Presenting the official 2015 MLB baseball

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Presenting the official 2015 MLB baseball

There's a new signature on the official Major League Baseball ... well, um ... baseball.

Commissioner Rob Manfred's John Hancock will be prominently featured on every potential souvenir pitched, batted, thrown and belted over the outfield wall in 2015 and beyond.

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Opening Day: Manfred takes over as Commissioner

Opening Day: Manfred takes over as Commissioner

When Rob Manfred arrives at 245 Park Ave. in New York on Monday morning, it will be almost like nothing has changed. He'll take the elevator to Major League Baseball's headquarters on the 31st floor. He'll walk to the same office he's been in for years.

Everything has changed, of course. Manfred became baseball's first new Commissioner in 23 years at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday morning when Bud Selig officially retired from the role. It was a momentous occasion for the sport.

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

Selig gets sendoff with BBWAA honor

Outgoing Commissioner given Long and Meritorious Service Award

Selig gets sendoff with BBWAA honor

NEW YORK -- In one of his last official acts as Commissioner, just hours before stepping down from the position that he held for 23 transformative years, Bud Selig accepted yet another honor Saturday night.

He was given the Long and Meritorious Service Award at the annual New York Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner at the New York Hilton. Then, at the stroke of midnight, he officially became the first Commissioner Emeritus in baseball history as Rob Manfred, who was his presenter, took over as the game's 10th Commissioner.

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

Banks lauded for infectious personality, love of game

Fans, Selig, fellow greats fondly pay tribute to beloved Banks

Banks lauded for infectious personality, love of game

CHICAGO -- No. 14 flags flew from the top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard and outside the ballpark's marquee and fans left flowers, beer and a batting helmet to honor the memory of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, who passed away on Friday.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig echoed the feelings of many Cubs fans when he said Banks was "synonymous with a childlike enthusiasm for baseball."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. Chris Haft, Todd Zolecki and T.R. Sullivan contributed to this report. Muskat 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.

New Commissioner makes mark on official ball

All MLB game balls will now be stamped with Manfred's signature

New Commissioner makes mark on official ball

Now, it's official.

"Robert D. Manfred Jr." is the cursive stamped signature as of today on all Rawlings game balls to be used in Major League Baseball, representing Manfred's first day as MLB 's 10th Commissioner, succeeding Bud Selig, who retired and is now Commissioner Emeritus.

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. MLB.com national columnist Paul Hagen and MLB Official Historian John Thorn contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pedroia 'ready to go,' sees Sox rebounding

Second baseman says he's fully recovered from wrist surgery

Pedroia 'ready to go,' sees Sox rebounding

LEDYARD, Conn. -- Dustin Pedroia no longer has any questions about his health, or any doubts about the kind of season he can have in 2015.

The second baseman was even more fired up than usual as he held court during the Red Sox's Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Resort and Casino on Saturday.

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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.

Beloved Mr. Cub, Hall of Famer Banks dies at 83

Beloved Mr. Cub, Hall of Famer Banks dies at 83

The preeminent advocate of two-for-the-price-of-one baseball, the former shortstop who hit hundreds of home runs at a time when shortstops seldom hit home runs and the man as readily associated with one team as anyone in the history of American sports has died. Mr. Cub is gone. The game has lost Ernie Banks, the most popular baseball figure ever in Chicago.

Banks, who stands alongside Michael Jordan, Dick Butkus, Walter Payton, Bobby Hull, George Halas, Harry Caray, Bill Veeck and Ryne Sandberg in the Windy City's sports pantheon, died Friday at age 83, leaving the Second City without its No. 1 baseball ambassador.

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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

Richard Justice

Banks' smile and warmth will live on forever

His impact off the field every bit as impressive as his Hall of Fame career

Banks' smile and warmth will live on forever

Ernie Banks never seemed to have a bad day, and isn't that why we loved him? His was a journey filled with laughter and joy, and with a smile that lit up rooms and warmed hearts for 83 years.

Banks, who passed away Friday, played baseball the way he lived. He was a little kid at the ballpark, his enthusiasm infectious. He loved his Cubbies, too. Lord, did he love his Cubs. He loved that uniform, that ballpark and especially the fans.

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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.

Mauer, Molitor excited to work together in 2015

Twins star supported Hall of Famer's hire, had 'great offseason'

Mauer, Molitor excited to work together in 2015

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was just two St. Paul natives having lunch in their hometown this week, but for Joe Mauer, it was a chance to keep picking the brain of new Twins manager and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

Molitor said during the Winter Meetings in December that he planned on sitting down with Mauer before Spring Training to give the 31-year-old advice on how to stay productive in the second half a career while also laying out expectations for the 2015 season. Molitor, who played for 21 seasons before retiring when he was 41, came away impressed with Mauer and his desire to bounce back from his uncharacteristically down year in '14, when the first baseman hit .277/.361/.371 with just four homers and 55 RBIs in 120 games.

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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.

Pumped up Panda sees snow for first time

Third baseman eager to spend time with teammates, heading to camp early

Pumped up Panda sees snow for first time

LEDYARD, Conn. -- It took Pablo Sandoval nearly three decades to see and feel snow for the first time, and that left him feeling like a kid on Christmas morning on Saturday. The discovery only added to Sandoval's excitement about joining the Red Sox.

"First time," said Sandoval, who hails from Venezuela and made his previous baseball home in San Francisco. "As a little kid, you want to play with that. At my age, 28, seeing snow for the first time is the greatest time."

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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.

Phillies trade talks with Crew over Papelbon lose steam

Phillies trade talks with Crew over Papelbon lose steam

Trade talks between the Phillies and Brewers regarding closer Jonathan Papelbon have "dissipated," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Saturday.

"It doesn't appear there's any momentum to it right now," Melvin told the newspaper. "It could be revived later, I guess, but right now there's nothing happening.

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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

Richard Justice

Welcome to the Retired Commissioner's Club, Bud

Former NBA, NFL leaders give guidance on transition away from game

Welcome to the Retired Commissioner's Club, Bud

Bud Selig has no plans to retire, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, with today being his final day as Baseball Commissioner, he sees this time as the closing of one chapter of his life and the opening of another.

"Listen, I've worked every day all my life," he said. "Believe me, I'll come to the office every day. I have a lot of plans. I want to keep busy. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter. The best way to describe it is comfortable. I can't really say I'm sad."

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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.

Tulowitzki focused on health, not trade rumors

Rockies shortstop, recovering from hip surgery, wants to prove doubters wrong

Tulowitzki focused on health, not trade rumors

DENVER -- In a sense, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's offseason is not much different than winters past. He's been rehabbing an injury, this time a surgically repaired left hip labrum. But this offseason also is different.

"The trade talk was different for me," said Tulowitzki, who was at Coors Field for Saturday's Rockies Fest. "It was more intense than it ever had been in my career. That was something I had to deal with. As far as finding that chip, something that makes me go, which isn't that hard for me, that was very easy.

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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.

Biggio reflects on Hall of Fame career at FanFest

Legendary second baseman embraces chance to speak with Astros fans

Biggio reflects on Hall of Fame career at FanFest

HOUSTON -- One of the biggest events of Saturday's FanFest at Minute Maid Park was the Fan Forum session with Craig Biggio, the Astros legend who was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this month.

Biggio spent about 30 minutes answering questions from more than 100 fans who filled the Diamond Club behind home plate. The future Hall of Famer was asked about everything from his relationship with Jeff Bagwell, his favorite player growing up (Thurman Munson), craziest teammate (Jose Lima) and -- of course -- what logo will appear on his cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

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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.

Cruz highlights first day of Mariners FanFest

Slugging outfielder starting to feel at home in Safeco confines

Cruz highlights first day of Mariners FanFest

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz insists he's still a kid at heart, so the new Mariners slugger fit right in during his first public appearance with his new club on Saturday at Safeco Field.

With thousands of youngsters running around the field and soaking up the Mariners FanFest with their families, Cruz stood out as the headline attraction for an event that drew a record 11,906 opening-day fans, breaking last year's first-day mark of 10,903.

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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.

MLB players love taking selfies as much as you do

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MLB players love taking selfies as much as you do

Have you ever tried to put a new podcast episode on your phone, only to realize that you're out of space and the only way to make room is to delete, say, around 200 selfies? Don't worry! You're not the only one. Your favorite baseball players have been spending the last few weeks before Spring Training hanging out with you, the fans, and they're making sure it's well-documented.

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White Sox add baserunning legend Coleman to staff

Former outfielder to work in Majors and Minors beginning at Spring Training

White Sox add baserunning legend Coleman to staff

CHICAGO -- The White Sox announced a significant addition to their organization Saturday morning at SoxFest without making any sort of change to their 40-man or active roster.

Vince Coleman will join the team as a baserunning coach, advisor and consultant, working this season at the big league and the Minor League level, per general manager Rick Hahn. Coleman, who had 752 career stolen bases in 929 attempts, begins his new job in Spring Training.

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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.

Mariners bullpen will sing its way into your heart

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Mariners bullpen will sing its way into your heart

Chemistry is an important element for any team, so it makes sense that someone at Saturday's Mariners FanFest wanted to know how well the bullpen could harmonize. It's perhaps less intuitive that she meant it literally. Apparently pitching coach Rick Waits and reliever Tom Wilhelmsen like to sing "Build Me Up Buttercup" together and she wanted to be sure that fellow pitcher Charlie Furbush could keep up.

He sang along, but Wilhemsen was the real star. 

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Ben Revere might not be the best cheerleader

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Ben Revere might not be the best cheerleader

Ben Revere was more than happy to attend a St. Joseph's University basketball game on Saturday, and he was even excited to cheer. Just not, you know, as an actual cheerleader. 

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All-Star closer Doolittle unlikely for Opening Day

A's All-Star closer receives PRP injection for rotator cuff tear, surgery not expected

All-Star closer Doolittle unlikely for Opening Day

OAKLAND -- The A's are prepared to begin the 2015 season without All-Star closer Sean Doolittle, who has a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder.

The southpaw received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the shoulder last week to decrease inflammation and irritation in the area, and he will be re-evaluated at a later date before the A's determine the next course of action.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Former teammates remember Mr. Cub fondly

Former teammates remember Mr. Cub fondly

MESA, Ariz. -- It must have been a crystal-clear day like Saturday, the day Ernie Banks coined his most poetic phrase: "It's a great day for a ball game: Let's play two!" And so it is.

The sky is a vivid blue at Sloan Park, the Cubs Spring Training facility, with not even the hint of a cloud in the air. A high sky, the ballplayers like to call it, in which pop flies tend to disappear like drops of dew.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Ichiro's pursuit of 3,000 hits to continue in Miami

Ichiro's pursuit of 3,000 hits to continue in Miami

Ichiro Suzuki has been given an opportunity to join the 3,000-hit club.

The key to reports that he has agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million with Miami is that the Marlins have indicated a willingness to work on a second year, which Suzuki will most likely need to collect a 3,000th hit.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seitzer encouraged by workouts with Upton

New Braves hitting coach spent three days working on outfielder's swing

Seitzer encouraged by workouts with Upton

ATLANTA -- Through his first two years in Atlanta, B.J. Upton has provided plenty of reasons to assume his days as a productive Major Leaguer are complete. But Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, after spending time working with Upton in Florida this week, has reason to be optimistic about his new project.

"I feel really, really good about it, because [Upton] was very open to everything that I suggested," Seitzer said. "We had a really good three days together -- three pretty intense days together. I think he feels pretty good about what I'm going to bring, and I feel good about the adjustments he has made."

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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.

Baseball says goodbye to all-time great

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Baseball says goodbye to all-time great

Ernie Banks spent 19 seasons playing for the Cubs, earning the famous nickname "Mr. Cub" in the process. On Friday, Banks passed away at the age of 83.

Banks was beloved in the city of Chicago and throughout the MLB community. He began his career with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs, but joined the Cubs in 1953 and was the first black player to ever play for the franchise. After 14 All-Star appearances and two MVP awards, he retired following the 1971 season, racking up 512 HRs and 2,583 hits in the process. He loved baseball so much, his catchphrase became "let's play two," referring to a desire to play a doubleheader every day he could.

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MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Legendary Mr. Cub in his own words

Legendary Mr. Cub in his own words

Sometimes you just turn on a voice recorder and let a person talk.

You might have done it with a grandparent at a family reunion. I did it a couple of times with Ernie Banks at events in 2010 -- one at Wrigley Field and another at a suburban library -- and on those nights he described the journey from his large family in Dallas into singular status with one of baseball's iconic franchises, as well as a few of the people he met along the way.

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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.

Harry and Ron welcome Mr. Cub to 'Friendly Confines'

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Harry and Ron welcome Mr. Cub to 'Friendly Confines'

Mourning great loss is never easy, but it's the little things that emphasize the "great" rather than the "loss" part that often usher in moments of relief, if only slight and temporary. It was with this in mind that MLB enlisted designer Benjamin Marra to create an editorial cartoon memorializing Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

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Players, staff get up close with fans at Tribe Fest

Team expresses optimism on first day of weekend event

Players, staff get up close with fans at Tribe Fest

CLEVELAND -- Tom Hamilton waited patiently with a smile, signing every autograph and posing for each photo asked of him by the crowd that surrounded him Saturday morning at Tribe Fest. The radio voice of the Indians never once looked for an escape route.

Instead, Hamilton shook hands, accepted hugs and took a moment to appreciate how much the fans in attendance cared for him and the Indians. On the first day of the third annual event at Progressive Field, streams of Tribe diehards poured through the gates, enjoyed the behind-the-scenes festivities and expressed optimism about the season ahead.

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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.

NYC fans endure winter weather to visit WS trophy

Giants embrace franchise's roots with celebratory trip to Big Apple

NYC fans endure winter weather to visit WS trophy

Giants president and CEO Larry Baer made an appearance on Saturday afternoon at Finnerty's sports bar in New York City, for what he joked is becoming a "biennial party."

While Baer met with fans and posed for pictures, the true guest of honor -- for the third time in the past five years -- was the World Series trophy.

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

Confident Kelly likes his Cy Young chances

Feeling healthy, right-hander makes bold prediction heading into spring

Confident Kelly likes his Cy Young chances

LEDYARD, Conn. -- Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly did something no prognosticator is likely to do in the coming weeks. He picked himself to win the American League's Cy Young Award in 2015.

While Kelly seemed to be having fun by making the bold prediction - first in a radio interview and then in a group session with reporters - he was also showing his competitive fire.

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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.

Meyer ready to compete for Major League rotation

Twins' No. 4 prospect heads into Spring Training set to prove himself

Meyer ready to compete for Major League rotation

MINNEAPOLIS -- All Alex Meyer had to do was get through one final start at Triple-A Rochester last season, and the Twins' No. 4 prospect (according to MLB.com) was finally going get to his chance to get called up to the Majors for the first time.

But it wasn't to be, as Meyer left his start early and was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation, which ended his season on Aug. 30. So while Meyer has tried not to harp on his missed opportunity to come up and pitch in relief down the stretch, the 6-foot-9 right-hander believes he's now primed to make an impact with the Twins in 2015.

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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.