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20 2019
ANAHEIM , Calif. (AP) Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout is back in the lineup for the first time since the death of his brother-in-law.Trout was starting Friday night at home against Houston. The two-time AL MVP is hitting .309 with 30 home runs and 60 RBIs, and leads the majors with a .459 on-base percentage.Trout hasnt played since Aug. 1. The outfielder already was on the disabled list with a wrist injury when brother-in-law Aaron Cox died last week. Trout wore A. Cox on the back of his players weekend uniform Friday.Cox was the brother of Trouts wife, Jessica. No cause of death has been given for the 24-year-old Cox, who retired from baseball this month after pitching three seasons in the Angels organization.Trout was with his family in New Jersey after the death. He continued to work out there by running, lifting, throwing and swinging off a tee.On Thursday, a day off for the Angels Kurt Suzuki Jersey , Trout had a workout at Angel Stadium. He took 12 at-bats against minor league pitchers.Physically, hes ready to go. He wants to get back out there. It will be an emotional burden he and his family will carry. I think hes definitely ready to come back and play baseball, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.Asked if baseball would be a refuge of sorts for Trout, Scioscia said: To a certain extent. Its not a sanctuary. I think your routine helps you to get through stuff. Theres always that spot when youve lost people. Any time you sit back and reflect, in the dugout or out on the field, its always with you. CHICAGO The Chicago Cubs will return home after a one-day road trip that may leave them weary after a long but satisfying win.The Cubs, who were forced to travel to Washington to face the Nationals after a weekend washout , will enter Fridays series opener against the Cincinnati Reds on a winning note after a 10-inning, 4-3 victory.After seeing their lead shrink to one game by losing two of three to the second-place Milwaukee Brewers, the Cubs will face the Reds with a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League Central. And as much as the Cubs dreaded losing an off-day Thursday for the sake of a make-up game, manager Joe Maddon wont use the current stretch of 30 consecutive days without an off-day as an excuse.Article continues below ...Its just a tough stretch, man, Maddon said this weekend, according to NBC Sports Chicago. Fatigue is nasty. When you get a tired mind Ozzie Albies Jersey , its not easy to play at your top level. Its just not. We all know what its like when you feel like your brain is swimming a little bit.The Cubs victory Thursday provided a bit of breathing room after they entered Thursdays game having lost four of their previous five games. Despite needing extra innings to get back on a winning track, the Cubs realize even facing the last-place Reds wont be easy as they try to hold on to their lead in the National League Central.Because of Thursdays trip to Washington, the start time of Fridays game was pushed back from 1:20 p.m. CT to 7:05 p.m.Cole Hamels will take the mound for the Cubs, looking to extend whats been an impressive start to his stint with the Cubs. Hamels (9-9, 3.71 ERA) has not lost since joining the Cubs and is coming off back-to-back no-decisions after racking up a 4-0 record in August. Hamels has dominated the Reds throughout his career with an 11-1 record and a 1.86 ERA in 16 career starts against Cincinnati.In his one start against the Reds this season, Hamels got a complete-game victory, allowing eight hits and two walks but one run in Chicagos 7-1 victory Aug. 23.The Reds will enter the series having won four of their past six games. Cincinnati took two of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers this week but failed to finish off the sweep , taking an 8-1 loss Wednesday before having Thursday off.Matt Harvey will start the series for the Reds after sticking with Cincinnati despite clearing waivers. Harvey (7-8, 4.87) has only one win in his last four starts, but that win came in his last outing a victory against the San Diego Padres in which he surrendered two runs and four hits over six innings. In that game, Harvey struck out 10, which was his first double-digit strikeout effort in more than two years. Now, he will look to continue to roll against the Cubs on Friday.It was just one of those days when everything was coming out pretty good, Harvey said after the outing Danny Santana Jersey , according to I pretty much let the pitches work.Harvey is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in seven career starts against Chicago. He has started three games against the Cubs this year and is 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA.
20 2019
BALTIMORE (AP) Cemented together by a seven-year contract , the Baltimore Orioles and Chris Davis are staggering toward the finish of a historically horrid season for both the franchise and former home run king.With 35 games to go, Davis is batting .163. Hes on track to break the record for lowest batting average by a qualifier since 1900, .179 by Rob Deer in 1991 and Dan Uggla in 2013.Thats one glaring reason why Baltimore owns the worst record in the big leagues (37-90). The Orioles will need a late surge to better the 54-107 ledger of 1989, the low-water mark since the team moved from St. Louis in 1954, and are still a threat to top the franchise mark of 111 defeats, set in 1939 by the Browns.The Orioles went into full rebuilding mode in late July, trading away stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Jonathan Schoop. The 32-year-old Davis doesnt fit into the teams plan to get younger, but his hefty contract which does not expire until after the 2022 season makes him impossible to unload.So, the best the Orioles can hope for is that he ultimately rediscovers his swing.Chris is a guy that can get going and really do a lot of damage for a club for an extended period of time Alen Hanson Jersey , manager Buck Showalter said.The Orioles were a contender when they signed Davis to a $161 million contract in January 2016. Davis was coming off a season in which he hit a major-league leading 47 homers and had totaled 159 long balls and 412 RBIs over the previous four years, helping Baltimore reach the playoffs twice during that span.His batting average dipped from .262 to .221 in 2016, but he had 38 home runs and 84 RBIs during a year in which the Orioles entered the postseason as a wild card.Davis battled an oblique injury last season and hit .215 with 26 home runs in 128 games. He subsequently hit bottom this year: Hes struck out 158 times, gotten only 63 hits and has 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.A pair of two-hit games over his last seven starts, however, provided a small measure of hope that maybe just maybe he can shake this extended slump.I think its really taking it one at-bat at a time. Not getting too high or too low, Davis said. Not trying to hit a home run, but just going up there and trying to be a hitter.He hears boos at Camden Yards after every strikeout. Throughout it all, Davis has strived to keep an even keel.Its too easy a lot of times to get caught up in the negative and sometimes even to get caught up in the positive and let your guard down, he said. For me , I want to finish up strong. I want to work on some things and go into the offseason with a head of steam.Any momentum would be perceived as a plus.Thats a big part of it, Davis said, just trying to get something going and seeing how long I can make it last. OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Athletics remain hopeful of seeing Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray in their uniform when spring training begins next month.While the Oklahoma quarterback declared for the NFL draft last week, the prized outfielder and 2018 first-round draft pick could report to As spring training in Mesa, Arizona. He has an invite to big league camp.As were sitting here right now we expect him to be in spring training, As manager Bob Melvin said Friday, a day before the clubs Fan Fest. Now, look, he has opened up some doors for himself that the world is literally his oyster right now Ryon Healy Jersey , and I will be for whatever he chooses to do. The football thing, you win the Heisman Trophy and you get drafted in the first round, how often does that happen? He is that type of athlete and hes going to have a great career in whatever he chooses to do, and we will support whatever he chooses to do. But at this point in time we havent heard anything different and Im expecting him to be in spring training. If something changes in the meantime then we deal with it.On Jan. 13, representatives of the As and Major League Baseball met with Murrayl.Wed love to have him. Hes invited to spring training. Were hoping hes there, As general manager David Forst said. Hes an incredible young man and would be a great asset for the As. We made it clear to Kyler how much wed like to have him here and how great a baseball player we think he could be.The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Murrays Sooners lost in a college football playoff semifinal Dec. 29 to eventual runner-up Alabama.Drafted last June with the ninth overall pick, the outfielder signed with Oakland for a $4.66 million bonus, of which $1.5 million was paid last summer within 30 days of the deals approval by the commissioners office. The remaining $3.16 million is due on March 1.There was an agreement between the team and Murray that he would play football last year, then skip his senior season to begin his pro baseball career. Melvin as well as executive Billy Beane and Forst closely followed Oklahoma football in 2018.Murray showed off his skills taking batting practice at the Coliseum in an As uniform back in June , greeted by WELCOME TO OAKLAND on the big scoreboard with his photo.In football this past season, he completed 260 of 377 passes for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with seven interceptions and a passer rating of 199.2. He also rushed for 1,001 yards and 12 TDs.Youve got to separate there. When he comes and plays baseball the football thing is good stories for the guys. Its all about performing in baseball, thats kind of where my focus will be, Melvin said. Its a phenomenal athlete if you take a step back and look what hes accomplished.
20 2019
Roy Rochlin/Getty ImagesAs Jeff Passan of ESPN wrote in February , Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have been discussing a litany of rule changes, including a pitch clock and a universal designated hitter.However, swift regulations on another topic have been put in place to restrict sign stealing, per Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated on Tuesday:"Major League Baseball is cracking down on high-tech sign stealing. It is banning all non-broadcast outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole as well as tightening restrictions on in-house video, several sources familiar with the new rules told SI. Teams violating the protocols face penalties that include the loss of draft picks and international spending money."Accordingto Verducci, "there is expectation" a final document outlining the restrictions and bans will be finished within two weeks and ready for the beginning of the 2019 season.Sign-stealing isn't anything new鈥擝ryan Soderholm-Difatte of theSociety for American Baseball Researchoutlined a sign-stealing scheme pulled off by the 1951 New York Giants during their National League-pennant winning season, for example.But the spotlight has recently shined brightly on sign-stealing , especially over the past two seasons. PerDave Sheininof theWashington Post, the Astros were accused (and eventually cleared) of the act during the 2018 American League Championship Series.In 2017,commissioner Rob Manfred finedthe Red Sox "an undisclosed amount" after an MLB investigation revealed that the practice occurred during the regular season versus the New York Yankees.Per Verducci, the new rules and regulations to curtail the practice will be extensive and include banning in-house cameras in between the foul poles and mandating thatevery general manager (or president of baseball operations) and manager "must sign a document professing that his club is in compliance with the anti-sign stealing rules and that he knew of no 'pre-meditated plan to steal signs'."The MLB season begins on March 20 when the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics face off in Tokyo. ATLANTA (AP) In court documents filed this week in a lawsuit following the 2015 death of a fan who fell from the upper deck at an Atlanta Braves game, Nolan Ryan says guard rails at the Texas Rangers stadium had to be raised to protect our fans from themselves.Ryan, the former Hall of Fame pitcher, was Rangers president when he led the effort to have rails raised at The Ballpark in Arlington following the death of a fan , Shannon Stone, who fell in 2011.Gregory Murrey, who was 60, fell from the upper deck at the Braves former stadium, Turner Field, on Aug. 29, 2015. The Braves and Major League Baseball are defendants in the lawsuit filed by Murreys family Michael Saunders Jersey , including his wife, Laura.The lawsuit contends fan deaths at other parks should have led MLB to demand all teams have higher guard rails.Ryan now is a special adviser for the Houston Astros. When asked in a deposition if he believes the Astros Minute Maid Park is safe, he said he would not be comfortable taking his grandchildren to the upper deck of the park.You go to the upper deck and those angles are really steep so people can view the field, he said.And are they safe? Ryan asked. If I was up there with my grandkids Id be very nervous because kids will be kids and somebody gets excited and they run down and lean over the rail. But Im very guarded about that and I wouldnt want to it makes me nervous is the best way for me to describe that.The lawsuit disputes MLBs position that it doesnt regulate the rail heights at stadiums. The lawsuit notes MLB in 2015 recommended the extension of netting to the end of dugouts to protect more fans at all parks from being injured by foul balls.Significant portions of documents made public have been redacted due to confidentiality issues being contested by attorneys for Murreys family.A hearing is expected regarding motions in the case, including the confidentiality issues, within two months.There was no response to a message left by The Associated Press at the office for an attorney for MLB.Ryan was the Rangers president from 2008-13. He said the decision was made to raise the rail heights after falls by two fans, including Stones fatal fall , within a year.Well, we had two incidents in one year and I felt like it was something we needed to look at and there was a lot of discussion about it, he said in the deposition. We brought in some consultants and looked at it, and I just chose that we raise them to try to protect our fans as much as we could.He said the decision was made even though the stadiums rail heights met International Building Code standards.Well, I just felt like that we probably need to protect our fans from themselves, Ryan said.The Rangers raised railings from 33 inches to 42 inches, at a cost of $1.1 million.Rail heights at Turner Field met or exceeded industry code standards which call for a minimum height of 42 inches for guard rails in front of such open areas as walkways. Railings in front of seated areas must be 26 inches or taller. Murrey fell over a rail that was 30 inches high.Murreys death was the third by a fan at Turner Field. In 2013 Wily Peralta Jersey , a fans death was ruled a suicide. In 2008, police cited alcohol as a factor after a man died.The Braves moved to SunTrust Park in suburban Atlanta for the 2017 season. Turner Field was purchased by Georgia State University and was converted to a football stadium.
20 2019
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The Los Angeles Dodgers want no part of a wild-card game or the long flight that would come with it.The plan: another NL West crown.Max Muncy and his free-swinging Dodgers mates are headed for a one-game showdown against Colorado to determine the division winner back home , jumping on the San Francisco Giants from the start Sunday in a 15-0 win for a weekend sweep.The Rockies routed Washington 12-0 at Coors Field, setting up a tiebreaker at Dodger Stadium on Monday that the home team has every intention of taking. The winner gets the division and hosts Atlanta in the best-of-five Division Series starting Thursday; the loser is on the road for the NL wild-card game Tuesday against the loser of Mondays Brewers-Cubs NL Central tiebreaker.Wed rather win the division than be the wild card, Matt Kemp said. Were going to play it like any game weve been playing this last month. Weve been playing each game like a playoff game. Weve got to keep it going. I dont think we want to go to the East Coast to play a one-game playoff, wed rather have a series to play and play that series.Walker Buehler will start for the Dodgers (91-71) as the defending NL champions try for a sixth straight West title.Rich Hill (11-5) pitched two-hit ball for seven innings to keep the playoff-bound Dodgers on a roll. The lefty found out when he woke up just before 8 a.m. Sunday he would start, having gone to bed early for him to ensure enough sleep for the possibility he would be pitching.The biggest thing is that everybody continues to go up there and give that effort, no matter what the situation is, Hill said.Manny Machado, Kemp and Muncy all joined the hit parade as Los Angeles left nothing to chance in Game No. 162. Kemp had a two-run double and RBI single among his three hits, while Muncy and Brian Dozier each hit two-run homers.Los Angeles followed up an 18-hit performance Saturday with 16 more to finish with 43 in the three-game series.Now, on to game No. 163.Its a game where obviously its not do-or-die, but I think that its a must-win game, manager Dave Roberts said. To win the game and get a couple days off, to host the division series is very important.Chris Taylor drew a walk from Andrew Suarez (7-13) to get the Dodgers going Sunday , Justin Turner followed with an RBI double and the rout was on. Doziers drive and a two-run double by Kemp highlighted a seven-run third inning.The Dodgers clinched baseballs final playoff berth by beating the Giants 10-6 on Saturday and celebrated with champagne in the visiting clubhouse then all attention turned to winning another division title.So Roberts switched from Buehler to Hill (11-5), who delivered. He completed a 5-0 September and won for the sixth time in seven outings beginning Aug. 24. The lefty retired the first 10 batters in order before Joe Paniks single in the fourth.Hills curveball has been clicking in recent weeks since he tweaked his delivery with a grip adjustment.In recent memory, this is as good as Ive seen him throw the baseball, Roberts said. He understood how important this game was.Los Angeles needed a stellar showing in its final series.The Dodgers fell out of the division lead with a 7-2 loss Wednesday at Arizona before taking all three from the injury-plagued Giants (73-89) to close out the final weekend of the regular season. A sixth straight division title by the Dodgers would be the third-longest streak since divisions started in 1969 behind Atlantas 14 consecutive from 1991-2005 and nine in a row by the Yankees from 1998-2006.San Francisco went a majors-worst 5-21 in September but improved on its last-place 2017 finish of 64-98 by nine wins.No question thats the last way we wanted this thing to go out, manager Bruce Bochy said.SPLISH SPLASHMuncys pinch-hit homer gave him 34 for the season and the drive splashed into McCovey Cove beyond the right-field arcade. That marked the 44th splash homer by a Giants opponent, fifth by a Dodger and first by an LA player since Cody Bellinger on Sept. 13, 2017.PENCES FAREWELL?Hunter Pence went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in what was likely his final game with the Giants after 6 1/2 years. There were pins and signs reading GR8FUL.Pence received big cheers from the sellout crowd as he ran to the outfield some 20 minutes before first pitch and he waved and clapped in appreciation.Then out in AT&T Parks vast right field for perhaps the final time in a Giants uniform, he tipped his cap every direction to the rousing ovation. He did the same with his batting helmet before stepping in to lead off the bottom of the first.A Pence highlight video showed before the bottom of the ninth.Pure joy. I really just feel a tremendous amount of joy for this organization, these fans, the stadium, Pence said. Its been just unbelievable to play here. You never know, I could come back but it is unknown and it really was just amazing.FINAL ATTENDANCEWhile the Giants drew 3 million fans for a ninth straight season and 17th time in the ballparks 19-year history, the 3 Jason Kipnis Jersey ,156,185 attendance was their lowest since 3,037,443 in 2010. A look at whats happening around the majors today:TWO DOWNHouston tries to become the second team to sweep major league-leading Boston this season when the teams complete their three-game series on national TV. The defending World Series champion Astros took the first two games to extend their winning streak to seven, including a 5-3 win Saturday backed by Alex Bregmans 30th homer. The finale will be a matchup of former AL Cy Young Award winners, with Houstons Dallas Keuchel opposing Bostons Rick Porcello. The Red Sox were swept for the first time by Tampa Bay in late August.MR. CONSISTENCYJacob deGrom has allowed more than three runs in one start this season, back in April. Thats why hes a candidate for the NL Cy Young Award despite an 8-8 record for the fourth-place Mets, whove struggled to score when hes been on the mound. Hes winless in his last three starts despite pitching to a 1.35 ERA in those outings. DeGrom will go for his ninth win in a matchup with the contending Phillies, who have their own Cy Young candidate in Aaron Nola (16-4).ROLLING ROBBIERobbie Ray and the playoff-chasing Diamondbacks conclude a series against NL East-leading Atlanta. Ray (5-2, 4.25) hasnt lost since July 12 and is coming off 6 1/3 electric innings against San Diego, when he struck out 10 and allowed two hits in a 6-0 win. Braves starter Touki Toussaint (1-1, 3.38) pitched no-hit ball through four innings against Boston last time out before getting hit around in the fifth.WEST WORLDThe Rockies and Dodgers conclude their series with Colorado holding a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL West. The finale will be a battle of left-handers, with Los Angeles veteran Rich Hill opposing struggling Tyler Anderson. Hill is 5-1 with a 2.87 ERA over his past nine starts Lonnie Chisenhall Jersey , while Anderson is seeking his first victory since July 4, a span of 10 outings.WEATHER WOESThe Reds moved their series finale against the Padres to 4:10 p.m. to give the teams a better chance of escaping the rain that has interfered with the previous two games in Cincinnati. Friday nights game ended after midnight because of a 2-hour, 37-minute rain delay, and Saturdays game was called after seven innings because of more bad weather. If Sundays game were postponed, the Padres would be forced to fly back from San Francisco on Sept. 27 for a makeup game between last-place teams. We would love, love, love to get these games in here the next couple days, San Diego manager Andy Green said.Rain also forced a postponement of the Cubs-Nationals game in Washington on Friday night, forcing a doubleheader Saturday with more rain forecast for Sunday.
9 2019
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Astros are doing more than just getting by without injured Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Josh Reddicks three-run homer highlighted Houstons seven-run eighth Roberto Alomar Jersey , and the Astros routed the Dodgers 14-0 to hand Los Angeles its biggest shutout loss at home in 95 years Saturday night.It feels really good when youre without your two big horses in the middle of your lineup and you can still do stuff like that, Reddick said. You can still do something special.The AL West-leading Astros pounded out 13 hits in winning their fourth in a row and stretching their lead to five games over Oakland.Pretty explosive night for us, manager A.J. Hinch said. Were a little banged up so its important for us to just keep putting up wins. To shut them out feels good.The only blight on the Astros night was starter Lance McCullers Jr. leaving after 60 pitches because of right elbow discomfort. He allowed two hits over four innings in his first start at Dodger Stadium since Game 7 of last years World Series, won by the Astros.McCullers will return to Houston on Sunday morning to be examined.I felt some abnormal soreness and stiffness that I wouldnt feel during the game, he said. I couldnt have felt any better to start the game, which is the most frustrating part.The Dodgers were limited to three hits in losing their fifth straight regular-season game to Houston since 2015. It was their worst shutout loss at home since July 22, 1923, when the Brooklyn Robins lost to Boston at Ebbets Field, according to Stats LLC.The games over, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. I guess thats the silver lining.The Astros batted around twice in the game, including the eighth when John Axford was charged with six runs in a rocky Dodgers debut after being acquired from Toronto at the trade deadline. Axford, a 10-year veteran, failed to record a strikeout on 27 pitches and hit left fielder Tony Kemp , forcing him to leave the game with a bruised right foot.Its the worst outing of my entire career, Axford said. I wasnt helping myself walking guys and hitting a guy. I have a little bit more to offer than whats shown out there. Jake Marisnick ran for Kemp in the eighth and hit a two-run homer in the ninth. Houston fans began chanting loudly and the remaining Dodgers fans from the sellout crowd of 53,119 booed in an attempt to drown them out.Were a team thats capable of putting up those kind of numbers, Reddick said. These at-bats continue to be contagious for us and carry on from one guy to the next.Brad Peacock (2-4) got the win with two innings of relief. Marwin Gonzalez homered on the first pitch from Kenta Maeda (7-7) leading off the second for the Astros first run.Its huge to beat a team like that, Gonzalez said.Houston batted around in the sixth, extending its lead to 5-0.Yuli Gurriel got things started with a two-run double that scored Reddick, who hit a ground-rule double to deep left center, and Alex Bregman, who walked.After Maeda intentionally walked Gonzalez, Tyler White doubled to center field with the ball eluding a diving Chris Taylor. Gurriel scored and Gonzalez moved to third.Martin Maldonado followed with a sacrifice to J.T. Chargois, who relieved Maeda, and Gonzalez scored for a 5-0 lead.The Astros got to Axford right away in the eighth. Maldonados ground-rule double scored two runs, pinch-hitter Evan Gattis added a sacrifice fly and George Springer had an RBI double for his lone hit in six at-bats.Reddicks three-run drive to right field came off Zac Rosscup Roger Clemens Jersey , just off the disabled list, and made it 12-0. Reddick played for the Dodgers for the last part of the 2016 season.Maeda gave up five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Japanese right-hander struck out four and walked two.Houston won the series opener 2-1 on Friday and could complete a sweep on Sunday when newly acquired reliever Roberto Osuna is expected to be activated. He is coming off a 75-game suspension for violating MLBs domestic violence policy.TRAINERS ROOMAstros: Osuna pitched one scoreless inning for Double-A Corpus Christi on Friday, allowing one hit with one strikeout. Altuve (right knee soreness) did some running and baseball activity. A step forward but not a ton, Hinch said. The key is the soreness after the activity.Dodgers: Placed LHP Alex Wood on 10-day DL with left adductor tendinitis. RHP Ross Stripling (right big toe inflammation) tossed 30 pitches in a two-inning simulated game. Hes expected to rejoin the team either Thursday or Friday in Colorado.INTERLEAGUE HITTINGGurriel has been especially good in interleague games this season, going 13 for 38 with two doubles and six RBIs.ON THE ROADThe Astros improved their MLB-best road record to 39-17, having won nine of their last 11 away from home. They equaled their largest margin of victory this season.UP NEXTRHP Gerrit Cole (10-3, 2.55 ERA), a former UCLA star, starts the series finale for the Astros. Dodgers rookie right-hander Walker Buehler (4-4, 3.65 ERA) has never faced Houston. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel wont be around when the bat and ball bags are opened at spring training throughout Florida and Arizona this week.They are among the dozens of free agents still looking for jobs, joined by Mike Moustakas Justin Smoak Jersey , Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez.For the second straight winter, camps are opening with many rosters in exceptional flux.The market will sort itself out, St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said at last weeks owners meetings. There is a long time between the end of the season and spring training, and theres maybe not so much a sense of urgency on whichever side it happens to be.Among the 164 players who exercised free agency rights at the end of last years World Series, 84 had announced agreements on the eve of spring training. That is up from 65 of 166 at roughly the same point last season but down from 105 of 158 two years ago.Boston added J.D. Martinez last Feb. 26 and Philadelphia brought in Jake Arrieta on March 12. All but 26 of the free agents last offseason eventually reached deals, but some with big-money contracts flopped after late starts: Yu Darvish joined the Chicago Cubs on Feb. 13, went 1-3 and didnt pitch after May 20 because of arm problems. Eric Hosmer finalized his agreement with San Diego on Feb. 19 and hit a career-worst .253 with 69 RBIs. Alex Cobb signed with Baltimore on March 26 and went 5-16.A drawn-out negotiating process means clubs have lost time in marketing new acquisitions, which seems especially significant to a sport coming off three straight years of attendance declines. Average attendance dropped below 30,000 last year for the first time since 2003.We want players signed, particularly star players. I wish they were signed and ready to go, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Friday. We got another week before they have to report. Im really hopeful that its going to get resolved during that period of time.Oakland takes the field first, starting workouts Monday in Mesa , Arizona. Seattle follows Tuesday in Peoria, Arizona, with both teams getting early starts because they open the season in Tokyo on March 20-21, a week before other teams get underway. Every other club launches practice Wednesday or Thursday except for Atlanta, which waits until Saturday.Six new managers are in charge for the second straight spring training and five of them are big league rookie skippers for the second straight year. Rocco Baldelli (Minnesota), David Bell (Cincinnati), Brandon Hyde (Baltimore), Charlie Montoyo (Toronto) and Chris Woodward (Texas) are first-timers running a big league dugout, joined by the Los Angeles Angels Brad Ausmus, Detroits manager from 2014-17.One of last years rookie managers was Alex Cora, who led Boston to its fourth World Series title in 15 seasons. The Red Sox hope to become the first team to win consecutive titles since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees.Repeating is tough, Cora said. It starts with the players. People are going to talk about hangovers and all that and the banquet circuit. Its part of it. But theyve been disciplined enough.New baseball operations heads are in charge of three teams: Mike Elias (Baltimore), Farhan Zaidi (San Francisco) and Brodie Van Wagenen (New York Mets).Among the major trades of the offseason Aaron Sanchez Jersey , Philadelphia obtained catcher J.T. Realmuto from Miami, St. Louis got first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona and the New York Mets got second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from Seattle. In the free-agent market thus far, Washington added left-hander Patrick Corbin and the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock, Atlanta got third baseman Josh Donaldson and Colorado picked up second baseman Daniel Murphy.By March 28, when most teams open, many rosters will look significantly different. The Mets and Phillies have noticeably bolstered theirs. Others chose rebuilding and appear to have little chance to reach the postseason: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kanas City, Miami, Seattle and Toronto.Theres always been players available in February or March, Van Wagenen said. I think theres been a higher volume of more-recognizable names than in the past.
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