Good day, Sunshine: Hot topics all around

Good day, Sunshine: Hot topics all around

Commissioner Rob Manfred opened the first-ever Grapefruit League Media Day on Friday afternoon in Fort Myers, Fla., with on the scene.

The event is a first in Florida, and Major League Baseball has held similar media days in Arizona the past four years. During his media availability Commissioner Manfred touched on a variety of topics, including domestic violence, the between-innings clock and safety.

Manfred weighs in at Spring Training Q&A

MLB currently is monitoring three domestic violence cases -- Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes, Yankees left-hander Aroldis Chapman and Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig -- and Manfred said he expects to have "some action" on those cases in the next few days. Reyes is the only one of the three who has been charged, though MLB's collectively implemented domestic violence policy reserves the right to discipline players even if they have not been charged with a crime.

Manfred on possible rule changes

Although he didn't specify an exact target time, Manfred also plans to shorten the between-innings clock, which is currently two minutes and 25 seconds for locally televised games and two minutes and 45 seconds for nationally televised games. MLB also hopes to address a reduction in mound visits.

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Regarding player safety -- specifically plays at second base -- Manfred said he expects a change. A potential solution could be for the fielder to be able to "take and/or stay on the base."

Team execs and managers who spoke to the media after Manfred included Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager John Farrell, Tigers general manager Al Avila, Twins general manager Terry Ryan and manager Paul Molitor, and Phillies president Andy MacPhail.

The Red Sox's Dave Dombrowski (left) with Commissioner Rob Manfred. (MLB)

Here's a breakdown from each of our reporters of what they found after speaking to club brass as part of a statewide Grapefruit League Media Day on Friday.

Grapefruit League set to begin

Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #MediaDayFL.

Luhnow on first base battle

GM Jeff Luhnow said the battle for the starting first-base spot will probably last until the end of camp. Slugger Jon Singleton, touted prospect A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Matt Duffy will get most of the at-bats at first base in the spring as the Astros move on from Chris Carter, who signed with the Brewers. Position players report next week, and first base figures to be a key storyline. More >

While first base is unsettled, one thing is certain at Astros camp: Carlos Correa is bordering on superstardom and brimming with confidence as he enters his first full season in the Major Leagues. The shortstop phenom, 21, arrived in Florida, carrying himself with the kind of poise usually reserved for veterans.

"I never doubt myself because I prepare every offseason to have a lot of confidence when I step on the field," Correa said. More >

Astros return to the field

Blue Jays
Toronto's most pressing issue when camp officially begins on Sunday in Dunedin, Fla., is the future of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Both players figure prominently into the club's 2016 season, but with free agency looming at the end of the year, questions continue to linger.

"I guess the best thing to say is that it's a no-brainer that we want to keep them here," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro recently said. More >

Coppolella on Braves' 2016 plans

As the Braves have passed on the opportunity to sign any of the remaining free agents, the assumption has been that some of this money could be used to aid their aggressive pursuits on this year's international market.

But GM John Coppolella has not ruled out the possibility that these funds could be used to upgrade this year's roster at some point during the season. More >

Cardinals excited to start 2016

Though Yadier Molina will be rehabbing his left thumb with an eye on the baseball calendar, the Cardinals have cautioned the veteran catcher against trying to rush back too quickly. Patience, GM John Mozeliak said, could have a greater payoff than having Molina ready for Opening Day but still not at full strength.

"My take on this is he had one surgery. Then he had to have a second. The last thing you want to do is have a third, because that would be a problem," Mozeliak said. More >

Hill on health of Marlins' stars

As Miami opens camp, the general feeling is the club's chances of making the postseason will come down to whether Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton can stay healthy.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I was extremely excited to know that as we start camp, and the position players get on the field on Tuesday, that we are extremely happy to know that we have a healthy Giancarlo Stanton and a healthy Jose Fernandez ready for 2016," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. More >

Alderson upbeat about 2016 team

Over the past half-decade, the Mets have assembled perhaps the best starting rotation in baseball. Their current dilemma is how to keep the entire group healthy. It is perhaps the most important task the defending National League champion Mets face, both this spring and into summer. But they have an idea of how they'll accomplish it. More >

Likewise, keeping third baseman David Wright in the lineup is on the Mets' mind. The captain, 33, missed a large portion of last season due to spinal stenosis, and the Mets' charge this spring -- and, in reality, for the balance of Wright's career -- is to make sure the good days outnumber the bad. More >

Papelbon on apology to Harper

GM Mike Rizzo listened to offers for closer Jonathan Papelbon during the offseason, but no deal materialized. With a completely revamped group of relievers, Papelbon is one of just a few pitchers with a defined role in the bullpen.

"I think we have a lot of experience in the bullpen," Rizzo said. More >

Rizzo on holding on to Papelbon

Papelbon was back with the team for the first time since a dugout incident on Sept. 27 in which he grabbed teammate Bryce Harper by the neck. During a 10-minute media session -- Papelbon's first comments since serving a suspension for what he called one of the low points of his career -- Papelbon expressed remorse, apologizing publicly to Harper, the team, coaches and the fans. More >

Showalter on spring priorities

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter have voiced their optimism that the team's current starters will take a step forward in 2016. All four in the current group, which includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman -- rotation locks if healthy -- know that even though they aren't competing for roster spots, this is a big spring.

"If they had never done it before, it'd be a little different," Showalter said. "We feel confident they are going to be as good as they are capable of being." More >

Klentak on first Phillies Spring

What's the Phillies' time frame to win again? MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak have not offered any hints because nobody truly knows when they will win again. But they do believe 2016 should give them a pretty good idea about it.

"What we're going to find out this year more than anything is what kind of track we're on," MacPhail said. More >

Huntington on Kang, adding depth

The Pirates won 98 games last year. They've put together the Major Leagues' second-best record over the last three seasons, and their collection of young talent suggests they won't be fading anytime soon. Yet the Bucs face one big question after an eventful offseason in the National League Central: Where do they stand this season in baseball's toughest division a year ago? More >

Improved Rays show up for camp

President of baseball operations Matthew Silverman, who made offseason moves to bring in more bats, addressed whether the Rays can improve offensively at the team's media gathering on Friday, and he will likely be asked the same question many times before Spring Training runs its course.

"We feel like we upgraded the talent on our roster and added some power that's been lacking in recent years, especially with the trades that we made to bring in some guys with some thump," Silverman said. More >

Red Sox open Spring Training

Red Sox
Dombrowski and Farrell did their best to quiet concerns about whether the Red Sox rotation is good enough after prized left-hander David Price.

Farrell on team's pitching staff

"David Price takes all the attention off those guys," Farrell said. "But the guys underneath him are talented and have the capability of pitching us deep into a competitive season and beyond." More >

Price on pitching in AL

A revamped bullpen -- bolstered by closer Craig Kimbrel -- should also take some of the burden off the rotation. Kimbrel is relishing the opportunity to pitch under pressure in a packed Fenway Park.

"I feel like I do better in big situations. I love seeing people in the seats," Kimbrel said. More >

"I'm sure he'll experiment and see what he's most comfortable with," Paul Molitor said of Joe Mauer. (MLB)

The Tigers and Lakeland, Fla., have the longest-running relationship between a team and a Spring Training city, and they're committed to continuing that. Renovations are underway at Joker Marchant Stadium, including team offices, new clubhouses and fan amenities. For home games, no team might have it better.

For road games, Avila said, the Tigers don't expect a major impact.

Avila on Tigers' spring home

"We go to Jupiter, and we have an overnight trip," Avila said. "In essence, I don't see it as a big problem at all."  More >

Ryan and Molitor said they were both unaware that Joe Mauer had been dealing with vision problems at the plate since suffering his concussion in 2013.

The first baseman, who has seen his offensive production decline since the injury, plans on wearing sunglasses at the plate to help remedy the problem, and Molitor is curious to see if Mauer bounces back this year with some of the concussion issues behind him. More >

Girardi ready to start camp

After much discussion and the Yankees' own fact-gathering investigation, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner agreed the potential benefit of having Chapman in the Yankees' bullpen was worth delicately handling the hurler's off-field actions and any possible discipline stemming from them.

"We talked through all of it," GM Brian Cashman said Friday. "I would just state that he is going to be playing in the Majors this year. He's going to play for somebody, this year, performing and working, not denied work, and so we made the determination that he would be here." More >