Cespedes, Tigers begin to build long-term relationship

Originally pursued by club, Cuban outfielder seeks championship in Motown

Cespedes, Tigers begin to build long-term relationship

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Yoenis Cespedes believes he probably would've been here a few years ago for his first pro contract if not for a twist of fate. One bad step from Victor Martinez, one shift in priorities for the Tigers toward Prince Fielder to replace him, and Cespedes' journey from Cuba landed him in Oakland instead.

"Detroit was the team that was the most interested," Cespedes said Sunday through translator Aileen Villarreal.

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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.

Kershaw to start Opening Day for Dodgers

Kershaw to start Opening Day for Dodgers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Clayton Kershaw will start Opening Day for the Dodgers, manager Don Mattingly said on Monday.

"That's our plan," Mattingly said.

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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.

One-time elite prospects set for breakout season in 2015

Young talents like Montero, Moustakas, Myers ready to take next step

One-time elite prospects set for breakout season in 2015

While we salivate at the release of the Top 100 prospect list, the fact is that very few players become superstars. Most slip into careers as relievers, journeymen and Quad-A sluggers.

But a few still manage to surprise you when most have stopped paying attention. After struggling to a .244/.328/.405 mark through 2010, Alex Gordon has become one of the most valuable players in the Majors, with the third baseman-turned-outfielder posting the third-highest Wins Above Replacement among American League position players in 2014.

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

Wainwright throws 30-40 pitches in bullpen session

Wainwright throws 30-40 pitches in bullpen session

JUPITER, Fla. -- Though still limited in running and agility work, Adam Wainwright received the go-ahead from the training staff and returned to the mound on Monday to throw his first bullpen session in 10 days. Wainwright threw between 30-40 pitches in the session.

Wainwright had last thrown off the mound on the day of the Cardinals' first official workout. After that, he began limiting his work due to an abdominal strain, an injury sustained while lifting weights during a voluntary workout at the team's complex on Feb. 16. But because Wainwright does not feel discomfort in his abdominal area when throwing, he will continue to build up arm strength while slowing incorporating other exercises back into his workouts.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bernard's faith in his work lands him on Tigers' 40-man roster

Bernard's faith in his work lands him on Tigers' 40-man roster

LAKELAND, Fla. -- There's a voracious reader in the Tigers clubhouse. Wynton Bernard has always found books as a way to fill the free time in a Minor League season.

When he thinks of his situation, he thinks of The Alchemist, a bestselling novel about a boy who follows a recurring dream to leave home and travel the desert to the Pyramids in Egypt to seek fortunes.

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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.

The Week Ahead: Spring games to get underway

College exhibitions precede beginning of Grapefruit, Cactus action on Tuesday

The Week Ahead: Spring games to get underway

It's been a long offseason and a long February, but baseball is back, and we'll finally be hearing "Play ball" again this week.

After two exhibitions against college teams on Monday, the Grapefruit League and Cactus League seasons officially begin Tuesday, with games in Florida and Arizona highlighted by the return of the World Series champion Giants (they'll play the A's, who debut in their new home of HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz.) and a matchup between last year's American League East and AL Central champions, the Orioles and Tigers, at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.

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

Utley won't rush back from sprained right ankle

Phillies will get second baseman into a game 'down the road'

Utley won't rush back from sprained right ankle

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chase Utley did not work out with his teammates Monday and he will not play in at least the first week of Grapefruit League games because of a sprained right ankle, but he said there is no reason to be alarmed.

Utley rolled the ankle in January. It remains visibly swollen.

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Todd Zolecki 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

'The Cubs Way' might just be the ticket for Fowler

Center fielder has opportunity to get back on track with new team

'The Cubs Way' might just be the ticket for Fowler

MESA, Ariz. -- Dexter Fowler is a center fielder, not an advance scout.

But that didn't stop Fowler from paying close attention to the opposing team last year, when he was playing against the Triple-A Iowa Cubs while working his way back to Minute Maid Park after straining an intercostal muscle. He grew more impressed after every one of the four games, and he quickly drew on those memories when the Astros traded him to the Cubs in January.

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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.

White Sox legend Minoso passes away

Club's first black ballplayer was 9-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover

White Sox legend Minoso passes away

Native Cubans could move to the big leagues without dealing much in politics, secrecy and defection six decades ago. Cuban baseball talent was highly regarded and increasingly desirable. Not coincidentally, Minnie Minoso was at the forefront of the international game then. His baseball skills caught the eye. His distinctive name caught the ear. And his warm and engaging personality made him an uncommonly popular figure anywhere he played -- no, anywhere he went -- and helped forge a legacy that, to this day, prompts baseball folks to smile.

Minoso died Sunday at age 90 -- 34 years after his final at-bat in the big leagues, the one that made him the second player in Major League history to appear in games in five decades. Had Bill Veeck, baseball's ultimate showman, lived into the summer of 1990, Minoso probably would have played in six, and perhaps ended his 14-year slump at three at-bats.

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Marty Noble 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

Beloved Minnie was a Chicago treasure

Mr. White Sox was a great player on the field and a great man off of it

Beloved Minnie was a Chicago treasure

Minnie Minoso is gone, and it is silly to say he'll be missed. That's a huge understatement.

His death on Sunday leaves holes everywhere. No one alive knew better what it was like for Latin-American players to come to the Major Leagues, Cuban players, in particular. But that's just the very tip of a legacy that includes tremendous love of family, love of the American way and a devotion to the White Sox organization that Jerry Reinsdorf lovingly returned, in keeping an eye out for him all these years.

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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.

Andrus limited due to soreness in left knee

General manager Daniels says injury is 'not considered significant'

Andrus limited due to soreness in left knee

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus is dealing with some soreness in his left knee, and he was limited in his workouts on Monday.

Actually, everybody was limited in their workouts because of the morning rain sweeping through the Phoenix area. That made it seem unlikely the Rangers would be able to hold their second intrasquad game, but Andrus wasn't going to play anyway.

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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.

Cubs' Bryant to start Opening Day? Kind of

Maddon crafts creative answer to burning question

Cubs' Bryant to start Opening Day? Kind of

MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant has impressed Cubs manager Joe Maddon so far this spring.

"He's solid, he's motivated," Maddon said Sunday of the Cubs' top prospect. "He's got a really nice way about him. He's really good, he knows he's really good, but he carries that very well. I like that. False humility doesn't do anything. It's kind of a worthless quality. I think his humility is sincere, but he also knows that he's good."

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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.

Harper says he has to 'step up' for Nationals

Slugging outfielder looks to leave thumb injury in past

Harper says he has to 'step up' for Nationals

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper wants to improve his numbers from last year. He made it clear Sunday that he wants to stay injury-free and he would like to get better at the plate.

Although he missed 62 games because of a thumb injury, Harper put up respectable numbers, hitting .273 with 13 home runs, 32 RBIs and a .344 on-base percentage. He also was the team's best player in the National League Division Series, hitting three home runs in the four games against the Giants. However, after returning from his injury on June 30, Harper struck out 83 times in 269 at-bats. He acknowledged that he was overzealous after coming off the disabled list.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Big innings don't always equate to struggles next season

History shows Bumgarner's 2014 workload doesn't necessarily mean extra obstacles this year

Big innings don't always equate to struggles next season

At some point between the final out of the World Series and that time a photo of Madison Bumgarner and an ox went viral, the question emerged: Was the big Giants lefty's huge postseason on top of a career-high innings load too much of a great thing?

The answer may be evident in the relative similarity in size between the man and an actual beast of burden, but really it will be proven by how Bumgarner performs in 2015. And before we find out, charting it up a bit shows that his total of 270 innings between Opening Day and Game 7 was the most in zero years, ranked fifth in the past five seasons and wouldn't have rated in the Majors' top 10 for just the regular season many years in the 1960s and '70s.

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John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weeks likely to be part of corner-outfield platoon

Manager McClendon will let matchups dictate personnel; Paxton throws off flat ground

Weeks likely to be part of corner-outfield platoon

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Lloyd McClendon has never liked the word "platoon," but the Mariners' skipper acknowledged Monday that he'll likely be using that sort of split-time situation in both left and right field this season if things go as planned.

McClendon said his left-field situation will likely see Rickie Weeks starting against left-handed pitchers and Dustin Ackley against right-handers. Similarly, the right-field at-bats figure to fall primarily to right-handed-hitting Justin Ruggiano or Nelson Cruz against left-handed starters, and Seth Smith against righties.

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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.

Fernandez throws first session since Tommy John surgery

'Just like riding a bike,' Marlins ace pleased with latest step in rehab from May operation

Fernandez throws first session since Tommy John surgery

JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins ace Jose Fernandez took another step in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on Sunday, when the right-hander threw a short bullpen session off the mound for the first time since last May.

Fernandez, who was diagnosed with a torn UCL after his eighth start last season and had surgery May 16, warmed up on flat ground for several minutes Sunday morning before heading to the mound at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. He threw 10 warmup pitches, then fired 15 fastballs to bullpen coordinator Jeff Urgelles as pitching coach Chuck Hernandez watched from the side.

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

Wieters gets behind plate for first time since surgery

Major milestone in Tommy John recovery comes in O's intrasquad game

Wieters gets behind plate for first time since surgery

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Matt Wieters crouched behind home plate at Ed Smith Stadium for the first two innings of the Orioles' intrasquad game Sunday afternoon, the first time he's caught a game since May 4. It was, without a doubt, a major moment in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

But Monday might bring an even bigger test.

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

With games fast approaching, 3 areas for Reds to settle

Manager Price looking to fill in the gaps in rotation, bullpen and bench

With games fast approaching, 3 areas for Reds to settle

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Following about two weeks of drills, meetings, batting practice and bullpen sessions, Spring Training moves to a much-anticipated and more tangible phase. Tuesday will mark the start of games, as the Reds will play the first of three straight vs. the Indians at Goodyear Ballpark (3:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio).

"You put all the work in, but you finally get a chance to get on the field and play a game where the real competition comes out," Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton said. "It's been a good spring. I felt like last year, we were working in camp for 2 1/2 weeks before we played the game. Now, it feels like we just started camp and the games come. That makes it even better. Practicing is a good thing, but you always want to show what you can do on the field. I'm excited about it. It should be fun."

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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.

Urias impresses Dodgers in live batting practice

Young left-hander shows off impressive skills against Pederson, Heisey

Urias impresses Dodgers in live batting practice

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire, general manager Farhan Zaidi, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and special advisor Sandy Koufax all gathered on the field behind a batting cage at Camelback Ranch to watch a teenage phenom throw live batting practice Sunday afternoon.

A crowd of fans, cameras in hand, hovered nearby on the other side of the backstop and in the bleachers to watch the show.

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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.

Spring may bring final chance with Phils for Aumont

Former first-round Draft pick has posted 6.13 ERA in three-year career

Spring may bring final chance with Phils for Aumont

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillippe Aumont seems to have made a few thousand adjustments to his delivery since he joined the Phillies following the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle in 2009.

Aumont changed his arm slot. He stood more upright. He tried this. He tried that.

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

Red Sox impressed with Panda's leadership qualities

Sandoval can help mentor young players such as Bogaerts, Betts and Castillo

Red Sox impressed with Panda's leadership qualities

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though the Red Sox mainly signed Pablo Sandoval for his bat and glove, they are quickly learning that leadership is another thing he can provide.

"He takes pride in that," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "It's been refreshing in a way that he asks ... is it OK for him to impart some of the things he's been taught to younger guys. You only get reports on an individual before they get to you, but once you interact with a guy, in Pablo's case daily, you recognize he cares about his teammates and the way the game is played in addition to being a very talented guy. So that has been above and beyond what we anticipated."

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Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Darvish on 2014 season: 'I never quit the team'

Right-hander was shut down in August last year due to inflammation in elbow

Darvish on 2014 season: 'I never quit the team'

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yu Darvish pitched one scoreless inning during the Rangers' intrasquad game on Sunday.

After retiring three straight hitters, two on strikeouts, Darvish held a rare news conference in English. He addressed a question about accusations that he quit on the team last season by missing the final seven weeks with mild inflammation in his right elbow.

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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.

Verlander lets pitches do talking, righty impressive throwing BP

Verlander lets pitches do talking, righty impressive throwing BP

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander's live batting practice sessions often include enough four-letter words to require at least a PG rating. He tends to be tough on himself, even in the early days of Spring Training.

That's what made his second live BP session so unusual Sunday afternoon. It was eerily quiet, at least from him. Except for an apology when he threw up-and-in on Anthony Gose, Verlander had barely a word of frustration. He'd get feedback on pitches, but he didn't blurt out much on his own.

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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.

Pair of Matt Duffys makes MLB see double

Giants' Duffy, Astros' Duffy causing confusion as they try to earn roster spots

Pair of Matt Duffys makes MLB see double

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Duffy is striving to make a name for himself in Major League baseball.

So is the other one.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Scherzer sharp in first session facing hitters

Scherzer sharp in first session facing hitters

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer threw his first live batting-practice session Sunday at the club's Spring Training complex, and he looked like he was in midseason form.

Scherzer's fastball was crisp, and he had a slider that was going down in the zone effectively.

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Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'He's the man': Kluber brings Cy Young stuff to first BP session

Indians won't hold back ace after reaching career high in innings

'He's the man': Kluber brings Cy Young stuff to first BP session

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Corey Kluber fired a breaking ball that ran hard over the inside part of the plate, forcing Michael Bourn to swiftly move out of the way. The Indians center fielder shook his head, let out a slight laugh and shifted back into his stance as the pitcher grinned on the mound.

"I wasn't ready for that one," Bourn said.

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

Hanley Ramirez learned to Gronk spike

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Hanley Ramirez learned to Gronk spike

As if the Patriots' big win in Super Bowl XLIX and Rob Gronkowski's cameo in the forthcoming Entourage movie weren't enough to look forward to, Boston fans have an exciting baseball season on the horizon thanks to the new-look Red Sox. 

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Carrasco aims for same mindset that brought success in '14

Indians starter impresses coaches, teammates in first BP session

Carrasco aims for same mindset that brought success in '14

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Most pitchers will throw off a mound a handful of times before reporting to Spring Training. Others prefer to wait until they are around the Major League coaching staff and at the complex before working through their first bullpen session.

Carlos Carrasco took a different approach this year.

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

Utley won't play in Grapefruit League opener

Phillies second baseman not fully recovered from sprained right ankle

Utley won't play in Grapefruit League opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies second baseman Chase Utley will not be in the lineup for Tuesday's Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees at Bright House Field.

Utley sprained his right ankle in January and has not fully recovered.

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

MLB says goodbye to the Cuban Comet, Minnie Minoso

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MLB says goodbye to the Cuban Comet, Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso spent 17 years in MLB, 12 of which were with his beloved White Sox. Early Sunday morning, the seven-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover passed away at the age of 92.

Born in Cuba, he was, in the words of Orlando Cepeda, "to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers." He began his American baseball career in the Negro Leagues, where he played, fittingly, with the New York Cubans from 1946 to 1948.

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