Friendly competition: Harper takes hacks vs. Strasburg

Former No. 1 overall picks face off for first time in round of live BP at Nationals camp

Friendly competition: Harper takes hacks vs. Strasburg

VIERA, Fla. -- For a moment during the Nationals' workout Wednesday morning, Field 4 was the center of attention. Stephen Strasburg was one of the pitchers who had requested to throw a second live batting-practice session in advance of facing hitters in Spring Training games.

The first hitter to step into the batter's box against Strasburg? Bryce Harper.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Billy Bean

Opening up about Mets visit, Murphy comments

Inclusion is about everyone, even those who might disagree with the message

Opening up about Mets visit, Murphy comments

Tuesday was one of the more compelling days I've had since being named MLB's Ambassador of Inclusion. It included the opportunity to get back in uniform for the first time in ages at the behest of one of the most respected general managers in the game, and it also afforded me the first chance to respond to an active player speaking openly and honestly about me and my role in baseball.

Some background: After making a presentation at the GM Meetings in November, Mets GM Sandy Alderson approached me about the possibility of coming to visit his club during Spring Training. And then, at the Winter Meetings a month later, he doubled down on that offer and asked me if I would consider suiting up and "playing" with the Mets for a few Spring Training games. I was stunned.

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Billy Bean is Major League Baseball's Ambassador for Inclusion. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kemp, Upton hit ground running in debuts

J-Up launches homer for Padres in Cactus clash at Peoria Sports Complex

Kemp, Upton hit ground running in debuts

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres got the opportunity to unveil some of first-year general manager A.J. Preller's new acquisitions on Wednesday -- none more notable than outfielders Matt Kemp and Justin Upton.

And for the longest time, it was a quiet afternoon for both -- until Upton changed all that with one swing in the seventh inning.

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

Machado getting back to normal

All-Star third baseman played his first game since knee surgery last year

Machado getting back to normal

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manny Machado has been saying since he arrived at camp this spring that he just wanted to get back to playing baseball.

On Wednesday, he finally got that chance.

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Look at this college pitcher's acrobatic windup

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Look at this college pitcher's acrobatic windup

Some of us want to play baseball and some of us want to join the circus, but few of us are qualified to do both. Enter Murray State's John Lollar, a pitcher whose wind-up is also the finale of a Cirque du Soleil act. 

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Tanaka could make first start next week

After throwing 30-pitch bullpen session, righty says he's ready to pitch in games

Tanaka could make first start next week

TAMPA, Fla. -- Masahiro Tanaka threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field and said that he is nearly ready to pitch in Grapefruit League games.

"Gradually, I've been able to build up pretty well thus far," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "Whenever they want me to go, I think I'm ready to go."

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Felix excited to be part of new-look Mariners

Ace takes another step toward 2015 season with first live BP session

Felix excited to be part of new-look Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez remains the face of the Mariners, as evidenced by a large camera crew from Major League Baseball that followed his every move on Wednesday shooting video for an upcoming 30-second promotional spot.

But Seattle's ace isn't all on his own any more as the club has beefed up its roster with some noticeable veteran presence.

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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.

After 17-month absence, A-Rod returns to lineup

Veteran 'feeling really good that I get to play the game that I love'

After 17-month absence, A-Rod returns to lineup

TAMPA, Fla. -- Describing how it felt to have his spikes dig back in next to home plate, Alex Rodriguez used the words "odd" and "strange," which could just as easily be used to represent the circumstances of his 17-month absence. Whatever the off-field situations, he has always seemed most comfortable between the white lines.

Rodriguez returned to an official box score on Wednesday, singling to left field in his first Grapefruit League plate appearance. He also hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice and worked a walk in the Yankees' 3-1 loss to the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Do spring stats matter? Perhaps more than you think

ISO, baserunning aggressiveness can offer hints at regular-season performance

Do spring stats matter? Perhaps more than you think

From the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues to a computer screen near you, baseball players and pundits have long repeated the same refrain: Spring Training stats are meaningless.

Regardless as to whether you agree with the decree, calls to ignore preseason data often seem dogmatic, even harsh.

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Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Street handles business on and off the field

One of few players without an agent, closer negotiating extension with Angels by himself

Street handles business on and off the field

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There's an old saying that Huston Street frequently references, especially lately: He who represents himself has a fool for a client.

The Angels' closer laughs at the thought, the irony inescapable.

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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.

Knee not an issue as Richards does PFP

Coming back from ruptured patellar tendon, Angels righty comfortable coming off mound

Knee not an issue as Richards does PFP

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards took part in monitored pitchers' fielding practice Wednesday afternoon, breaking off a mound for the first time and basically simulating the play that led to his ruptured left patellar tendon on Aug. 20.

Richards hardly gave any thought to the knee.

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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.

Stare in wonder at Andrew Miller's slider

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Stare in wonder at Andrew Miller's slider

Pitchers tend to treat the beginning of Spring Training as a time to loosen up the muscles and shake off the rust from a winter of (if my offseason is any indication) pie-eating and video game-playing. That usually means a steady diet of less-than-max effort fastballs as they're instead focused on sharpening command and getting back into their motions. 

Not so for Andrew Miller. Making his debut for the Yankees as they squared off against the Phillies on Wednesday, Miller spun this time-zone changing slider that dropped under Freddy Galvis' bat: 

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Minor scratched Sunday with left shoulder tightness

Left-hander sent for more tests to determine severity of injury

Minor scratched Sunday with left shoulder tightness

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After spending this winter concerned about Mike Minor's health, the Braves gained some encouragement as he impressed through the first two weeks of Spring Training. But the club's initial fear was realized on Tuesday when Minor's left shoulder began bothering him again.

Minor was scratched from Sunday's scheduled Grapefruit League season debut with left shoulder tightness, and it now appears he will likely begin a second consecutive season on the disabled list. The Braves are currently calling this a precautionary move. But given how problematic this same left shoulder proved to be last year, there is definite reason for concern.

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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.

Nick Castellanos celebrates turning 23 with a dinger

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Nick Castellanos celebrates turning 23 with a dinger

Everyone knows the ancient proverb that says, "Nobody likes you when you're 23." It's a simple fact of life. But most people don't know that it comes with a lesser-known caveat: "Unless you're a professional baseball player and you hit a home run on the day you turn 23 years old."

Lucky for Nick Castellanos he did just that in Wednesday's Spring Training game against the Orioles.

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Rios caps off homer barrage in Royals debut

Rios caps off homer barrage in Royals debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Alex Rios said he honestly can't remember if he was once part of a back-to-back-to-back home run barrage at any level of his career.

Rios couldn't even remember if he'd ever seen it.

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

Prospect Gray brings heat in scoreless Spring Training debut

Prospect Gray brings heat in scoreless Spring Training debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After a year of learning how to pitch without top-end velocity, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray enjoyed bringing the heat Wednesday.

Gray threw scoreless third and fourth innings against the D-backs in the Cactus League opener. But the talk of the day was one pitch -- a strikeout of Paul Goldschmidt on a 97 mph, 1-2 fastball to end the third.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pederson off to good start with pair of hits

Single, double in spring opener may boost confidence

Pederson off to good start with pair of hits

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- An 18-game September sample was too small for Don Mattingly to worry about Joc Pederson's .143 average, just as Pederson's two hits in Wednesday's Cactus League opener won't win him a starting job.

"But for him, to get a couple hits will only relax him," the manager said after Pederson singled and doubled in the Dodgers' 6-4 loss to the White Sox. "It's better than going 0-for-15. I'm sure it'll help his confidence and help him relax."

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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.

First game in pinstripes 'amazing feeling' for Didi

First game in pinstripes 'amazing feeling' for Didi

TAMPA, Fla. -- For all of the winter discussion about Didi Gregorius' upcoming challenge in taking over Derek Jeter's old position, the new Yankees shortstop says that he hasn't heard any comparisons from the fans during these first weeks of workouts at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Perhaps the Yankees' official words on the subject have filtered into the grandstands, which is that they simply want Gregorius to be the best player he can be. That has allowed Gregorius to embrace the idea of being a Yankee, and he said that Wednesday's Grapefruit League home opener represented a special moment for him.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Royals 'pen hopeful Collins exits with tight left elbow

Royals 'pen hopeful Collins exits with tight left elbow

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Tim Collins, in a battle for one of the final spots in the Royals' bullpen, left the club's Cactus League opener against the Rangers on Wednesday because of tightness in his elbow after facing just four hitters.

Manager Ned Yost said that Collins may have an MRI on Thursday, if an exam can be scheduled.

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

Drew still learning nuances of playing second

Drew still learning nuances of playing second

TAMPA, Fla. -- Stephen Drew accepted the challenge of learning a new position on the fly last season, instantly becoming a second baseman in the Yankees' eyes when he dropped his bags in the clubhouse. He's hoping that a full spring will allow him to finish that transition.

Drew committed an error on the first ball hit to him this year, booting a first-inning slow-roller hit by the Phillies' Odubel Herrera on Wednesday, but Drew chalked that up to part of the adjustment process in coming over from shortstop. In his mind, the more reps he can get between now and Opening Day, the better.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Mariners' Walker poised to turn potential into production

Mariners' Walker poised to turn potential into production

PEORIA -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon's message to Taijuan Walker was brief. "We don't expect him to pitch like he's 21 or 22," McClendon said.

Walker, who turned 22 in August, heard the manager loud and clear.

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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.

Blackmon talks fireball gif, other topics on Chatting Cage

Rockies outfielder also discusses tense conclusion of '14 Spring Training

Blackmon talks fireball gif, other topics on Chatting Cage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before fashioning one of baseball's hottest starts in April and May and before being chosen by peers to the National League All-Star Game in July, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon was nervous about even making the team last year.

Blackmon hit .236 with seven strikeouts in 55 at-bats last spring, and the stats didn't offer evidence to back manager Walt Weiss' faith in him as the team's leadoff hitter. But, answering a question during his appearance in the Edward Jones Chatting Cage on Wednesday, Blackmon said the tense end of 2014 camp wound up his favorite Spring Training memory.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Venditte begins spring by recording an out with each arm

A's hurler shows off switch-pitching skills in Cactus opener

Venditte begins spring by recording an out with each arm

MESA, Ariz. -- What has become a routine act for Pat Venditte is an astonishing sight for those watching him.

The A's switch-pitcher introduced himself to the Cactus League on Tuesday, recording two outs against the Giants -- one with each arm -- as fans, and even teammates, ooed and aahed.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Ethier must prove his worth in crowded outfield

Ethier must prove his worth in crowded outfield

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Andre Ethier got it right.

He wasn't making waves or creating problems when he said he wants to be a regular this season, either with the Dodgers or someone else. Now he just needs to turn back the clock a little and become the player he was before the Dodgers discovered Yasiel Puig and traded for Carl Crawford.

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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.

Cuban pitcher Iglesias 'erratic' in Reds debut

Hurler known for control struggles with command

Cuban pitcher Iglesias 'erratic' in Reds debut

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In his first-ever Spring Training game for the Reds, Raisel Iglesias wasn't entirely crisp and had far-from-perfect results during a 4-2 loss to the Indians. But Iglesias was also about two years removed since the last time he had anything resembling a pressure situation.

"I think the last time was against the Netherlands in the WBC. It's been a while," said Iglesias through teammate Brayan Pena's translation.

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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.

Banister credits Gallardo's work in first outing

Banister credits Gallardo's work in first outing

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- They put a pace-of-play clock in center field at Surprise Stadium. Rangers pitcher Yovani Gallardo didn't even notice in Wednesday's outing against the Royals.

"I had no idea," Gallardo said after pitching 1 2/3 innings in the Rangers' 13-2 loss. "I didn't see the clock in center field until I walked off the mound. I had no idea. Most of the guys aren't going to notice it. We want to go out and perform."

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T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peterson makes impression in spring debut

Infielder sent to Atlanta from San Diego in Justin Upton trade

Peterson makes impression in spring debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Jace Peterson has progressed through the early portion of Spring Training with the Braves, he has provided every indication that he will prove to be more than just the throw-in portion of the four-player package the Padres provided in exchange for Justin Upton.

When the December trade was completed most of the initial focus was placed on the three prospects -- Max Fried, Dustin Peterson and Mallex Smith. But while each of these players could provide future dividends, Peterson seems prepared to provide an immediate value to this year's Atlanta club.

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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.

Sense of calm accompanies Stroman in camp

Blue Jays righty pitching with less pressure, more confidence; development of sinker key

Sense of calm accompanies Stroman in camp

BRADENTON, Fla. -- There are almost zero similarities between the version of Marcus Stroman that reported to Spring Training last year and the one he appears to be in 2015.

Stroman arrived last February looking to take the world by storm in his first big league camp, but by doing so, he probably put too much pressure on himself. He was trying to do too much, and when the results didn't go his way, there was visible disappointment on the field and in the clubhouse.

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

Gregg aims to nail down spot in Reds' 'pen after 'strange' 2014

Price 'extremely impressed' as veteran arm returns from elbow surgery

Gregg aims to nail down spot in Reds' 'pen after 'strange' 2014

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Kevin Gregg is a 36-year-old reliever with 177 saves since breaking into the Majors in 2003, but realizes he has to prove himself all over again. Gregg is in camp with the Reds as a non-roster player.

"I think every guy needs to prove himself every year," Gregg said. "I don't mind coming in and earning a spot. I'm coming off elbow surgery. At this point in my career, it's something I need to do. I feel the way I came out of my rehab and the way I was throwing this offseason showed I'm healthy and pitching the way I can. I should put myself into a good spot."

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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.

Krol's first spring outing shows promise

Focused left-hander ready to prove himself for Tigers

Krol's first spring outing shows promise

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Don't forget about Ian Krol in the Tigers' bullpen.

The 97-mph fastball that registered on the Ed Smith Stadium scoreboard Wednesday in his first outing of Spring Training was a nice statement to that end. So was the 77-mph curveball he dropped on Oriole Caleb Joseph for a called third strike to end his scoreless inning.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.