10 names to know before the season begins

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10 names to know before the season begins

You know about Yasiel Puig's arm, Mike Trout's leaping/hugging abilities and the prodigious power of Giancarlo Stanton. And although he's never had a Major League at-bat, you've probably heard of Kris Bryant. I mean, there's even a book about his life.

But there are also some interesting, talented players who you may not have heard of yet. Here are 10 names to look out for in 2015.

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MLB.com Columnist

Dan O'Dowd

Identifying 15 players who may become trade targets

Cueto, Price, Tulowitzki among high-impact stars who will be desired at Deadline

Identifying 15 players who may become trade targets

The 162-game odyssey begins in just a few days, and after Opening Day, one of the biggest days on the MLB calendar is the non-waiver Trade Deadline. For general managers, it's never too early to start identifying trade targets; here are 15 players you will be hearing about in trade rumors this summer.

Cole Hamels, LHP, Phillies
He's the biggest name among a few Phillies who will be on the block. Closer Jonathan Papelbon will also be discussed, and perhaps second baseman Chase Utley will be as well. First baseman Ryan Howard could even get moved if he can show the ability to crush right-handers again, but Philly would need to eat a lot of what's left of the $60 million Howard is owed over the next two years.

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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.

What to watch for in today's games

What to watch for in today's games

The end of Spring Training is near. For some clubs, Wednesday is the final day of Grapefruit or Cactus League play before they move on to a final few exhibition games in other locations. Yes, the regular season is almost here, and that's no April Fools' joke.

Here are four things to watch for in Wednesday's games (all times ET):

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

Who is top player at each position in AL Central?

Who is top player at each position in AL Central?

The American League Central has sent a team to the World Series in two of the last three years and a pair of clubs to the postseason in each of the last two seasons. Once again in 2015, it's a division worthy of attention as the regular season heads toward the promise of October.

Some prime individual talent resides in the AL Central, too, including a two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, along with a treasure chest of Gold Glove Award winners. As 2015 begins with the Kansas City Royals defending the AL pennant, here's a look at the best of the division by way of a position-by-position breakdown:

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

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

5 keys for AL Central clubs

5 keys for AL Central clubs

Any number of factors can conspire to decide a division. But at the dawn of a new season, these are the five factors that look like they'll loom largest in the American League Central.

1. Royal relief regression?

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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.

McClendon ejected, runs across outfield to leave game

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McClendon ejected, runs across outfield to leave game

You already know that Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is an ejection artist. We know you're familiar with his early work as well as some of his later shenanigans. But this week, McClendon cemented his status as the Marina Abramovic of getting kicked out of ballgames.

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Tanaka, Yanks relieved after healthy spring

Tanaka, Yanks relieved after healthy spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The contact might have been more solid than Masahiro Tanaka would have preferred on Tuesday, but as the Yankees right-hander left the mound for the final time this spring, the organization had to be thrilled that he is heading into the regular season with a clean bill of health.

Preferring to face a big league club for his final tuneup, Tanaka volunteered to make the 140-mile trek to Hammond Stadium, where he completed his Spring Training workload by hurling 4 1/3 innings of three-run, seven-hit ball in a 3-1 loss to the Twins.

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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.

In right field and on bases, Puig shows off arm

In right field and on bases, Puig shows off arm

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In his final Cactus League game, Yasiel Puig checked in with one base hit and two highlight plays.

Puig got to show off his right-field throwing arm in the fourth inning, when Conor Gillaspie tried to go from first to third on a two-out single by Carlos Sanchez. Puig charged the bouncing single and came up firing a perfect one-hopper to third baseman Juan Uribe, who tagged out Gillaspie.

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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.

Chapman fine after early exit vs. Brewers

Reds closer leaves after miscommunication over injury

Chapman fine after early exit vs. Brewers

PHOENIX -- A mid-inning removal of Reds closer Aroldis Chapman on Tuesday turned out to be nothing more than a miscommunication.

Chapman left Tuesday's game after recording only one out in the fifth inning of Cincinnati's 10-4 win over the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park. He retired the lone batter he faced on a routine grounder to second, but the trainers and coaches came out to the mound. Chapman threw two practice pitches but was removed.

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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.

R.B.I. Baseball 15 now available on next-generation consoles

Cubs All-Star first baseman Rizzo is first cover athlete

R.B.I. Baseball 15 now available on next-generation consoles

Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced that R.B.I. Baseball 15, with Cubs All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo as its first cover athlete, is now available on next-generation consoles. These editions of the iconic and easy-to-play game also are available via GameStop.

R.B.I. Baseball is developed by MLBAM and officially licensed by MLB and the MLB Players Association. This year's game arrives with a host of all-new features ranging from stat tracking to online multiplayer mode to newly crafted authentic MLB ballpark designs for each club, so here are some questions and answers about what to expect:

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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.

Abreu raises spring average to .519 with four hits in win

Slugger doubles twice, drives in run as Rodon, Sox defeat host Dodgers

Abreu raises spring average to .519 with four hits in win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Abreu had a pair of doubles and a pair of singles, and J.B. Shuck doubled and singled as the White Sox beat the Dodgers, 2-1, on Tuesday. Abreu doubled in one run, and Melky Cabrera brought home the other with a sacrifice fly.

"That's the plan, to come to Spring Training and start the season hot," said Abreu, through translator and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "Right now, I am very glad about what my results are, and I think I can keep the momentum into the season. I'm ready for the season. I am anxious and tired, because the sun is so hot here."

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Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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.

This KBO first pitch was a literal ball of fire

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This KBO first pitch was a literal ball of fire

Korean baseball teams have taught us to expect incredible first pitches, but we weren't quite ready for this literalization of baseball's favorite metaphor. Sure, we've maybe implied that some players can throw hot fire, but the KT Wiz started their home opener with a first pitch that was literally a burning baseball meteor careening into the stadium. 

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Mariners deal Ramirez to Rays for Montgomery

Mariners deal Ramirez to Rays for Montgomery

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was traded to Tampa Bay on Tuesday for left-hander Mike Montgomery as Seattle acquired a former first-round Draft pick in return for a pitcher who was out of Minor League options.

Ramirez, 24, was one of Seattle's top pitching prospects in 2012, when he was first called up, and he's started 35 games for the Mariners over the past three years. But he has struggled with consistency the past two seasons.

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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.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

Who is the top player at each position in the NL East?

Who is the top player at each position in the NL East?

The general consensus is that the Nationals have the best team in the National League East, and the next six months may well prove that to be the case. Every team has good players, though. With that in mind, here's a look at the division and the top player at each position:

First base: Freddie Freeman, Braves
It's easy to forget that Freeman is just 25 years old. In 2011, he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year Award voting. In the past two seasons, Freeman has had an OPS of .897 and .847, respectively, was twice an NL All-Star and twice received votes for the NL Most Valuable Player Award. And he should be entering the prime years of his career. Freeman has also been durable; last season, he played in all 162 games.

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

Zito seeking rotation spot, but A's don't have opening

Enjoying solid spring, lefty has one rough inning in last Cactus outing

Zito seeking rotation spot, but A's don't have opening

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Barry Zito "absolutely" believes he can help a big league rotation.

"Based on what I saw," said A's manager Bob Melvin, "he can."

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Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Axford dealing with son's rattlesnake bite

Rockies reliever's child undergoing extensive treatment to save foot

Axford dealing with son's rattlesnake bite

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander John Axford has been away from the club for most of the last week helping tend to his 2 1/2-year-old son, Jameson, who was bitten by a rattlesnake on the top of his right foot two times last Wednesday and is in a local hospital.

Doctors thought their initial anti-venom treatment was effective, but there was more venom than originally expected. Axford said doctors have saved the foot, although there is concern about one of Jameson's toes. Axford has spent most of the time at the hospital as his son struggled through pain and lack of sleep.

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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.

Wrigley, sans bleachers, will be ready Sunday

Wrigley, sans bleachers, will be ready Sunday

MESA, Ariz. -- Wrigley Field will be ready for Opening Night on Sunday, but the bleachers will not be open, Cubs officials said on Tuesday.

The Cubs began the renovation project of the 100-year-old ballpark this past offseason. The left- and center-field bleachers are expected to be open by May 11, and the right-field bleachers will be ready for fans in mid-June.

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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.

Nine-run ninth gives Red Sox unbelievable win over Rays

Entered final at-bat trailing by six

Nine-run ninth gives Red Sox unbelievable win over Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Red Sox completed a wild, ninth-inning comeback on Tuesday, scoring nine times to pull off an 11-8 victory over the Rays.

Entering their final at-bat with a six-run deficit, the Red Sox stormed back courtesy Blake Swihart's two-run triple and RBI singles from Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, David Chester, Deven Marrero and Swihart. Jemile Weeks and Quintin Berry added RBI groundouts.

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

Wainwright named Opening Night starter

Ace right-hander will be on the mound when the Cardinals face the Cubs on Sunday

Wainwright named Opening Night starter

JUPITER, Fla. -- Having delayed the announcement in order to make sure Adam Wainwright made it through his third and final Spring Training start, manager Mike Matheny, after watching Wainwright's 6 2/3-inning performance on Tuesday, finally made official what everyone has known.

Wainwright will take the mound at Wrigley Field on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT as the Cardinals' Opening Night starter. He will be opposed by Chicago lefty John Lester.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Like Sale, changeup the key to Rodon's success

Like Sale, changeup the key to Rodon's success

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mark Buehrle has been away from the White Sox for four springs, but when he left Chicago, he didn't take his trademark pitch with him.

The changeup remains a key for the success of White Sox pitchers, especially left-handers.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Gordon fitting in nicely with Marlins

Speedy second baseman can be catalyst for Miami's offense

Gordon fitting in nicely with Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. -- Dee Gordon is sitting in front of his locker after having another one of those games in which he made the Miami Marlins look really smart for adding him to the top of their lineup. He could pass for the happiest man on the planet.

"It has just been amazing," he said. "I'm still trying to gather it all in."

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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.

Doctor confirms MCL sprain in Rendon's left knee

Escobar getting chance as replacement for third base

Doctor confirms MCL sprain in Rendon's left knee

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon saw Dr. James Andrews on Monday, and the doctor confirmed that Rendon has a MCL sprain in his left knee.

Rendon is expected to see Dr. Steven Singleton from in Vail, Colo., on Tuesday to get a third opinion on the knee. According to manager Matt Williams, this is Rendon's choice to get a third opinion.

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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.

Lester looking forward to Opening Night adrenaline

Lester looking forward to Opening Night adrenaline

MESA, Ariz. -- Left-hander Jon Lester wasn't too pleased with his final tuneup for Opening Night, but he hopes the excitement of the beginning of the season can help him.

"I wasn't the sharpest today but got to where we needed to," Lester said after throwing 84 pitches over six innings in a game between Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee at the Cubs' complex. "Once we get into a game with some fans and some adrenaline, I think things will sharpen up a little bit."

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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.

Padres keep cool with visit from ice cream truck

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Padres keep cool with visit from ice cream truck

There's no better way to beat the Arizona heat than with ice cream, and there's no reason to stop shagging fly balls to do it. 

The Padres got a little treat before Tuesday night's game against the Royals when third base coach Glenn Hoffman arranged for a local ice cream truck, Sweet Dreams Ice Cream, from Surprise, to make a stop at the team's afternoon workout.

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MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Once baseball's best, Giants' rotation faces questions

Once baseball's best, Giants' rotation faces questions

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants open defense of their third World Series title in five seasons with their usual strong and dependable starting rotation seemingly in a tad of disarray.

Matt Cain is rebounding from right elbow surgery, Tim Hudson from right ankle surgery, Jake Peavy from a bit of a dead arm, and Tim Lincecum from a stiff neck and delivery issues that landed him in the bullpen this past September and October.

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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.

Guthrie limits Padres to one run in final spring outing

Balanced offense led by two hits each from Morales and Moustakas

Guthrie limits Padres to one run in final spring outing

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jeremy Guthrie certainly didn't look like a No. 5 starter Tuesday, holding the Padres to one run over six innings as the Royals defeated the Padres, 4-1, at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Guthrie walked one and struck out six and Kendrys Morales and Mike Moustakas each had two hits as the Royals improved to 18-10.

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

Braves face decision in wake of Wandy's final audition

Braves face decision in wake of Wandy's final audition

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Wandy Rodriguez completed his final audition for Atlanta's rotation on Tuesday night, the Braves were given reason to at least debate whether they are willing to pay the $2 million the left-handed pitcher will be guaranteed if he is placed on the Opening Day roster.

Rodriguez proved to be inconsistent as he allowed three runs on eight hits while notching eight strikeouts over five innings of an 8-5 loss to the Astros. In the process, the oft-injured non-roster invitee provided a brief scare when his left shoulder briefly tightened after he reacted to a line-drive comebacker in the third inning.

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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.

Hochevar will begin season rehabbing in Triple-A

Royals reliever must build arm strength before joining bullpen

Hochevar will begin season rehabbing in Triple-A

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Luke Hochevar, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will start the season on the disabled list at Triple-A Omaha, Royals manager Ned Yost said Tuesday.

Hochevar, just over a year removed from his surgery, has had an effective spring, posting a 2.25 ERA in four Cactus League games. But Hochevar is not yet able to go on back-to-back days.

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

Wojciechowski's 'compete button' impresses Hinch

Wojciechowski's 'compete button' impresses Hinch

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Astros rookie right-hander Asher Wojciechowski can rest peacefully Tuesday night knowing he did everything he could to force the club to make some tough decisions about whether he breaks camp with the Major League club.

On the eve of the Astros setting their 25-man roster, Wojciechowski didn't have his best secondary stuff for the first time this spring, but he battled for 4 1/3 innings and held the Braves to four runs (two earned) on five hits in a win at Champion Stadium.

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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.