MLB.com Columnist

Jim Duquette

5 trades that make sense before Opening Day

5 trades that make sense before Opening Day

It's not often that you see major trades made in the week before Opening Day, which is a shame, because this should be a time when teams should be trying to fill holes that have appeared during Spring Training.

In hopes of spurring some action, here are five trades I'd love to see happen before Opening Day. These are not trades I expect to happen, mind you, but deals that I think make sense for the parties involved.

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

QB Wilson's Spring Training visit comes with deep ball

Seahawks star crushes home run to left-center field during BP

QB Wilson's Spring Training visit comes with deep ball

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson went deep again on Saturday. This time he wasn't throwing a bomb to Doug Baldwin, but taking Rangers third-base coach Tony Beasley over the left-field fence in batting practice.

"I lasered one out in left-center field," Wilson said during what has become an annual visit to Rangers camp in Spring Training. "That was good. I stayed back and was able to drive it to left-center. It feels good hitting a home run. There's something special about throwing a touchdown, because it's so hard to get touchdowns, but getting a home run is a good feeling too."

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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.

Mariners prospect Sanchez dies in Venezuela

The 20-year-old pitcher had been injured in boating accident in February

Mariners prospect Sanchez dies in Venezuela

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Victor Sanchez, one of the Mariners' top pitching prospects, died in Venezuela from head injuries sustained in a boating accident in his home country in February.

Rafa Nieves, Sanchez's agent, confirmed the news Saturday night to MLB.com. Sanchez was 20 years old and had been in the Mariners' Minor League system since signing as an international free agent at 16.

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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.

Price: Chapman may be asked to get more than three outs

Price: Chapman may be asked to get more than three outs

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds closer Aroldis Chapman has demonstrated effective pitching throughout the spring, but Saturday's outing was about as smooth as it could have been.

Against a Cubs split-squad, Chapman -- serving as the Reds' starting pitcher -- faced three batters and struck out the side in his only inning of work. Leadoff batter Dexter Fowler was called out on a 3-2 pitch. Arismendy Alcantara swung and missed on a fastball following a changeup for strike three. Jorge Soler ended the inning on a called third strike.

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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.

Sources: Mets, Duda discussing long-term contract extension

First baseman could be signed into his early 30s

Sources: Mets, Duda discussing long-term contract extension

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Mets and Lucas Duda are discussing a long-term contract extension, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations, which would keep the first baseman in Flushing well into his 30s. The Mets have not publicly acknowledged the negotiations, and general manager Sandy Alderson declined comment on Saturday afternoon.

Duda, 29, is set to make $4.2 million this season as an arbitration-eligible player, more than twice what he earned a year ago. He is under team control through the 2017 season, meaning any extension would be at least four years long -- covering his final three years of team control plus his first year of free agency. Such a deal would take Duda at least through his age-32 season, guaranteeing him a measure of security while giving the Mets a proven cleanup hitter for the foreseeable future.

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

CarGo not concerned about left knee day after exit

CarGo not concerned about left knee day after exit

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said the left knee soreness that forced him from Friday night's game was from fatigue. He doesn't anticipate any lasting issues.

Gonzalez underwent surgery last August to repair the patellar tendon in his left knee. Gonzalez was ready for Spring Training games sooner than expected, and has performed well (.333, three doubles in 27 at-bats entering play Saturday). He felt the soreness after chasing down a third-inning fly ball and making a throw during Friday night's 7-5 loss to the Padres, and left the game after his following at-bat.

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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.

One year later, Hank the Dog back in Phoenix

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One year later, Hank the Dog back in Phoenix

One year ago, Hank was a scared and lonely stray with matted white hair when he stumbled upon Brewers camp. 

The next 12 months were a whirlwind. After making the team and becoming its mascot, winning a Dog of the Year Award along the way, Hank returned to Phoenix, the Brewers' spring home. He's looking plenty different than those first days: 

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MLB.com Columnist

Dan O'Dowd

Leap year? 10 players poised for a breakout in 2015

Leap year? 10 players poised for a breakout in 2015

With Opening Day just around the corner, you're hearing a lot of people talking about "breakout players." In that spirit, here are 10 players I expect to make a leap toward stardom in 2015.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles
Gausman was dominant down the stretch last year, posting a 2.87 ERA with a strikeout per inning in his final five starts. He already has mid-90s heat and is just a click away from commanding a wicked slider that will make him a true No. 1 starter.

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Dan O'Dowd is an MLB Network analyst and MLB.com columnist who served as general manager of the Rockies for 15 years, building a National League pennant winner in 2007. Prior to his time with Colorado, he worked in the front offices of the Orioles and Indians. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Viola III trying to break into Majors as knuckleballer

With help from former Twins, experienced pitchers, 30-year-old looks for second chance

Viola III trying to break into Majors as knuckleballer

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- This is a story about Frank Viola. No, not the Frank Viola who currently serves as the Las Vegas 51s pitching coach, who won the 1988 American League Cy Young Award and who pitched in the World Series run for the '87 Twins.

We are talking about Frank Viola III, the 29th-round selection of the White Sox in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, who looked as if he had left baseball behind following the '10 season spent with the Independent League St. Paul team. But the 30-year-old is back in Chicago's camp, albeit on the Minor League side, relying on a new friend known as the knuckleball to get him to the Majors in the second go-around.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pederson keeps striving to impress as decision looms

Dodgers outfielder hits fifth spring homer, raises batting average to .373

Pederson keeps striving to impress as decision looms

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Not knowing where he stands hasn't stopped Joc Pederson from knowing what he needs to do.

"There's always stuff I need to work on, and I need to continue to impress," Pederson said after launching his fifth home run of the spring Saturday, boosting his batting average to .373.

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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.

Get an edge in your league with Fantasy 411's Cheat Sheet

Get an edge in your league with Fantasy 411's Cheat Sheet

With fantasy-baseball-draft season in full swing, MLB.com put together a cheat sheet for fans in need of expert advice. Make sure to have the one-stop information shop on hand during your auctions or snake drafts.

For comprehensive coverage of the player pool, check out MLB.com/preview. And follow @Fantasy411 for daily- and annual-league tips all season long.

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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.

Guest star: Russell Wilson visits Texas again

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Guest star: Russell Wilson visits Texas again

Presumably you already have his rookie card, and the numbers say you probably also own his jersey, so get excited because it's finally time to see your favorite Rangers prospect in Spring Training action. Yes, on Saturday, former NC State second baseman Russell Wilson reported to Surprise, Ariz.

Oh, he plays some other sport too … what was it again? Anyway, here he is, working out at second. 

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Trout robs home run, goes deep himself

Trout robs home run, goes deep himself

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels center fielder Mike Trout added to his highlight reel Saturday afternoon at Tempe Diablo Stadium, robbing the Dodgers' Alex Guerrero of a potential home run.

Guerrero, the second batter of the afternoon, launched a high fly ball off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker to straightaway center. Trout -- who also caught the game's first out -- tracked back to the wall and made a leaping grab in front of the 420-foot sign to rob Guerrero of at least extra bases.

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

Feeling left arm fatigue, Garcia unlikely for Opening Day

Lefty scratched from Sunday's start; Gonzales to take mound in his place

Feeling left arm fatigue, Garcia unlikely for Opening Day

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Just as the Cardinals began to allow themselves to get excited about what a healthy Jaime Garcia could add to their rotation, the lefty suffered another medical setback that will almost certainly preclude him from making the Opening Day roster.

Manager Mike Matheny announced after the club's 4-3 loss to the Tigers that Garcia was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday after he alerted the team's medical staff on Saturday afternoon that "he's feeling something that isn't right."

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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.

International Prospect Series builds camaraderie

Youngsters split series against pair of U.S. high school squads

International Prospect Series builds camaraderie

CARY, N.C. -- Maria Tiburcio had the best view the entire week.

On Friday night, she shivered in the drizzling rain in the stands as she rooted on the team of international prospects in the first game of the International Prospect Series on the main field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Mariners looking like the team to beat in the AL

Strong pitching, depth could help punch Seattle's first ticket to the Fall Classic

Mariners looking like the team to beat in the AL

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Word of advice to serious sports fans: Book your October hotel rooms in Seattle early. Space can get tight out there, and you don't want to get caught off guard.

In one wonderful stretch last fall, the Chiefs hosted the Patriots in a Monday Night Football game as the Royals were preparing to face the A's in the American League Wild Card Game across the parking lot at Kansas City's Truman Sports Complex. The place basically looked like Woodstock for about 36 hours, minus sitar music and rivers of mud.

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Phil Rogers joined MLB.com in 2013, and has covered Major League Baseball since 1984.

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

Richards enthused after successful Minor League start

Angels pitcher gains confidence as rehab takes major step forward

Richards enthused after successful Minor League start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Garrett Richards stood outside the Angels' clubhouse beaming.

The right-hander had just finished throwing his second Minor League game of the spring, and the line looked good: five innings, one hit, no runs and five strikeouts, with 47 strikes out of 69 pitches.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Rios feels sky-high about 2015 Royals

After down season, veteran outfielder is rejuvenated in Kansas City

Rios feels sky-high about 2015 Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- In the company of one of the liveliest bands of players in baseball, Alex Rios is reinvigorated. The American League champion Royals are taking the graceful, athletic right fielder back to his youth following a dark, injury-derailed season in Texas.

"I'm 34 years old," Rios said, "and I feel like a 20-year-old kid."

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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.

deGrom gets better of Strasburg, with help from long ball

Granderson, Wright lead four-homer attack for Mets

deGrom gets better of Strasburg, with help from long ball

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Jacob deGrom kept thriving, David Wright and Curtis Granderson kept mashing and everything continued going swimmingly for the Mets on Saturday in a 10-2 win over the Nationals.

Granderson and Wright hit back-to-back home runs off Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg in the third, giving deGrom all the cushion he would need. In his penultimate spring start, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year fired seven innings of one-run ball, the only damage coming on a leadoff homer by Bryce Harper in the sixth. That lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.45, tops amongst all pitchers with more than 20 innings.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Brewers believe in contender status for 2015

Roenicke feels his club can once again challenge for NL Central title

Brewers believe in contender status for 2015

PHOENIX -- The 2014 Brewers led the Major Leagues in conflicting outcomes. So the 2015 version does not lend itself to one-step analysis.

The '14 Brewers were in first place in the National League Central for 150 days, but they finished the season losing 22 of their last 31 games, including one stretch in which they dropped 13 of 14. The root cause of the late-season demise was a hitting slump that included almost the entire lineup.

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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.

Soler could be Maddon's man in 2-spot

New Cubs skipper has been impressed by young right fielder

Soler could be Maddon's man in 2-spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Joe Maddon may be closer to finding the "mystery man" to fill the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup, and it might not be who you'd imagine.

While Chris Coghlan is a strong candidate for the spot, Maddon has other ideas.

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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.

Halos' new photography intern: C.J. Wilson

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Halos' new photography intern: C.J. Wilson

Angels team photographer Matt Brown had a new intern on Thursday.

His name was Chris -- "Chris Wilson" -- and he brought his own gear.

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Gregorius to take time off with wrist sprain

Yankees shortstop injured diving for ground ball against Orioles

Gregorius to take time off with wrist sprain

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are hopeful that rest will help Didi Gregorius' sprained left wrist after the shortstop was injured diving for a second-inning ground ball Saturday against the Orioles.

Precautionary X-rays were negative, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his plan is to give Gregorius three days off, aiming to get him back into action Wednesday.

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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.

Mauer's first spring homer backs solid Santana outing

Right-hander allows one run over six innings; first baseman slugs two-run shot

Mauer's first spring homer backs solid Santana outing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ervin Santana tossed six strong innings and Joe Mauer crushed a two-run homer to help lead the Twins to a 7-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday at Hammond Stadium.

Santana, making his fourth Grapefruit League start, gave up just one run on five hits while striking out two. The lone run he allowed came in the third inning on an RBI single from Odubel Herrera to score Cesar Hernandez, who led off the inning with a double.

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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.

Miller ready for a new challenge

Miller ready for a new challenge

The 2015 season is going to a whole different kind of new for Shelby Miller.

The right-hander is beginning his first season with a team other than the Cardinals, who traded him to the Braves this offseason.

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

Miggy launches second spring homer to fuel Tigers

First baseman hits two-run shot in first at-bat vs. Cardinals

Miggy launches second spring homer to fuel Tigers

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera hit his second home run in as many games before Alex Avila's game-tying solo homer and Jordan Lennerton's go-ahead double led the Tigers to a 4-3 win over the Cardinals Saturday afternoon at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Cabrera continues to swing with little if any rust from an offseason of rehab from foot surgery. After hitting a line-drive home run two days earlier and taking Friday off, Cabrera came back Saturday and lofted an opposite-field shot that the wind carried to the batting cage building beyond right field.

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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.

Verlander feels triceps tightness, concern level low

Verlander feels triceps tightness, concern level low

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander said Saturday morning he feels similar tightness in his right triceps to what forced him out of his Grapefruit League start Friday, though he said his level of concern remains low.

"Pretty low," Verlander said, "especially with the time we have [before next start], extra day and can even manipulate things forward if need be."

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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.

'A good first step': Swisher tests legs in Minor League game

Indians outfielder expected to start season on DL

'A good first step': Swisher tests legs in Minor League game

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians veteran Nick Swisher took another step forward in his comeback from double-knee surgery, increasing the intensity of his running in a Minor League game on Friday.

After resting on Thursday due to what Indians manager Terry Francona described as general leg fatigue, Swisher got a hit and pushed himself on the bases in Friday's game action. Swisher was scheduled to go through a workout with the Tribe on Sunday.

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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.

After MRI shows "something," Vazquez unlikely for Opening Day

After MRI shows

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Red Sox found "something" in the MRI they conducted on Christian Vazquez's right elbow.

That something -- whatever it winds up being -- is all but certain to knock the catcher out of Boston's lineup on Opening Day, and the early part of the season.

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