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  • MLB roundup: Ninth-inning homers lift Blue Jays
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up bases-empty homers to Alex Monsalve and Christian Lopes in the ninth inning, and Toronto Blue Jays posted a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday in Lakeland, Fla. Toronto's Ryan McBroom hit his third homer of the spring in the seventh inning.

    • Nick Castellanos had his fourth homer and eighth double for the Tigers, and Jordan Zimmermann gave up two hits and one earned run in 5 1/3 innings in the most efficient of his five spring starts.

      Red Sox 7, Twins 2

      Chris Sale gave up six hits and struck out six in five scoreless innings, and Christian Vazquez, Andrew Benintendi and Steve Selsky homered for Boston at Fort Myers, Fla. Benintendi's homer was his third. Kyle Gibson gave up four hits and struck out four in six scoreless innings for the Twins, dropping his ERA to 1.59 in seven spring starts. Eddie Rosario, just back from the World Baseball Classic, had three hits.

      Astros 5, Nationals 1

      Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez homered, Jose Altuve stole two bases, and Joe Musgrove improved to 3-0 while dropping his ERA to 2.45 in six spring starts as Houston topped Washington in West Palm Beach, Fla. Bryce Harper drove in his 11th run with a sacrifice fly for the Nationals, and Gio Gonzalez gave up six hits and five runs in five innings.

      Cardinals 3, Marlins 0

      Mike Leake gave up seven hits, including six singles, and struck out two in six scoreless innings, and Yadier Molina and Dexter Fowler had two hits apiece, including bases-empty homers, as St. Louis topped Florida in Jupiter, Fla. Ichiro Suzuki had two of the Marlins' eight hits.

      Phillies 6, Pirates 3

      Maikel Franco hit his fifth homer of the spring and Andrew Knapp had his second in Philadelphia's five-run first inning off Pittsburgh's Josh Lindblom in Clearwater, Fla. Phillies starter Clay Buchholz gave up five hits, four walks and three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Pirates outfielder Jose Osuna continued his spring surge with a two-run double in the third inning. He is hitting .417 with 16 RBIs.

      Yankees 7, Rays 4

      Aaron Hicks hit his third homer of the spring and Ruben Tejada hit his first for New York in a win over Tampa Bay at Tampa, Fla. Bryan Mitchell, a candidate for one of two open spots in the Yankees' rotation, gave up six hits and three runs in three innings. Brad Miller had two singles and two RBIs for the Rays, and Mallex Smith had his fourth stolen base of the spring.

      Orioles 2, Blue Jays 1

      Third baseman Chris Johnson had two hits and an RBI, and Jayson Aquino gave up one run and struck out four in four innings during his first Grapefruit League start as Baltimore topped Toronto in Dunedin, Fla. Aquino previously made five spring relief appearances. Blue Jays lefty Francisco Liriano gave up two hits and one run and struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings.

      Mets 8, Braves 2

      Jose Reyes had three hits, including a triple, and Matt Harvey gave up two runs in six innings in his most effective start as New York beat Atlanta in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Yoenis Cespedes had a single and is hitting .395. Tyler Flowers and Emilio Bonifacio had two hits apiece for the Braves. Atlanta's Matt Wisler gave up eight hits and two runs in five innings during his second spring start.

      Indians 6, Diamondbacks 5

      Michael Brantley hit his first homer of the spring, and Chris Colabello hit his third in a five-run first inning off Robbie Ray, who gave up all six runs. Colabello had three hits and Yan Gomes added two.

      Arizona's David Peralta had two hits and his second homer, and Yasmany Tomas doubled in his first major league game since March 5, returning from an oblique injury. Trevor Bauer gave up three runs and seven hits while striking out eight in five innings.

      Rangers 3, Dodgers 2

      Cole Hamels gave up one run in five innings and Mike Napoli hit his second homer of the spring as Texas beat Los Angeles in Surprise, Ariz. Hamels gave up two hits and struck out two. Dodgers left-hander Scott Kazmir allowed three runs on three hits and five walks in three innings during his third spring start after missing time because of a hip injury. Kazmir appears to have fallen out of the running for a spot in the rotation.

      White Sox 4, Giants 3

      Melky Cabrera had two hits and James Shields gave up three runs in five innings for the White Sox, who scored two runs in the last of the ninth to walk off the Giants in Glendale, Ariz. Eduardo Nunez had a hit and two RBIs, and Ty Blach, a contender for the final rotation spot, gave up two runs in six innings.

      A's 11, Brewers 1

      Catcher Bruce Maxwell hit two homers and Jharel Cotton struck out seven and gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings as Oakland beat Milwaukee in Phoenix. Frankie Montas continued a strong spring with two scoreless innings in relief. Ryan Braun homered off Cotton for the Brewers' only run. Matt Garza gave up five runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings.

      Cubs (ss) 22, Reds (ss) 4

      Albert Almora hit two homers and drove in five runs, and Anthony Rizzo led off the last of the first inning with his third homer of the spring in a split-squad game in Las Vegas. Rookie Bijan Rademacher had three hits, including a grand slam, after replacing Kyle Schwarber as a pinch runner in the first inning. Schwarber played the previous two games and was scheduled to have only one plate appearance.

      Mariners 7, Reds (ss) 6

      Rookie Tyler Motter hit his third homer of the spring and Mitch Hainger had his 10th double as Seattle beat Cincinnati in a split-squad game in Goodyear, Ariz. Mariners starter Drew Smyly gave up five runs and six hits in four innings. Jose Peraza led off the last of the first inning with his first spring homer, and Desmond Jennings and Reds right-hander Rookie Davis also homered off Smyly.

      Padres (ss) 9, Cubs (ss) 4

      Jabari Blash had three hits, including his sixth homer of the spring, and drove in four runs as San Diego topped Chicago in a split-squad game at Mesa, Ariz. Trevor Cahill gave up two hits and two unearned runs while striking out eight in five innings to earn the win. Javier Baez had a double and two RBIs for the Cubs.

      Royals 8, Angels 7

      Paulo Orlando, in contention for a starting spot in right field, hit his third homer and Brandon Moss hit his second off Los Angeles starter J.C. Ramirez as Kansas City won at Tempe, Ariz. Mike Trout had two hits and Albert Pujols drove in two runs for the Angels. Jason Hammel, named the Royals' No. 3 starter, gave up eight hits and seven runs in six innings.

      Rockies 4, Padres (ss) 1

      Tyler Chatwood gave up one run and struck out seven in six innings, and Nolan Arenado and Mark Reynolds homered for Colorado in a win over San Diego at Peoria, Ariz. Wil Myers had two of the Padres' seven hits. Jarred Cosart got only two outs, giving up three hits -- including Arenado's two-run homer -- and two walks before being pulled in the first inning.

  • MLB notebook: Nats' Strasburg named Opening Day starter
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day start for the Washington Nationals, manager Dusty Baker announced Sunday.

    • Washington opens the season on April 3 at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins.

      Strasburg is scheduled to make his next spring start on Wednesday.

      "I know you guys can count," Baker told reporters Sunday. "Yeah, he's slated to start Opening Day."

      It will be the 28-year-old Strasburg's fourth Opening Day start but his first since 2014. In his previous starts to open the season from 2012-14, he struck out 18 in 20 innings while leading the Nationals to wins in all three games.

      Right-hander Max Scherzer was the Nationals' Opening Day starter the previous two seasons but the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner missed time this spring because of a stress fracture in his right ring finger. Scherzer is expected to start the third game of the season on April 6 against the Marlins.

      --New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz has been scratched from his Monday start because of tenderness and irritation in his left elbow.

      Matz, 25, was scheduled to pitch in a minor league game at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to start the final week of spring training. The Mets open the season at home on April 3 against the Atlanta Braves.

      "There's a little irritation, and he's got to work that out," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters Sunday. "We don't think it's anything significant, but it bothers him on extension. He won't pitch tomorrow, and we'll see where that takes him over the next four or five days."

      Matz, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in his career, was reassured by doctors that he has no ligament damage in the elbow.

      --Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb was scratched from his Sunday start due to left lower back tightness.

      Cobb, 29, was scheduled to pitch in a minor league spring training game at Tampa, Fla.

      "Probably won't know anything until (Monday) when Cobb comes in and see how he feels," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said before the Rays played the New York Yankees. "To my knowledge he could have pitched today."

      Cash said he does not expect the issue to disrupt the Rays' season-opening pitching plans as Cobb is slated to pitch the third game on April 5 against the New York Yankees.

      --The New York Yankees released Jonathon Niese, ending the left-hander's bid to secure a position in the bullpen.

      Niese, who signed a minor league contract with the club on Feb. 20, was attempting to return from season-ending surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee in August.

      The 30-year-old allowed three runs on five hits in six innings for a 4.50 ERA in six Grapefruit League appearances.

      --Former major league reliever Todd Frohwirth died Sunday from complications with stomach cancer. He was 54.

      Frohwirth pitched nine big-league seasons, including three (1991-93) with the Baltimore Orioles.

      The Orioles announced they will honor Frohwirth with a moment of silence prior to Monday's exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox.

      "He was a special member of the Orioles family," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told reporters. "One of our best scouts and a great human being. He's been a big contributor here."

      Frohwirth spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1987-90) and one each with the Red Sox (1994) and the then-California Angels (1996).

  • Yankees release LHP Niese
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    The New York Yankees on Sunday released Jonathon Niese, ending the left-hander's bid to secure a position in the bullpen.

    • Niese, who signed a minor-league contract with the club on Feb. 20, was attempting to return from season-ending surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee in August.

      The 30-year-old allowed three runs on five hits in six innings for a 4.50 ERA in six Grapefruit League appearances.

      Niese spent the first eight seasons of his career with the New York Mets before he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in December 2015 in exchange for second baseman Neil Walker.

      His time in Pittsburgh was a disappointment. Niese went 8-6 with a 4.91 ERA in 23 games (18 starts), losing his spot in the rotation at midseason in 2016.

      Niese was dealt back to the Mets on Aug. 1 in exchange for reliever Antonio Bastardo and cash. He went 0-1 with an 11.45 ERA in six games (two starts) for New York, then underwent season-ending left knee surgery on Aug. 25.

      In 211 career games (197 starts), Niese has a 69-68 record with a 4.07 ERA.

  • Former MLB reliever Frohwirth dies
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Former major league reliever Todd Frohwirth died Sunday from complications with stomach cancer. He was 54.

    • Frohwirth pitched nine big-league seasons, including three (1991-93) with the Baltimore Orioles.

      The Orioles announced they will honor Frohwirth with a moment of silence prior to Monday's exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox.

      "He was a special member of the Orioles family," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told reporters. "One of our best scouts and a great human being. He's been a big contributor here."

      Frohwirth spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1987-90) and one each with the Red Sox (1994) and the then-California Angels (1996).

      Frohwirth, a sidearming right-hander, went 20-19 with a 3.60 ERA in 284 career appearances (all in relief).

      He made 186 of those appearances for the Orioles.Frohwirth enjoyed his best campaign in 1991 when he went 7-3 with a 1.87 ERA, and he compiled a 2.46 ERA the following season.

  • Rays RHP Cobb dealing with back issue
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb was scratched from his Sunday start due to left lower back tightness.

    • Cobb was scheduled to pitch in a minor league spring training game at Tampa, Fla.

      "Probably won't know anything until (Monday) when Cobb comes in and see how he feels," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said before the Rays played the New York Yankees. "To my knowledge he could have pitched today."

      Cash said he does not expect the issue to disrupt the Rays' season-opening pitching plans as Cobb is slated to pitch the third game on April 5 against the New York Yankees.

      "I don't think it changes anything," Cash said.

      Cobb said via text to the Tampa Bay Times that he "definitely could have pitched today" and "this is really nothing."

      The 29-year-old Cobb returned from Tommy John surgery late last season, going 1-2 with a 8.59 ERA over 22 innings in five starts. For his career, all with the Rays, he is 36-25 with a 3.44 ERA in 86 starts.

  • Strasburg named Nationals' Opening Day starter
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day start for the Washington Nationals, manager Dusty Baker announced Sunday.

    • Washington opens the season on April 3 at Nationals Park against the Miami Marlins.

      Strasburg is scheduled to make his next spring start on Wednesday.

      "I know you guys can count," Baker told reporters Sunday. "Yeah, he's slated to start Opening Day."

      It will be the 28-year-old Strasburg's fourth Opening Day start but his first since 2014. In his previous starts to open the season from 2012-14, he struck out 18 in 20 innings while leading the Nationals to wins in all three games.

      "It's Game 1 of 162 and hopefully some change," Strasburg said Sunday. "So I'll go out there and hopefully get this season started on the right foot."

      Strasburg won his first 13 decisions in 2016 but a partially torn tendon in his forearm caused his seventh trip to the disabled list and limited him to 24 starts. He finished his seventh major league season with a 15-4 record and 3.60 ERA in 147 2/3 innings.

      Right-hander Max Scherzer was the Nationals' Opening Day starter the previous two seasons but the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner missed time this spring because of a stress fracture in his right ring finger.

      Scherzer is expected to start the third game of the season on April 6 against the Marlins.

      "Hey, that's like having two No. 1's," Baker said. "Opening Day is Opening Day. There's nothing better. And then you hope that day No. 2 and No. 3 is not a drop-off in attendance and excitement."

  • Mets LHP Matz to miss start due to elbow tenderness
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, March 26, 2017

    New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz has been scratched from his Monday start because of tenderness and irritation in his left elbow.

    • Matz, 25, was scheduled to pitch in a minor league game at the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to start the final week of spring training. The Mets open the season at home on April 3 against the Atlanta Braves.

      "There's a little irritation, and he's got to work that out," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters Sunday. "We don't think it's anything significant, but it bothers him on extension. He won't pitch tomorrow, and we'll see where that takes him over the next four or five days."

      Matz, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in his career, was reassured by doctors that he has no ligament damage in the elbow.

      Matz said he felt tenderness before his last outing on Wednesday when he gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings against the Miami Marlins. He is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in four starts this spring.

      "I talked to the doctor right away just to see his thoughts," said Matz, who had a bone spur removed from his elbow after a shoulder issue ended his 2016 season. "He just said this stuff can happen when you're coming back from surgery."

      Matz was 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 starts over 132 1/3 innings last season before being shut down in September.

  • White Sox's Rodon to have specialist evaluate arm issue
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon will get a second opinion Monday on tightness in his left biceps despite an MRI exam on Friday that came back clean.

    • Rodon, who will see Los Angeles-based specialist Neal ElAttrache, is expected to start the season on the disabled list.

      "It just felt like a lot of tightness," Rodon told reporters Saturday. "I could lift my arm above my head and throw with something on it, but not with the normal stuff I usually have. That's why I was a little concerned. But I guess I could kind of tell.

      "I'm not a doctor, but you know your body. It's your body, so you know it the best. It didn't feel like anything was damaged -- to me, at least. But it was good to know nothing was really messed up in there."

      Rodon made his first exhibition start March 19, pitching five scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels and allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five.

      General manager Rick Hahn said Rodon felt tightness in his upper left biceps Thursday and was examined by team doctors. Hahn said while "it appears there is nothing structural," the team wants to cautious.

      The 24-year-old Rodon is 18-16 with a 3.90 ERA in 54 appearances (51 starts) during parts of two seasons with the White Sox.

  • MLB notebook: Rangers' Darvish gets Opening Day nod
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Right-hander Yu Darvish will be the Opening Day starter for the Texas Rangers, manager Jeff Banister announced Saturday.

    • Darvish, 30, will face the Cleveland Indians on April 3 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, becoming the ninth different Opening Day starter for the Rangers in the past nine years.

      It will be the first Opening Day start for Darvish with the Rangers, although he did it five times in Japan. He was named the Opening Day starter in 2014 but was sidelined by neck stiffness and started the season on the disabled list.

      "We feel he is in a great place," Banister said from spring training in Surprise, Ariz. "We have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball opening the season for us. Physically and mentally, he's just in a tremendous position. He knows what he means to this club. You look at him and see a mentally focused and driven human being to who wants to be the best pitcher on the planet."

      Darvish is heading into his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 17, 2015. He was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts last season.

      --The Rangers reached an agreement with second baseman Rougned Odor on a six-year, $49.5 million extension, according to multiple media reports.

      The deal also includes an option for a seventh year.

      Odor, 23, was not eligible for arbitration this offseason. He already agreed to a $563,180 contract for 2017.

      Odor, who played for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, hit .271 with 33 home runs, 88 RBIs, 89 runs and 14 stolen bases in 150 games last season.

      --Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost officially named left-hander Danny Duffy to be his Opening Day starter.

      Duffy, 28, will make his first Opening Day start when the Royals travel to Minnesota to face Twins on April 3.

      Yost also announced Saturday that the full rotation would be Duffy, right-hander Ian Kennedy, righty Jason Hammel, left-hander Jason Vargas and right-hander Nathan Karns.

      Duffy just returned from the World Baseball Classic on Friday with a gold medal for Team USA. He became the ace of the staff in 2016 after starting the season in the bullpen. He was 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 42 appearances (26 starts).

      --Starting pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox reported improved strength in his ailing left arm.

      Price, who has not thrown off a mound since experiencing pain and swelling after throwing a simulated game on Feb. 28, played catch on Saturday.

      "It felt good, it felt normal," Price told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a good day."

      Boston manager John Farrell noted that the strength level in Price's arm matched the level at which he arrived at training camp.

      "We felt like he was improved to the point of initiating more throwing," Farrell said. "(It's) just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and we'll continue in this phase for a period of time."

      The 31-year-old Price will begin the season on the disabled list and Farrell acknowledged there is no timetable for ratcheting up the left-hander's throwing program.

      --Even though Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus has been playing in spring training games as a designated hitter, he expects to begin the season on the disabled list.

      Rasmus told the Tampa Bay Times that he still cannot run well enough to play in the field because he has considerable discomfort as a result of the hip and core muscle repair surgery he underwent.

      "We've been trying to progress up to that point, but it's probably looking like I'm going to start on the DL," Rasmus told the newspaper. "It's not nothing major but I don't feel that I'm ready to run something down in the gap for nine innings. I've been doing a lot of outfield work and it feels pretty good, but I don't think I'm quite to that point yet."

      Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year deal with the Rays as a free agent in January after hitting .206 with 15 home runs for the Houston Astros last season.

  • Rays OF Rasmus expects to start season on DL
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Even though Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus has been playing in spring training games as a designated hitter, he said on Saturday that he expects to begin the season on the disabled list.

    • Rasmus told the Tampa Bay Times that he still cannot run well enough to play in the field because he has considerable discomfort as a result of the hip and core muscle repair surgery he underwent.

      "We've been trying to progress up to that point, but it's probably looking like I'm going to start on the DL," Rasmus told the Times. "It's not nothing major but I don't feel that I'm ready to run something down in the gap for nine innings.

      "I've been doing a lot of outfield work and it feels pretty good, but I don't think I'm quite to that point yet."

      Rasmus might miss only six games.

      "We'll just have to see how it goes day by day," he said. "I had hoped that I would be able to maybe DH, but that's not what they're looking for me to do."

      With Rasmus' status uncertain, outfielder Mallex Smith probably will make the Opening Day roster, and he might be the starter in left field.

      Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year deal with the Rays as a free agent in January after hitting .206 with 15 home runs for the Houston Astros last season.

  • MLB roundup: Sandoval homers, continues strong spring for Red Sox
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Pablo Sandoval hit a three-run home run off Blake Snell as a split squad of Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-5, in Port Charlotte Fla. Sandoval, who is trying to win the Red Sox third base job, hit his fourth home run of the spring and is batting .353. Snell continued his rocky spring by allowing four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings to raise his ERA to 6.16.

    • Mets 3, Braves 0

      Rafael Montero continued strong spring by allowing four hits in five innings as New York blanked Atlanta in Kissimmee, Fla. Montero lowered his spring ERA to 1.96 while Michael Conforto homered for the Mets. Atlanta's R.A. Dickey allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings.

      Yankees 6, Blue Jays 5

      Pete Kozma hit the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning as New York capitalized on four Toronto errors in Tampa Fla. Greg Bird hit his seventh home run of the spring for New York. Ryan Goins and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit home runs off Yankees' starter Adam Warren.

      Pirates 5, Tigers 4

      Adam Frazier and Austin Meadows hit solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and Pittsburgh edged Detroit in Bradenton, Fla. Tyler Collins hit a three-run home run for Detroit. Anibal Sanchez pitched six hitless innings before Jose Osuna ended Detroit's no-hit bid with a single in the seventh.

      Phillies 3, Red Sox 3 (ss)

      Chris Coghlan hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth and Philadelphia tied a split Boston squad in Fort Myers, Fla. Jackie Bradley Jr. homered for Boston, while Coghlan also added another sacrifice fly. Boston's Kyle Kendrick continued his case to be the fifth starter spot by allowing two runs and eight hits in six innings.

      Marlins 1, Cardinals 0

      Derek Dietrich's RBI double in the fourth inning accounted for the run in Miami's victory over St. Louis in Jupiter, Fla. St. Louis used six pitchers as Lance Lynn pitched a hitless first inning. Miami's Justin Nicolino allowed three hits in five innings.

      Nationals 4, Astros 1

      Tanner Roark returned from the World Baseball Classic and pitched 5 1/3 innings in Washington's victory over Houston in West Palm Beach, Fla. Roark allowed one run and three hits while striking out five. Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. allowed four runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.

      Royals 1, Brewers 0 (10 innings)

      Raul Mondesi Jr. homered with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Kansas City by Milwaukee at Surprise, Ariz. Mondesi hit his third spring home run when he sent a full-count offering from Rob Scahill over the center field wall. Five Kansas City pitchers combined on a three-hitter, including starter Ian Kennedy, who fanned seven in six innings. Milwaukee's Wily Peralta allowed three hits in 5 2/3 innings.

      Angels 7, Diamondbacks 4

      Albert Pujols and Carlos Perez hit two-run home runs off Taijuan Walker and Los Angeles beat Arizona at Tempe, Ariz. Angels starter Tyler Skaggs allowed one run and four hits in four innings. Walker was tagged for six runs (three earned) and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.

      White Sox 10, Indians 7

      Danny Hayes hit a grand slam with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and Chicago rallied past Cleveland at Goodyear, Ariz. Jacob May, Cody Asche, Jose Abreu, Everth Cabrera and Nicky Delmonico hit the other home runs for Chicago. Carlos Santana hit a two-run home run and Bradley Zimmer had a two-run triple for the Indians.

      Rockies 7, Cubs 4 (ss)

      Mark Reynolds and Dustin Garneau drove in two runs apiece and Colorado beat a split Chicago squad at Scottsdale, Ariz. Carlos Gonzalez had two hits and Trevor Story had an RBI for the Rockies. Jason Hayward, who is batting .152, hit a two-run home run for Chicago.

      Cubs 11 (ss), Reds 7

      Kris Bryant hit one of four home runs for a split Chicago squad in a victory over a split Cincinnati squad at Las Vegas, Nev. Prospect Ian Happ, Chesny Young and Victor Caratini also homered for the defending world champions. Arismendy Alcantara and Joe Hudson homered for Cincinnati.

      Reds 11 (ss), Athletics 6 (ss)

      Ryan Raburn capped a six-run second inning as a split Cincinnati squad beat a split Oakland squad in Mesa, Ariz. Jose Peraza and Zack Cozart also drove in runs for Cincinnati, which totaled 15 hits. Rajai Davis homered off Reds starter Amir Garrett, who allowed six runs and seven hits in five innings.

      Dodgers 11, Athletics 6 (ss)

      Andrew Toles continued his strong spring with a fourth-inning grand slam and Los Angeles knocked of a split Oakland squad at Glendale, Ariz. Justin Turner had three hits, including a solo home run for the Dodgers. Matt Chapman and Josh Rodriguez homered for Oakland.

      Mariners 3, Rangers 1

      Ben Gamel drove in two runs and Seattle edged Texas at Peoria, Ariz. Taylor Motter homered for Seattle while starter Dillon Overton allowed a run and four hits in six innings. Ryan Rua homered for Texas.

      Orioles 6, Twins 3

      Chris Davis homered and Baltimore beat Minnesota at Sarasota, Fla. J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop also hit home runs for the Orioles. Tommy Field and Niko Goodrum homered for Minnesota.

      Giants 8, Padres 7

      Jae-gyun Hwang hit the game-winning single with one out in the bottom of the ninth to lift San Francisco past San Diego at Scottsdale, Ariz. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford hit their first home runs of the spring for the Giants. Cory Spangenberg, Erick Aybar and Jamie Romak homered for San Diego.

  • Royals tab Duffy for Opening Day
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost officially named left-hander Danny Duffy to be his Opening Day starter.

    • Duffy, 28, will make his first Opening Day start when the Royals travel to Minnesota to face Twins on April 3.

      Yost also announced Saturday that the full rotation would be Duffy, right-hander Ian Kennedy, righty Jason Hammel, left-hander Jason Vargas and right-hander Nathan Karns.

      "With what Danny did last year and this spring, we feel he has earned this," Yost said from spring training in Surprise, Ariz. "We knew this was the direction we were going to go weeks before we even showed up at spring training."

      Duffy just returned from the World Baseball Classic on Friday with a gold medal for Team USA.

      "This week hasn't sucked, man," Duffy said, smiling. "Been a lot of fun. Obviously, it means a lot to get this start. I've worked really hard to get to this point. I'm really honored. There's five of us capable of doing this, and the fact that they chose me means a lot. Very humbled by it."

      Duffy became the ace of the staff in 2016 after starting the season in the bullpen. He was 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 42 appearances (26 starts).

  • Darvish gets Opening Day nod for Rangers
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Right-hander Yu Darvish will be the Opening Day starter for the Texas Rangers, manager Jeff Banister announced Saturday.

    • Darvish, 30, will face the Cleveland Indians on April 3 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, becoming the ninth different Opening Day starter for the Rangers in the past nine years.

      It will be the first Opening Day start for Darvish with the Rangers, although he did it five times in Japan. He was named the Opening Day starter in 2014 but was sidelined by neck stiffness and started the season on the disabled list.

      "We feel he is in a great place," Banister said from spring training in Surprise, Ariz. "We have one of the best pitchers in all of baseball opening the season for us. Physically and mentally, he's just in a tremendous position. He knows what he means to this club. You look at him and see a mentally focused and driven human being to who wants to be the best pitcher on the planet."

      Darvish has made four starts in the Cactus League this spring, recording a 2.84 ERA while holding opponents to a .216 batting average.

      "I've had a very good spring training," Darvish said Friday after he pitched in a minor league game and allowed one earned run in six innings. "I am confident for the season and can't wait to get started."

      Darvish is heading into his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 17, 2015. He was 7-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 17 starts last season.

  • Ailing Red Sox LHP Price says arm is stronger
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    Starting pitcher David Price of the Boston Red Sox reported improved strength in his ailing left arm.

    • Price, who has not thrown off a mound since experiencing pain and swelling after throwing a simulated game on Feb. 28, played catch on Saturday.

      "It felt good, it felt normal," Price told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. "It was a good day."

      Boston manager John Farrell noted that the strength level in Price's arm matched the level at which he arrived at training camp.

      "We felt like he was improved to the point of initiating more throwing," Farrell said. "(It's) just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and we'll continue in this phase for a period of time."

      The 31-year-old Price will begin the season on the disabled list and Farrell acknowledged there is no timetable for ratcheting up the left-hander's throwing program.

      Price plans to travel with the team at the start of the regular season, as there are no plans for him to remain in extended spring training.

      Instead, he will head out to one of the team's minor-league affiliates when he is ready to begin a rehab assignment.

      In 2016, Price posted a 17-9 record with a 3.99 ERA and 228 strikeouts over 230 innings -- his first of a seven-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox.

  • Rangers re-sign 2B Odor for 6 years, $49.5 million
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    The Texas Rangers reached an agreement with second baseman Rougned Odor on a six-year, $49.5 million extension, according to multiple media reports Saturday.

    • The deal also includes an option for a seventh year.

      Odor, 23, was not eligible for arbitration this offseason. He already agreed to a $563,180 contract for 2017.

      Odor, who played for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, hit .271 with 33 home runs, 88 RBIs, 89 runs and 14 stolen bases in 150 games last season.

      For his career since being called up by the Rangers in 2014, Odor is batting .265 with 58 home runs with 197 RBIs and 182 runs.

  • MLB roundup: Angels pitchers toss combined no-hitter
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Right-hander Bud Norris pitched two hitless innings and seven relievers followed suit with one inning apiece as Los Angeles tossed a combined no-hitter in a 4-0 victory against Seattle at Tempe, Ariz.

    • The only Mariners to reach base were Jean Segura on catcher's interference in the fourth inning and Zach Shank on a walk in the sixth. Danny Espinosa drilled a two-run double in the second inning for the Angels, while Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout recorded run-scoring doubles in the third.

      Indians 4, Cubs 2

      Chris Colabello hit a two-run homer and Giovanny Urshela added a solo shot as Cleveland posted a victory over Chicago in a matchup of last season's two World Series combatants at Mesa, Ariz.

      Daniel Robertson added a run-scoring single and right-hander Carlos Carrasco pitched three innings of one-hit shutout ball for the Indians. Ian Happ hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the Cubs, who won last season's postseason clash.

      Tigers 3, Braves 2 (10)

      JaCoby Jones delivered the winning single with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Detroit over Atlanta at Lakeland, Fla. Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd bolstered his bid to win a rotation spot by tossing five innings of three-hit scoreless ball. Braves right-hander Julio Teheran gave up two runs and five hits in six innings.

      Yankees 3, Phillies 2

      Wilkin Castillo bashed the game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth and scored on Trey Amburgey's two-out single as New York rallied to defeat Philadelphia at Tampa, Fla. Right-hander Luis Severino struck out five in three perfect innings of relief for the Yankees. Freddy Galvis had a two-run single for the Phillies, and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson allowed one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

      Cardinals 3, Nationals (ss) 1

      Right-hander Michael Wacha improved to 3-0 on the spring by pitching five innings of two-hit shutout ball to lead St. Louis past Washington at West Palm Beach, Fla. Dexter Fowler hit an RBI triple and Greg Garcia had a run-scoring single for the Cardinals. Jayson Werth singled in the Nationals' run and right-handed starter Jeremy Guthrie pitched 4 1/3 no-hit innings.

      Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 2

      Jose Bautista and Deon Travis each recorded a run-scoring double as Toronto edged Boston at Dunedin, Fla. Troy Tulowitzki added a run-scoring single and left-hander J.A. Happ allowed one earned run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays. Bryce Brentz clubbed a two-run homer for the Red Sox.

      Pirates 4, Rays 0

      Right-hander Trevor Williams allowed three hits over five shutout innings as Pittsburgh blanked Tampa Bay in Bradenton, Fla. Phil Gosselin went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Pirates. Daniel Robertson had two of the Rays' four hits.

      Astros 2, Mets 0

      Reid Brignac had an RBI single and J.D. Davis slugged a pinch-hit homer as Houston blanked New York at Port St. Lucie, Fla. Derek Fisher stole three bases to raise his spring total to 10 for the Astros and seven pitchers combined on a five-hitter. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard allowed one run and four hits in six innings.

      Dodgers 13, Diamondbacks 6

      Bobby Wilson smashed a two-run homer to help Los Angeles roll past Arizona at Glendale, Ariz. Logan Forsythe, Yasmani Grandal and Scott Van Slyke also drove in two runs apiece for the Dodgers. Reymond Fuentes went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs for the Diamondbacks.

      Athletics 8, White Sox 2

      Chris Parmelee reached base three times and had two RBIs to help Oakland cruise past Chicago at Mesa, Ariz. Ryon Healy added a two-run homer for the Athletics while right-hander Kendall Graveman allowed one run and five hits in seven innings. Chicago right-hander Zach Putnam retired just one batter while being charged with five first-inning runs.

      Reds 12, Brewers 11

      Arismendy Alcantara hit a two-run double to center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift Cincinnati over Milwaukee at Goodyear, Ariz. Brandon Dixon drove in three runs and Zack Cozart homered among three hits for the Reds. Jesus Aguilar went 4-for-4 and scored three runs and Manny Pina slugged his fourth homer of the spring for the Brewers.

      Rangers 4, Padres 3

      Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer to help Texas defeat San Diego at Surprise, Ariz. Left-hander Martin Perez gave up three hits in five shutout innings and Delino DeShields collected two hits for the Rangers. Jamie Romak slugged a two-run homer for the Padres.

      Mariners (ss) 4, Royals 3

      Kyle Seager hit a two-run shot for his first homer of the spring as Seattle edged Kansas City at Peoria, Ariz. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma gave up one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Mariners. Jorge Soler smashed a two-run homer and Paulo Orlando hit a solo shot for the Royals.

      Giants 6, Rockies 5

      Brandon Belt delivered a three-run homer to help San Francisco defeat Colorado at Scottsdale, Ariz. Denard Span had three hits and Chris Marrero hit a solo shot for the Giants. Rockies right-hander Jon Gray gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings before departing due to soreness in his left foot.

      Marlins 3, Nationals (ss) 0

      Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored as Miami blanked Washington at Jupiter, Fla. Right-hander Jose Urena struck out five and gave up three hits in four shutout innings for the Marlins. Clint Robinson had two of the Nationals' six hits.

      Orioles 5, Twins 5 (9)

      Trey Mancini smacked a tying three-run homer in the seventh inning for Baltimore in the standoff with Minnesota at Fort Myers, Fla. Chris Johnson added a solo shot for the Orioles. Byron Buxton went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for the Twins.

  • MLB notebook: Pirates 3B Kang denied visa
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been denied a work visa, leaving the South Korean unable to enter the United States and his status for the 2017 season in doubt.

    • According to a Korean media news report Friday, the U.S. Embassy rejected Kang's visa application.

      Kang was convicted in South Korea earlier this month after leaving the scene of a DUI accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. He received a suspended eight-month jail sentence and recently filed an appeal, which will reportedly be heard in early April. It was Kang's third drunk-driving arrest in his home country after previously being charged in August 2009 and May 2011.

      Kang is also suspected of a drunk-driving offense in a country other than Korea or the U.S., according to the Korean news outlet.

      --Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez is expected to miss up to four weeks due to a right foot injury.

      Martinez was diagnosed with a sprain of the Lisfranc ligament during an examination at Charlotte, N.C. He will wear a cast for seven to 10 days before being re-evaluated.

      Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was surprised by the timetable.

      "It's longer than I thought it would be," Ausmus said after Detroit's exhibition victory over Atlanta. "No question our lineup is better with J.D. Martinez's bat in it, but we will deal with it.

      "When you think about it, it's three to four weeks from today and 10 days of that are while we're still in spring training. So if it goes four weeks, that's only 2 1/2, three weeks of missed time in season."

      --Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon could open the season on the disabled list after he was scratched from his Friday start due to left biceps tightness.

      Rodon was scheduled for an MRI exam.

      "It's too early to speculate how long we'll be without Carlos," general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com. "Since we are slowing down his schedule by having him miss a start today, the odds are probably that he'll start the season on the DL."

  • White Sox LHP Rodon (biceps) slated for MRI
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Chicago White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon could open the season on the disabled list after he was scratched from his start on Friday due to left biceps tightness.

    • Rodon was scheduled for an MRI on Friday.

      "It's too early to speculate how long we'll be without Carlos," general manager Rick Hahn told MLB.com. "Since we are slowing down his schedule by having him miss a start today, the odds are probably that he'll start the season on the DL."

      Rodon made his first exhibition start on Sunday, pitching five scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels and allowing one hit and one walk while striking out five.

      Hahn said Rodon felt some tightness in his upper left biceps on Thursday and was examined by team doctors. Hahn said while "it appears there is nothing structural," the team wants to cautious.

      The 24-year-old Rodon owns an 18-16 mark with a 3.90 ERA in 54 appearances (51 starts) over parts of two seasons with the White Sox.

  • Tigers OF Martinez sidelined with foot injury
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez is expected to miss up to four weeks due to a right foot injury.

    • Martinez was diagnosed with a sprain of the Lisfranc ligament on Friday during an examination at Charlotte, N.C. He will wear a cast for seven to 10 days before being re-evaluated.

      Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was surprised by the timetable.

      "It's longer than I thought it would be," Ausmus said after Detroit's exhibition victory over Atlanta. "No question our lineup is better with J.D. Martinez's bat in it, but we will deal with it.

      "When you think about it, it's three to four weeks from today and 10 days of that are while we're still in spring training. So if it goes four weeks, that's only 2 1/2, three weeks of missed time in season."

      Martinez, 29, batted .307 with 22 homers and 68 RBIs last season. He established career highs for homers (38) and RBIs (102) in 2015 when he was a member of the American League All-Star team.

  • Pirates' Kang denied visa to enter U.S.
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been denied a work visa, leaving the South Korean unable to enter the United States and his status for the 2017 season in doubt.

    • According to a Korean media news report Friday, the U.S. Embassy rejected Kang's visa application.

      Kang was convicted in South Korea earlier this month after leaving the scene of a DUI accident on Dec. 2 in Seoul. He received a suspended eight-month jail sentence and recently filed an appeal, which will reportedly be heard in early April. It was Kang's third drunk-driving arrest in his home country after previously being charged in August 2009 and May 2011.

      Kang is also suspected of a drunk-driving offense in a country other than Korea or the U.S., according to the Korean news outlet.

      Pirates team president Frank Coonelly responded to the report with a statement Friday.

      "A Korean news outlet has reported on a purported development in Jung Ho Kang's effort to secure permission to travel to the United States for purposes of continuing his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates," Coonelly's statement read, "and added speculation regarding a driving incident in a 'third country.'

      "The facts, as we know them, are that Kang still has not been granted permission to travel to the United States under a work visa. We continue to work with Kang and his representatives to present materials and information to the appropriate parties in the United States government that we believe establish that Kang should be permitted to travel to the United States under a work visa and we remain hopeful that such a resolution will be reached in the near future. We have no indication that Jung Ho has had a driving incident in a country other than Korea."

      Kang has been the Pirates' starting third baseman for the last two years, and David Freese is expected to fill that role in his absence.

      Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Thursday that Kang will not be ready for the season opener on April 3.

      "We're to a point in time where it's unrealistic to think Jung Ho's going to be ready for Opening Day," Huntington said. "We remain optimistic we're going to get him here hopefully sooner than later. Now the challenge is if we don't, if it takes some time, we've built this club and feel good about the guys we have here."

      Kang finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015, after batting .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 126 games. Last season, he had 21 homers and 62 RBIs, along with a .255 batting average, in 103 games.

      Kang, who is in the third year of a four-year, $11 million contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2015, reportedly agreed to participate in an alcohol treatment program in the U.S.

      "We're focusing on the men we have here. That's the best I can tell you," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told MLB Network radio on Friday morning. "We'd love to have him back. We don't have him back. We're going to adapt, improvise and overcome."

  • MLB roundup: Wong helps Cardinals down Marlins
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Kolten Wong tripled and knocked in two runs Thursday as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins 5-3 in Jupiter, Fla. Adam Wainwright allowed five hits and an earned run over four innings for the Cardinals, while Dan Straily gave up six hits and three runs in four innings for the Marlins. Dee Gordon was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Miami.

    • Twins 4, Phillies 2

      Tommy Field belted a two-run homer as Minnesota subdued Philadelphia in Clearwater, Fla. Byung Ho Park and Ehire Adrianza added RBI singles for the Twins, while Odubel Herrera cracked a two-run homer for the Phillies. Starter Aaron Nola worked 5 2/3 innings for Philadelphia, fanning six but allowing six hits and four runs.

      Nationals 1, Mets 0

      Anthony Rendon's double in the bottom of the third inning was the game's only offense as Washington blanked New York in West Palm Beach, Fla. Erick Fedde twirled five shutout innings for the Nationals, giving up just two hits and whiffing three. Robert Gsellman pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Mets, allowing four hits and an unearned run.

      Red Sox 10, Pirates 7

      Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-4 with three RBI as Boston outslugged Pittsburgh in Fort Myers, Fla. Dustin Pedroia was 3-for-3 with two runs for the Red Sox, while starter Steven Wright pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Starling Marte cracked a grand slam for the Pirates, while Alen Hanson was 1-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base.

      Yankees 5, Rays 5

      Tyler Wade stole third base and scored on Tampa Bay's fourth error of the day in the top of the ninth, enabling New York to forge a tie in Port Charlotte, Fla. Ronald Torreyes homered for the Yankees, while Jordan Montgomery fanned eight over 4 1/3 innings. Jake Bauers slashed a two-run double for the Rays and starter Austin Pruitt worked four scoreless innings.

      White Sox 4, Reds 2

      Jose Quintana breezed through seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits and striking out three in Chicago's win over Cincinnati in Glendale, Ariz. Nicky Delmonico paced the White Sox with a two-run homer and an RBI double. Taylor Trammell's two-run single in the eighth accounted for the Reds' scoring.

      Indians 8, Rockies 3

      Corey Kluber fanned eight and allowed one earned run in seven innings as Cleveland beat Colorado in Goodyear, Ariz. Erik Gonzalez and Adam Moore cracked solo homers and Abraham Almonte knocked in two runs for the Indians. Rafael Ynoa belted a solo shot for the Rockies.

      Padres 6, Angels 2

      Hunter Renfroe and Jamie Romak each knocked in two runs and San Diego defeated Los Angeles in Peoria, Ariz. Ryan Schimpf drilled a solo homer for the Padres. Luis Perdomo allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. Ricky Nolasco worked 6 1/3 innings for the Angels, yielding two runs and five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

      Athletics 15, Brewers 5

      Yonder Alonso homered twice as Oakland walloped Milwaukee in Mesa, Ariz. Trevor Plouffe and Max Schrock also went yard for the Athletics, which collected 18 hits and led 12-0 after four innings. All 12 runs were charged to Brewers starter Junior Guerra, who gave up 10 hits and saw his spring ERA soar to 5.93.

      Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 5

      Chicago starter Jake Arrieta homered and lasted five innings on the mound against Arizona in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tommy La Stella also belted a homer for the Cubs. Jake Lamb and Oswaldo Arcia each homered for the Diamondbacks. Zack Greinke allowed six hits and three runs in five innings for Arizona, walking two and whiffing four.

      Dodgers 10, Rangers 2

      Clayton Kershaw fanned 11 batters and allowed only two hits over six scoreless innings in Los Angeles' rout of Texas at Surprise, Ariz. Chase Utley and Rob Segedin each homered for the Dodgers, who scored in each of the first four innings and pounded out 13 hits. Drew Robinson's two-run homer in the ninth enabled the Rangers to avoid a shutout.

      Mariners 9, Giants 2

      Felix Hernandez allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings, and Seattle routed San Francisco at Scottsdale, Ariz. Ben Gamel hit a two-run homer for the Mariners. Giants starter Matt Moore was tagged for four runs on four hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.

  • Kinsler clarifies Latin America comments
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler told ESPN that "everyone should be celebrated" after his two-run homer ignited Team USA to an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic.

    • Kinsler's comments on Wednesday came one day after his quote to the New York Times regarding the passionate play of Latin American teams drew criticism over social media.

      The 34-year-old was asked about what the American team reaching the title game would do for popularity of the World Baseball Classic in the United States.

      "I hope kids watching the WBC can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays," Kinsler said. "That's not taking anything away from them. That just wasn't the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way."

      Kinsler elaborated on his view Wednesday, admitting that flair and style are positive for the game.

      "What I said was that American kids can watch American players play, Puerto Rican kids can watch Puerto Rican players play, Venezuelan kids can watch Venezuelan guys play, and that's who they emulate," Kinsler said. "That's who they watch. That's who they want to be like. There's nothing wrong with an American kid watching a Puerto Rican player and wanting to be like them, or a Puerto Rican kid watching an American player and wanting to play that way.

      "You should play the way you want, and the way you feel will put you in the best position to win -- the way you feel the best and perform the best. Everybody is different. I play differently than a lot of my teammates on this team; I play with a little more emotion than most players during the season. Everybody has their own style! That's all I was saying."

  • Cubs' Epstein named World's Greatest Leader
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Theo Epstein was tabbed World's Greatest Leader by Fortune magazine, which published its annual list on Thursday morning.

    • The Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations found himself atop a list that included Alibaba founder Jack Ma (No. 2), Pope Francis (No. 3), Melinda Gates (No. 4) and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (No. 5).

      LeBron James was the next greatest leader, according to the magazine. The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar is listed at No. 11 on the list.

      "The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles," Fortune wrote of its decision to select Epstein. "... But most important of all was the evolution of the club's president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he'd had with the Boston Red Sox."

      Epstein did his best to put his gaudy new "title" in perspective in a text to ESPN's Buster Olney.

      "Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house. That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous," Epstein wrote. "It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If (Ben) Zobrist's ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

      Epstein, 43, previously built the 2004 Red Sox team that ended that club's 86-year championship drought before guiding the club to another title in 2007.

      He took over in Chicago ahead of the 2012 season, and the Cubs endured three more losing years before making the playoffs in 2015.

      Chicago took a major step up the following season, going a baseball-best 103-58 before besting the Cleveland Indians in seven games to end the club's 108-year World Series title drought.

  • Stroman, USA shut down Puerto Rico to win WBC
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- That's Stroman, as in no-no-man.

    • Marcus Stroman avenged a loss to Puerto Rico by taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the United States used a two-run homer by Ian Kinsler and two RBIs apiece by Brandon Crawford and Andrew McCutchen for an 8-0 victory in the World Baseball Classic final on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

      Stroman gave up a walk to Carlos Beltran in the second inning and retired 14 in a row before Angel Pagan lined an opposite-field double down the left field line to open the seventh inning. The U.S. led 7-0 at that point.

      Manager Jim Leyland then removed Stroman, who received a thunderous ovation from the crowd of 51,565. The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander was greeted with hugs in the dugout as the U.S. won in its first appearance in the title game in the fourth WBC.

      "I love pitching in these moments," Stroman said. "I love the atmosphere. I feel like the bigger the game, the more I'm able to get up, the more effective I am. I truly try to pride myself on being a big-game pitcher. I'll be back in four years to defend the title."

      Kinsler's two-run homer off Seth Lugo broke a scoreless tie in the third inning, and Christian Yelich and McCutchen had run-scoring singles in the fifth.

      Crawford hit a two-run single and Giancarlo Stanton had an RBI single in the seventh inning. McCutchen drove in the final run with an infield single in the eighth.

      "It is a very special moment," said Leyland, who won a World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997. "We got through it totally healthy, totally happy, and we are the winners. We had the right players. We had the players that wanted to be here. All these teams are really good, and we beat them all."

      Puerto Rico, which outscored its opponents 55-18 while winning its first seven games, beat Stroman and the United States 6-5 in the second round Friday.

      Stroman, named the tournament MVP, struck out three and walked one while throwing 73 pitches. He finished with a 2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings during the tournament.

      Sam Dyson, Pat Neshek and David Robertson each threw a scoreless inning to complete the United States' three-hit shutout.

      Pagan had two hits.

      "I think the best two teams were out there tonight, and they beat us in all phases of the game," Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "They're loaded with All-Star players. They came out today to play. They outpitched us. They outscored us. They outhit us. I mean, it was a great game."

      Crawford was 10-for-26 (.385) with three doubles and six RBIs in eight WBC games. Yelich had two hits Wednesday and finished 9-for-29 (.310).

      "I think it makes it more special that America hadn't done it before," Crawford said.

      Jonathan Lucroy singled to open the third inning before Kinsler hit an 0-1 fastball to left-center field for his first homer of the WBC. Center fielder Enrique Hernandez leaped at the fence but did not have a play.

      The United States hit three homers off Lugo in their two meetings. Buster Posey and Adam Jones hit bases-empty homers in Puerto Rico's 6-5 victory in the second round at Petco Park in San Diego.

      Lugo, who had victories in each of the first two rounds, gave up five hits and four runs in four-plus innings. He struck out seven and walked four.

      NOTES: The all-tournament team was Puerto Rico C Yadier Molina, U.S. 1B Eric Hosmer, Puerto Rico 2B Javier Baez, Puerto Rico SS Francisco Lindor, Puerto Rico 3B Carlos Correa, U.S. LF Christian Yelich, Dominican Republic CF Gregory Polanco, Netherlands RF Wladimir Balentien, U.S. RHP Marcus Stroman, Japan RHP Kodai Senga and Israel RHP Josh Zeid. Molina, Hosmer and Balentien were unanimous selections. ... The Puerto Rican team gathered outside the dugout and took a knee afterward. Then led by Molina, the squad walked en masse toward the celebrating U.S. players, tipped their caps and applauded. ... U.S. CF Adam Jones said the team had extra motivation: "Before the game, we heard there were some championship T-shirts made, and we didn't make them." ... During pregame introductions, Puerto Rico's starters removed their caps and brought their hands to their heads to display their newly blond hair. Clean-head Carlos Beltran brought his hand to his bleached beard. The players changed hair color during training as a show of team unity. ... Puerto Rico won three of the previous five meetings against the United States in the WBC. Puerto Rico eliminated the U.S. in 2013 with a 4-3 victory in the second round of pool play.

  • Former MLB manager Green dead at 82
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Dallas Green, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980, died on Wednesday. He was 82.

    • The Phillies confirmed the news on Twitter, but a cause of death was not given.

      "The game lost a great baseball man today," Phillies chairman David Montgomery said. "Dallas held many different positions in baseball, and his passion and love for the game was evident in every role he played.

      "He was a big man with a big heart and a bigger-than-life personality. Having known Dallas since 1971, he was one of my first phone calls upon becoming Phillies president because of his perspective and advice. All of us at the Phillies had tremendous respect for Dallas as a baseball man and friend. We will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Sylvia, and his children, Dana, John, Kim and Doug."

      Green, who was originally signed by Philadelphia in 1955 out of Delaware, worked as a player, manager, coach, farm director, general manager and team president with the club.

      After serving as the skipper of the Phillies for three seasons (1979-81), Green joined the Chicago Cubs as the general manager and executive vice president from 1982-87. He also managed the New York Yankees in 1989 and the Mets from 1993-1996.

      Green posted a 20-22 career mark with a 4.62 ERA in 185 appearances with the Phillies, Washington Senators and Mets.