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These 11 additions are making huge impacts

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Some of the offseason's best moves have worked out just the way we thought they might. Shohei Ohtani has been as good as advertised in his new digs in Southern California, and no one should be surprised by what Todd Frazier and J.D. Martinez have done with the Mets and Red Sox, respectively.

Among the more interesting moves are the ones that got less attention: Ryan Flaherty to the Braves, Bud Norris to the Cardinals and Corey Dickerson to the Pirates. And they've all had an impact on the division races.

Some of the offseason's best moves have worked out just the way we thought they might. Shohei Ohtani has been as good as advertised in his new digs in Southern California, and no one should be surprised by what Todd Frazier and J.D. Martinez have done with the Mets and Red Sox, respectively.

Among the more interesting moves are the ones that got less attention: Ryan Flaherty to the Braves, Bud Norris to the Cardinals and Corey Dickerson to the Pirates. And they've all had an impact on the division races.

So let's take a look not just at the good players who have changed teams in the past few months, but the players who have impacted the races in the first weeks of this new season:

1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
.324 BA, 1.055 OPS, 3 HR
3.60 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 3 GS

Even those of us who were thrilled at the possibility of baseball getting a true two-way player did not envision the 23-year-old Ohtani being this good. Our MLB Pipeline folks told us the guy was a No. 1-type prospect as both a hitter and a pitcher. Would he have time to hone both skills? So far that hasn't been a problem, and apart from the things that can be measured, the energy Ohtani brings to the ballpark and clubhouse surely is part of the reason for the Angels' fast start.

2. Gerrit Cole, Astros
0.96 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.2 K/9
The Astros believed they were adding a third ace to a rotation that already had Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, and Cole has been just that. Yes, his pitch usage has changed -- fewer fastballs, more curves and sliders -- but the bottom line could be that he's feeding off the vibes of a winning environment, and that he was ready for a change in scenery, whether he knew it or not.

Video: TEX@HOU: Cole sets a career-high with 14 strikeouts

3. Todd Frazier, Mets
.969 OPS, 3 HR, 5 2B

It's never about one guy, and Frazier would be the first to say that. Besides, he's not the only addition who has helped the Mets climb to the top of the National League East. But Frazier brings plenty that has contributed to one of baseball's early feel-good stories -- from his offense to his performance at third base to the professionalism and approach that play well over a long season.

4. Corey Dickerson, Pirates
.313 BA, .838 OPS
No team has been a bigger surprise than the Pirates, and it begins with an offense that has gone from near the bottom in 2017 (4.1 runs per game) to near the top of the NL in 2018 (5.2 runs per game). Some of that improvement is the growth of young players like Josh Bell and Gregory Polanco, but Dickerson, who'd been designated for assignment by the Rays, has added depth to an offense that didn't have much of it last season.

5. Ryan Flaherty and Preston Tucker, Braves (tie)
Flaherty: .352 BA, .935 OPS
Tucker: .872 OPS, 3 HR, 4 2B
Two significant under-the-radar acquisitions by new general manager Alex Anthopoulos have helped jump-start the Braves. Tucker was caught in a numbers crunch with the Astros, while Flaherty opted out of his contract with the Phillies at the end of Spring Training. No NL team has scored more runs.

Video: PHI@ATL: Flaherty hits a three-run HR to right-center

7. Bud Norris, Cardinals
4 saves, 1.93 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 16.4 K/9
The Cardinals thought they had their closer when Greg Holland was signed at the beginning of the regular season, and he may end up with that role at some point. For now, though, Norris has emerged as the guy getting the ball from manager Mike Matheny late in games. His fastball is sitting at 95 mph, the fastest in his 10 seasons.

8. J.D. Martinez, Red Sox
.983 OPS, 4 HR, 5 2B
Martinez has done everything the Red Sox hoped he would, and that's not what you often hear about big-ticket free agents in their first month with a new team. While he's only one part of a team that looks like baseball's best at the moment, his impact should not be underestimated.

9. Wade Davis, Rockies
8 saves, 10.8 K/9, 0.72 WHIP

The Rockies invested $106 million in creating a super bullpen, and Davis' signing followed those of Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw as the finishing touch. Davis has arguably been baseball's best reliever the past five seasons, and some wondered if the workload -- 244 appearances between 2014-17 -- would impact his stuff. He has been as good as ever.

Video: COL@WSH: Davis retires Zimmerman to earn the save

10. Addison Reed, Twins
7 games, 0.89 WHIP

The Twins signed veteran Fernando Rodney to close games, which allows Reed to pitch multiple innings. He has been among baseball's best relievers the past four seasons, and he is off to a good start with his new team.

11. Jake Arrieta, Phillies
2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

Arrieta was signed because he gives the Phillies a bona fide top-of-the-rotation pitcher to solidify the starting staff. Beyond that, he was brought in as a role model for a young unit, to set an example with his preparation, game management and poise. So far, Arrieta has done just that.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

You won't find a better pitching matchup than this

No one has defined pitching in the 2010s more than Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. Over the last five years, the two have appeared in every All-Star Game; they rank in the top four in ERA, strikeouts and wins; and they've combined for one MVP and five Cy Young Awards, while never finishing outside the top five in Cy Young voting. They are, put simply, the two best pitchers on the planet -- and on Friday night, they'll face off for just the third time in their careers.

Before we get to that, though, we need to take stock of just how great Kershaw and Scherzer have been -- and try to figure out who has the edge. They're both on a path to Cooperstown, but which one has had the best career? Check out the tale of the tape:

Thome has plenty to say about Hoskins' swing

Left fielder 'pretty starstruck'; Arano racking up K's with slider
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins hopped onto MLB Network late Thursday night to talk about the Phillies, but unexpectedly found himself watching the monitor in front of him as Jim Thome dissected his swing.

Thome is a big Hoskins fan.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Rhys Hoskins hopped onto MLB Network late Thursday night to talk about the Phillies, but unexpectedly found himself watching the monitor in front of him as Jim Thome dissected his swing.

Thome is a big Hoskins fan.

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"That was one of the cooler moments of my career, I think," Hoskins said before Friday night's game against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. "Just having him tell me that he really likes my swing. I mean, that guy was pretty good. Not only is he a Hall of Famer, but he did it here, too. It was really, really cool. I was pretty starstruck."

Thome broke down Hoskins' leg kick and his stride toward home plate.

"The thing is, when he comes off of the leg kick and he strides, it's not an up and down pound," Thome said. "It's a glide out, which I think keeps his bat, he keeps his eyes, everything where he needs to be for a big guy."

"One-hundred percent," Hoskins said, agreeing with the Hall of Famer's analysis. "Jim talked about the glide and a soft front foot. If I can ride my front hip out, I think it allows my barrel to stay in the zone as long as possible, and I think that's kind of what we're looking for as hitters."

"Fella," Thome said. "It's why he's a monster."

Hoskins is putting up monster numbers since he joined the Phillies last August. He entered Friday with a 1.037 OPS in 286 plate appearances. It ranks fourth in baseball in that span (minimum 250 plate appearances) behind only Boston's J.D. Martinez (1.116), New York's Aaron Judge (1.087) and Chicago's Kris Bryant (1.052).

Hoskins has 53 walks and 64 strikeouts in that stretch. The only other player in baseball with as many walks and as few strikeouts is Cincinnati's Joey Votto. He has 54 walks and 36 strikeouts.

Video: PHI@ATL: Arano throws only three pitches in the 8th

Arano keeps putting up zeros
Phillies rookie Victor Arano has retired the first 25 batters he has faced this season. He has retired 32 consecutive batters, dating to last season.

"I think he had some success early and all of a sudden he's feeling really good about himself," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "There's a lot of confidence when he comes in from the bullpen. And then very directly, he's executing his pitches."

Arano is getting a ton of swings and misses. His 41.51 whiff-per-swing percentage is 10th out of 314 pitchers in baseball (minimum 50 pitches). Thirteen have come on his slider. Nine have come on his fastball.

"The sliders are landing for strikes consistently and it's a pretty good slider," Kapler said. "And it's a fastball that plays pretty good here at this level."

Elias Sports Bureau said Rick Wise in 1971 is the last Phillies pitcher to retire 32 consecutive batters. Tampa Bay's Steve Geltz in June 2015 is the last pitcher in baseball to do it. Arano joins Scott Eyre as the only other Phillies pitcher since at least 1908 to open the season with seven consecutive perfect appearances. Eyre did it in 2009. If Arano has one more perfect appearance he would tie Scott Aldred for the Major League record. Aldred did it with Tampa Bay in 1999.

Hunter rehab continues
Phillies right-hander Tommy Hunter was scheduled to make his second rehab appearance Friday night with Double-A Reading.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Victor Arano, Rhys Hoskins, Tommy Hunter

Giants place Pence on DL with sprained thumb

MLB.com

The Giants will be without Hunter Pence for at least the next 10 days; the outfielder was placed on the disabled list before Friday's game against the Angels with a right thumb sprain.

In his place, San Francisco recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

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The Giants will be without Hunter Pence for at least the next 10 days; the outfielder was placed on the disabled list before Friday's game against the Angels with a right thumb sprain.

In his place, San Francisco recalled outfielder Mac Williamson from Triple-A Sacramento.

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Pence hurt his thumb while diving to make a play on April 3, but he has played through the injury. He's hitting just .172 with one extra-base hit and three RBIs through 17 games this season.

Williamson, 27, joins the Giants for the first time in 2018 after a hot start to the year with Sacramento. He hit .487 (19-for-39) with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 11 games for the River Cats.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

San Francisco Giants, Hunter Pence

Royals rookie Hill thriving after beating cancer

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

DETROIT -- Royals rookie left-hander Tim Hill looked in the mirror and hardly recognized himself. A skeleton, he thought. He needed to take a photo, perhaps just to remind himself one day of this trying time in his life.

It was the fall of 2015, and Hill was near completion of eight months of chemotherapy. Incredibly, he had lost 70 pounds during the treatment. He stood 6-foot-1, 150 pounds.

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DETROIT -- Royals rookie left-hander Tim Hill looked in the mirror and hardly recognized himself. A skeleton, he thought. He needed to take a photo, perhaps just to remind himself one day of this trying time in his life.

It was the fall of 2015, and Hill was near completion of eight months of chemotherapy. Incredibly, he had lost 70 pounds during the treatment. He stood 6-foot-1, 150 pounds.

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"I kind of looked at myself and said, 'Who is this guy?'" Hill says now.

About nine months earlier, Hill had been diagnosed with colon cancer. After being selected in the 32nd round out of Bacone (Okla.) College in the 2014 MLB Draft, Hill showed great potential in his first year as a professional, posting a combined 1.64 ERA in two stops in the low Minors for the Royals.

But in the spring of 2015, Hill noticed something was off during his conditioning.

"I couldn't catch my breath when I was running," Hill said. "I knew that was weird because I'd been working out and was in great shape, I thought."

A routine blood test conducted by the Royals provided some answers: He had about half of the hemoglobin a normal person should.

Hill suspected the worst. His father, Jerry, had died of colon cancer eight years earlier when Hill was 17.

"They didn't catch his until it was too late," Hill said. "It was Stage 4."

After the blood test, Hill got a colonoscopy. The physician located a tumor that would need to be biopsied.

"But the doctor knew," Hill said. "He said, 'I've been doing this 30 years. This is going to come back cancerous.'"

The doctor was right when the biopsy returned. Hill had Stage 3 colon cancer. There was evidence the cancer was in his lymph nodes as well. Hill faced a long road of treatment ahead.

"The toughest part, I think, was trying to tell my mom [Teri]," Hill said. "She'd been through this before with my dad. I think it's tougher when you have a loved one who has cancer. If it's you, you just immediately think survival and what you have to do. That's human instinct.

"I wasn't scared as much as I was shocked."

Yet, Hill did have some trepidation. He watched his father, maybe the toughest guy he knew, battle the disease and lose. His father was someone who once accidentally sliced open his hand and stitched it back up by himself, right in front of Tim.

"He was just as tough as they come," Hill said.

First things first, Hill had surgery, a procedure that removed half of his colon. Then radiation. Then chemo.

"The chemo was only supposed to last six months," Hill said. "But mine went eight months because I had to stop treatments a couple times. You're supposed to go six weeks on, two weeks off, six weeks on, two weeks off, and so on.

"But I would make it four weeks and I would have to stop because I couldn't eat, and if you don't eat, they can't give you the medicine. I got pancreatitis during it, too. It was hard."

But Hill was determined to make it through. And by November of 2015, he completed his chemo.

"The next month, the Royals sent me to a minicamp, and when I showed up, they saw I weighed 150 pounds," Hill said. "It was probably shocking to them. But the Royals really took good care of me throughout this."

The good news was the cancer was gone. And as the chemo began to cycle out of his body, Hill finally begin to gain weight again.

By Spring Training, Hill had begun working out consistently again and had put on 60 pounds.

"People asked, 'How did you do it?' I said, 'I started eating again,'" Hill said, with a grin.

On the mound, Hill never lost his edge, either. By the fall of 2017, Hill was placed on the 40-man roster for the first time -- "It was great to tell my family that good news," he said.

Video: LAA@KC: Hill gets Ohtani to groundout for second out

But there were more phone calls with good news to come, like this spring when Hill made the 25-man roster for the first time. And he has made the most of his chance, having not given up a hit in his first seven Major League outings.

But Hill, 28, must cope with constant reminders. He has a colonoscopy once a year and multiple blood tests to make sure he remains cancer-free.

Hill also now knows he has Lynch syndrome, an inherited disorder that increases the risk of many types of cancer, particularly cancers of the colon. Lynch syndrome is passed on genetically, and doctors have told Hill that his father passed the gene onto him, though no one tested his father for the condition at the time.

Still, Hill does his best to stay in the present, stay positive. He's in the big leagues. And most important, he's cancer-free.

"I don't really give it much thought anymore," Hill said. "It was what it was. It made me stronger. It's in my past, let's hope."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Tim Hill

Sanchez on passed balls: 'I'm not perfect'

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- While Gary Sanchez waited for his swings to produce rewards, the Yankees catcher took pride in his work behind the plate, sensing improvement after scoring mixed results last season. That belief remains intact, despite seeing his first three passed balls of the season skip away this week.

"You cannot let stuff like that get in your head," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "Passed balls are part of the game. They're going to happen. I said from the beginning that I am not perfect. The good thing is, you can always turn the page and look forward to the next day."

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NEW YORK -- While Gary Sanchez waited for his swings to produce rewards, the Yankees catcher took pride in his work behind the plate, sensing improvement after scoring mixed results last season. That belief remains intact, despite seeing his first three passed balls of the season skip away this week.

"You cannot let stuff like that get in your head," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "Passed balls are part of the game. They're going to happen. I said from the beginning that I am not perfect. The good thing is, you can always turn the page and look forward to the next day."

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Sanchez did not allow a passed ball in his first 10 games before having one on Tuesday against the Marlins. Two more came on Sanchez's watch in Thursday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays. CC Sabathia took the blame for the first one, a third-inning slider that crossed up Sanchez and allowed Luke Maile to trot home with Toronto's first run.

"It was my mistake," Sabathia said. "I didn't see the sign. I decided what I wanted and threw that pitch."

Sanchez said that he had called for a cutter, and Sabathia believed that the situation should have produced a mound visit. The second passed ball was more of a fluke, popping out of Sanchez's glove in the fifth inning and allowing Steve Pearce to advance a base.

"Things like this will happen in the game," Sanchez said. "You just have to adjust."

Meanwhile, Sanchez's bat has warmed. He carried a six-game hitting streak into Friday's game, batting .385 (10-for-26) over that span with five extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. The surge raised his average from .056 to .194.

Video: MIA@NYY: Gardner scores on Sanchez's infield single

Catch 'em all

Sonny Gray and Sanchez had difficulty syncing during a clunky effort last week in Boston, so manager Aaron Boone considered starting Austin Romine behind the plate on Friday. Boone decided against it, believing that since Gray and Sanchez worked well together in Spring Training, they should be able to do so in the regular season.

"I want them to be able to work together and for it to be something that can turn into a strength," Boone said. "I don't want to get tied into the personal catcher thing, because as we get down the stretch and hopefully get into the playoffs or something like that, we want to run our best club out there. We don't want to run things out there that are foreign to people.

"This is something we've got to try and push through the best we can. … We feel like it's a relationship that needs to work."

Glove story

The Yankees participated in their first full-squad defensive workout of the regular season on Friday, going through infield and outfield drills prior to batting practice. Boone said that the workout was planned last week. New York's American League-worst 18 errors have led to 12 unearned runs.

Red hot

April is too early for serious scoreboard watching, but Boone has taken notice of the Red Sox's results throughout a 16-2 start that ranks as the best in franchise history. The Yankees opened play on Friday with a 9-8 record, 6 1/2 games back in the American League East.

"I know they win every day, by a lot," Boone said. "They're playing great. But we're trying to get our own house in order and right and trying to get guys healthy and on the mend. We're just trying to get traction and us playing well. That's really all you concern yourself with, especially at this point in the season. But it's hard not to notice that they're running through the league pretty well right now."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Tigers walk off in 10th on JaCoby's 1st homer

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- This is the type of impact JaCoby Jones can make in a game. His walk-off homer in the 10th inning of Friday's 3-2 Tigers win over the Royals in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Comerica Park was just the capper.

Jones' ultimate difference came with the bat. But his legs and his glove put the Tigers in position for their second walk-off win in three days, as well as their fourth consecutive victory.

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DETROIT -- This is the type of impact JaCoby Jones can make in a game. His walk-off homer in the 10th inning of Friday's 3-2 Tigers win over the Royals in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Comerica Park was just the capper.

Jones' ultimate difference came with the bat. But his legs and his glove put the Tigers in position for their second walk-off win in three days, as well as their fourth consecutive victory.

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"He's just an outstanding player. He's an athlete," teammate Michael Fulmer said.

Jones is also looking like the Tigers' left fielder now.

Video: KC@DET: Jones puts Tigers on top with an RBI double

As tough as it was for Jones to watch his friend Mikie Mahtook get sent down to Triple-A Toledo a week ago, it created an opportunity for Jones in left, a chance that wasn't going to come in center anytime soon with the way Leonys Martin has wrested an everyday role.

Until that move, the Tigers were challenged to find Jones at-bats on a roster with five outfielders. With three consecutive two-hit games, Jones is making it difficult for manager Ron Gardenhire to take him out.

"He's aggressive," Gardenhire said. "If you give him an inch, he's going to take a mile. And I like that."

When Jones rounded first base at top speed on his fifth-inning gapper to left-center, he looked like he might be trying to force a rundown to ensure James McCann, who had initially retreated to second base on the ball, could score.

Video: KC@DET: Jones sets up scoring play with stolen base

"I was just going to second," Jones said. "He turned around and didn't go on the ball, so I didn't know if [third-base coach Dave Clark] was going to send him or not. I was just going to second to get the double.

"I didn't know Mac was going. I thought there were going to be runners at second and third."

McCann scored as Jones raced into second. He was there for mere moments before taking off on Royals starter Jason Hammel's next pitch to Jose Iglesias, stealing third with nobody out. With three stolen bases in 13 games this season, he's halfway to his total in 56 games last year.

"I like the way he plays," Gardenhire said. "If he was out, I'll yell at him."

Video: KC@DET: Machado plates Jones with sac fly in the 5th

The steal set up Dixon Machado's sacrifice fly three pitches later. The 2-0 lead gave Fulmer the leverage in a pitching duel before Mike Moustakas' sixth-inning solo homer and Jon Jay's seventh-inning single brought the Royals back.

Hammel carried the deadlock into extra innings with nine innings of five-hit ball. The Tigers' bullpen matched zeroes with him with help from Jones, whose dash back to the left-field fence denied Alcides Escobar a leadoff double in the ninth with a leaping grab.

"As I was running back to the fence, I took two steps on the warning track, so I knew the wall was getting close," Jones said. "So I was like, 'I'm just going to jump and catch it.' I don't really know if it was going to go out or not. Probably not, but I made the catch."

Video: KC@DET: Jones leaps at the fence to retire Escobar

Joe Jimenez stranded two runners in scoring position in the 10th. Jones stepped to the plate in the bottom half and made sure that was enough. His fourth Major League home run was his first walk-off hit, two days after Machado's first.

"I was just trying to put the ball in play, get on base," Jones said. "Luckily I put a good swing on it, a line drive that went out."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Fourth time thru for Fulmer: Gardenhire made it clear before the game that he was hoping to get a deep outing from Fulmer to leave his bullpen fresh for Daniel Norris' start in Game 2. Thus, Fulmer earned a chance to face Jay a fourth time after singles from Ryan Goins and Cam Gallagher put runners at the corners with one out in the seventh.

Video: KC@DET: Fulmer limits Royals to two runs over seven

Fulmer put Jay in an 0-2 count, but he couldn't get him to chase a slider in the dirt. Fulmer's ensuing fastball was below the knees, but it had enough of the plate for Jay to propel on the ground through the right side to tie the game as Daniel Stumpf warmed in the bullpen.

"I think I was breathing out of the wrong eyelid the last two innings I threw," Fulmer joked. "But that's baseball. They did a good job of hitting mistakes I threw, stringing some hits together."

SOUND SMART
Fulmer induced nine swinging strikes from Royals hitters in 96 pitches over seven innings, seven more swing-and-misses than Fulmer recorded in his previous start last Wednesday at Cleveland.

Video: KC@DET: Gardenhire on Fulmer, Jones in walk-off win

"I still don't think that I had my best stuff today, especially for all seven innings," Fulmer said. "I felt the best I have in a while, but I think if I get two or three balls down in the zone, I think everything will start clicking again."

HE SAID IT
"I'm kind of hungry, so I wanted to end it." -- Jones, to Fox Sports Detroit, on his walk-off homer

Video: KC@DET: Jones on big offensive game, walk-off homer

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Jeimer Candelario did not dive back into first base on Hammel's pickoff attempt after his leadoff single in the sixth, seemingly within a safe distance to the bag. First-base umpire Roberto Ortiz called him safe, but the Royals challenged, arguing first baseman Lucas Duda tagged Candelario's leg before he got back.

Video: KC@DET: Royals win challenge, Hammel nabs Candelario

A one-minute, five-second review overturned the call and sent Candelario back to the dugout with the first out of the inning, which loomed large after Nicholas Castellanos' two-out double two batters later.

UP NEXT
Norris makes his first start of the season as the Tigers and Royals finish their doubleheader with a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt at Comerica Park. Norris began 2018 in Detroit's rotation, but he moved to the bullpen after rainouts scrubbed his previous scheduled start.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Michael Fulmer, JaCoby Jones

The Texas A&M baseball team had way too much fun during a postgame interview

The Aggie baseball team is currently sitting at a 28-9 record -- third in the SEC - East division. And just this week, they capped off a seven-game winning streak. While they continued to impress on the field, it was some of their after-game antics that made us fall in love with college ball all over again.

Padres activate Myers from disabled list

Left-hander Webb optioned to Triple-A El Paso
MLB.com @_dadler

Wil Myers is back with the Padres. San Diego activated the outfielder from the disabled list ahead of Friday's series opener against the D-backs in Arizona.

In a corresponding roster move, the Padres optioned left-hander Tyler Webb to Triple-A El Paso.

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Wil Myers is back with the Padres. San Diego activated the outfielder from the disabled list ahead of Friday's series opener against the D-backs in Arizona.

In a corresponding roster move, the Padres optioned left-hander Tyler Webb to Triple-A El Paso.

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Myers had landed on the 10-day DL after just three games due to nerve irritation in his right arm. He was 3-for-12 at the plate with a home run.

The 27-year-old played three rehab games and homered twice with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore before the Padres activated him Friday. Hunter Renfroe and Jose Pirela had been getting most of the time in right field for San Diego in Myers' absence.

Webb made his season debut this week and pitched in two relief outings. The 27-year-old took the loss when the Padres dropped a 12-inning game to the Dodgers on Tuesday, but he pitched three scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in Wednesday's game.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

San Diego Padres, Wil Myers, Tyler Webb

Buck on Betts: 'Best right fielder I've ever seen'

Red Sox right fielder putting himself into AL MVP Award discussion
MLB.com @MikeLupica

You can start, if you want to, just for fun, with some of the things Mookie Betts is not, right before you get to all the pretty wonderful things he is on a baseball field. Betts is not Mike Trout, for example. He's not ever going to make the kind of money Bryce Harper is going to make after this season. Betts has not been past the first round of the playoffs yet in his Red Sox career. He's not an American League MVP Award winner, at least not yet, even if he did finish second in the voting once.

You want one more? Betts is not included nearly often enough in the conversation about the best young players in the deepest and best crop of young players in all of baseball history. But now we're talking. Because when you add it all up with Betts, when you look at his offense and at his defense, you need to ask yourself a question:

You can start, if you want to, just for fun, with some of the things Mookie Betts is not, right before you get to all the pretty wonderful things he is on a baseball field. Betts is not Mike Trout, for example. He's not ever going to make the kind of money Bryce Harper is going to make after this season. Betts has not been past the first round of the playoffs yet in his Red Sox career. He's not an American League MVP Award winner, at least not yet, even if he did finish second in the voting once.

You want one more? Betts is not included nearly often enough in the conversation about the best young players in the deepest and best crop of young players in all of baseball history. But now we're talking. Because when you add it all up with Betts, when you look at his offense and at his defense, you need to ask yourself a question:

How many two-way players are better than the leadoff man for the Red Sox who, oh by the way, has been the best player in baseball this April?

Here is what Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has seen plenty of Betts in the AL East, says about him:

"I've told anyone who will listen. He's the best right fielder I've ever seen in person. The dynamic he creates for them defensively in right field at Fenway is a big advantage for Boston. Special player. Game changer. The term five-tool player is used loosely. But it aptly describes him. One of my most favorite players in our game."

Here is what AJ Hinch, whose Astros beat Betts' Red Sox in the AL Division Series last season, says about Betts:

"He is an incredible talent. I love his energy, and impact. Offensively, he is never off the fastball, and can time up any velocity. A dangerous hitter because of how he barrels up pitches. Defensively, he has every skill you look for. He's a premier player in this league. He can do it all on any given day."

Again: We talk a lot, and properly so, about Trout and Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge, about Harper and Manny Machado and Hinch's gifted shortstop, Carlos Correa -- another wonderful two-way player, at bat and in the field. But we do not talk nearly enough about Betts, except perhaps right now, when he is hitting .391 and hit three home runs the other night and might have had a chance for four if there hadn't been a double play before his last at-bat.

Betts has now hit three homers in a game three times already in his five-year career. It happens to be something that Willie Mays also did three times, and Joe DiMaggio did three times. Babe Ruth did it twice. So did Ken Griffey Jr.

Video: Mookie Betts collects a trio of three-homer games

These are Betts' stats for his four full seasons in the big leagues, starting in 2015 (he played 52 games in '14, hit .291, with five home runs and 18 RBIs), all the way through Thursday night's game against the Angels:

2015: .291 AVG, 18 homers, 77 RBIs, 92 runs, 21 stolen bases, .820 OPS.
2016: .318 AVG, 31 homers, 113 RBIs, 122 runs, 26 stolen bases, .897 OPS.
2017: .264 AVG, 24 homers, 102 RBIs, 101 runs, 26 steals, .803 OPS.
2018: .391 AVG, 6 homers, 14 RBIs, 22 runs, 1.277 OPS.

In addition to his six homers, Betts has scored 22 runs -- the most through 18 games in Red Sox history. And then there is his play in right field, which is as good as you will ever see with your own eyes, just as Showalter, who has seen plenty in his baseball life, said.

Of course with a player's defense, we now have better tools than ever to measure performance, and Betts is clearly the No. 1 right fielder in this area. According to Statcast™'s Outs Above Average (OAA) metric, Betts has 36 OAA since the start of 2016, which is 10 more than anyone at that position. That's right, even better than Jason Heyward, who is second to Betts with 26 OAA in that time, and was pretty much given $184 million because he is a terrific fielder himself.

Video: TB@BOS: Statcast™ measures Betts' five-star catch

Since the start of 2015, Betts has a WAR of 23.4 (per Baseball Reference), behind only Trout at 28.1. He is a force of baseball nature. Betts has come into 2018 swinging, being more aggressive than ever at the urging of new Red Sox manager Alex Cora. He is, in Hinch's words, "barreling up" on just about everything he sees, as the Red Sox have barreled to the top of the standings for all of baseball so far. Betts does not hit home runs the way Harper does, or Judge does. But among the sport's biggest stars in the outfielder, only Trout is in the same conversation with him. 

"There's a different approach [this season]," Cora said of Betts on WEEI radio on Thursday. "I think [Betts] set the tempo on the first-pitch fastball of the season when he almost took it out of the ballpark in Tampa against [Chris] Archer. Instead of just working the count, taking pitches right down the middle and falling behind, he's ready to attack from the get-go. You can see now pitchers, they know what's going on so they have to grind from the first pitch with every at-bat. I don't think it's a hot stretch. I think this is the guy. Obviously his OPS is not going to be 1.400. He'll be over .900, and that's a good leadoff hitter. I mean, that's elite. That's what we wanted from the get-go, and he's done an outstanding job."

Video: BOS@TB: Kiermaier robs Betts of extra bases in 1st

Yeah. Betts has done that, before the age of 26. He is that good, well on his way to being one of the great players of his time. Silly to talk about what Betts is not for even five more minutes. Only what he is. Right there in front of everybody's eyes. 

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com. He also writes for the New York Daily News.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

These 10 prospects will make an impact soon

Acuna retains top spot in fantasy prospect rankings; Jimenez joins list; Calhoun, Torres climb
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

While no one from the previous installment of MLB Pipeline's list of the top fantasy prospects for 2018 has since been promoted to the Majors, Tyler O'Neill was called up Thursday.

O'Neill's promotion comes after a torrid start to the season with Triple-A Memphis, where he hit .388/.385/.837 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in his first 12 games. He has hit 93 home runs in 378 games since the start of 2015, highlighted by a pair of 30-plus-homer campaigns (2015, '17).

While no one from the previous installment of MLB Pipeline's list of the top fantasy prospects for 2018 has since been promoted to the Majors, Tyler O'Neill was called up Thursday.

O'Neill's promotion comes after a torrid start to the season with Triple-A Memphis, where he hit .388/.385/.837 with six home runs and 18 RBIs in his first 12 games. He has hit 93 home runs in 378 games since the start of 2015, highlighted by a pair of 30-plus-homer campaigns (2015, '17).

The Cardinals' No. 4 prospect (No. 94 overall), with his tremendous right-handed power, has the potential to make a major fantasy impact at some point. However, his ultimate fantasy impact will boil down to his ability to make consistent contact while capitalizing on his playing time in a deep St. Louis outfield.

O'Neill struck out swinging in his lone at-bat Thursday in his big league debut, a pinch-hit opportunity in the fifth inning against the Cubs. Although the 22-year-old was one of the most accomplished home run hitters in the Minors, swing-and-miss tendencies have been a part of his game at every level.

As for the players who are still in the Minor Leagues, below are our updated rankings of the top 10 fantasy prospects. As always, we're considering only expected 2018 fantasy production in the big leagues, while our Top 100 Prospects list reflects long-term value in all phases of the game.

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves (Previous rank: 1)
Acuna finally entered the home run column this week, as the 20-year-old phenom connected on a two-run shot to left field in his second multihit game of the season for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. Though he's started slowly, hitting .182 with a .567 OPS and 17 strikeouts in his first 11 games, there is little reason to doubt Acuna's impact potential once he finally gets the call to Atlanta.

2. Willie Calhoun, OF, Rangers (Previous rank: 3)
Calhoun hasn't exactly blistered the ball in the early going, hitting .250/.308/.400 with two homers in 15 games with Triple-A Round Rock. That said, the 23-year-old left-handed hitter, who appeared in 13 games with Texas as a September callup in 2017, should be up for good once his bat picks up, especially with the Rangers' outfield currently plagued by injuries and lacking productivity.

3. Gleyber Torres, INF, Yankees (Previous rank: 4)
Few, if any, hitters appear more poised for an early callup than Torres, who has opened his season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre by hitting .372/.408/.558 with five extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in 12 games. The bulk of Torres' playing time so far has come at third base (eight games) -- an obvious area of need for the Yankees early this season -- and it's the 21-year-old's potential for multiposition eligibility (3B/SS/2B) that, when combined with his offensive ceiling, makes him such an appealing fantasy asset.

4. Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds (Previous rank: 2)
Senzel, 22, opened his season with Triple-A Louisville playing mostly second base, but he has since moved back to the hot corner in the wake of Eugenio Suarez landing on the disabled list for six to eight weeks (fractured right thumb). Like Torres, Senzel is a potentially versatile infielder who can hit for average and power while supplying some speed.

Video: Callis breaks down MLB Pipeline's Team of the Week

5. Victor Robles, OF, Nationals (Previous rank: 6)
The Nationals received good news late last week when it was announced that Robles would miss months, rather than all of 2018, after suffering a hyperextended left elbow on April 9 while diving for a ball in center field. The injury still will cost Robles a chunk of his season, but the 20-year-old outfielder, with his ability to contribute in all facets of the game, could be a boon for fantasy owners chasing batting average, runs and steals during the second half. 

6. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles (Previous rank: 8)
After battling minor injuries during Spring Training, Hays opened his season back in Double-A, as the Orioles' Triple-A outfield has a logjam of short-term and veteran options such Joey Rickard, Jaycob Brugman and Alex Presley. They shouldn't keep Hays from rising through the Minors as he did in 2017, when he became the first 2016 Draft pick to the reach the Major Leagues. Strikeouts have been an issue for Hays so far, but he's connected on three home runs in 13 games.

7. Dustin Fowler, OF, A's (Previous rank: 7)
Fowler impressed the A's while competing for the center-field job during Spring Training, and he's swung the bat well so far in Triple-A while accumulating much-needed at-bats after missing substantial time due to the knee injury he suffered in his big league debut with the Yankees last June. Fowler's power-speed blend makes him an intriguing option for Oakland in center field, where the team is deploying an underwhelming combination of Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski with Boog Powell on the DL.

Video: Fowler on his first spring game back after surgery

8. Francisco Mejia, C, Indians (Previous rank: 9)
Mejia has seen nearly as much time in left field (four games) as he has behind the plate (six games) with Triple-A Columbus, as the Indians continue to explore ways to get the talented switch-hitter's bat into their big league lineup. While his average sits at .208 through 11 games, Mejia has connected on two home runs and doubles apiece despite frigid conditions in the International League.

9. Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (Previous rank: NR)
A mild pectoral strain sidelined Jimenez during the first half of April, but the 21-year-old outfielder is officially back in action after making his season debut Thursday with Double-A Birmingham (0-for-3, RBI, BB). Jimenez torched Southern League pitching over 18 games last summer, hitting .353/.397/.559, and it would surprise no one if he did something similar this year en route to the Major Leagues. With an elite blend of hitting ability and power, Jimenez has the ceiling of a real-life and fantasy star.

10. Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox (Previous rank: 10)
After a shaky spring in big league camp, Kopech, 21, has looked like his usual self with Triple-A Charlotte, posting a 0.90 ERA with seven hits allowed and 11 strikeouts in 10 innings (two starts). There's sure to be other highly regarding pitching prospects to get the call before Kopech, but none have the potential to impact a fantasy roster quite like the South Siders' young flamethrower.

Video: CWS@TOR: Kopech on preparing for his first start

Dropped out: Jack Flaherty, RHP, Cardinals (Previous rank: 5)

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

10 amazing facts from Red Sox's historic start

MLB.com

Can anyone stop the Red Sox?

Boston kept rolling Thursday night, beating the Angels by an 8-2 score to win its seventh game in a row and complete a three-game sweep over the team with the next-best record in the American League. The Red Sox are now 16-2, extending the best start in franchise history.

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Can anyone stop the Red Sox?

Boston kept rolling Thursday night, beating the Angels by an 8-2 score to win its seventh game in a row and complete a three-game sweep over the team with the next-best record in the American League. The Red Sox are now 16-2, extending the best start in franchise history.

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As the team's incredible run continues, MLB.com takes a look at 10 of the most impressive facts and figures about Boston this season.

1. The 2018 Red Sox are just the fifth team in the live-ball era, which began in 1920, to win at least 16 of their first 18 games. And they're the first team in over 30 years to do so. The other four teams:

• 1987 Brewers: 17-1
• 1984 Tigers: 16-2
• 1981 A's: 17-1
• 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers: 16-2

Two of those four teams -- the 1984 Tigers (who would win an incredible 35 of their first 40 games that year) and the 1955 Dodgers -- went on to win the World Series.

2. Even if you expand the time period to baseball's entire modern era -- that is, since 1900 -- this Red Sox team is just the seventh to start its season 16-2 or better. The two other entries to the list: the 1918 New York Giants (17-1) and the 1911 Tigers (16-2). Including Boston, that means five AL teams have accomplished the feat, compared to two National League teams.

3. It's hard to believe this team lost on Opening Day. Since then, the Red Sox have won 16 of 17 games. The last time Boston went 16-1 in any 17-game stretch? That would be 2004, when the Sox went 16-1 from Aug. 16 to Sept. 3. You might remember that history-making Red Sox team, which shattered the Curse of the Bambino and won the franchise's first World Series since 1918.

4. Boston has already outscored its opponents by 66 runs this season, by far the best run differential in baseball. The Red Sox have scored 116 runs -- the most in MLB, with the Blue Jays next at 106 -- and they have allowed just 50, the third fewest of any team. Toronto is the next-closest team to Boston by run differential, and the Jays are nearly 30 behind, at plus-37.

Video: BOS@LAA: Martinez lines an RBI double to left

5. The Red Sox plus-66 run differential is actually historically good. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's tied for the fourth-highest run differential through a team's first 18 games in the entire modern era (since 1900). It's the best run differential by any team through 18 games since the 1993 Tigers.

Best run differential through 18 team games
Modern era (since 1900)
1. 1905 New York Giants: +80
2. 1918 New York Giants: +72
3. 1993 Tigers: +67
4. 2018 Red Sox: +66
4. 1902 Pirates: +66

6. Alex Cora is having unprecedented success for a rookie manager. Per Elias, in the modern era (since 1900), the only other skipper to win at least 16 of his first 18 games as an MLB manager was Joe Morgan -- also for the Red Sox, in 1988. (Morgan won 17 of his first 18 games.)

But Morgan was a midseason replacement for John McNamara, and those wins came in July. Cora is the first manager since 1900 to start a season with a new club by winning at least 16 of the first 18 games.

7. The Red Sox offense is clicking on all cylinders. As a team, Boston leads the Major Leagues in batting average (.292), on-base percentage (.362), slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.859). The Sox have also struck out in just 16.3 percent of plate appearances, the lowest rate of any team.

In the just-completed sweep of the Angels, the Red Sox mashed 11 home runs, with the highlight a six-homer game in the series opener, including three by Mookie Betts. Those 11 home runs are the most the Sox have hit in a three-game series since 1977, when they hit a team-record 16 against the Yankees from June 17-19.

Video: BOS@LAA: Benintendi blasts first homer of the season

8. The pitching has been almost as good as the hitting. Red Sox starting pitchers are now 12-1 with a 1.98 ERA, the lowest by any rotation in the Major Leagues. Their relievers, meanwhile, have not allowed a run in their last 14 innings pitched, and just one run in their past 20 innings. Hitters are just 3-for-their-past-48 against Boston's bullpen.

Video: BOS@LAA: Rodriguez gives up three hits in six innings

9. Betts is providing the Red Sox a huge spark at the top of the order. He leads the Major Leagues with a .391 batting average, a 1.277 OPS and 22 runs scored -- the most runs by a Red Sox player in the team's first 18 games since at least 1908. (Johnny Pesky had 21 runs scored through 18 games in 1950, and Ted Williams had 21 in 1942.) In the Angels series, Betts twice led off the game with a home run, extending his own franchise record for most leadoff home runs to 13.

Video: BOS@LAA: Betts belts 13th leadoff home run of career

And, of course, there was Betts' three-home-run game, which was the third of his career. The 25-year-old is just the third player in Major League history with three three-homer games before turning 26. The others: Boog Powell and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.

Video: Must C Crushed: Betts HRs off Ohtani, slugs two more

10. The previous franchise record for most wins in the team's first 18 games was 15, established by the 1946 Boston club. The 1946 Red Sox moved to 15-3 by beating none other than Hall of Famer Bob Feller -- and they kept on winning after that. Actually, their 18th game came in the middle of a 15-game winning streak that took them from 7-3 to 21-3. In other words, the 2018 Sox will actually have to keep winning if they want to match their predecessors' pace.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Boston Red Sox

Salazar among Indians making rehab progress

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Indians' collection of injured players all remain on the shelf for now, but there has been enough progress made during their rehab work that manager Terry Francona has a positive outlook about their return, especially in the case of starter Danny Salazar.

The right-hander has been sidelined all season with right shoulder inflammation, but Francona said Friday that Salazar's bullpen work during extended spring camp in Arizona has been encouraging, although there was no discussion of a timetable for his return.

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BALTIMORE -- The Indians' collection of injured players all remain on the shelf for now, but there has been enough progress made during their rehab work that manager Terry Francona has a positive outlook about their return, especially in the case of starter Danny Salazar.

The right-hander has been sidelined all season with right shoulder inflammation, but Francona said Friday that Salazar's bullpen work during extended spring camp in Arizona has been encouraging, although there was no discussion of a timetable for his return.

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"We're cautiously optimistic that he's kind of turned a corner," Francona said. "His intensity in the bullpens has been good and he says he feels pretty good. So that's good."

Third baseman Gio Urshela continues to rehab his right hamstring strain with Triple-A Columbus. After a day off Thursday, Urshela was expected to play five to seven innings with the Clippers on Friday, "depending on how much running and how the game is going," Francona said.

Cody Anderson (elbow) continues to throw bullpen sessions in Arizona as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, while Ryan Merritt (left knee) also continues to work during extended spring camp.

"Merritt is going to throw one more game in Arizona and then he'll start his rehab progression," Francona said. "And he's starting to feel pretty good."

Tribe hopeful busy stretch, weather helps offense

Aside from their brief trip to Puerto Rico, the weather has not been kind to the Indians this season, both from a hitting and schedule standpoint. So while the upper-50s temperatures on Friday in Baltimore didn't have anyone thinking summer, they did provide some relief to a frigid April.

"In my career, I've never played so many games this cold," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "But it is what it is. You can't really put that as an excuse. You would like to say it's mind over matter, for sure. Obviously, with the weather, you may hit some balls that you think may carry a little bit more in the summertime, but at the end of the day, you've got to grind the at-bats."

In addition to the cold, the rainouts and off-days have also wreaked havoc on the Tribe's hitting habits. Friday's game marked the start of a stretch in which Cleveland will play 18 games in 17 days, something that Francona sees as helpful for his squad.

"Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates, because we are such a game built on rhythm and timing," he said. "We've got a lot of baseball coming up. Hopefully we play it, because that will be good for us."

Entering Friday, Cleveland had put together five straight games of double-digit hits to raise its batting average from .158 to .208, but that remains last in the Majors.

"You have to find a way to make an adjustment, simple as that," Alonso said. "For us, it's not putting that much thought into the weather being cold, because the other side has to deal with the same thing."

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com.

Cleveland Indians, Danny Salazar