MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

A Super matchup on the diamond: Seattle vs. Boston

We could see these two cities on the big stage again come October

A Super matchup on the diamond: Seattle vs. Boston

A team from Seattle vs. a team from Boston on the big stage.

What's that you say? The Super what? No, no, I'm talking about the 2015 American League Championship Series.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Duquette

5 most improved teams this winter

5 most improved teams this winter

James Shields is the only big-name free agent still out there, and even he is probably not enough to turn the tide of an entire offseason. With that in mind, here is my ranking of the five teams that improved most this winter.

1. Padres

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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.

Orioles fans get pie'd by Adam Jones

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Orioles fans get pie'd by Adam Jones

There are a lot of similiarities between baseball and the Three Stooges

1. People trip and fall down, like a lot. Sure, they say they're "diving," but we know the truth. 

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Banks honored at emotional memorial service

Pillars from all walks of life come together at Fourth Presbyterian Church to celebrate Mr. Cub

Banks honored at emotional memorial service

CHICAGO -- Instead of mourning Ernie Banks on Saturday, his teammates, family and friends urged everyone to celebrate the life of Mr. Cub on what would have been his 84th birthday.

"We have come here to thank God for Ernie Banks," Rev. Shannon Kershner said in her welcome statements.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Banks got better, never bitter, in face of adversity

Mr. Cub remembered at memorial service for his ever-present smile

Banks got better, never bitter, in face of adversity

CHICAGO -- Saying goodbye is never easy.

It's hard to walk away knowing you did it right. But Ernie Banks' family and friends, the sport of baseball and the city of Chicago can rest assured that they gave Mr. Cub a grand sendoff on Saturday, one befitting his standing as the all-time leader in love of the game.

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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.

Greinke candid about Dodgers' offseason of change

Greinke candid about Dodgers' offseason of change

LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke said he hasn't decided if he will opt out of his contract after this coming season and said he wouldn't go into much detail about his thoughts on the possibility until Spring Training.

Greinke did deliver with some candid and surprising appraisals when asked if the Dodgers are a better team now after a dramatic offseason of change than they were while winning 94 games last season.

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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.

Sale 'speechless' at FGCU jersey retirement

Sale 'speechless' at FGCU jersey retirement

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There were several moments Saturday night when Chris Sale found himself struggling to find the right words, or at a loss for them entirely.

Why? Because Saturday night's jersey-retirement ceremony was about how much Chris Sale means to Florida Gulf Coast University. To Sale, it's always been just the opposite.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Breaking down MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects

Breaking down MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects

There's a new prospect rankings out on MLBPipeline.com. Please, go take a look at the 2015 Top 100 Prospects now. It will undoubtedly elicit opinions and critiques.

That's why the list is created, after all -- to get people talking and debating about who is and who isn't on the list. It might even start with the No. 1 guy on the list, Byron Buxton. He was a no-brainer a year ago, but after an injury-filled campaign in 2014, there are some who worry about his ability to stay healthy. MLBPipeline.com isn't concerned, and neither are the Twins.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

A cut above: Best tools of Top 100 Prospects list

Buxton's speed, Bryant's power, Giolito's fastball and curve the best of the best

A cut above: Best tools of Top 100 Prospects list

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant slammed 43 home runs to lead the Minor Leagues, and he reached Triple-A in his first full professional season. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton didn't even play 43 games last season while battling injuries to both wrists and a concussion.

So why did Buxton beat out Bryant for the No. 1 spot on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list? Because while performance matters, so do tools. And no prospect has better all-around tools than Buxton.

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

Source: Rays sign reliever Belisario to Minors deal

Club also nearing agreement with infielder Casilla

Source: Rays sign reliever Belisario to Minors deal

The Rays have signed reliever Ronald Belisario to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training and are close to completing a similar deal with infielder Alexi Casilla, a baseball source told MLB.com on Saturday.

The club has not confirmed either signing. The Tampa Bay Times first reported both deals.

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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.

Vin Scully stories: guaranteed to brighten your day

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Vin Scully stories: guaranteed to brighten your day

It may be Feb. 1 and there is no baseball to be seen. You may be blocked by towering mountains of snow and terrifying sheets of ice -- with more on the way. The world may seem bleak and hopeless. 

Fortunately, there's Vin Scully. A man who radiates so much goodness that even if he weren't in Los Angeles, sunny and 75-degree weather would follow. 

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Dodgers faithful get up-close experience at FanFest

Dodgers faithful get up-close experience at FanFest

LOS ANGELES -- Forget the calendar.

"This is the official beginning of the 2015 year," iconic announcer Vin Scully said Saturday at Dodgers FanFest.

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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.

Barmes signed on early to Padres' offseason makeover

Veteran shortstop brings playoff experience, versatile infield glove to revamped roster

Barmes signed on early to Padres' offseason makeover

SAN DIEGO -- Veteran infielder Clint Barmes signed his one-year, $1.6 million deal on Dec. 3 -- a little before the Padres became cool.

Newly hired general manager A.J. Preller had just begun remaking a club that has been one of the big newsmakers of the offseason.

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

Perth rattles Sydney for shot at ABL championship

Heat will meet top-seeded Adelaide in final round

Perth rattles Sydney for shot at ABL championship

The Perth Heat eliminated the Sydney Blue Sox on Saturday night, sweeping the best-of-three set to earn a bid in the Australian Baseball League Championship Series.

The Heat downed the Sox, 5-4, in the opener Friday night in Sydney before a 9-2 win in front of their home crowd Saturday.

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

Mariners all in as Seahawks try for Super Bowl repeat

Mariners all in as Seahawks try for Super Bowl repeat

SEATTLE -- Even as the Mariners go about their plans to make 2015 special for their own franchise, the club has expressed strong support for their Northwest neighbors in the pro sports world as the Seahawks prepare for Sunday's Super Bowl in Phoenix.

For the second straight year, the Mariners took out a full-page advertisement in the Seattle Times in support of the Seahawks. And most of the Mariners' employees dressed in Seahawks gear on Friday and posed for a 12th man photo at Safeco Field, accompanied by large "I'm In" posters signed by thousands of Mariners fans who attended last weekend's Fan Fest.

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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.

Freeman excited about road ahead for Braves

First baseman optimistic club can exceed expectations in 2015

Freeman excited about road ahead for Braves

ATLANTA -- Given the close bond that Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward have shared since entering the professional ranks together in 2007, Freeman does not like the fact that they will no longer be teammates. Nor is he overly excited about the fact that Justin Upton and Evan Gattis will no longer be around to protect him in the middle of Atlanta's lineup.

But as Freeman evaluates all the Braves gained via their massive roster reconstruction this offseason, he is excited about what the future might bring and optimistic that many expectations will be exceeded during the upcoming season.

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

Monfort believes Rockies 'have the talent to win'

Monfort believes Rockies 'have the talent to win'

GREELEY, Colo. -- This time last year, Rockies owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort was confident he had a contender.

After a 96-loss season that featured injuries to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Monfort isn't afraid to express his belief in his club in 2015.

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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.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Commissioner Rob Manfred's letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I'd just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish -- now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.  

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Watch rare Minor League footage of Jackie Robinson

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Watch rare Minor League footage of Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson only spent one season with Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate the Montreal Royals, but it was a memorable one. In his first game, he went 4-for-5 with two stolen bases, a home run and 4 RBIs. By his last game, he could barely make it out of the park without being mobbed by adoring fans. 

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Wieters, Machado expect to be ready for Opening Day

Catcher planning light spring to prepare for season; third baseman a full go

Wieters, Machado expect to be ready for Opening Day

BALTIMORE -- If everything goes according to plan, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters believes he will be ready for Opening Day.

Wieters, who had season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in early June, has been throwing from up to 150 feet, and he said that everything has gone the way doctors anticipated so far.

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Recovering Gordon says he'll be ready for Opening Day

Left fielder injured right wrist before All-Star break, had offseason surgery

Recovering Gordon says he'll be ready for Opening Day

KANSAS CITY -- Royals All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon is still sporting a soft cast that runs from his right hand to his elbow as he recovers from December wrist surgery.

But as Gordon walked around the Royals' annual FanFest event on Saturday, he insisted there was no way he would miss Opening Day.

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

Davis discusses his suspension for the first time

Davis discusses his suspension for the first time

BALTIMORE -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis wants people to know he didn't take Adderall for an edge at the plate. Davis, who spoke for nearly 10 minutes on Saturday at FanFest for the first time since he received a 25-game suspension on Sept. 12 for violating baseball's drug policy, called taking the drug "a moment of weakness" he deeply regrets.

"I obviously wasn't thinking about the big picture, it was a mistake that I wish I could go back and undo," said Davis, who was suspended because it was his second failed drug test. "It's something that should have been addressed in the past, but obviously I didn't take the right steps."

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trenton Thunder trains adorable new bat dog

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Trenton Thunder trains adorable new bat dog

Think you can't watch Spring Training until mid-February? That's not entirely true. Even though pitchers and catchers don't report for a few more weeks, the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, has something to tide you over and it might just warm your winter-weary heart.

The Thunder has had a bat dog since 2002, and the position has a noble lineage. First there was Chase, then his son Derby. Now Derby's son Rookie is in training for the job. 

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Royals' radio voice Matthews signs through 2018

Extension will keep Hall of Fame broadcaster with club for 50th season

Royals' radio voice Matthews signs through 2018

KANSAS CITY -- Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews signed a four-year extension Saturday to continue calling games on the Royals radio network, the club announced.

Matthews' new deal will run through the 2018 season, which would be his 50th with the Royals.

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

Fans from all walks of life stop by to salute Banks

Mr. Cub brings people together at church viewing

Fans from all walks of life stop by to salute Banks

CHICAGO -- For one day -- a bitterly cold, wind-whipped day on Michigan Avenue -- Fourth Presbyterian Church served as the Friendly Confines. And given that the casket at the altar contained a man who always had a smile for those he met, a man who even total strangers considered a close friend, this goodbye, this visitation service, was a fittingly public one, open to one and all.

And so Cubs fans and, yes, even some non-Cubs fans entered those doors, walked past that closed casket -- draped with a No. 14 flag and flanked by a large photo of Ernie Banks flashing that perfect smile of his -- and paid their respects to "Mr. Cub." There were celebrities and dignitaries here, sure. Team chairman Tom Ricketts, Sen. Dick Durbin, Cubs greats like Andre Dawson, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and Jose Cardenal were all on hand in the early portion of the eight-hour viewing.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Mr. Cub gone but never forgotten

Former teammates, legion of fans among those reflecting on Banks' beloved spirit

Mr. Cub gone but never forgotten

CHICAGO -- Lions in winter, Fergie Jenkins and two of his former teammates, gray-haired Glenn Beckert and Jose Cardenal, sharp in a black leather jacket, settled into the third row of pews at Fourth Presbyterian Church on Friday afternoon.

They were not in a hurry.

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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.

Which SB team had better first pitches?

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Which SB team had better first pitches?

As we approach Super Bowl XLIX, we remember the moments when a few members of the Patriots and Seahawks osmosed through the cross-sports membrane and found themselves in the world of MLB. Today: the art of the first pitch.

Though the Patriots may win when it comes to number of Super Bowl trophies, the Seahawks have them beat in terms of first pitches. Since Kam Chancellor's toss in 2012, Seattle has been racking up mound appearances.

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Biggio up close with history during HOF visit

Recently elected Hall of Famer given behind-the-scenes tour in Cooperstown

Biggio up close with history during HOF visit

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The chance to hold a baseball bat swung by Babe Ruth was something Craig Biggio was going to enjoy as much as he could, even if it meant picking it up three times while smiling from ear to ear.

That was one of many awe-inspiring moments for Biggio, the longtime Astros second baseman who, along with his wife, Patty, was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Friday as part of his orientation in advance of his induction on July 26.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rollie Fingers' favorite player: Justin Verlander

Rollie Fingers' favorite player: Justin Verlander

When Rollie Fingers says you need three things to succeed as a pitcher in the big leagues, he really means you need one. But either way you slice it, Justin Verlander has it.

"You need three things to pitch in the big leagues," said Fingers, who pointed to Verlander as his favorite current MLB star. "You need control, you need control and you need control. And he's got all three of 'em."

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

My Favorite Player

My Favorite Player

Baseball players are fans, just like the rest of us. Who do they love to watch? Former Major Leaguers weigh in, with new opinions added all the time.

Rollie Fingers
Justin Verlander
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