Cespedes scratched with lower back tightness

Cespedes scratched with lower back tightness

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Yoenis Cespedes was scratched from the Tigers' starting lineup Thursday with lower back tightness.

Cespedes, who hit a grand slam in his first Grapefruit League game as a Tiger on Tuesday, was not on the travel roster for Wednesday's game against the Orioles in Sarasota.

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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.

What to watch for in today's game action

Scherzer's Nationals debut among highlights as all 30 clubs take the field

For the first time this spring, all 30 Major League clubs across the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues will be in action today.

A full slate of Spring Training games provides a number of debuts for some of baseball's best players, including pitchers Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Meanwhile, the Angels, Astros, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Marlins, Nationals, Rays, Red Sox and Twins will face big league competition for the first time since last season.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Top 15 fantasy rookies led by pair of Cubs

Bryant, Soler have most potential for big league production in 2015

Top 15 fantasy rookies led by pair of Cubs

Good news, Cubs fans. The last three times your favorite team has featured the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner (Geovany Soto in 2008, Kerry Wood in 1998 and Jerome Walton in '89), it has advanced to the postseason. And Chicago has the top two rookie candidates for 2015.

Third baseman Kris Bryant and outfielder Jorge Soler have the power to help the Cubs back to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They're not only the strongest candidates for Rookie of the Year Award honors, they're also the best fantasy prospects.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

D-backs to serve a Churro Dog this season

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D-backs to serve a Churro Dog this season

Hot dogs have been a ballpark staple since the beginning of baseball time. But what happens when you're done with your hot dog? Do you eat more hot dogs? 

No.

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Arbitrator reportedly to decide if Hamilton goes to rehab

Angels outfielder also might face a year's suspension as fourth-time offender

Arbitrator reportedly to decide if Hamilton goes to rehab

TEMPE, Ariz. -- An arbitrator will decide whether Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton should enter a substance-abuse rehabilitation program after a four-member advisory board deadlocked on a decision, the Los Angeles Times reported late Wednesday.

In addition, Major League Baseball officials are weighing whether to consider Hamilton a fourth-time offender of its drug policy due to previous failed tests, according to the Times. A fourth-time offender is subject to at least a year's suspension. FoxSports.com reported that the MLB Players Association, which has the right to appeal any punishment, is pushing for a minimal, 15-game suspension with more emphasis on the rehabilitation program.

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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.

Beltran ready to reclaim role as Yanks' right fielder

Elbow hampered vet in '14, but feels good now

Beltran ready to reclaim role as Yanks' right fielder

TAMPA, Fla. -- After a frustrating season in which injuries held Carlos Beltran back from being the player he expected to be, the veteran is looking forward to putting those issues in the past and reclaiming his spot as the Yankees' everyday right fielder.

"I'm happy. I'm excited, of course," said Beltran, who is slated to make his spring debut Friday evening against the Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "I feel pretty good, making improvement every day. I'm taking a lot of swings like I used to in the past in Spring Training. The elbow feels good."

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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

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.

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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Coke reportedly headed to Cubs on Minors pact

Coke reportedly headed to Cubs on Minors pact

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs are in the market for some left-handed help in the bullpen, and they have reportedly signed reliever Phil Coke to a Minor League contract.

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal on Thursday reported the deal, which is pending a physical. The Cubs have not confirmed the report.

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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.

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.

Panik aiming to build on special rookie campaign

Infielder looking ahead after making debut, winning title and getting engaged in 2014

Panik aiming to build on special rookie campaign

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's hard to have a better year than the one Joe Panik had in 2014.

The Giants infielder is just 24 years old, and he has plenty of time ahead of him, but it will be hard to top a season in which he made his Major League debut, won a World Series and got engaged to his high school sweetheart.

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

MLB Pipeline checks in from Orioles camp

Keller, Bleeker among breakout candidates; Berry talks Baltimore

MLB Pipeline checks in from Orioles camp

Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, while others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates throughout the team's system. MLBPipeline.com is visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the Baltimore Orioles.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Young, homegrown players have played no small part in helping the Orioles reach the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. As a result, their latest group of prospects has plenty of role models to emulate as they advance through the Minor Leagues.

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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.

Votto close to making Cactus League debut

Reds skipper Price says star slugger is 'champing at the bit' to get into lineup

Votto close to making Cactus League debut

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Although there hasn't been a specific date or game revealed, Reds manager Bryan Price expressed confidence Thursday that first baseman Joey Votto is close to making his Cactus League debut.

Votto, who missed 100 games last season because of a distal strain of his left quadriceps, has not been in the lineup for the first three games vs. the Indians.

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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.

A's schedule Gray, Kazmir for Cactus debuts

A's schedule Gray, Kazmir for Cactus debuts

MESA, Ariz. -- A's rotation leaders Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, held out of the first week of exhibition games to get some extra rest, are scheduled to make their Cactus League debuts next week.

Gray is on tap for a home start against the D-backs at 1:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday, and the left-handed Kazmir is slated to take the mound at Hohokam Stadium two days later for a Thursday meeting against the Mariners at 12 p.m.

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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.

Choi to undergo surgery, will be out 4-6 months

'Unfortunate play' leads to fractured right fibula for Mariners first-base prospect

Choi to undergo surgery, will be out 4-6 months

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners first-base prospect Ji-Man Choi will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair a broken right leg after injuring himself leaping for a high throw in Wednesday's Cactus League opener against the Padres.

Choi will likely be sidelined four to six months, according to manager Lloyd McClendon, after fracturing his fibula, which is the long thin bone in the lower leg.

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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.

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.

Veteran Hernandez reports to Astros camp

Veteran Hernandez reports to Astros camp

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Despite feeling under the weather, veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez reported to Astros camp on Thursday morning and threw in the bullpen. Hernandez, who arrived two weeks late because of visa issues, flew from his native Dominican Republic on Wednesday night.

Hernandez, who signed a Minor League deal on Feb. 12, said he'll throw in the bullpen again on Saturday. He should then be ready to be inserted into Grapefruit League games, as he worked out in the Dominican while he waited for his paperwork to arrive.

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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.

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.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Trout exemplifies leadership for Angels

Young superstar has influence in clubhouse with character, work ethic

Trout exemplifies leadership for Angels

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Leadership in baseball clubhouses ordinarily flows in a natural arc, from veterans who are able and willing to impart their wisdom and knowledge to younger players.

In the Angels' camp, Albert Pujols, Jered Weaver and Huston Street fill the role nicely. But there is another leader here, and there is nothing ordinary about him. Mike Trout, at 23, doesn't have to say a word. But make no mistake, he already is a formidable presence as a leader by example.

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Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Bucs lead clubs eager to take next step this season

With Giants eyeing repeat, spring camp brings hopes of progress to all other teams

Bucs lead clubs eager to take next step this season

As we speak, there are 29 baseball teams in Spring Training that are all talking about "taking the next step."

The only team that does not have to talk like this is the San Francisco Giants. The Giants could very easily discuss "taking the same step," the one that has led them to three World Series championships over five seasons.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. 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.

Berrios, Buxton impressive vs. Gophers

Berrios, Buxton impressive vs. Gophers

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top pitching prospect Jose Berrios showed off his impressive stuff, registering four strikeouts over two innings in his Spring Training debut in an exhibition against the University of Minnesota -- a 3-1 Twins win -- on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium.

Berrios, ranked as the No. 32 prospect by MLB.com, gave up one unearned run on one hit while repeatedly hitting 95 mph on the radar gun and getting swings and misses with his curveball, slider and changeup.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. 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.

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.

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.

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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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.