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Thread: 2018 MLB Spring Training Look At All Teams-Trades-Rumours-Injuries ETC. !

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    Out of left field: Giants' Pence learns to play new position
    February 27, 2018


    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Hunter Pence takes an odd swing, and his throwing motion is unusual. He's quite quirky and embraces that persona - a player totally out of left field, really.

    This year, for once, he'll actually be in left field.

    Even though he's never started at that spot during 11 seasons in the majors, the San Francisco Giants are asking him to learn a new position. Pence is their new left fielder after nearly 10 years of his career exclusively in right.

    Pence is gladly making the move to accommodate newly arrived Andrew McCutchen, who will take over as the regular right fielder. Center field might be a platoon with Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco and Gorkys Hernandez part of the mix in spring training.

    Some players might resist such a sudden shift to some degree. Pence has standing in the big leagues and in the Bay Area - he's a three-time All-Star, and has won World Series rings during six seasons with the Giants.

    But Pence can hardly keep from smiling when asked about the switch.

    ''It's fun. It's kind of like a fresh new perspective,'' Pence said. ''It feels like a whole new game, almost. It's really a pleasure to be out there and to see the field from that angle.''

    Pence made his 2018 spring training debut in left on Sunday and was put to work chasing several Chicago Cubs' hits. He didn't look uncomfortable nor unsure in his new position, and was set to play left again on Tuesday before being scratched due to illness.

    No longer will he be playing in front of the high wall in right field at AT&T Park.

    ''Just going to take advantage of the preparation that we have here. It's pretty good to have all these games to work on it,'' Pence said.

    The transition seems to be going well in workouts. The Giants hit balls in different spots into the high sun in Arizona so Pence can get a sense of how it will be on bright day games in San Francisco.

    ''If you watch him shag during (batting practice), he's got no problems with breaks,'' bench coach Hensley Meulens said. ''You don't see him go the wrong way. He's a pretty naturally instinctive outfielder. I don't suspect that the change is going to be a problem for him.''

    Hernandez was in center field on Sunday. He and Pence came close to a collision in left-center field on a sinking liner caught by Hernandez.

    ''At the start it can be a little tough, but if you have the talent and the ability to play whichever position, he'll play it like he's supposed to,'' Hernandez said. ''With practice and work he will get 100 percent accustomed to it.''

    Pence is not only on board with the switch, he's shown willingness to help McCutchen in what will basically be a new, full-time position for the former Pittsburgh star center fielder.

    McCutchen, who played only a few games in right last season, will have to get acclimated to the outfield dimensions in a new ballpark.

    ''We just discuss the way the winds play and field plays,'' Pence said. ''He's played where you have to watch for caroms and stuff, and give yourself some space. But the wind is tricky part in San Francisco.''

    Pence said left field ''breathes new life'' into him. ''You get to examine all the parks you go to. You've got to look at how everything plays,'' he said. ''It's something that I get to enjoy diong. Witnessing the game from just a different angle is really a pleasure.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Matz struggles as injuries mount for Mets
    February 27, 2018


    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Even before Steven Matz had a shaky spring training debut, it had been another bumpy day for the New York Mets.

    Eager to put last season's rash of injuries behind them, the Mets have instead been slowed by various ailments this month under new manager Mickey Callaway.

    The Mets said Tuesday that slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was out of action because of mild shoulder soreness. The team also said ace Jacob deGrom was feeling stiffness in his lower back.

    Then in the third inning against Houston, reliever Anthony Swarzak, who signed a two-year contract with the Mets in December, left the field with two outs after covering first base and committing an error on a soft toss from Adrian Gonzalez.

    Swarzak's short sprint - his second of the inning to cover the bag - resulted in a left calf strain. The right-hander will have an MRI on Wednesday.

    ''I just felt something grab a little bit in my calf. I continued to run and walked off the field, some good signs. It wasn't a situation where I had to hit the deck and pray for the best. It was nothing that serious whatsoever,'' Swarzak said.

    Swarzak said he rarely cramps. And because he was standing and walking, he added, ''I think we'll be OK.''

    Callaway said the minor injuries are simply a product of the staff being overly cautious.

    ''The things some of them have, they'd be playing right through during the regular season. It doesn't make much sense right now to push it because we have plenty of time to get them all ready,'' he said.

    Matz's problems were more related to his results.

    The left-hander worked a perfect first inning before failing to record an out against the five Astros he faced in the second frame. He allowed five runs on three hits and two walks.

    ''I feel healthy and I feel good, so I'm going to build off that and kind of visit some things in the next few days and build off the outing,'' said Matz, who left Max Stassi's two-run, bloop single.

    Matz said he didn't know how he suddenly lost it in his 36-pitch outing against a Houston lineup that sported just one starter, Evan Gattis.

    ''It's hard to say at this point,'' Matz said. ''It's frustrating, but it's February and this is the best I've felt in spring training in a long time, just physically,'' he said.

    ''I was really excited coming in to camp, so that's the frustrating thing when you get results like that,'' he said.

    Last year began to unravel early for Matz, starting in camp.

    He was the only left-hander in the Mets' rotation as he hoped to play his second full season after a strong 2015 when he was 4-0 in six starts and a 2016 rookie campaign when he went 9-8 with a 3.40 in 22 starts.

    But Matz had elbow tenderness last March after four spring starts and was shut down. He came back and made 12 starts, but irritation due to an ulnar nerve issue led to elbow surgery in August.

    His season with the Mets ended with a 2-7 mark and a 6.08 ERA in 13 appearances.

    Now, the Long Island native finds himself alongside another lefty likely to wind up in the rotation, Jason Vargas, who tied for the big league lead with 18 wins last year with Kansas City.

    The 26-year-old Matz said he'll try to put the rough outing behind him.

    ''You've really got to overlook it at this point. It's really about that I'm healthy and I've got to build off what I felt out there,'' said Matz, who added he felt good out of the windup and not as much from the stretch.

    Said Callaway: ''He looked really good. The ball was coming out of his hand good. ... For the first time off a mound in a live game in a while, I'm encouraged.''

    NOTES: OF Jay Bruce, who has missed time with plantar fasciitis, made his spring debut as the DH and went 1 for 2 with an RBI. ''It went fine. I felt good. It's progress, for sure.'' Bruce said his foot issue will be a ''housekeeping deal'' where he'll have to monitor it and stay stretched out. He and the Mets agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal last month. . Tim Tebow made his spring debut as the Mets DH in the sixth inning and went 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a flyout to left. . 1B Dominic Smith had his MRI on Monday, which revealed that he has a right quadriceps strain. . The Mets travel to play Atlanta on Wednesday. RHP Matt Harvey will make his first spring start and be opposed by RHP Brandon McCarthy.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Lincecum in discussions with Rangers
    February 27, 2018


    Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum is deep in negotiations with the Texas Rangers on a one-year contract, a person with direct knowledge of the discussions said.

    The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because no deal had been reached. The 33-year-old Lincecum pitched in a showcase for major league teams, executives and scouts earlier this month near his hometown of Seattle.

    The Freak appears ready to mount another big league comeback.

    He hasn't pitched in the majors since a disappointing nine-start stint in 2016 with the Angels. Texas would likely consider him for a bullpen role, perhaps as a closer.

    In 2015, Lincecum went 7-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 15 starts for San Francisco after throwing no-hitters - both against San Diego - in July 2013 and June `14. He had hip surgery in early September 2015 and didn't immediately sign with a team after concluding a $35 million, two-year deal with the Giants. In nine seasons with San Francisco, he helped the Giants win three World Series titles - in 2010, `12 and `14.

    He had his highs and lows - and one of his biggest thrills came in Arlington in what might become his new home ballpark.

    Lincecum figured things out in 2010, enduring an 0-5 August before adding a new pitch and winning the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas as the Giants captured their first championship since moving West in 1958. In '12, he endured a 10-start winless stretch in which he went 0-6. A Cy Young winner in his first full major league season of 2008 and again the following year, he posted losing records in each season from 2011-13.

    By 2014, he had bounced back to go 12-9. Lincecum was 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA over those nine starts and 38 1/3 innings for the Angels two years ago.

    Yahoo Sports first reported Lincecum and the Rangers were nearing an agreement.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Indians, Mike Napoli agree to minor deal
    February 27, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians have invited Mike Napoli to another party.

    It could be over earlier than the last one.

    Cleveland agreed to a minor league contract on Tuesday with the popular free agent slugger, whose powerful swing and clubhouse leadership were instrumental to the Indians reaching the World Series in 2016.

    Also that year, ''Party At Napolis'' became a rallying cry for Indians fans who embraced the bearded and brawny Napoli.

    Napoli's deal is contingent upon him passing a physical with the club at training camp in Goodyear, Arizona. The Indians don't have a roster spot for the 36-year-old Napoli, but manager Terry Francona wanted to give him an opportunity to showcase himself during spring games.

    Napoli had been working out with unsigned free agents in Bradenton, Florida, before the Indians called.

    ''It's a situation where a player that is universally respected in our organization, he shouldn't be in that camp,'' Francona said.

    ''There is a decent chance we're going to get him ready to go to another team and beat us. Saying that, we all felt like he deserved it. Certainly there could be an injury, but I'm trying to lay it out as honest as I can. It's a very unique situation but he's a very unique person. We're thrilled to have him in here at camp.''

    Napoli became one of the Indians most popular players in 2016, when he connected for a career-high 34 homers and 101 RBIs. However, when the club signed prized free agent Edwin Encarnacion last winter, there was not enough money to also retain Napoli, who wound up signing with Texas.

    Francona spoke to Encarnacion and first baseman Yonder Alonso and explained that Napoli was not going to challenge them for their jobs.

    Francona said just having Napoli around some of the team's younger players is beneficial.

    ''If we end up helping him out, then we've done a good thing,'' he said. ''If anybody deserves it, it's Nap. He did as much as anybody to help us get to the point we could play in a World Series. My biggest concern that he comes in and hits .500 and we don't have a spot for him. He's a kid that we're so crazy about. So we told him up front because I didn't want to damage a relationship that is that important. We walked it through with him.

    ''He's really excited. It's been a hard winter for him. We'll give him his playing time and see where it goes.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Jays P Stroman has shoulder inflammation
    February 27, 2018


    DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman has undergone an MRI exam that found inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

    Stroman expects to resume throwing in the next three to five days.

    ''I know that I'll be back hopefully the very beginning of the season,'' Stroman said.

    Stroman said the MRI exam showed the shoulder is structurally fine.

    ''Super clean, so I was happy with that,'' Stroman said. ''Just a bit of inflammation. It's some thing that I could probably get through if I needed to get through it. This is some thing that I rather deal with now, get it out now rather than some thing that lingers throughout the year.''

    Stroman went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA last year. He struck out 164, two shy of his career high, and walked 62 in 201 innings.

    The 26-year-old Stroman is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. He is open to negotiating a multiyear contract.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    date w-l-t % units record

    02/27/2018 8-5-3 61.54% +13.25

    02/26/2018 8-10-1 44.44% -16.40

    02/25/2018 7-10-1 41.18% -19.90

    02/24/2018 10-7-0 58.82% +9.55

    02/23/2018 6-13-0 31.58% -41.45

    all selections are opinions once the season starts i only select dogs and totals.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS

    PIT at BOS 01:05 PM
    BOS -156

    DET at NYY 01:05 PM
    DET +185

    WAS at MIA 01:05 PM
    WAS -132

    STL at BAL 01:05 PM
    BAL -116

    NYM at ATL 01:05 PM
    ATL -125

    PHI at TOR 01:07 PM
    TOR -125

    CIN at KC 03:05 PM
    CIN +100

    SF at MIL 03:05 PM
    SF +105

    TEX at CHW 03:05 PM
    TEX +100

    OAK at CHC 03:05 PM
    CHC -147

    LAD at SD 03:10 PM
    SD +105

    COL at ARI 03:10 PM
    ARI -125
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Around the bags: Astros 1B Gurriel out 6 weeks as hand heals
    February 28, 2018


    Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel will have to wait even longer before playing this season.

    Gurriel had surgery on his left hand Wednesday and the normal recovery time is six weeks.

    Opening day for the World Series champions is March 29, when the Astros visit Texas. When Gurriel returns, he will serve a five-game suspension imposed by Major League Baseball for making an inappropriate gesture toward Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

    Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Gurriel's hand was broken before he came to camp. Luhnow said he did not know the original cause of the fracture.

    ''It was non-symptomatic until recently and he started to feel something,'' Luhnow said. ''Once you start feeling something, the right course of action is to just remove it because it's a pretty reliable surgery, and we know what the outcome is going to be.''

    The 33-year-old Gurriel hit .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs last year in his first full season in the majors. He played in one exhibition game this spring and homered.

    A.J. Reed, J.D. Davis and Tyler White will get time to audition as a replacement.

    Houston also can turn to Marwin Gonzalez, who feels comfortable all over the field. He played 31 games at first last year, and led Houston with 90 RBIs.

    ''Marwin will get a few more reps at first, although he doesn't need as many reps at first given that we still want to move him around quite a bit,'' manager A.J. Hinch said.

    AROUND THE GRAPEFRUIT AND CACTUS LEAGUES

    TWINS (SS) 4, ASTROS 2


    Jose Altuve went 3 for 3, George Springer had two hits and scored a run and Alex Bregman homered for Houston. Lance McCullers Jr. started for the Astros and allowed two hits with three strikeouts in two innings. Erick Aybar had two hits and scored a run for a Minnesota split squad.

    TIGERS 9, YANKEES 6

    Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge played together for the first time with the Yankees. Stanton doubled, singled and scored on a home run by Gary Sanchez. Judge went 0 for 2 as the DH in his first game since shoulder surgery last November. Daniel Norris started for Detroit and retired the last four batters he faced after Sanchez's first-inning homer.

    RED SOX 4, PIRATES 3

    Xander Bogaerts hit an RBI double for Boston. The Red Sox bullpen threw 6 2/3 shutout innings. Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl pitched two perfect innings. Starling Marte drove in a run and scored.

    RAYS 3, TWINS (SS) 1

    Byron Buxton had the only two hits for Minnesota's split squad, including a solo homer. Twins closer Fernando Rodney pitched the fourth inning and allowed one run on a hit and a walk. Ryan Yarbrough started for Tampa Bay and gave up one hit in two shutout innings. Rays infielder Matt Duffy was scratched because of back spasms.

    MARLINS 3, NATIONALS 1

    Nationals star outfielder Bryce Harper was scratched due to an ingrown toenail and likely won't play again until this weekend.

    Miami starter Odrisamer Despaigne threw three perfect innings and struck out four. Washington starter Tanner Roark allowed two unearned runs in two innings.

    CARDINALS 10, ORIOLES 9

    Manny Machado hit a grand slam and singled for Baltimore. Chris Davis added a three-run shot.

    Yairo Munoz homered twice in the seventh inning and drove in four runs for St. Louis. The Cardinals got the 23-year-old shortstop/outfielder in the winter trade for Stephen Piscotty. Munoz got three hits for the second straight day.

    METS 6, BRAVES 4

    Matt Harvey allowed a run on two hits in two innings in his first spring start for New York. He fanned two and walked one. Zack Wheeler, who hopes to be part of the Mets' rotation, pitched the fourth and allowed a run on three hits. Atlanta starter Brandon McCarthy threw three scoreless innings.

    BLUE JAYS 7, PHILLIES 1

    Curtis Granderson hit a three-run homer off Philadelphia starter Vince Velasquez. Aaron Altherr had a pair of singles for the Phillies. Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna pitched a shutout fourth inning.

    INDIANS (SS) 15, ANGELS 3

    Angels star Mike Trout went 0 for 2 in his first appearance this spring. Jason Kipnis and top prospect Bobby Bradley each had two of the 23 hits by a Cleveland split squad. Angels closer Blake Parker pitched the fourth inning and surrendered three runs on four hits.

    INDIANS (SS) 4, MARINERS 2

    Melvin Upton Jr. hit a two-run homer off closer Edwin Diaz for Cleveland's split squad. Diaz pitched the fifth inning and gave up two hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Taylor Motter had an RBI triple for the Mariners.

    ROCKIES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 3

    A.J. Pollock doubled and scored on Paul Goldschmidt's single against Colorado starter Tyler Anderson. Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia had back-to-back doubles for Colorado. Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin gave up a run on two hits in two innings.

    PADRES 10, DODGERS 5

    San Diego catcher Austin Hedges hit his third home run of the spring. Dinelson Lamet allowed two runs and three hits in a two-inning start for the Padres. Los Angeles reliever Mark Lowe surrendered five runs on five hits and a walk while retiring just one batter.

    WHITE SOX 5, RANGERS 4

    Jose Abreu hit his first Cactus League homer of the spring, a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth for Chicago. Jurickson Profar doubled in a run and scored for Texas. Rangers starter Matt Moore allowed one hit in two shutout innings.

    GIANTS 10, BREWERS 10, 9 INNINGS

    Brandon Crawford had two hits and drove in a run for San Francisco. Milwaukee prospect Keston Hiura had two hits and two RBIs and starter Jhoulys Chacin fanned three in two shutout innings. The Brewers tied it with seven runs in the bottom of the ninth.

    CUBS 7, ATHLETICS 5

    Kyle Hendricks gave up two unearned runs in a two-inning start for Chicago. Anthony Rizzo had two hits and scored a run for the Cubs. Khris Davis hit a two-run homer for Oakland.

    ROYALS 3, REDS 2

    Alcides Escobar had two hits for Kansas City, which is 4-0 and the only unbeaten team in exhibition play. Salvador Perez doubled in a run for the Royals.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Twins finalize $6.5M deal with Morrison
    February 28, 2018


    The Minnesota Twins were all about upgrading their pitching this winter, giving both their bullpen and their rotation with a series of acquisitions.

    With the market moving slowly, though, there were position players still available for sensible investments.

    That included Logan Morrison and his 38 home runs.

    Morrison and the Twins finalized a $6.5 million, one-year contract Wednesday, a deal that includes a $5.5 million salary this year and an $8 million club option for 2019 with a $1 million buyout.

    ''In the free agent market, you are trying to buy wins. You are trying to buy production,'' Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. ''Ultimately we felt we could buy it at a reasonable cost on the bat side.''

    Morrison could earn $1.5 million in performance bonuses this year: $500,000 each for 450, 500 and 550 plate appearances. The 2019 option price would increase to $8.5 million if he has 500 plate appearances this year and would go up to $9 million with a $1.5 million buyout if he has 550. The 2019 salary would become guaranteed at $9.5 million if he has 600.

    Morrison agreed to terms last weekend subject to a successful physical and was introduced during a news conference at Twins spring training headquarters in Fort Myers, Florida. The 30-year-old drove in 85 runs for the Tampa Rays last season to go with his career-best 38 homers. His .868 OPS was higher than that of any Twins player last year.

    ''We're hopeful that's the player we're getting moving forward,'' Falvey said.

    His patience tested by the lack of action in free agency, Morrison, said he turned down offers from a couple of other teams before he found a fit with the Twins. The potential for postseason success on a team that reached the AL wild card game last year was one selling point. The way Falvey and the rest of the organization made him feel wanted was another one.

    The Twins made clear to Morrison that they sought him to be their primary designated hitter, though he'll certainly give Joe Mauer a break from time to time at first base. He could also in a pinch play either of the corner outfield spots, since he began his major league career as a left fielder for the Florida Marlins in 2010.

    ''I'm just going to be me. And I think if I'm me, we're going to have a lot of fun, we're going to win a lot of games, and if I'm DH-ing or playing first, whatever,'' Morrison said. ''If I'm DH-ing that day, help the team get some hits. If I'm playing first, I'm going to get some hits, hit some homers and save some runs.''

    Morrison had his lively personality on display Wednesday, casually referring to manager Paul Molitor as ''Pauly 3K'' to reference his membership in the 3,000-hit club and making an open call to Minnesotans to rent him a lake house for the season.

    ''The closer to the field, the better, but whatever,'' Morrison said.

    Now married with a 2+-year-old daughter, Morrison has matured beyond his early seasons when he was more of a loose cannon, particularly when using his Twitter account. An adjustment to his swing helped unlock more of his power last year, but he also credited the grounding provided by the presence of his young family.

    ''I stopped thinking so much about myself,'' Morrison said. ''Listen, anybody that tells you they're a team guy first, there is no `I' in team, but there is a `me.' You have to take care of yourself first, before you can help other players. Being able to learn that has helped me. I'm here for those guys if they need me to help them with their swing or their approach, fielding ground balls. The experience of moving to a new position. Going back to your old position. I've done a lot in a short time.''

    Falvey said there's a ''high likelihood'' the Twins are finished adding players, after signing relievers Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke and trading for starter Jake Odorizzi. Morrison pushed their payroll past the team's previous opening-day high of more than $112 million in 2011. They have also added two veterans on no-guarantee contracts, starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and shortstop Erick Aybar.

    ''I feel like we have a really good thing going here from top to bottom,'' Morrison said. ''They've made it real easy for me to come in and feel welcome.''
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Jeter may be stuck with Marlins' sculpture
    February 28, 2018


    MIAMI (AP) Season previews suggesting the Miami Marlins have an entirely new look in the outfield aren't quite accurate.

    Yes, major league home run king Giancarlo Stanton is gone. So are Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and even fourth outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

    But the Red Grooms home run sculpture remains.

    While the Marlins have undergone a radical makeover under CEO Derek Jeter, he has yet to find a new home for the kitschy, colorful, carnivalesque sculpture nicknamed Homer. It stands beyond the center field wall at Marlins Park, the towering legacy of former owner Jeffrey Loria, and nearly as unpopular.

    What's Jeter's opinion of the 73-foot-tall artwork?

    ''It's big,'' he said. ''It's big. It's big.''

    Does he like it?

    ''It's unique,'' he said.

    Translation: He hates it. Ex-Yankees shortstops and other traditionalists tend to give the sculpture a thumbs-down.

    Like the Marlins, however, Homer does have a few fans. They consider the pop art very Miami, and right at home in a ballpark with garish green walls, a nightclub in left field and fish tanks behind home plate.

    ''A lot of people hate it, but I don't know why,'' New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler said. ''It's a wild stadium, and that thing is pretty wild, so why not?''

    Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler said his kids enjoy the sculpture, which springs into motion whenever the home team homers.

    ''They're 2 and 3,'' Ziegler said. ''They always liked seeing the Marlin go flying when Mr. Giancarlo and Mr. Christian and Mr. Marcell would hit home runs.''

    Jeter traded Mr. Giancarlo and Mr. Christian and Mr. Marcell. But who would be interested in acquiring Homer?

    Jeter's old team is out; it's impossible to envision the sculpture at Yankee Stadium, although Babe Ruth probably would have loved it. Fenway Park and Wrigley Field don't seem like good matches either.

    A better option would be someplace like Houston, a modern city with a modern ballpark and more homers to celebrate lately. What would the World Series champions give up for Miami's home run sculpture?

    ''A bag of sunflower seeds and a bucket of practice balls,'' Astros catcher Evan Gattis said.

    How about the San Francisco Giants? The sculpture looks like something from a Grateful Dead album cover.

    ''Hah! Gonna pass on that one,'' Giants CEO Larry Baer said in a text message. ''Cannot block views of the Bay.''

    Washington, perhaps? The nation's capital has a fondness for monuments.

    But even the Nationals show no interest in Homer.

    ''There's not really much I want to trade out of DC,'' Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez said. ''I wouldn't trade anybody for that. I wouldn't trade the cherry blossoms. And we wouldn't even know where to put it.''

    If there's no trade to be made, Jeter would probably be happy to relocate Homer at the bottom of Biscayne Bay. But like Marlins Park, the sculpture is the property of Miami-Dade County. Grooms wants it to stay where it is.

    Move the $2.5 million sculpture over Grooms' objection, and it could lose almost all of its value, said Michael Spring, director of the county's department of cultural affairs.

    ''There are no plans to move it at the moment,'' Spring said. ''Everyone would love for there to be more news, but it isn't at the top of our agenda.''

    Sending the sculpture to another ballpark might appease Grooms, and Spring laughed at the idea of a trade. But he declined to endorse even a straight-up deal for, say, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the Mets' home run apple.

    ''We're not interested in trading public art,'' Spring said.

    So wheeler-dealer Jeter might be stuck. He can trade away players who hit lots of homers, but Homer seems here to stay.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Locas Duda, Royals agree to contract
    February 28, 2018


    SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Lucas Duda's arm was challenged by Eric Hosmer, who made a delayed dash home on the high throw to score the tying run in the ninth inning of what turned out to be the finale of the Kansas City Royals' five-game win over the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series.

    Now Duda is replacing Hosmer.

    ''It's funny how baseball works out,'' Duda said Wednesday after agreeing to a $3.5 million, one-year contract with the Royals that allows him to earn $1.3 million more in performance bonuses. ''You definitely learn from failure. It makes you strong as a person, as a player. For the Kansas City fans out there that don't think maybe I'm the right fit or whatever it may be, I'm out to prove them wrong.''

    Royals manager Ned Yost said he will not mention the play to Duda.

    ''It's not an elephant in the room,'' Yost said. ''It's a one-time play. If we make the play again, he might have thrown Hos out by 10 feet. You don't know. It's just something that happened.''

    Hosmer became a free agent and agreed to a $144 million, eight-year contract with San Diego. Before adding Duda, the Royals' candidates included a trio of players with no first-base experience in the major leagues: Hunter Dozier, Frank Schwindel and Ryan O'Hearn.

    ''I was glad we could get Duda because I felt like it that was a spot that was going to be a pretty big hole was first base,'' Yost said. ''We looked around and I think we are pretty well covered for the most part. It never hurts if something falls into your lap or becomes available that can help us.''

    The 32-year-old Duda hit .217 with 30 homers and 64 RBIs last year for the New York Mets and Tampa Bay, which acquired him on July 27. He had 58 extra-base hits and a .496 slugging percentage.

    Drafted by the Mets in 2007, Duda has a .242 average with 138 homers and 405 RBIs in eight major league seasons. He is a left-handed hitter, which was attractive to the Royals.

    ''We're so dominant right-handed we needed to try to find ways to incorporate more left-handed swings in our lineup,'' Yost said.

    Duda would earn a $100,000 bonuses for 300 plate appearances and each additional 25 through 600. He likely will appear in a spring training game later this week.

    Due to the slow free agent market, he arrived in camp two weeks after many teammates.

    ''Not an ideal situation,'' Duda said. ''Hopefully, I can get ready in the next month or so and have a productive season. We have a nice group of veterans, young talent, some great arms. It's going to be fun. We're going to surprise some people. I've been in this situation before. It's nothing new.''

    Kansas City also acquired 19-year-old minor league right-handed pitcher Domingo Pena from the Texas Rangers for $250,000 in international signing bonus pool allocation.
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    Martinez calls in camels to get over hump
    February 28, 2018


    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Hump day had a more tangible meaning for the Washington Nationals.

    New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to spring training camp Wednesday, four-legged visual aids to help players launch a journey aimed at getting over the franchise's playoff hump.

    ''I don't know if it's so much as embrace it, but just not worry about it because so much as been made about it,'' first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. ''It's fair for people to write about it, but making the playoffs every year, winning divisions every year to me is already over the hump. We used to lose 90 games every year. People forget that.''

    The Nationals have reached the playoffs in four of the last six seasons but have not won a postseason series since relocating to Washington ahead of the 2005 season.

    Martinez joined players for the team's daily ''Circle of Trust'' meeting on the turf infield outside the clubhouse at 9:30 a.m. Not long into the meeting, first base coach Tim Bogar and third base coach Bob Henley rode camels onto the field.

    ''I thought it was a great idea,'' said Bogar, who's first foray into camel riding came on a cow named Blondie. ''I thought it was something just to make sure they cleared their minds and they had fun with it. We embraced it. I thought the guys reacted to it real well. From what I could see everybody was having a good time with it.''

    Wearing a Washington Nationals floppy hat with a red and white checkered towel flowing from underneath, Henley repeatedly yelled ''Hump Day!'' - a reference both to a famous television commercial and a common nickname for Wednesday - while atop a camel named Lawrence. Bogar and Henley parked their camels on each side of the walkway that leads from the meeting area to the practice fields, and players walked between.

    ''It was fun,'' reliever Ryan Madsen said. ''It's fun. It's nice to have a camp loose. It's nice to have the courtesy to have a loose camp when you have a good team.''

    Unlike many of his teammates, Madsen has some familiarity with camels. A camel named Hoover lives near his Arizona home, and Madsen frequently takes his daughters on bike rides to visit the camel.

    ''He got a little overweight, so he just lays down a lot now,'' Madsen said. ''They've got him on a diet.''

    There was some concern that the Florida camels might have smelled Hoover on Madsen.

    ''The one was looking at me funny,'' Madsen said, sticking out his lower jaw for emphasis. ''It was showing its tooth at me and he had that kind of crazy look in his eye, so maybe it was his long lost cousin.''

    After the players walked the camel gauntlet, Bogar and Henley rode Blondie and Lawrence to the practice field. No one rode the third camel, named Brown. He only made the trip, according to Bogar, because Blondie refuses to go anywhere without Brown.

    When not motivating professional baseball team, the camels reside at a petting zoo in nearby Jupiter.

    In his first season as the Nationals manager, Martinez spent 10 years as Joe Maddon's bench coach with the Chicago Cubs and Tampa. Maddon is well known for his spring training stunts designed to keep players loose.

    The camels exited the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches well before the Nationals returned to the clubhouse following the workout. Washington played Miami in Jupiter later Wednesday.

    ''All I've got to ask you guys is, Can you still smell me?'' said Bogar before boarding the bus.

    **********************

    Napoli's Tribe stint may be short-lived
    February 28, 2018


    GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) Mike Napoli felt back home on Wednesday, walking around a clubhouse he knew and catching up with teammates he enjoys.

    Everyone involved knows this reunion between Napoli and the Cleveland Indians most likely is just temporary and will end up with Napoli playing elsewhere.

    ''It came together pretty quick,'' Napoli said Wednesday after signing a minor league deal. ''Talking with my agent and he said there would be an opportunity to come in here to camp. Obviously we had conversations about the roster and what is going on. I'm very fortunate this organization has given me the opportunity to come here and get into shape and kind of showcase a little bit. I'm very fortunate to have them have me in camp.

    Napoli is at spring training largely because manager Terry Francona wanted to give the 36-year-old slugger an opportunity to showcase what he still has, but with the clear knowledge there isn't a spot on the Indians roster for Napoli. Edwin Encarnacion is Cleveland's designated hitter; Yonder Alonso is Cleveland's first baseman. Only an injury would change those plans at this time.

    Napoli is with Cleveland to audition for others, making it unlikely he would get the $1.75 million salary that would be triggered if he is added to the 40-man roster.

    ''I know the situation. I know that guys here have to get ready to play,'' Napoli said. ''I'm willing to do whatever I have to do to get ready to play to get some game time. The understanding of everything is plain and clear. We know what is going on. There's nothing that's going to ruin any relationship here with these guys. They're giving me an opportunity to get ready to play and it's probably going to be somewhere else. Things happen but I'm just going to play it out and see what happens.''

    Francona noted the difficulty of the situation for Napoli and how invested he was in the success of the Indians in 2016 when they lost to the Cubs in the World Series. His message when Napoli arrived was simple: have fun.

    ''The one thing I was reminding him, I said `Nap of all the things you have done in this game, all the time you have put in, you deserve the right to enjoy when you play. I want you to enjoy.' I think he understood that,'' Francona said. ''I hope it helped. I think it did because when I was listening to him talk he can't be all in because he understands that he might; there are just a lot of variables. I get it. And the way Nap is built, he is built to be all in. So it's a little different. But he's earned the right to enjoy when he plays and I want him to do that.''

    Napoli hoped never to leave Cleveland after helping the Indians within a game of the title in 2016. Napoli hit a career-high 34 home runs and 101 RBIs, but when Cleveland landed Encarnacion as a free agent before the 2017 season, Napoli was without a place in Cleveland's plans.

    He slumped last season in Texas, hitting just .193 with 29 homers and 66 RBIs, and found himself among the large list of prominent free agents without a team when spring training started.

    ''It's pretty crazy the amount of free agents that are still out there. Can't really put my finger on it but it's what is going on right now,'' Napoli said. ''Like I said I'm fortunate to be able to get into camp here.

    Napoli briefly joined the free agent camp arranged by the players' association in Florida because he didn't have the facilities he needed at home in the Dallas area. But he welcome the opportunity when Francona and the Indians called.

    ''We've obviously kept in touch and we're really close. He means a lot to me,'' Napoli said of Francona. ''For him to allow me to come here and be part of this camp and be myself and do what I do, help the guys out in any way and also get me into shape and ready to play baseball, it's just a great opportunity for me and I'm grateful for it.''

    *****************************

    Brewers' Stephen Vogt to miss 3 weeks
    February 28, 2018


    PHOENIX (AP) Milwaukee Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt is expected to miss two to three weeks because of a strained right shoulder.

    The injury occured last week during a spring training workout. Vogt said he felt something awkward during a drill, but attributed it to getting back into game shape.

    Vogt caught Milwaukee's spring training opener on Friday. He got an MRI after discomfort lingered through the weekend, and the test revealed a strain.

    ''The soreness kind of crept up and it got to a point where I had to stop throwing,'' Vogt said Wednesday. ''I'm thankful that it's not something more serious than just a strain.''

    The 27-year-old hit .254 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs in 45 games after he was claimed off waivers from Oakland. He missed nearly a month during the season with a sprained left knee and had surgery in the offseason on his right elbow.

    Vogt agreed to a $3,065,000, one-year contract that is not guaranteed and arrived at camp prepared to compete with Jett Bandy for a roster spot behind likely starter Manny Pina.

    Baserunners were successful on 27 of 28 stolen base attempts against Vogt last season. Vogt focused much of his preparation during the offseason and spring training on adjusting his arm slot and used weighted balls to improve arm strength.

    ''He's frustrated but he knows what's in front of him so hopefully he can get back and still have time to get ready,'' manager Craig Counsell said.

    NOTES: Ryan Braun made his first-ever start at first base and got tested early. He had to go full extension to haul in a wide throw from Jhoulys Chacin on Steven Duggar's leadoff single, then found himself involved in a rundown later in the inning. Braun played four innings of the game that ended with a 10-all tie with the Giants. ''He was able to get some action right off the bat,'' Counsell said. ''It was a real positive experience for his first day.'' ... RHP Jimmy Nelson (shoulder) has taken part in all workouts this spring and throwing off flat ground. Nelson, who is expected to miss at least the first couple months of the season, won't start working from a mound until late in spring training. ''He started the throwing program before we thought (he would) and he hasn't missed a day. He's doing great,'' Counsell said. Nelson had season-ending right shoulder surgery on Sept. 12, four days after he was hurt while diving back to first after rounding the base on a single.
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    Rays eye bright future, reject notion of tanking
    February 28, 2018


    PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) A month before opening day, the Tampa Bay Rays reject the notion they're tanking this season.

    Minus Evan Longoria and other familiar names, the budget-minded team likely will have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball again this year. But club management insists its concerted effort to trim salary and bolster a talent-rich farm system are not a sign of giving up on 2018.

    Nor does it send mixed signals to fans, local businesses and government officials at a time when the club is seeking support to build a new stadium, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said during a visit to spring training this week.

    The franchise has played home games at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg since the team's inception in 1998.

    Earlier this month, the team identified a site in Tampa's Ybor City neighborhood as the preferred location for a new home.

    ''I don't tie the two together. We're going to do what's in the best interest of the organization. That means we're going to give this team the best opportunity to compete, year in and year out,'' Sternberg said.

    ''How that plays into a new ballpark or any other factors - while meaningful, I have to separate because our first, second, third and primary job is to put a competitive team out here ... to be competitive consistently,'' the owner added. ''We have done that. We are going to continue to do that.''

    Longoria, the face of the franchise for nearly a decade, was traded in December. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi and outfielders Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr. have been shipped out since the start of spring training.

    Sternberg and general manager Erik Neander are excited by what the team received in return, mostly young minor leaguers who will be counted on to help make the Rays, coming off a fourth consecutive losing season, in the future.

    ''If somebody wants to give me the No. 5 prospect in baseball for somebody who's making a lot of money, I'll be happy to cut payroll,'' Sternberg said. ''But we're not interested in cutting payroll and not putting this organization on better footing for 2018 and beyond.''

    Strong starting pitching and solid defense were the key to a stretch in which Tampa Bay made the playoffs four of six seasons from 2008 to 2013. Those teams were boosted by players taken highly in the draft.

    Despite losing right-hander Alex Cobb to free agency and trading Odorizzi, Neander feels that's still a combination that will serve the team well as it tries to keep pace in the tough AL East, where the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays all outspend the Rays.

    Part of the GM's optimism moving forward is based on the quality of a successful minor league system featuring a glut of young talent on the verge of being ready to help the organization on the major league level.

    ''We've been really focused on growing something special underneath that more of less wasn't present four years ago,'' Neander said.

    ''As we've been doing that, as hard as some of decisions have been along the way, we've never tanked,'' Neander added. ''We've never gone into a season with a roster that looks like it's targeted for 50 wins. ... That's never been our approach.''

    Nevertheless, some of the moves this winter have not been popular in the Rays clubhouse.

    Defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier described himself as ''frustrated and very upset'' after Odorizzi and Dickerson were moved.

    By the time, Souza was traded three days later, the star center fielder who signed a $53.5 million contract last spring, said it was time to look ahead - not behind.

    ''I feel like the Rays, no matter what our roster is, will always be an underdog,'' Kiermaier said. ''It's our job to go out and prove people wrong. ... There's no need to pout.''

    The directive to trim payroll was issued by Sternberg, who unexpectedly agreed to add more than $10 million in salary last July, when the Rays went ''all in'' in hopes of improving their chances for a playoff berth.

    But despite all the offseason maneuvering and trimming, the owner notes Tampa Bay still is in line to begin the season with a payroll comparable to the one (about $70 million) it began with a year ago.

    ''We have a good sense of what we're doing. We have a pretty good track record, I'll say a great track record, in putting ... an incredibly competitive product on the field for the last 10 years, and I'll stand by that for 2018 and beyond as well,'' Sternberg said.

    The owner declined to speculate on how many games the Rays will win this year, except to interject ''more than you think.''

    ''There's no way of knowing, but I do think we've been sold short,'' Sternberg said.

    ''I know we are in tremendous shape, as good of shape as we've ever been as an organization, for the next five years,'' he added, ''and that starts opening day.''
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    Judge, Stanton, Sanchez all in Yankees' lineup for 1st time
    February 28, 2018


    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) New York Yankees' fans had been waiting for this: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez hitting back-to-back-to-back.

    With the slugging trio in the lineup together for the first time, Sanchez hit a long home run, Stanton had two hits and Judge hit a hard grounder in Wednesday's 9-6 spring training loss to the Detroit Tigers.

    Stanton reached on a pop-fly single to right with one out in the first and Sanchez sent the next pitch from left-hander Daniel Norris over the left-center field scoreboard at Steinbrenner Field.

    ''It feels great when you hit squarely,'' Sanchez said through a translator.

    Norris didn't watch the ball leave the park.

    ''It was really loud,'' he said. ''I figured it was gone. A first-pitch ambush heater that got hit really far.''

    Stanton, acquired from Miami in December, also doubled off the right-field wall and flied out to deep center. Sanchez added a soft single to center.

    ''It looked like he was back in the (home run) derby kicking my butt,'' Stanton said of Sanchez.

    Judge, the designated hitter in his first game since offseason left shoulder surgery, struck out and hit a smash down the third-base line that Jeimer Candelario snagged with a backhand grab while on one knee.

    ''It felt great,'' Judge said. ''It felt like an opening day, getting a chance to be back out with the guys again. Making the progress we wanted.''

    Judge was the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year after hitting a league-high 52 homers with 114 RBIs. He had surgery Nov. 20 for loose-body removal and cartilage clean up.

    Sanchez had 33 homers last year despite missing most of April with a biceps injury. His early power impressed Judge.

    ''I feel like he can just wake-up out of bed with no swings, get into a game and do that,'' Judge said.

    Stanton won the NL MVP award last year after hitting a big league-high 59 homers with 132 RBIs.

    New York's lineup was filled with most of the players likely to start the March 29 opener at Toronto, though new Yankees manager Aaron Boone said against most right-handers he likely will break his sluggers.

    ''Murderers' row,'' a smiling Norris said.

    Notes: OF Clint Frazier, who sustained a concussion when running into a fence during Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, rode a stationary bike for 11+ minutes and took 25 swings. He has a slight headache but said he is feeling better. ... LHP CC Sabathia is to make his first spring training start Thursday against Philadelphia. ... RHP Masahiro Tanaka had a 27-pitch bullpen session in preparation for his initial start Friday.
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    Astros 1B Gurriel to miss start of season
    February 28, 2018


    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Houston first baseman Yuli Gurriel had surgery on his left hand Wednesday and is expected to miss the start of the season.

    Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow says doctors removed the hook of the hamate bone, which was broken before Gurriel arrived at camp.

    Luhnow said he did not know the original cause of the fracture.

    ''It was non-symptomatic until recently and he started to feel something,'' Luhnow said. ''Once you start feeling something, the right course of action is to just remove it because it's a pretty reliable surgery, and we know what the outcome is going to be.''

    The 33-year-old Gurriel hit .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs last year in his first full season in the majors. He signed with Houston following a stellar career in Cuba and a brief stint in Japan.

    Gurriel appeared in one exhibition game this spring training, homering in the second of his two at-bats. The Astros scratched Gurriel from Monday's lineup and he returned to Houston on Tuesday.

    Manager A.J. Hinch expects Gurriel to return to Astros camp as early as this weekend.

    Normal recovery time is six weeks, which means Gurriel will miss the first two weeks of the season. When he returns he will serve a five-game suspension for an inappropriate gesture made toward Los Angeles pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series.

    A.J. Reed, J.D. Davis and Tyler White will get time to audition as a replacement.

    Reed is left-handed batter who hit 34 homers last season at Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League. He hit .156 with three homers in 128 major league at-bats over the past two seasons..

    Davis, who also can play third, hit .226 in a 24-game call-up last year for the Astros. He is a .229 hitter in 310 at-bats over two seasons.

    ''Our depth of prospects has performed so far this spring,'' Luhnow said. ''They look good and they've got great attitudes.''

    Houston also can turn to Marwin Gonzalez, who can play any position other than catcher. Gonzalez, who played 31 games at first last season, led the Astros with 90 RBIs.

    ''Marwin will get a few more reps at first, although he doesn't need as many reps at first given that we still want to move him around quite a bit,'' Hinch said.
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