MLB In Full Bloom 2/28/2014

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32 – Number of days until Opening Day

43,186 – Number of signatures at www.budweiser.com/openingday to make Opening Day a National Holiday

This weekend I will be making my annual journey to Mesa,AZ to visit the new Cubs Park. I watched opening day at the park yesterday and it looks like the new gem of the Cactus League. I'll be attending the Royals/Cubs game on Sunday afternoon. It will be great to watch a ballgame and enjoy my beverage of choice. The Cubs are going anywhere there year, but I still find myself full of excitement and anticipation. On Monday, I will begin breaking down each team and give you my predictions for 2014.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Zack Greinke (calf) made an early exit from his Cactus League debut Thursday due to a mild right calf strain. Greinke will undergo treatment today and could throw a regularly scheduled bullpen session Saturday. While the injury is considered minor, it could be that the Dodgers keep him from making the trip to Australia next month.
  • Carl Crawford's (quad) injury is being called quad tightness. It was originally described as hamstring tightness, but the Dodgers made the clarification on Thursday. Crawford has already been ruled out for Friday's Cactus League game but could return to action on Saturday. The hope is that he'll be 100 percent on Opening Day.
  • Yasmani Grandal's (knee) side-to-side blocking and stamina have not progressed enough to catch a Cactus League game in the immediate future. It might not be too long before Grandal is allowed to hit in a Cactus League game, but the Padres aren't ready to let him work behind the plate this early in spring training.
  • Joe Blanton could be traded or released by the Angels before Opening Day. Unless there is an injury to another starter before the end of spring training there's no spot for Blanton in the team's rotation and it does not appear the Angels are going to keep a long relief pitcher on the roster to start the season. Blanton is still owed $7.5 million for 2104 and he has a $1 million buyout in 2015 and the Angels are on the hook for all of it.
  • Cody Ross (hip) is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on March 13 according to Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson. This is assuming everything continues to go smoothly for Ross as he works his way back from surgery to repair a dislocated hip. The Diamondbacks have not officially ruled Ross out for Opening Day, but they'd probably be happy if he made his season debut by the end of April.
  • Adam Wainwright has figured out a solution to speed up the games in baseball - expand the strike zone. With the addition of instant replay and manager challenges this year, the length of games will certainly increase.  Wainwright went on to challenge critics that say that baseball is making millions of dollars with commercials and if they want to keep those commercials open the strike zone.
  • San Francisco Giants president and CEO Larry Baer is leaving the door slightly open and hinted that of the possibility that the Athletics could play home games at AT&T Park as long as it does not conflict with the Giants schedule. The A's want a new stadium and its highly likely that they will need some help. The The Giants hold territorial rights to San Jose, where the A's want to build a new ballpark.

MLB In Full Bloom 2/27/2014

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33 – Number of days until Opening Day

31,262 - Number of signatures at www.budweiser.com/openingday to make Opening Day a National Holiday

Spring training games have begun and so has the excitement and anticipation that comes with it! I watched a couple innings of the Blue Jays/Phillies game. Today, there is a full slate of spring training games and for all of you still experiencing winter needs to watch a game today. The site of sunshine and baseball should do the trick to convince you that spring is coming!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Mike Trout and the Angels are now discussing a 6-year contract worth around $140 million.  The prospective deal would keep Trout with the Angels through the 2020 season. A long-term extension has been reported for the past few days, and now with Trout's new $1 million salary for 2014 out of the way the two sides can focus on working out a long-term deal.
  • Jonathan Niese is headed to New York for an MRI on his left shoulder. This unfortunate development comes just a couple days after the Mets named the left-hander their Opening Day starter. The good news is that the discomfort is in a different area than the rotator cuff he partially tore last summer. 
  • Carlos Santana will make his Cactus League debut at third base on Thursday. Santana received positive reviews playing third base in winter ball, but the Indians want to see him play the position during the spring.  If Santana can stick at third base, the Indians will move ahead with Yan Gomes as their full-time catcher and will have some flexibility with the DH spot.
  • Jaime Garcia (shoulder) was diagnosed with left shoulder inflammation following a pair of exams this week. Garcia met with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, but will be back in Cardinals' camp today. It was easy to fear the worst after Garcia left over the weekend due to shoulder discomfort, but no structural damage has been found. The question remains when he will pitch again and in what capacity. There is no timetable for his return and fantasy owners should consider him day-to-day.
  • Manny Machado (knee) is tentatively scheduled to have a follow-up exam with his surgeon on March 18. Machado could receive full clearance for baseball activities at that time. Machado hasn't had any issues with his surgically-repaired knee this spring and can do most of the drills in camp, but he still needs to run the bases at full speed and begin sliding. He could be ready for Opening Day, but a more realistic expectation for fantasy owners is early-to-mid April.
  • Stephen Drew continues to remain a free agent and the Red Sox don't appear to be as interested in him as once was expected. Drew is struggling to attract offers because his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation and there's been rumors that he will wait until the early part of the summer to sign with a team.
  • Carl Pavano announced his retirement Wednesday. Pavano had his 2012 season cut short with a shoulder injury and missed all last season after rupturing his spleen while shoveling his driveway. Pavano attempted a comeback this year, but he made the decision to end his 14-year career. He played in 302 games with the Expos, Marlins, Yankees, Indians, and Twins. 
  • Josh Hart needed a history lesson at Orioles spring training on Monday. The outfielder, selected 37th overall in last June's amateur draft, was visiting Baltimore's major league camp earlier this week when O's manager Buck Showalter introduced him to Frank Robinson. Showalter asked Hart if he knew who Robinson was and the 19-year-old did not. Showalter embraces Orioles history and made Hart write a one-page essay on Frank Robinson by Tuesday. A few hours before the Tuesday deadline, Hart had completed his assignment.

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