Puig tops Dodgers' rebound wish list

Ryu, Grandal, Utley, Crawford among others eyeing '16 bouncebacks

Puig tops Dodgers' rebound wish list

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training next week. In anticipation, Dodgers.com presents a series of articles previewing preparations for the 2016 season.

The first installment is "On the Rebound," covering players coming off injuries or disappointing 2015 seasons.

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

Rehabbing Tanaka throws off mound

Yankees right-hander had bone spur removed from elbow in October

Rehabbing Tanaka throws off mound

Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow in October, threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since the procedure, Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told The Associated Press.

The throwing session took place in New York, according to Rothschild, and Tanaka's rehab is on schedule. The injury dates back to when the 27-year-old pitched in Japan.

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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.

Darvish getting stronger physically, mentally

Darvish getting stronger physically, mentally

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish said he is feeling stronger physically than he did before having Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery last March 17. More importantly, Darvish said he is feeling much better mentally as well.

Darvish, speaking with the media after his rehabilitation workout on Wednesday, admitted that the game started becoming a grind over the past few years, and he wasn't enjoying it as much. The time off has made a difference.

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, 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.

Cuban phenom Lazarito nearing decision

9 teams show strong interest in 16-year-old outfielder

Cuban phenom Lazarito nearing decision

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros, one of the most dynamic young talents to come out of Cuba in recent memory, is close to deciding on his future.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound outfielder is expected to make a decision on where he will sign Wednesday, about one month after Major League Baseball declared him a free agent.

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Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

White Sox sign righty Latos to 1-year deal

White Sox sign righty Latos to 1-year deal

CHICAGO -- The White Sox strengthened the back end of their starting rotation by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with right-hander Mat Latos, the club announced on Tuesday.

If the White Sox get the Latos who pitched from 2010-13 with the Padres and Reds, then they might have done more than just strengthen the fourth or fifth starter's spot. Latos posted a 51-35 record with a 3.27 ERA during that four-year-stretch, making at least 31 starts and pitching at least 184 innings in each of those four seasons.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

Spoils of WAR: Donaldson enjoys rapid ascent

Metrics illustrate how late-blooming slugger has joined Hall of Fame company

Spoils of WAR: Donaldson enjoys rapid ascent

Josh Donaldson is once again in the news. The 2015 American League MVP Award winner has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $29 million deal with the Blue Jays, which will effectively buy out his first two years of arbitration. This is a very lucrative deal for someone reaching arbitration for the first time, but Donaldson isn't just any other player. He's been a top-10 MVP finisher three years running, and his unusual career arc makes him arguably the most impressive late-bloomer in baseball history.

There are 24 position players since 1901 who accumulated a WAR of at least 23.0 for their age-27 through age-29 seasons. Of the two dozen, 19 are in the Hall of Fame, with the only exceptions being Barry Bonds and a quartet of active players: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley and Donaldson. This collection of ballplayers -- led by Babe Ruth -- finds Donaldson occupying the 19th slot, in between arguably the game's greatest second baseman, Joe Morgan, and two of its absolute top-of-the-line center fielders, Tris Speaker and Mickey Mantle. For this age, Josh Donaldson rubs shoulders with players like Lou Gehrig and Hank Aaron, Duke Snider and Willie Mays, Ty Cobb and Mel Ott.

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

Still on the market, Fowler boasts a truly unique skill set

Free-agent OF could be the game's best switch-hitting OBP threat

Still on the market, Fowler boasts a truly unique skill set

The market for free-agent outfielders was particularly loaded this offseason, and as a result, one of the most unique players in the class seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

It's the second week of February, and Dexter Fowler still hasn't found a home. He's 29 years old -- younger than Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon -- and fresh off a season in which he manned center field and batted leadoff for a Cubs team that reached its first postseason in seven years.

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

Four-team field ready to go in Classic qualifier

Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, South Africa vying for spot in 2017 tournament

Four-team field ready to go in Classic qualifier

The first leg of the 2017 World Baseball Classic gets underway with the first of four qualifying tournaments starting on Thursday at Blacktown International Sportspark just outside Sydney. Australia, the favorite, will host New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa.

The modified double-elimination tournament is scheduled to be played over four days. Sunday's finale, however, will be a winner-take-all game rather than part of the double elimination. The team that wins on the first two days gets an off day on Saturday. Four of the six games, including the final, will be aired live on MLB Network, and all of the games will stream live on MLB.com and WorldBaseballClassic.com. ESPN Pac-Rim will broadcast games across the Oceania region, and the games will also appear on Solar Sports in the Philippines.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Best of Fantasy 411 Twitter Chat

Best of Fantasy 411 Twitter Chat

MLB.com fantasy guru Fred Zinkie fielded questions from fans during a live Twitter chat at @Fantasy411 on Tuesday. Check out the chat transcript below, and follow the @Fantasy411 Twitter handle and MLB.com's fantasy home. Questions and answers have been edited for clarity.

@johnniefan105: In a keeper league, should I keep Miguel Sano for $5 or J.D. Martinez for $14?

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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.

New, cooler spring jerseys, caps available

MLB shows off on-field Flex Base designs for all 30 clubs

New, cooler spring jerseys, caps available

It is almost time for Zack Greinke to suit up for the D-backs, Todd Frazier for the White Sox, David Price for the Red Sox, Justin Upton for the Tigers, Johnny Cueto for the Giants, Jason Heyward for the Cubs, and all those other new faces in new places.

Shop now for new Flex Base Spring Training gear

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. 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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

J.D. Martinez, Tigers proving perfect fit

J.D. Martinez, Tigers proving perfect fit

J.D. Martinez surely had trouble envisioning a week like this one two springs ago, when the Houston Astros released him. That kind of thing can rattle a guy's confidence.

Drafted by the Astros in 2009, Martinez had flown through their system to make his big league debut two years later, midway through the 2011 season. In parts of three seasons with Houston, he'd struggled some and also shown flashes of being a special player.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Baez among Cubs looking to rebound in 2016

Baez among Cubs looking to rebound in 2016

Which Cubs players are looking to bounce back in 2016? As the Cubs count down to Spring Training, MLB.com takes a look at some hot topics, including which players are on the rebound.

After a 97-win season, it would seem that the Cubs didn't have anyone struggle last year, but here are a few players to watch in '16:

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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.

Longtime Reds clubhouse manager Stowe dies

Longtime Reds clubhouse manager Stowe dies

CINCINNATI -- Bernie Stowe, a Reds fixture and an employee for six decades, died Tuesday after a long illness. Stowe, who had up-close-and-personal experiences with great players and teams that included the Big Red Machine, was 80 years old.

In a career that saw him working out of three different Reds homes -- Crosley Field, Riverfront Stadium and Great American Ball Park -- Stowe began as a clubhouse boy for the team in 1947 before elevating to clubhouse manager in '68. He retired in 2013, long after he had already passed on the family business to his sons, Rick and Mark.

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Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, 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

Anthony Castrovince

Emerging trends slowing free-agent spending

Clubs focusing on premier pitching, youth and hard data as they look to add impact

Emerging trends slowing free-agent spending

This is awkward, isn't it?

Spring Training camps open in mere days, yet nearly 70 big league free agents are still looking for a job, or even the opportunity to compete for a job.

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

Source: Change on takeout slide rule is coming

Source: Change on takeout slide rule is coming

Major League Baseball and the Players Association could be coming closer to an agreement on redefining what constitutes a legal slide into second base, a source told MLB.com. Barring unforeseen complications, the changes should be implemented by Opening Day.

The development was first reported by ESPN.

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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.

Familia has special bond with Bastardo

Mets closer receives Thurman Munson Award, credits lefty for helping him in DWL

Familia has special bond with Bastardo

NEW YORK -- Camaraderie may never have been in short supply last season for the Mets, but it never hurts to have a little more. To that end, one of the team's newest acquisitions, Antonio Bastardo, has baseball roots intersecting with those of closer Jeurys Familia.

The two first met as teammates for the Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League in 2010, shortly after Bastardo broke into the big leagues. Throughout that offseason, Bastardo helped the 20-year-old Familia transition to professional baseball.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

TV schedule set for Classic's Sydney qualifier

World Baseball Classic, Inc. (WBCI) today announced the broadcast schedule for the Sydney, Australia Qualifier, which will be played February 11th-14th at Blacktown International Sportspark. The winner of the Qualifier, which features Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa, will advance to compete in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the fourth installment of the premier international baseball tournament featuring many of the world's greatest players.

Fans in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico will be able to watch the Final of the Qualifier on MLB Network live at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 14th as well as three additional games, including the first game of the host team Australia.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jim Duquette

Best of the best: Top offseason moves

Braves, Rays and Dodgers just a few to earn A's this winter

Best of the best: Top offseason moves

Of the many deals this offseason, some appear to be shrewder than others. With roughly two weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, let's take a look at five moves that I believe stand above the rest.

1. Braves acquire SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Aaron Blair and OF Ender Inciarte from D-backs for RHP Shelby Miller
In dealing Miller to the D-backs, the retooling Braves managed to acquire some major building blocks. Swanson, the first overall pick of the 2015 Draft and the No. 8 prospect in MLB, could be a batting-average and on-base-percentage machine, with solid pop from the shortstop position, perhaps sooner rather than later given his advanced skill set.

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

Spring preview: Padres' rebound contenders

San Diego looks to Myers, Kemp and Cashner to bounce back

Spring preview: Padres' rebound contenders

SAN DIEGO -- With the start of Spring Training around the corner, MLB.com will preview the Padres by taking a glance at several areas of the team leading up to the report date for pitchers and catchers on Feb. 18.

The Padres, coming off a 74-88 season, won't head to Arizona with a revamped roster as they did a year ago under general manager A.J. Preller.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Owings tops D-backs' list for '16 rebounds

Tomas, Segura also focus on improvements

Owings tops D-backs' list for '16 rebounds

PHOENIX -- D-backs pitchers and catchers will have their first Spring Training workout next week, and there is much optimism surrounding a team that has made some significant additions during the offseason.

The moves come on the heels of a season in which the D-backs improved by 15 wins to finish 79-83.

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

Arbitration panel rules $5M salary for Castro

Astros prevail in hearing against veteran catcher

Arbitration panel rules $5M salary for Castro

HOUSTON -- The Astros won their arbitration case against veteran catcher Jason Castro on Tuesday, when a three-person panel determined he will be paid a $5 million salary this year. Castro was seeking $5.25 million.

Castro, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, has emerged as one of the game's top defensive catchers, but he slumped offensively last season and hit .211 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs. He was the starting catcher for a pitching staff that was among the game's best.

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

Pillar wants crack at leadoff role

Outfielder makes case for being Blue Jays' tablesetter

Pillar wants crack at leadoff role

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have an opening at the top of their lineup, and Kevin Pillar strongly believes that he is the man for the job.

Pillar made his case to be named the club's leadoff hitter while in Toronto last week to attend an annual event for season-ticket holders. The departure of Ben Revere created a void at the top of the order, and Pillar wants a shot at being named the replacement.

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

This #TruckDay montage will have you more excited about packing than ever before

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This #TruckDay montage will have you more excited about packing than ever before

What is your least favorite part about traveling, and why is it packing?

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MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Ziegler remains baseball's unlikeliest closer

Submariner has 5-year streak of most downward fastball movement

Ziegler remains baseball's unlikeliest closer

When the D-backs signed veteran reliever Tyler Clippard to a two-year deal on Monday, general manager Dave Stewart made it clear that Clippard was brought in to support closer Brad Ziegler, not supplant him. For those of us who like oddities in our world, this is good news: Ziegler will remain baseball's most unexpected closer.

No, really. There's no one working the ninth inning in baseball like Ziegler right now, and there hasn't been for years. In an era where flamethrowers like Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are lighting up radar guns, Arizona's closer averages 84.6 mph on his primary pitch and has a near pathological aversion to strikeouts, finishing in the bottom 30 (of the 268 pitchers with a minimum 60 innings thrown) in both K/9 (4.76) and K% (13.7).

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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.

Post Cuba: O' Brothers, Where Start Thou?

Yulieski Gurriel said to be MLB-ready; Lourdes a highly regarded prospect

Post Cuba: O' Brothers, Where Start Thou?

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Two top players from the most famous baseball family in Cuba are not expected to return to the island.

Brothers Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 22, and Yulieski Gurriel, 31, defected from Cuba's Ciego de Avila team following the Caribbean Series that concluded Sunday in order to seek contracts with Major League teams, according to sources. Lourdes is considered the top prospect in Cuba while his brother is considered the country's best player.

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Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Daniel Murphy got into a 'dizzy baseball' contest with Tottenham Hotspur player Eric Dier

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Daniel Murphy got into a 'dizzy baseball' contest with Tottenham Hotspur player Eric Dier

Though soccer players seem to love baseball as much as baseball players love soccer, it's not always easy to switch from playing one sport to the other. Remember when Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart gave batting practice a try?

That's probably why, when Daniel Murphy and Tottenham Hotspur player Eric Dier got together, Murphy made sure they were playing an entirely new game. 

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Bernie Sanders shows off baseball skills

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Bernie Sanders shows off baseball skills

This election year, every candidate will be trying to get your attention with their snazzy campaign ads in which they're acting just like normal people, doing stuff that normal people love. And then, there's this collection of clips released by CCTV, the public-access channel in Burlington, Vt., depicting Vermont Sen. and four-sport star, Bernie Sanders. 

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Source: Donaldson, Blue Jays reach 2-year deal

Source: Donaldson, Blue Jays reach 2-year deal

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have avoided a potentially contentious arbitration hearing by signing reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson to a two-year contract worth $29 million, a source has told MLB.com.

The agreement was first reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Toronto has yet to comment on the deal, while Donaldson tweeted a rather cryptic message that said, "Mood right now" with a photo of him celebrating after a home run at Rogers Centre.

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Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Clippard embraces setup role

Newest D-back eager to pitch in 'on any level' team needs

Clippard embraces setup role

PHOENIX -- It may have taken longer than he wanted, but in the end, Tyler Clippard said, he wound up where he wanted to be -- with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The D-backs signed Clippard to a two-year, $12.25 million deal, which includes a $4 million signing bonus, a $4.1 million salary this year and a $4.15 million salary in 2017.

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

Healthy Stanton, Jose critical to Marlins' success

Healthy Stanton, Jose critical to Marlins' success

MIAMI -- What could have been never materialized for the Marlins in 2015 for a variety of reasons -- ranging from instability on the coaching staff to inconsistencies of the players, along with a slew of injuries. The season never gained traction, and the team dealt with uncertainties after Mike Redmond was replaced as manager in mid-May by Dan Jennings, who had had no previous professional coaching or managing experience.

If Miami is to contend under new manager Don Mattingly, the organization is banking on its talented core staying healthy. There simply isn't enough depth to withstand any significant injuries to key players. Last season, All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon was the only starter from Opening Day to appear in more than 130 games (145).

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