants to honor the Marathon shoveler

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Pablo Sandoval wants to honor the Marathon shoveler

Pablo Sandoval has been a member of the Boston Red Sox for roughly two months, but he's already helping out his fellow Beantowners.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Red Sox don't need true 'ace' at this point

In age of proactive bullpens and parity, going after starter might not be necessary

Red Sox don't need true 'ace' at this point

The absolute worst people to ask if the Red Sox need an ace are those already in Boston's rotation, biased beings that they are.

But, hey, it's good Hot Stove fodder to ask them what they think. So, in addition to general manager Ben Cherington's upbeat talk of "untapped potential" in Boston's rotation, we've seen plenty of pooh-poohing of the "Boston needs an ace" topic from members of the Clay Buchholz-Rick Porcello-Justin Masterson-Wade Miley-Joe Kelly fivesome this winter.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

Veteran scout says Tom Brady had MLB tools

Patriots QB was drafted by the Expos in 1995 but opted to play college football

Veteran scout says Tom Brady had MLB tools

MIAMI -- A victory on Sunday would further cement Tom Brady's place among the National Football League's all-time greats. Already, the New England Patriots superstar stands alone as the only quarterback to guide his team to six Super Bowls, and he is aiming at joining legendary QBs Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only four-time winners.

As Brady continues to build on his football legacy, there are some in the baseball world who wonder what might have happened if the 37-year-old had made a different career choice.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

2015 Prospect Watch: Top 10 outfielders

Twins' Buxton leads list again, followed by Pederson (Dodgers), Soler (Cubs), Winker (Reds)

2015 Prospect Watch: Top 10 outfielders

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

The top 10 outfielders list annually has some of the most athletic and exciting prospects in the Minor Leagues, and this year is no different. Though half of the players on last year's preseason list lost their rookie eligibility in 2014, the other half returns, led by last year's No. 1 overall prospect, Byron Buxton.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In honor of Lynch, 8 great MLB interviews

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In honor of Lynch, 8 great MLB interviews

Marshawn Lynch has been delighting the world with his Super Bowl pressers this week. It's almost as fun as watching him plow his way through an opponent's defense.

In recognition of his terrific prose, we've highlighted some of our favorite MLB interviews over the past 15 years. Enjoy.

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White Sox embrace position as contenders

While players aren't making predictions, they know club is in a good spot

White Sox embrace position as contenders

CHICAGO -- There have been no ironclad American League Central title predictions coming from members of the 2015 White Sox, much like Anthony Rizzo did for the Cubs a few weeks back with the NL Central crown.

While the White Sox haven't been as publicly confident as Rizzo -- an admirable quality for any player who believes in his team -- they feel exhilarated by the eight offseason moves made by general manager Rick Hahn. Confident enough that a case could be made for the White Sox jumping from 63 wins in 2013 to 73 wins in '14 to the playoffs this season.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves sign rotation candidate Stults to Minors deal

Left-hander gets Spring Training invite in battle for fifth starter spot

Braves sign rotation candidate Stults to Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Looking to add experience and more certainty to the battle for the fifth spot in their starting rotation, the Braves have signed left-handed veteran Eric Stults to a Minor League deal and invited him to Spring Training.

Stults and Michael Foltynewicz stand as the early favorites in what will be a crowded battle for the last available spot in Atlanta's rotation. Promising prospect Manny Banuelos seems best suited to gain a little more seasoning by beginning the season with Triple-A Gwinnett. Two of the other veteran candidates -- Wandy Rodriguez and Chien-Ming Wang -- remain long shots until they prove they are healthy enough for the job.

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

Minor League catcher Marjama traded to Rays

Minor League catcher Marjama traded to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays acquired Minor League catcher Mike Marjama from the White Sox on Thursday in exchange for a player to be named or cash.

Marjama, 25, is not expected to attend Major League Spring Training. He played 70 games for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem last year, hitting .266/.292/.383 with three homers and 17 RBIs.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nava, Red Sox avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

Nava, Red Sox avoid arbitration with 1-year deal

The Red Sox have signed Daniel Nava to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract worth $1.85 million for the 2015 season, the team announced Thursday, avoiding arbitration.

Nava, 31, appeared in 113 games for Boston in 2014, hitting .270 with 21 doubles, four homers and 37 RBIs. He also spent 24 games at Triple-A Pawtucket.

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Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Legion of Boom welcomes Cruz to Seattle

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Legion of Boom welcomes Cruz to Seattle

As we approach Super Bowl XLIX, we remember the moments when a few members of the Patriots and Seahawks osmosed through the cross-sports membrane and found themselves in the world of MLB. Today: when the Legion of Boom welcomed Nelson Cruz into their ranks.

Shortly after the Mariners signed Nelson Cruz in December, he was welcomed into the ranks of the Seahawks' Legion of Boom. But that doesn't mean that just anyone can hang out with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Just take a look at Cruz's application. 

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Penalties could keep Dodgers out of Moncada bidding

In addition to financial consequences, club would have future signing restrictions

Penalties could keep Dodgers out of Moncada bidding

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' desire to sign Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada has been tempered by the weighty penalties that would be levied against the club if it does.

Scouts came away from private workouts comparing the 19-year-old Moncada to a young Robinson Cano, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez.

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Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Jesse Sanchez also contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hicks knows Seahawks' Wilson is a winner

Mariners catcher grew up and played baseball with star quarterback

Hicks knows Seahawks' Wilson is a winner

SEATTLE -- In the National Football League, Russell Wilson is the little guy doing huge things as quarterback of the Seahawks. But Mariners catcher John Hicks remembers Wilson in a different way.

To Hicks, Wilson was the big guy on their youth baseball team when they were 13 and 14 years old growing up in Richmond, Va. And he stands just as big in Hicks' eyes now, even as a 5-foot-11 quarterback.

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Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Werth pleads guilty to reckless driving charge

Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth has been sentenced to five days in jail in Fairfax, Va., after pleading guilty to reckless driving.

On Dec. 5, Werth was convicted of driving 105 mph in a 55 mph zone on the Capital Parkway on July 6. He was originally sentenced to 10 days in jail but appealed. The charge was reduced Thursday when he entered a guilty plea.

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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.

Hosmer looks back on Royals' 'incredible ride'

First baseman excited for upcoming season after club's successful '14

Hosmer looks back on Royals' 'incredible ride'

Watching the Royals sweep their way through the early part of the postseason and into the World Series, it was apparent just how much the club's run energized the organization and Kansas City itself. After getting over the disappointment of the Royals' Game 7 loss to the Giants in the Fall Classic, first baseman Eric Hosmer said he's taken time to appreciate all he and his teammates accomplished in October.

"It was an incredible ride. It really was. To sweep through the American League, that's absolutely insane in itself," Hosmer said Thursday during a phone interview on MLB Network's Hot Stove. "It was an exciting World Series. Obviously the outcome didn't come out the way we wanted it to, but it was a great ride.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I'd just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish -- now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.  

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Recovering Hurdle keeps inspiration coming

Manager, who had double hip replacement, emails positive message to 2,500 each day

Recovering Hurdle keeps inspiration coming

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Each morning Clint Hurdle sits down behind his laptop, takes a deep breath and writes a message. Releasing an appreciative smile, he punches SEND, and the epistle is on its way to scores of recipients.

This isn't about baseball or the Pirates or the rugged National League Central Division.

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Hal Bodley is a senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Five get Minors deals, spring invites from Red Sox

Five get Minors deals, spring invites from Red Sox

The Red Sox signed outfielder Quintin Berry, left-hander Dana Eveland, first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair, righty Felipe Paulino and catcher Humberto Quintero to Minor League contracts Thursday. All five players received invitations to big league Spring Training.

Berry previously spent part of the 2013 season in the organization and appeared in three postseason games, stealing three bases as a pinch-runner during Boston's drive to a World Series title. The 30-year-old played in 10 games for the Orioles last season, spending most of his time at Triple-A Norfolk, where he hit .285/.382/.367 with 25 steals.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers players to help cap special week in the community

Dodgers players to help cap special week in the community

The Dodgers' week-long "Pitching in the Community" initiative to serve the greater Los Angeles area concludes Friday, with up to 22 current players participating in events throughout the city.

Joc Pederson, Kenley Jansen, Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, Justin Turner, Scott Van Slyke, Joel Peralta, Zach Lee, Pedro Baez, Austin Barnes, Mike Bolsinger, Daniel Coulombe, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, Enrique Hernandez, Adam Liberatore, Juan Nicasio, Chris Reed, Paco Rodriguez, Joe Wieland and Chris Withrow are scheduled to participate.

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Biggio thinking of ill friend during HOF process

Longtime equipment manager Liborio dealing with Alzheimer's

Biggio thinking of ill friend during HOF process

HOUSTON -- A young Craig Biggio burst into the Major League clubhouse at Spring Training for the first time in his career in 1988 in search of Astros coach Yogi Berra. Before he could get too far, a gruff voice with a thick New England accent stopped Biggio in his tracks by asking, "Who the [heck] are you?"

That was the beginning of a nearly 30-year-long friendship between Biggio and longtime equipment manager Dennis Liborio, who retired following the 2011 season due to health concerns. Biggio said Liborio is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and he laments his friend won't be there to see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 26.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ichiro 'humbled' by Marlins' efforts

All-Star introduced by team executives in his native Japan

Ichiro 'humbled' by Marlins' efforts

TOKYO -- The Miami Marlins made quite an impressive splash in Japan.

A standing-room-only crowd of reporters and photographers packed a hotel ballroom in Tokyo to watch the Marlins officially introduce national icon Ichiro Suzuki as their newest outfielder. Five club executives -- including president David Samson, president of baseball operations Michael Hill and general manager Dan Jennings -- flew 18 hours from Miami for the one-hour news conference. 

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

Marlins go the extra mile to introduce Ichiro

Samson leads contingent on 18-hour journey to Japan

Marlins go the extra mile to introduce Ichiro

MIAMI -- The Marlins went the extra mile to make a strong first impression on their latest acquisition, with five team executives traveling 18 hours by plane to Japan to properly welcome Ichiro Suzuki into their family.

To the organization, the long flight showed its commitment to a veteran with Hall of Fame credentials. To the 41-year-old Ichiro, the gesture was both humbling and energizing as he prepares for the next chapter of his brilliant big league career.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Free agent Beachy to decide on team closer to camp

Former Braves righty 'getting stronger' while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery

Free agent Beachy to decide on team closer to camp

While Brandon Beachy is reportedly "getting stronger" coming off a second Tommy John surgery, his agent told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal that the free-agent right-hander intends to wait until closer to Spring Training to make a decision about signing with a club.

"Brandon has decided not to sign a contract at this time," Beachy's agent, Rob Martin, told Rosenthal. "With each day his arm is getting stronger and he's feeling even more confident about his progress. Thus, he is going to continue with his throwing program and make a decision closer to Spring Training."

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Listen to Ernie Banks' disco single, 'Teamwork'

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Listen to Ernie Banks' disco single, 'Teamwork'

It probably won't surprise you to learn that many baseball stars have released novelty singles. There's Terry Forster's "Fat is In." The 1990 Reds recorded "Reds Hot." The '86 Mets traded rap verses on "Get Metsmerized." 

What you may find shocking is that the late, great Ernie Banks released one, too. Except he did it in his own style -- with a disco paen to the idea of teamwork. 

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Ichiro first player from Japan to suit up for Marlins

Ichiro first player from Japan to suit up for Marlins

TOKYO -- Now that the Miami Marlins have signed Ichiro Suzuki, the Cincinnati Reds are the only team in Major League Baseball for which a Japanese player has never appeared.

The Reds were the first team to gain a player from Japan through the posting system after it was created in December 1998. The player from Japan that Cincinnati outbid all other teams for in the secret bidding process was a Dominican. Pitcher Alejandro Quezada belonged to the Hiroshima Carp when they posted him before the 1999 season.

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

Around the Horn: Corner infield

Familiar tandem of Pujols, Freese aims to build off last season for Angels

Around the Horn: Corner infield

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Tempe, Ariz., by Feb. 19, it's time to dissect the Angels' 2015 roster. This is the third of a six-part Around the Horn series taking a position-by-position look at projected starters and backup options heading into the season. Next up: Corner infield. (previously: middle infield, catcher)

ANAHEIM -- The Angels know Albert Pujols and David Freese will play the corners in 2015, marking the fourth time in the last six years they've shared the same infield (twice in St. Louis, twice in Anaheim).

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kenny Lofton's favorite player: Lorenzo Cain

Kenny Lofton's favorite player: Lorenzo Cain

Kenny Lofton roamed center field for 17 Major League seasons, using his dynamic speed to track down numerous fly balls.

As a standout defender, Lofton is partial to those who share similar abilities. At the top of that list is Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who is Lofton's favorite current Major Leaguer.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ervin turns rough patch into learning experience

After slow start to '14, outfielder remains one of Reds' top hitting prospects

Ervin turns rough patch into learning experience

CINCINNATI -- During the 2014 season with Class A Dayton, Reds outfield prospect Phil Ervin went through an extended funk at the plate for the first time in his brief professional career. How Ervin reacted to it proved to be one of the most significant learning experiences he's had.

Ervin, 22, batted .237/.305/.376 with seven home runs and 68 RBIs in 132 games. Over 561 plate appearances, he walked 46 times while accumulating 110 strikeouts.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.