Hyun-Jin Ryu is a jump roping champion

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Hyun-Jin Ryu is a jump roping champion

During the season, Hyun-Jin Ryu is all about baseball.

But during the winter months, he's delved into the Korean pop culture landscape. He's played CGI-aided baseball, recorded not one, but two K-pop songs and starred in a noodle commercial. And over the weekend, the Dodgers lefty tested his jump roping skills on a variety show.

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MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

West is best: California teams primed to shine

Massive overhaul has Padres neck and neck with high-powered in-state foes

West is best: California teams primed to shine

Baseball in the Golden State of California never has been so, well, golden. Coming off a 2014 season that seemingly couldn't get any better -- with four of the state's five teams making the postseason and the amazing Giants winning another World Series -- promise of an even more fascinating 2015 is in the cards.

The Padres no longer are the overlooked fifth wheel down by the border. They are most assuredly relevant, thanks to a stunning series of moves by new general manager A.J. Preller surrounding the industry's blockbuster Winter Meetings staged in their glorious city.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Banner season for baseball in the Beltways

Orioles, Nationals run away with division crowns to delight of region

Banner season for baseball in the Beltways

Sure, Baltimore is a great baseball town. Been one seemingly forever. Love them Birds, hon.

It's a place where the franchise's legends are identified by their first names or maybe their nicknames.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mind over matter: Bauer goes high-tech in offseason regimen

Mind over matter: Bauer goes high-tech in offseason regimen

CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer craves information. He enjoys diving head first into data, reading scientific articles and searching for technological advancements that might help him further his own research into enhancing his pitching mechanics, velocity and production.

This offseason, Bauer embarked on his annual information-gathering tour armed with nearly a full sample of Major League innings to analyze. The young right-hander spent nearly the entire 2014 season in Cleveland's rotation, experiencing enough ups and downs to provide him with a platform from which to build. Bauer did not want to waste any time in getting started.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Minoso belongs among baseball's immortals

Minoso belongs among baseball's immortals

Gil McDougald was invaluable for the 1951 Yankees. Moving between second base and third base, he batted .306 with 14 home runs, two more walks than strikeouts (56-54) and scored as many runs as Joe DiMaggio (72). His Yankees won 98 games.

But in Chicago, Minnie Minoso had far more impact for the White Sox. Including eight games Minoso played for the Indians, he hit .326 and led the American League in stolen bases (31) and triples (14), while moving between third base and all three outfield spots. He scored 40 more runs than McDougald and drove in 13 more (76). He had 30 more walks than strikeouts (72-42).

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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.

D-backs avoid arbitration with Pennington

D-backs avoid arbitration with Pennington

PHOENIX -- Infielder Cliff Pennington avoided salary arbitration Sunday night by agreeing to a one-year deal with the D-backs, the club announced.

Pennington, 30, proved handy for Arizona this year, starting 20 games at shortstop, 15 at second base and eight at third. He committed only two fielding errors, both at shortstop. The switch-hitter batted .254 in 68 games with two home runs, 10 RBIs and a .340 on-base percentage.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Five big-picture takeaways from the 2014 MLB season

Five big-picture takeaways from the 2014 MLB season

At a holiday gathering this past week, a friend who keeps only the loosest of tabs on Major League Baseball news asked me if anything big has transpired in the game this winter. At the moment, this feels a little like asking if there have been any new developments in medicine in the last century. Where does one even begin to address such a query?

In the age of free agency, rosters are always subject to the requisite offseason evolution, but what's happened these last two months has been particularly nuts, and it has provided a fitting cap to a calendar year that has never lacked surprise or intrigue. We'll have plenty of time to analyze and debate what this winter has wrought when 2015 dawns, but for now the onslaught of activity -- from teams like the Padres, the White Sox, the Marlins, to name a few -- illustrates the first of my five big-picture takeaways from baseball in 2014.

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Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

Phillies reportedly sign Wandy to Minors deal

Phillies reportedly sign Wandy to Minors deal

The Phillies and veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez agreed to a Minor League contract on Saturday, according to CSNPhilly.com.

The reported deal is pending a physical, and the Phillies have not commented.

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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

Phil Rogers

After review: Replay changed baseball for the better in '14

After review: Replay changed baseball for the better in '14

There's a story Bud Selig likes to tell about expanded replay, which Major League Baseball rolled out in 2014. The Commissioner had just walked in the door of his Milwaukee home one Sunday night early in the season and the phone was ringing.

On the line was Tony La Russa, who worked for MLB at the time. Part of the Hall of Fame manager's duties were to monitor the system and he went into great detail that evening about four plays that had been challenged that weekend. Selig's eyes lit up every time he got to the punch line, when La Russa concluded by saying, "And we got every one right!"

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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.

Dreamcatcher: Holdzkom takes long road to bigs

Bucs reliever finds success after hitting all points on baseball map

Dreamcatcher: Holdzkom takes long road to bigs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- John Holdzkom isn't even certain how many times he has been released.

"Five or six. Not fun," said Holdzkom, a tall man short on words.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

PSU player using Jeter's locker kicks game-winner

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PSU player using Jeter's locker kicks game-winner

Though the game was played at Yankee Stadium, we didn't think that the newly retired Derek Jeter would have an impact on the Pinstripe Bowl -- a college football game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Boston College Eagles played in the middle of MLB's offseason. But we were wrong.

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Agent: Starlin not involved in DR shooting

Paul Kinzer, the agent for Cubs infielder Starlin Castro, said a report that his client was detained or arrested after a shooting in a Dominican Republic night club is false and Castro was not involved.

According to a report from the Dominican Republic's El Caribe newspaper, six people were injured in a shooting in Castro's hometown of Monte Cristi after an altercation that involved Castro's bodyguards and brother on Friday.

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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.

Penn State kicker takes cue from Captain Clutch

Penn State kicker takes cue from Captain Clutch

NEW YORK -- The Penn State field goal unit is apparently a pretty prescient bunch. The moment kicker Sam Ficken sat down at Derek Jeter's locker on Friday, the group accurately predicted the finish to a thrilling Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday evening.

"As soon as I was put in Jeter's locker, they were like, 'Dude, you're going to kick a game-winner," Ficken recalled his teammates telling him before Penn State's 31-30 victory over Boston College at Yankee Stadium.

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

Nationals could explore trade for second baseman

Nationals could explore trade for second baseman

Email your questions to Nationals beat reporter Bill Ladson for future Inbox consideration.

Assuming the Nationals don't make any acquisitions via trade or free agency, what is their in-house solution for second base?
-- Chris D., Washington, D.C.

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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.

The Todd Helton and other MLB-inspired football plays

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The Todd Helton and other MLB-inspired football plays

If you happened to be watching the Sun Bowl matchup between Duke and Arizona State Saturday afternoon, you may have noticed a familiar face to MLB fans floating above the Blue Devils sideline: five-time All-Star Todd Helton.

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Kuroda reportedly to pitch in Japan for 2015 season

After spending past three years with Yanks, righty returning to Hiroshima Toyo Carp

Kuroda reportedly to pitch in Japan for 2015 season

NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda has decided to return to Japan and pitch for his first professional team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, according to multiple reports.

A Japanese newspaper first reported the story on Friday, and CBSSports.com later confirmed the report. Kuroda is set to earn $3.3 million from Hiroshima, for whom he pitched from 1997-2007.

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

Six weird baseball books for any kind of reader

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Six weird baseball books for any kind of reader

Can't take any more of the baseball-free offseason? Tired of all the holiday season family time and desperate for something to read?

You're in luck. For not only has the history of mankind provided us with writers and baseball fans churning out all sorts of baseball-related content perfect for any kind of reader, but thanks to the Internet, you can get even the most niche of interests delivered immediately.

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A year-end list of year-end lists featuring Jeter

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A year-end list of year-end lists featuring Jeter

'Tis the season for peace on Earth, goodwill towards men and arbitrarily ranking everything that happened in 2014 in a last, desparate plea for pageviews before the ball drops and we all have to wait in line to use the treadmills at the gym. 

As some of you have already been made aware, 2014 was the Year of Jeter (we're pretty sure they actually introduced a new astrological sign to comemorate the occasion). Thus, it's not much of a surprise that the Yankees' captain was prominently featured in a whole bevy of year-end listicles.

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MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

10 things to watch in MLB heading into '15

10 things to watch in MLB heading into '15

It has been one of the busiest offseasons in recent years, but there are still some issues that teams have to address. Here are 10 heading into the New Year.

Angels (Josh Hamilton): After being limited to 240 games in his first two years with the Halos, Hamilton needs to provide a legitimate power bat to offset the more than $90 million the Angels owe him over the next three years. Johnny Narron, Hamilton's guiding force as a youth and with the Rangers, was hired to be the organization's Triple-A hitting coach but will get plenty of time with Hamilton in the spring. The Angels did win an MLB-best 98 regular-season games last season, but they were swept in the American League Division Series by Kansas City. To take the next step they need the Hamilton of the Rangers to return. The Angels have a big enough hole as it is at DH, where only two players had more than 100 at-bats last season (Albert Pujols 163 and C.J. Cron 125).

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Did you know Frank Thomas is a multi-sport HOFer?

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Did you know Frank Thomas is a multi-sport HOFer?

Sure, you probably know that Frank Thomas is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was elected last year (his first time on the ballot). During his 19-year career, he won two MVPs, was elected to five All-Star teams and hit a home run every now and again.

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Pinstripe Bowl records its first sellout in fifth year

Penn State, BC square off in front of 49,012 at Yankee Stadium

Pinstripe Bowl records its first sellout in fifth year

NEW YORK -- The fifth edition of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium was its first sellout.

Penn State defeated Boston College, 31-30 in overtime, in front of 49,012 fans in New York on Saturday, breaking last year's attendance record of 47,122 for the contest between Notre Dame and Rutgers.

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

Stray cat led La Russa on rescue mission

Hall of Famer started Animal Rescue Foundation after on-field incident in Oakland

Stray cat led La Russa on rescue mission

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe Tony La Russa wouldn't have cared so much if the Oakland A's had lost the darn game.

But they didn't, the chilly night of May 7, 1990, when that cat made herself at home on the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum field, scampering out of the bullpen into center field, making a beeline for the first-base line, strolling over the on-deck circle and around home plate toward the third-base dugout.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Nationals sign Uggla to Minor League deal

Three-time All-Star second baseman has played for Marlins, Braves and Giants

Nationals sign Uggla to Minor League deal

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals signed second baseman Dan Uggla to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training on Friday.

Uggla has struggled the past three years, hitting a combined .194 with 43 home runs for the Braves and Giants. He was selected by the D-backs in the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, when Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was Arizona's scouting director.

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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.

MadBum earns place in history with epic performance

Unexpected postseason run immortalizes young Giants left-hander

MadBum earns place in history with epic performance

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the most dynamic performances in recent baseball history was rooted in an understatement.

In the hours before Game 7 of the World Series on Oct. 29, Giants manager Bruce Bochy held a brief interview session with Giants beat reporters and affirmed that Madison Bumgarner, who threw 117 pitches three nights earlier in his 5-0, Game 5 triumph over the Kansas City Royals, might be able to appear in the Fall Classic finale. This was the usual day for Bumgarner's between-starts throwing session -- meaning that, by Bochy's estimate, the left-hander could throw as many as three innings.

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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.

Library of Congress offers window into baseball's evolution

Library of Congress offers window into baseball's evolution

WASHINGTON -- The nation's greatest storehouse of knowledge has developed a healthy baseball habit. The Library of Congress has traced the history and maturation of America for more than 200 years, and baseball has weaved its way into the national consciousness in surprising ways.

First, there are the intimate touches -- the century-old photographs of the first baseball teams and the Civil War-era paintings of teams playing the game. And then there are the letters, buried deep in the personal papers of great historic figures that tell of the game's tangential connections to history.

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

Nats return to top of NL East in exciting '14 campaign

Zimmermann's no-hitter, walk-off-filled 10-game win streak among highlights

Nats return to top of NL East in exciting '14 campaign

WASHINGTON -- The 2014 regular season was great for the Nationals. They won their second division title in three years, this time by 17 games over the Braves and Mets. It helped that they had a dominant pitching staff, led by Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

Despite major injuries to players such as Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos, the Nationals managed to stay consistent at the plate. It helped they had Denard Span and Anthony Rendon producing at the top of the order.

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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.

Ken Griffey Jr. gives us a case of sweater envy

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Ken Griffey Jr. gives us a case of sweater envy

There are ugly Christmas sweaters and then there are sweaters that are, unquestionably, downright beautiful. Ken Griffey Jr.'s new Christmas sweater is the latter:

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Nittany Lions roar past BC to take Pinstripe Bowl in overtime

Nittany Lions roar past BC to take Pinstripe Bowl in overtime

NEW YORK -- Now they can call it the Penn Stripe Bowl. Penn State stamped its name on Yankee Stadium and the bowl season Saturday, when it used multiple instances of last-minute heroics from kicker Sam Ficken to take a 31-30 overtime win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl.

The game was played in front of 49,012 fans, breaking last year's record of 47,122 for the contest between Notre Dame and Rutgers. It was the first sellout in the five-year history of the bowl.

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

NC State wins Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field

NC State wins Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field

Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Rays, took on a different role on Friday night by hosting the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.

Baseball fans still have 99 days to wait until the Rays' home opener, but Tampa Bay sports fans were treated to an entertaining college football game as North Carolina State posted a 34-27 win over Central Florida.

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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.