Harper puts 2016 struggles in rearview mirror

Slugger says he knows cause of down season, but is focused on job at hand

Harper puts 2016 struggles in rearview mirror

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Bryce Harper says he knows why his production dropped during a disappointing 2016 season coming off winning the National League's Most Valuable Player Award in '15. But during his first meeting with the media this Spring Training, he did not elaborate on what was different.

"Yeah I mean I know exactly why, but I mean that's all last year," Harper said Saturday morning when asked if he knew the cause of his 2016 struggles.

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

Miggy motivated to win for Venezuela, Ilitch

Cabrera arrives at Tigers camp with heavy heart

Miggy motivated to win for Venezuela, Ilitch

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera added boxing to his training routine this offseason on the advice of Venezuelan boxer Jorge Linares. As Cabrera begins his 10th season with the Tigers, he has two motivations to fight for victories this year.

This spring, he wants to help Venezuela win a World Baseball Classic title for his troubled homeland.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cespedes all business after new deal with Mets

After signing 4-year deal, outfielder in long-term driver's seat with Mets

Cespedes all business after new deal with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- No more car shows. Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is signed long term and focused on bringing the team a championship.

With fancy rides almost as flashy as his power at the plate, Cespedes is toning down that side of himself and instead putting the emphasis back on the diamond. Having signed a four-year, $110 million contract in November, Cespedes is settling in as a cornerstone in the Mets' future.

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

Trout lands with personal, team goals in mind

Trout lands with personal, team goals in mind

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Mike Trout may be a two-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner and a five-time All-Star, but he's still looking for ways to improve his game.

The Angels' star center fielder arrived to Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday ahead of the club's first full-squad workout and said that one of his goals this season is to steal 40 bases. It's a threshold he hasn't reached since stealing 49 as a rookie in 2012.

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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

5 breakout hitters seek to duplicate success

5 breakout hitters seek to duplicate success

Breaking out at the Major League level is hard. Repeating that success may be even more difficult.

Opponents adjust, injuries strike and natural regression takes its toll. So for every Mike Trout who puts up huge numbers year after year, there are plenty of players who soar one season and fizzle the next.

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

Swanson gets custom glove to honor fallen friend

Swanson gets custom glove to honor fallen friend

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson takes the field this year, he'll once again be able to look at his glove and proudly remember the times he spent with Dai-Jon Parker, a former Vanderbilt University basketball player who passed away two years ago.

Swanson received his new Wilson A2000 glove before the Braves staged their first full-squad workout on Saturday. The leather that will rest upon his left thumb is adorned with the words "All Dai", a tribute to Parker, who was 22-years-old when he drowned after being involved in a tubing accident on an Indiana lake.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Levine, Betances at odds after arbitration results

Yankees prevail vs. reliever, set to earn $3M in 2017

Levine, Betances at odds after arbitration results

TAMPA, Fla. -- Attending an arbitration hearing was an unpleasant experience for Dellin Betances, who had hoped to put those 90 minutes in the past and return to a more familiar setting on Saturday. The first day back in uniform proved to be anything but routine for the All-Star reliever.

Shortly after a panel of arbitrators determined that Betances' 2017 salary would be $3 million and not the $5 million requested by the player, Yankees president Randy Levine held a conference call during which he said that the right-hander was "a victim" of agent Jim Murray's "attempt to change the marketplace in baseball."

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Intriguing position battles to keep an eye on this spring

Intriguing position battles to keep an eye on this spring

There are always some eternal questions -- the theological ones and the smart-aleck ones.

For instance, why does a round pizza come in a square box? Why do we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway? You've heard 'em.

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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.

Play Ball event caps MLB's RBI Institute

Memphis-area kids immersed in baseball at AutoZone Park

Play Ball event caps MLB's RBI Institute

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A bat, a ball and a kid. A formula for fun that has spanned parts of three centuries in America.

Multiply the kid part by 300 on a perfect Saturday afternoon at AutoZone Park, and that will stoke the game's future. That's the plan of organizers of Saturday's free Play Ball event sponsored by MLB's RBI program along with USA Baseball and USA Softball and hosted by the Memphis Redbirds, the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

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

Machado focused on present, not future

With free agency looming after 2018, star excited to be part of 'special group'

Machado focused on present, not future

SARASOTA -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado looked around the clubhouse on Saturday morning and smiled.

"We got a couple different faces, but I think we got a real good group here," he said. "A special group that's going to surprise a lot of people."

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Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gagne pondering comeback at age 41

2003 Cy Young winner is a guest instructor with Dodgers

Gagne pondering comeback at age 41

PHOENIX -- Former Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne is serving as a guest pitching instructor for the Dodgers this week, but he's also been on the mound with a comeback under consideration.

Gagne, 41, will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic this month after serving as the pitching coach for France in 2013. Gagne will continue training by throwing bullpen sessions when he's not working with Dodgers pitchers.

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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Leather man: Romine brings 8 gloves to camp

Leather man: Romine brings 8 gloves to camp

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers' new Spring Training clubhouse at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium was designed after consultation with the clubhouse crew on what players typically need. Nobody consulted with Andrew Romine about locker storage.

Most players keep a glove or two on the shelf atop the locker that was designed for it. Romine crammed four into that space, and that's just half the total he brought to camp.

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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New Orleans UYA hosts Urban Invitational

Day opens with Play Ball event for local youth

New Orleans UYA hosts Urban Invitational

For the fourth consecutive year, MLB's Urban Invitational was hosted at the Urban Youth Academy in New Orleans. Saturday began with Play Ball, a youth-oriented program rooted in teaching baseball's fundamentals, then featured a six-team, round-robin tournament, featuring Alcorn State's 11-3 win over Prairie View A&M, and Grambling State's 11-5 win against Southern University.

In Saturday's other Invitational matchup at the University of New Orleans' Maestri Field, UNO captured an 8-5 win over the University of Illinois-Chicago during the weekend set, televised on MLB Network.

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

Cano's goal: End Mariners' postseason drought

Second baseman looks to repeat impressive 39-homer 2016 season

Cano's goal: End Mariners' postseason drought

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Coming off one of the best seasons of his impressive 12-year career, Robinson Cano has two things in mind this spring. No. 1, do it all again. And No. 2, this time help get his team into the postseason.

The 34-year-old second baseman arrived at Mariners camp on Saturday, as Seattle's position players reported for physical exams, and pronounced himself fit and ready. But Cano also knows he set a high bar last year with his career-high 39 home runs in his seventh All-Star campaign.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A's made a special card for a young fan

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A's made a special card for a young fan

Some of the baseball-playing children of today will grow up to be the stars of tomorrow. That's just how things work.

Recently, a father sent the A's a precious photo of his young son, fully decked out in green and gold, with a question about their Spring Training roster.

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Carter excited to don pinstripes, play at Yankee Stadium

Carter excited to don pinstripes, play at Yankee Stadium

TAMPA, Fla. -- After calling the cities of Oakland, Houston and Milwaukee home through his first seven years in the big leagues, Chris Carter said that he can already tell the atmosphere is different with the Yankees, and the slugger can't wait to try on the pinstripes for real.

"It's kind of surreal," Carter said on Saturday, eyeing his locker space in the home clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "It's one of those teams where they've always had that legacy and prestige, a winning organization with history. It's going to be fun to play here."

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Photo of the Day: These young Orioles fans stood atop their bikes to catch some baseballs

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Photo of the Day: These young Orioles fans stood atop their bikes to catch some baseballs

Baseball is eternal. Not just the game itself, but the stats, legends, and the fans endure -- even if the fashions have changed in the 160-year history of the sport. 

Need proof? Check out these young Orioles fans perched atop their bikes to get a peek at Spring Training action on Saturday.

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Donnie Baseball steps up to the plate during camp

Donnie Baseball steps up to the plate during camp

JUPITER, Fla. -- Images of Donnie Baseball are back.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly, a career .307 hitter during his 14-year career with the Yankees, takes a hands-on approach in Spring Training. To get a better feel for how a pitcher is throwing, the former All-Star first baseman occasionally steps up to the plate.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.

Moncada ignores hype, focuses on Sox roster

Moncada ignores hype, focuses on Sox roster

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Aaron Rowand had the chance to work against Yoan Moncada during his first foray as manager for the Glendale Desert Dogs as part of the 2016 Arizona Fall League.

So the opinion put forth by Rowand, the center fielder on the 2005 White Sox World Series champions and the organization's current Minor League outfielder/baserunning coordinator, should hold some weight.

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Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. 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

Richard Justice

Greatest of his generation? Kershaw keeps rolling

Greatest of his generation? Kershaw keeps rolling

PHOENIX -- This is what we're seeing each time Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw takes the mound this season: One of the best ever.

After just nine seasons, that's where his career seems to be headed. Here's the coolest part of this. In the same way fans of an earlier generation told you what it was like to watch Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, you can say you saw Kershaw.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @richardjustice. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

Trout, Betts headline stellar outfield options

Rankings replete with potential stars across all fantasy categories

Trout, Betts headline stellar outfield options

While other positions certainly make valuable contributions to fantasy lineups, arguably none is as important as the outfield group. The ultimate fate of many fantasy squads will hinge on when -- and how -- owners stock their outfields.

Full fantasy outfielder rankings

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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.

Gurriel begins full-time work at first base

Cuban infielder has spent majority of career at third

Gurriel begins full-time work at first base

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has said his team's offseason additions actually started in July, when the club signed Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel to a five-year, $47.5 million deal. A third baseman by trade, Gurriel was forced to move around last year after Alex Bregman's solid rookie debut at third.

The emergence of Bregman, the signings of outfielder Josh Reddick and designated hitter Carlos Beltran, and the trade for catcher Brian McCann have deepened Houston's lineup, with Gurriel moving to first base -- a revolving door for the Astros the past few years.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Moreno: Halos will stay at Angel Stadium through '29

Moreno: Halos will stay at Angel Stadium through '29

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Owner Arte Moreno said Saturday that the Angels will play out their current lease in Anaheim, a move that will keep the team at Angel Stadium through at least 2029.

The Angels could have opted out of their current lease in 2019, but attempts to secure a new ballpark elsewhere have so far proved unsuccessful. Moreno also believes it takes a minimum of three years to acquire another site due to environmental regulations in California.

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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Donaldson diagnosed with right calf strain

Former AL MVP felt 'small tweak' in leg after sprinting drills

Donaldson diagnosed with right calf strain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has a right calf strain and will be evaluated daily throughout Spring Training, the team announced Saturday. He is expected to be ready to start the season.

Donaldson was injured while doing sprinting drills Friday and said he "felt something" in his calf. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday afternoon.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said the injury is not related to the calf strain that Donaldson had last April.

"Anytime in professional sports an athlete is injured there's some concern," Atkins said. "It's not the news you want to receive but you anticipate it's inevitable of all players. What I can say is Josh does a very good job of taking care of himself. He's in really good shape and he also recovers very well."

Donaldson, a three-time All-Star, won the 2015 American League MVP Award and finished fourth in '16 after hitting .284 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs. He also won the AL Silver Slugger Award for third basemen in '15 and '16.

"You never want to see it happen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "Hopefully it's not a big deal."

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

Padres agree to deal with Weaver

Padres agree to deal with Weaver

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jered Weaver is set to join a wide-open rotation mix in San Diego, as the veteran right-hander agreed to a one-year contract with the Padres on Saturday.

The club has not officially confirmed the deal, which is pending a physical and reportedly worth $3 million.

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

Watch Elon University's Robbie Welhaf throw the first no-hitter in 2017

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Watch Elon University's Robbie Welhaf throw the first no-hitter in 2017

The first Major League exhibition games may not start until Wednesday when the D-backs take on GCU, but you can still watch the final pitch of a no-hitter in February. That's because Elon University's Robbie Welhaf dominated once he took the rubber against the Longwood Lancers on Saturday. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Betances arbitration decision par for the course

Betances arbitration decision par for the course

TAMPA, Fla. -- Randy Levine's remarks were rough. But they weren't incorrect.

The Yankees president had a barn-burner of a conference call with reporters Saturday about Dellin Betances' arbitration hearing, and Betances would later indicate he was as at least as upset about Levine's public comments as he was about the hearing's result, in which a three-person arbitration panel ruled he will receive the $3 million the Yankees were offering him for 2017, as opposed to the $5 million he was requesting.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kershaw gets 7th straight Opening Day nod for Dodgers

Ace lefty will tie Hall of Famers Sutton, Drysdale for LA franchise mark

Kershaw gets 7th straight Opening Day nod for Dodgers

PHOENIX -- Clayton Kershaw was named the Dodgers' Opening Day starter by manager Dave Roberts on Saturday, tying Kershaw with Don Drysdale and Don Sutton for the Los Angeles record with seven.

"It's really special company," Kershaw said when told he was in Hall of Fame company. "You take a little bit of pride in wanting to do it every year. I'm thankful to get to do it so long for the same team. Not a lot of people get to do that. It's pretty cool."

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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.

Longo shortens swing, grows beard for spring

Longo shortens swing, grows beard for spring

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The face of the franchise has a different face this spring.

Evan Longoria reported to Rays camp looking more like Paul Bunyan with a full-blown beard, admitting he ditched his razor shortly after saying goodbye to the 2016 season.

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

Glove Day a lot like Christmas for Padres

Glove Day a lot like Christmas for Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- He may be a big league ballplayer, but on the day his new gloves arrive each spring, Travis Jankowski becomes a kid again.

When the Padres center fielder entered the Peoria Sports Complex on Saturday morning for Glove Day, a pair of customized Wilson gloves with "H" webbing were waiting for him.

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