Phillies pitcher Francisco Rodriguez still has the desire to return to the once-great K-Rod form

Sports / Baseball /

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The career of Francisco Rodriguez should have ended last July when he was released by Washington. The Nationals were the second team to dump him in three weeks. His fastball lost velocity, his pitches lacked movement, and the once-great K-Rod was humbled by double-A hitters.

Rodriguez already had a World Series ring and racked ...Read more

Defense will decide if Kemp sticks with Dodgers

Sports / Baseball /

PHOENIX -- Frost still covered the grass at Camelback Ranch when Matt Kemp met with Los Angeles Dodgers first base coach George Lombard this week. Kemp had asked Lombard to help prepare him for the coming season, so at 7:45 a.m. Lombard chopped ground balls toward a two-time All-Star attempting an improbable revival with the Dodgers.

"He's here...Read more

Marlins treat Stoneman Douglas players to an afternoon of baseball

Sports / Baseball /

JUPITER, Fla. -- A player for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team politely asked Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison if he would mind giving him a bat as a souvenir.

"Not only will I give you one of my bats," Harrison said, "I'll get you a brand new one."

And with that, Harrison raced inside the Marlins' clubhouse to find a ...Read more

Cubs will consider at least four candidates for leadoff spot

Sports / Baseball /

PHOENIX -- The Cubs' unconventional possibilities for the leadoff spot don't include Kris Bryant, but manager Joe Maddon will consider at least four candidates.

"We're going to try to audition the dudes we think might be in that spot," Maddon said Friday before putting switch hitter Ian Happ at the top against the Brewers in the exhibition ...Read more

Dodgers' Barnes will give 'barking' elbow a rest

Sports / Baseball /

PHOENIX -- The baseball whistled into the mitt of Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. He rose for a return throw to pitcher Kenta Maeda. Barnes settled back into his crouch, a picture of late February mundanity at Camelback Ranch.

Barnes completed a regular workout Thursday. He caught Maeda during an inning of live batting practice. He threw to ...Read more

Venezuelan A's struggle to focus on baseball with country's turmoil

Sports / Baseball /

MESA, Ariz. -- Most baseball players show up to the clubhouse worried about having a good day at the plate or on the mound. A's top prospect Franklin Barreto and relief pitcher Yusmeiro Petit have more pressing issues on their mind.

Venezuela is on the verge of a civil war. Caracas, the country's capital city and Barreto's hometown, seems to be...Read more

How the Royals are using sports science to gain an advantage

Sports / Baseball /

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- On most days this spring, Whit Merrifield sets his alarm clock for around 6 a.m. One hour later, he's already on site at Royals camp, preferring a workout in the morning and a protein-laden breakfast inside the clubhouse kitchen before the day officially starts. His routine is simple.

Merrifield, the Royals' second baseman, ...Read more

Windup a bit of a stretch for Dodgers' Wood

Sports / Baseball /

PHOENIX -- The realization struck Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood one day last September. He was watching a game in the dugout with fellow pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and they got to talking about how pitchers use two deliveries. Wood would later refer to this conversation as "an epiphany."

"What idiot created the windup and the stretch?" ...Read more

Cubs' Javier Baez can earn more plate appearances with plate discipline

Sports / Baseball /

MESA, Ariz. -- The chances of Javier Baez getting as many as 600 plate appearances in 2018 will improve if Ben Zobrist needs more rest.

But perhaps a bigger factor will be if Baez can become a more polished hitter.

"He's at that point now (that) to get those 500 to 600 plate appearances, (he needs to) organize (his) strike zone, accept walks ...Read more

Padres believe Eric Hosmer's arrival will be big for Wil Myers

Sports / Baseball /

Wil Myers readily embraced the role of team leader last season. It was something he didn't seek but was thrust upon him by virtue of a big contract signed in January and his relative seniority among a young team's position players.

No one can truly know the effects of shouldering the expectations Myers so badly wanted to fulfill and also the ...Read more

Cameron Maybin reunites with Marlins after signing free-agent deal

Sports / Baseball /

JUPITER, Fla. -- Cameron Maybin is a Marlin again.

Miami signed the 30-year-old outfielder to a one-year deal, the team announced Wednesday, an early-spring addition that gives the Marlins much-needed stability in the outfield and a veteran presence in what is expected to be a young clubhouse.

The deal is worth $3.25 million, FanRag Sports ...Read more

Anthony Rizzo on MLB teams wearing Stoneman Douglas caps on Friday: 'It's awesome'

Sports / Baseball /

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was pleased to learn that all 30 major-league teams will wear Stoneman Douglas High School baseball caps to honor the 17 people who died in a shooting last week at his alma mater.

"I think it's awesome," Rizzo said Wednesday, less than one week after he spoke at a vigil in his hometown of Parkland...Read more

Yu Darvish makes quick favorable impression on new Cubs teammates

Sports / Baseball /

MESA, Ariz. -- After watching one of Yu Darvish's pitches during a batting-practice session Tuesday, Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber merely said, "Oh, God."

"Insane," Willson Contreras added after catching Darvish's first bullpen session and then following Schwarber in the cage.

Manager Joe Maddon tried to provide perspective as he looked at his ...Read more

Mound visit rules troublesome to Cubs catcher Willson Contreras

Sports / Baseball /

MESA, Ariz. -- Try to stop an animated Willson Contreras from making the Cubs' seventh trip to the mound without a pitching change.

That will be the task for umpires assigned to enforce new rules governing pace of play, and Contreras has no intention of taking risks that would put his pitcher in jeopardy.

"I've been reading a lot about this ...Read more

MLB teams planning to wear Stoneman Douglas caps Friday in Florida and Arizona

Sports / Baseball /

JUPITER, Fla. -- To honor the victims of last week's school shooting, Major League Baseball teams intend to wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas caps on Friday for the start of spring training games in Florida and Arizona.

The league's official cap company, New Era, is making the special caps for players to wear when play begins in both the Grapefruit...Read more

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw satisfied after first session of live batting practice

Sports / Baseball /

PHOENIX -- The first pitch of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw's spring met an unfortunate demise. Yasiel Puig cracked it into center field to open the session of live batting practice. On a chilly day at Camelback Ranch, Kershaw did not expect an ambush.

"I probably should have," Kershaw said with a grin. "I didn't realize they faced guys yesterday...Read more

Marlins plan to wear Stoneman Douglas hats Friday

Sports / Baseball /

Miami Marlins plan to carry a small piece of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High with them before their first game of spring training, and that's not just a figure of speech.

The team ordered dozens of Douglas baseball caps for players and field staff to wear Friday, in support of the school following last week's mass shooting. The Marlins plan to ...Read more

Marlins' Don Mattingly to Nationals' Bryce Harper: 'Take care of your own dugout'

Sports / Baseball /

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly responded Tuesday to Bryce Harper's comments Monday by telling the Washington Nationals outfielder to "take care of your own dugout."

"It's our job to take care of ourselves. It's not really his place to comment on us," said Mattingly, who didn't come off as particularly mad or annoyed. "He doesn't really ...Read more

Eric Hosmer honors former teammate Yordano Ventura with Padres number

Sports / Baseball /

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Eric Hosmer knew what he wanted to do when he found out his old number was not available with his new team.

With No. 35 taken -- retired, actually, in honor of former Cy Young winner Randy Jones -- Hosmer decided on wearing No. 30 as a Padre.

It is a tribute to former Kansas City Royals teammate Yordano Ventura. The pitcher, ...Read more

New Padre Hosmer eager for 'great moments' in San Diego

Sports / Baseball /

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Now it's Padres season.

"Spring training starts today," Eric Hosmer said. "I'm just happy to go play baseball."

The Padres on Tuesday introduced the player they gave the largest contract in team history with the expectation he will be a cornerstone of their building process as both a star on the field and a mentor in the ...Read more