Sydney sweep! Aussies seal spot in '17 Classic

S. Africa finishes 2-2 after Qualifier final

Sydney sweep! Aussies seal spot in '17 Classic

SYDNEY -- Australia (3-0) is headed back to the World Baseball Classic following a 12-5 win over South Africa (2-2) at the Qualifier final at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday.

Australia also beat out the Philippines (0-2) and New Zealand (1-2) to advance to the Classic, slated for March 2017. The Sydney Qualifier was the first of four, with four-team tournaments set in the coming weeks to determine three other teams to round out the field. The others will be held in Mexicali, Mexico, from March 17-20 (with Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany and Nicaragua competing), in Panama City from March 17-20 (Colombia, France, Panama and Spain) and in Brooklyn, N.Y., from Sept. 22-25 (Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan).

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

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

20 rookies who will impact the pennant race

20 rookies who will impact the pennant race

We've seen young players come in waves the last few seasons. Not just young players, but special players, franchise-changing players -- Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Lindor, etc.

Sometimes, kids are summoned to the big leagues to sell tickets or tease fans about a bright and shiny future. Sometimes, though, they're called up and thrown into the middle of a playoff race, asked not just to fill a hole but to contribute.

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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.

MLB.TV is back, better than ever

MLB.TV is back, better than ever

Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced the launch on Friday of yearly subscriptions for MLB.TV, returning for a 14th season with everything you expect from the most widely distributed and No. 1 sports streaming service.

MLB.TV Premium returns with the same features as last year, but at $109.99 it is a full 20 bucks cheaper than the 2015 cost. This package has the best value and provides access to more than 400 devices and a free subscription to the MLB.com At Bat Premium app (a $19.99 value). It offers the best picture quality ever -- a new 60 frames per second -- for supported devices. MLB.TV Single Team is also now available for $84.99. You will be able to watch a single team's live out-of-market games in full HD.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wait lifters: Clubs look to end title droughts

Cubs on longest of dry spells; 8 clubs have never won

Wait lifters: Clubs look to end title droughts

Nobody knows the phrase "Wait till next year" better than the Cubs and their fans. But they're not the only ones entering Spring Training hoping this is the elusive "next year" when it comes to October glory.

After a season that took them just one step from reaching the World Series for the first time since 1945, the Cubs have a first title since 1908 in mind as 2016 begins. Despite the Cubs' well-documented decades of drought, eight franchises have never won it all, including two that have yet to make it to the big dance.

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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.

Bill Murray's golf attire shows love for Cubs

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Bill Murray's golf attire shows love for Cubs

You may have been watching the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament on Saturday afternoon and noticed Bill Murray on the links, wearing what is a pair of spectacular Cubs-themed argyle golf pants. But you may have missed Murray feeding a man a muffin while wearing a pair of spectacular Cubs-themed argyle golf pants.

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MadBum gets 3rd straight Opening Day start

Bochy tabs Giants' ace to face Brewers at Miller Park

MadBum gets 3rd straight Opening Day start

It may still be a few months out, but the Giants already know who will toe the rubber when they open the 2016 regular season on April 4 against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

As expected, ace Madison Bumgarner is slated to make his third consecutive Opening Day start, manager Bruce Bochy announced on Saturday at the team's FanFest.

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

College baseball's only female player got 'W'

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College baseball's only female player got 'W'

Sarah Hudek, a self-described "crafty left-hander" with an 82-mph fastball, came in from the bullpen to protect Bossier Parish Community College's lead against Hinds Community College on Wednesday. The only female college baseball player in the country, and the first woman to ever get a scholarship for the sport, she picked up a personal first this week when she got the win. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

No more late-inning drama: 7 teams with improved 'pens

Red Sox, Yankees among teams that added power arms to relief corps

No more late-inning drama: 7 teams with improved 'pens

How about a standing ovation for Dayton Moore, general manager of the World Series champion Kansas City Royals? Look at how many teams spent this offseason attempting to get themselves some of that Royals bullpen magic. That's flattery at its sincerest.

At least a dozen teams made significant changes to their bullpens. Five relievers who led their teams in saves were traded and several other free-agent relievers did very well for themselves.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

Cubs could boast historically great infield

Rizzo, Zobrist, Bryant, Russell poised to reach milestones

One year ago, Kris Bryant's Spring Training exploits established a sense of expectation and hopefulness that still resonates today, as the 30 Major League clubs prepare for the next installment of Spring Training.

The Cubs' phenom -- who had yet to play an official Major League game -- paced the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in homers, produced top-five marks in extra-base hits and total bases, and assembled an outrageous .425/.477/1.175 slash line.

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

New, cooler spring jerseys, caps available

MLB shows off on-field Flex Base designs for all 30 clubs

New, cooler spring jerseys, caps available

It is almost time for Zack Greinke to suit up for the D-backs, Todd Frazier for the White Sox, David Price for the Red Sox, Justin Upton for the Tigers, Johnny Cueto for the Giants, Jason Heyward for the Cubs, and all those other new faces in new places.

Shop now for new Flex Base Spring Training gear

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alderson: Mets will limit Wright to 130 games

Alderson: Mets will limit Wright to 130 games

The Mets are going to be cautious with David Wright this season.

Wright, who missed four months last season with spinal stenosis in his lower back, will be limited to a maximum of 130 games, general manager Sandy Alderson told the New York Post on Saturday.

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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.

Lincecum's tenure with Giants nearing end?

With full rotation, right-hander's future is hot topic during FanFest

Lincecum's tenure with Giants nearing end?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Even in his absence from Saturday's FanFest at AT&T Park, Tim Lincecum remained a significant presence.

Lincecum, a free agent who reportedly has recovered from hip surgery, is expected to prove his fitness to pitch by conducting a throwing session in the Phoenix area for all interested teams. Though the Giants are expected to send a representative to the right-hander's showcase, the club's starting rotation is full -- barring injuries -- and thus cannot accommodate Lincecum's anticipated desire to start.

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

Pineda eyes 200-inning goal for 2016

Righty arrives at Yankees' spring complex with mission in mind

Pineda eyes 200-inning goal for 2016

TAMPA, Fla. -- Michael Pineda wants this to be the season in which he puts it all together, and the right-hander arrived in advance of the Yankees' Spring Training camp with a clear mission in mind: to complete 200 innings for the first time in his career.

"For me, this year, I'm coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year," Pineda said at the club's Minor League complex. "I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team."

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jose Bautista had a front-row seat for Zach LaVine's wild, Dunk Contest-clinching jam

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Jose Bautista had a front-row seat for Zach LaVine's wild, Dunk Contest-clinching jam

If you happened to miss Saturday night's NBA Slam Dunk Contest -- understandable, considering South Africa's bespectacled demigod Kyle Gaddin was pitching in a WBC qualifier -- allow us to provide a brief recap: It was bonkers. Zach LaVine dunked from the free-throw line. Aaron Gordon jumped over a mascot on a hoverboard.

But what was it like to actually be on the ground at such a momentous event? To watch live as LaVine soared through the air, put the ball through his legs and threw down the contest-clinching dunk? Only one man could answer these questions for us. One man capable of documenting the entirety of the human experience in just one Instagram video. One man who has redefined gonzo journalism: Jose Bautista.

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MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

MLBPAA golf tourney benefits children's health

Lowell, Posada team up to support South Miami Hospital

MLBPAA golf tourney benefits children's health

DORAL, Fla. -- Mike Lowell chuckled at how Yankees and Red Sox fans might react to two players from historically bitter rivals teaming up to host a golf tournament, and even having -- gasp -- a few laughs along the way.

"The fans might not like it, but when they see what the cause is for, you realize that it's a good thing," Lowell said. "It's nice to see teammates you haven't seen in a while and guys you played against. Today we're all on the same team, doing something good."

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mets' Mejia handed permanent suspension

Mets' Mejia handed permanent suspension

NEW YORK -- Former Mets closer Jenrry Mejia became the first player in Major League Baseball history on Friday to earn a lifetime suspension for performance-enhancing drug use. MLB issued a lifetime ban to Mejia following his third positive test for a PED, linking him with Pete Rose as the only people actively serving the league's harshest punishment.

Mejia, 26, tested positive for Boldenone, while in the midst of a 162-game suspension for using both Boldenone and Stanozolol. The pitcher's second and third positive tests occurred while he was serving earlier suspensions.

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Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

A's land slugging outfielder Davis from Brewers

Prospects Derby, Nottingham dealt to Milwaukee; Nolin designated for assignment

A's land slugging outfielder Davis from Brewers

OAKLAND -- The A's cruised into their final weekend of the offseason in splashy style, pulling off a trade with the Brewers for slugging outfielder Khris Davis on Friday afternoon.

Davis injects power into an A's lineup that was craving some, and he also stabilizes the left-field position. The A's had to pay a price to get him, though, sending the rebuilding Brewers a pair of prospects in catcher Jacob Nottingham -- who is the eighth-ranked catching prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline, and pitcher Bubba Derby. Nottingham. They also designated lefty Sean Nolin to make room on the 40-man roster.

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

Tom Singer's sons pay loving tribute to dad

Tom Singer's sons pay loving tribute to dad

Malvina Singer is amazingly stoic, grieving the sudden loss of her husband of nearly 43 years, Tom, our 15-year colleague at MLB.com, at 67. It has been a whirlwind of shock for the family, fortunately a far-reaching, faithful, highly supportive and positive group. Mal's mom, a concentration camp survivor, was there, and stood as much as anybody for the poignant, impactful presence of Tom's spirit and the unconditional love surrounding his life.

The graveside service was moving in ways that are impossible to describe. Tom Singer, a great writer, would have framed it best. The Singers' sons did not fall far from that treasured tree. See for yourselves.

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Dinn Mann is Executive Vice President, Content for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The Great Lakes Loons have a new logo, giving everyone the water fowl-in-a-hat that they need

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The Great Lakes Loons have a new logo, giving everyone the water fowl-in-a-hat that they need

All art is required to push forward, to break new grounds. From the simplistic etchings on the wall of a cave, to the great advancements made in the Renaissance, to the post-modern tradition of breaking the very rules of "art" itself.

That brings us to today. To water fowl in a hat. A loon, to be specific. 

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MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

MLBPAA offers tips on life, baseball at youth clinic

MLBPAA offers tips on life, baseball at youth clinic

MIAMI -- After nearly five dozen retired players hit the links for charity, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association capped the weekend by conducting the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinic at Theodore Gibson Park in Miami, Fla.

The clinic, hosted Saturday by Padres outfielder Jon Jay, involved several former players who took part in Friday's golf tournament at Trump National Doral Golf Club. The two-hour clinic included training stations that gave instruction in pitching, hitting, catching and baserunning.

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Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Nolan's 7 best bets to throw a no-no in 2016

Hall of Famer and owner of MLB-record 7 no-hitters handicaps the field

Nolan's 7 best bets to throw a no-no in 2016

Nolan knows no-nos.

No doubt about it.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Must-see MLB: 10 pivotal players to watch this spring

Stanton, Shark among top players to watch as camps prepare to open

Must-see MLB: 10 pivotal players to watch this spring

The first official report dates are about a week away, but the first reports are already emanating out of Spring Training camps. On Friday, for example, Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka told reporters that he "can't really say" whether he'll be ready for Opening Day until his progression from offseason elbow surgery involves throwing off a mound.

There's an instant area of intrigue for a Yankees staff with major durability concerns in the rotation. As was the case last year, given the minor ligament tear he's attempting to pitch through, Tanaka's every pitch will be watched with great scrutiny.

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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.

Dynasty-league rankings: Young bats dominate top tier

Dynasty-league rankings: Young bats dominate top tier

The world has gone bonkers for daily fantasy. I get the appeal -- the immediate gratification, the fun of crafting a team designed to win on a particular day, the instant refresh after drafting a losing lineup. But for me, no greater satisfaction exists in fantasy baseball than watching your favorite prospect develop into a Major League star and contribute to your dynasty.

And what an exciting time it is to play dynasty fantasy baseball. At shortstop alone, owners can expect years of contributions from the likes of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell and Xander Bogaerts. Bryce Harper is improbably not my most valuable dynasty asset, thanks to Mike Trout -- another generational talent. One might expect that Kris Bryant's mix of power, speed and youth would be enough to land him the top spot among third basemen, but Manny Machado, who is actually younger than the Cubs slugger, takes that spot.

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Tom Trudeau (@TomTrudeau) works in business development for MLB.com and has been playing in industry dynasty-league fantasy baseball for years. He has also participated in the expert league LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality). This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fenway a breathtaking site for Big Air

Red Sox host one-of-a-kind event for skiing, snowboarding

Fenway a breathtaking site for Big Air

BOSTON -- Red Sox fans have seen plenty of leaping grabs and diving catches from their favorite players over the years, but nothing compared to the air underneath skiers and snowboarders during the first Polartec Big Air at Fenway Park on Thursday and Friday.

The Red Sox's home turned into a giant man-made 140-foot ski hill that had fans in awe both nights. The two-day event featured more than 75 of the world's most talented big air freeskiers and snowboarders, with competitors representing 19 countries.

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

Tanaka: Opening Day status to be determined

Tanaka: Opening Day status to be determined

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka said on Friday that he "can't really say" if he will be ready for Opening Day until he resumes throwing off a mound and then in Grapefruit League games.

Tanaka had surgery this offseason to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. As such, the 27-year-old is not ready to commit to being on the mound for the Yankees' opener on April 4 against the Astros, as the team expects to handle him cautiously this spring.

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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.

$400M contract? Harper: 'Don't sell me short'

$400M contract? Harper: 'Don't sell me short'

As numerous record-breaking deals were handed out to free agents this offseason, speculation quickly shifted to Bryce Harper's possible free agency after the 2018 season. More specifically, how much money could Harper, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, potentially earn if he reaches free agency at the prime age of 26?

Harper gave his thoughts when asked about a potential $400 million contract on Friday, telling Washington D.C.'s 106.7 FM The Fan, "don't sell me short" on his next big contract.

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

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

McRae discusses replay, plays at second

Namesake of 'Hal McRae Rule' reflects on art of takeout slide

McRae discusses replay, plays at second

Hal McRae is out of baseball, retired and living in Bradenton, Fla.

However, he isn't forgotten.

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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.

Panik optimistic about health for 2016 season

Giants All-Star '100 percent' recovered from lower back inflammation

Panik optimistic about health for 2016 season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants All-Star second baseman Joe Panik insisted Friday that not only will he enter Spring Training fully recovered from lower back inflammation, but he'll also remain healthy through the season.

Panik, who missed most of the final two months of last season with his back woes, feels so fit that it's as if his injury never happened.

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

Classic, MLB programs grow sport in S. Africa

Classic, MLB programs grow sport in S. Africa

SYDNEY-- South Africa's participation in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier has greatly helped to further baseball's impact across the region.

"What amazes me is we've had camp and campaigns throughout schools with people who didn't even know baseball existed, and they didn't even know what a bat was," said South African Olympian Brett Willemburg and current outfielder. "Then you see them a few months later and they are hitting line drives the other way, pulling balls, fielding ground balls and making plays. You're like, 'Is this the same kid?' It is so awesome to see."

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