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Ohtani set to make his Spring Training debut

C-Mart on hill for Cards; Altuve, Correa take field for WS champs
MLB.com @_dadler

It's time to see what Shohei Ohtani can do.

After all the hype surrounding the Japanese two-way sensation, Ohtani will finally take the mound for the Angels today, facing Major League hitters in game action for the first time.

It's time to see what Shohei Ohtani can do.

After all the hype surrounding the Japanese two-way sensation, Ohtani will finally take the mound for the Angels today, facing Major League hitters in game action for the first time.

The 23-year-old right-hander will start the Halos' game against the Brewers at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 3:10 p.m. ET. Fans can watch Ohtani's highly anticipated Cactus League debut live on MLB.TV.

"I feel like this will be a big step forward for me and my career in the Major Leagues," Ohtani said Thursday through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I'm really happy at this point. This is going to be my first start in the States, so I'm pretty sure a lot of things aren't going to go my way, but that's OK. I just need to find what I need to adjust."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Ohtani's start will be sure to draw eyes from all over the baseball world, but he won't be the only one worth watching on Saturday. Many of Major League Baseball's star players will be making their Spring Training debuts in their teams' Grapefruit and Cactus League action.

Here's a look at what else to watch for around baseball on Saturday.

#MSDStrong: TEX@CHC, 3:05 p.m. ET
All 30 teams are wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball caps during pregame this weekend to honor the Parkland, Fla., school community and the victims of the tragic shooting there on Feb. 14.

The tribute is especially meaningful for Anthony Rizzo, who is a Stoneman Douglas alum, and he gave a heartmoving speech there at a prayer vigil the day after the shooting. The Cubs wore the Stoneman Douglas caps on Friday for their Cactus League opener, but Rizzo's first game in the lineup will be Saturday, when the Cubs host the Rangers. The game will available on Gameday Audio.

Tweet from @ARizzo44: #MSDStrong pic.twitter.com/1tcv6UzK0D

The team will be wearing the caps again.

"Everyone has come out of the woodwork to show their love and support for the community I live in, the school, the kids," Rizzo said. "It's been really nice to see people come out and approach me and go out of their way. It's much appreciated."

Video: Rizzo discusses Stoneman Douglas tragedy, students

MVP back in action: ATL@HOU, 1:05 p.m. ET
On Friday, the defending World Series champions played their first game since Game 7 of a historically thrilling 2017 Fall Classic -- but two of their superstars weren't in the lineup.

That will change Saturday, when reigning American League MVP Jose Altuve and his middle-infield partner in crime Carlos Correa take the field for the Astros. Altuve and Correa are both scheduled to be in the lineup when Houston hosts the Braves at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, where the Astros unveiled a World Series championship logo before Friday's Grapefruit League opener. The game will be available to watch on MLB.TV.

Tweet from @brianmctaggart: Astros unveil a World Series championship logo at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches pic.twitter.com/CQlrZoNRw3

C-Mart gets the start: STL@NYM, 1:10 p.m. ET
The Cardinals think Carlos Martinez has all the makings of a true ace. The 26-year-old right-hander, who has electric stuff, will be in the spotlight for St. Louis this season. He makes his 2018 Grapefruit League debut Saturday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Martinez is coming off a season in which he made 32 starts and finished 12-11 with a 3.64 ERA and 217 strikeouts in 205 innings -- his first career season reaching both the 200-inning and 200-strikeout marks.

The Cardinals want him to both be a workhorse again in 2018 and to ascend even further. Saturday's outing, manager Mike Matheny said this week, will help them determine how to proceed with the rest of his Spring Training starts. The game will be available to watch on MLB.TV.

Video: Carlos Martinez discusses being ready for the season

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

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Carlos Martinez, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rizzo

Get pumped with 10 of the best dingers from the first day of Spring Training games

The calendar may say that it's still "officially" winter, but we know that's not true. That's because Spring Training is in full swing, with Friday giving us the first Spring Training games of the year. That means there are box scores to read! Pitcher mechanics to debate! And, most importantly, dingers to watch majestically soar over the wall. 

So, with one day of games in the books, here are 10 of those grand dingers. Think of it as the most bombastic amuse bouche for the baseball season. 

1 year ago, Judge's eye-popping HR set stage

Revisiting rookie sensation's first spring blast, rise to stardom
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- The phrase "All Rise" had yet to be linked to the rookie outfielder with the hulking football build, to say nothing of a dedicated seating area that debuted at Yankee Stadium three months later, celebrating both his immense power and fan appeal.

Yet we should have known that Aaron Judge was about to accomplish special things. It was one year ago today, Feb. 24, 2017, that Judge dropped jaws with a monstrous home run that clanged off of George M. Steinbrenner Field's scoreboard in the Yankees' first home game of the spring.

TAMPA, Fla. -- The phrase "All Rise" had yet to be linked to the rookie outfielder with the hulking football build, to say nothing of a dedicated seating area that debuted at Yankee Stadium three months later, celebrating both his immense power and fan appeal.

Yet we should have known that Aaron Judge was about to accomplish special things. It was one year ago today, Feb. 24, 2017, that Judge dropped jaws with a monstrous home run that clanged off of George M. Steinbrenner Field's scoreboard in the Yankees' first home game of the spring.

Spring info | Tickets | Schedule

The fifth-inning blast off of Phillies left-hander Elniery Garcia was an appetizer for the greatness to come. MLB.com is marking the first anniversary of that moment with remembrances of that swing and the ones that followed for the reigning American League Rookie of the Year.

Judge, outfielder: "I was still thinking about my first at-bat, taking a first-pitch strike and getting behind, and eventually striking out that first at-bat. I told myself just going into it, 'Hey, if that first pitch is there, you're in a game. Compete! If he leaves it right in the middle, take a good swing at it.'"

Garcia challenged Judge with a 93-mph, first-pitch fastball, a little above belt-high. Judge was ready.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Judge: "I took a good swing, and it was a hot spring day here in Tampa, with the wind blowing out. I was able to get it off that Budweiser sign."

Phillies left fielder Tyler Goeddel and center fielder Roman Quinn hardly moved in pursuit, while catcher Andrew Knapp craned his neck for a better view. In the Yankees' dugout, most of Judge's teammates marveled.

Luis Severino, pitcher: "I was here. I've been playing with him since maybe 2014, so I'm used to seeing those kinds of homers. I wasn't that impressed for that. I've seen it before."

Tyler Wade, infielder: "When you're that strong and that big and you can connect with the ball when you haven't seen pitching in six months, and you can do that, that's pretty special."

Austin Romine, catcher: "I'm sure everybody was talking about it throughout the camp. Any time somebody hits the ball really far, everybody talks about it."

Judge: "The longest one I got here, I think I got one over the scoreboard, but I think that was in batting practice. I don't even know. The wind was blowing out, too, so it probably pushed it out a little bit."

Judge homered in his first Major League at-bat on Aug. 13, 2016, going back-to-back with Tyler Austin off the Rays' Matt Andriese, but his first taste of the big leagues produced mixed results. Judge hit .179 with 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats before sustaining a season-ending oblique injury. Returning home to California, Judge etched ".179" atop the notes folder of his iPhone, vowing to use the digits as fuel for his winter workouts.

Video: TB@NYY: Statcast™ on Judge's 446-foot milestone homer

Greg Bird, first baseman: "Early on in spring, I would just check in with him. He would tell me, 'I'm ready. I'm good.' There was a lot of chatter last spring for him, in general. He would say, 'I'm good.' That was all I needed to hear from him."

Judge: "In the offseason, the work I was putting in, how my body was feeling -- I knew that the way my swing was feeling, we had a chance to do something special. You're never given anything, especially with the season I had before that. There were a lot of question marks. I knew I had a chance of making this team. I just wanted to go out there and prove it and give it my best shot, and just leave everything out on the table. Through all the hard work in the offseason, I felt like I had a pretty good chance of doing something."

Wade: "When I see a guy like that work so hard, I can see it progressively getting better and better throughout the spring in his at-bats. I was like, 'It's only a matter of time before it clicks,' and it did. Be yourself and just work hard. Don't let anyone outwork you. I asked him this year, 'Hey, I'm kind of in the same situation you were last year -- you came off a tough rookie year. What was your mindset?' He goes, 'Dude, just come in and work your butt off. Just stick to the process and things are going to work out.'"

The homer was one of three Judge hit in the spring of 2017, batting .333/.391/.540 in 25 games as he edged Aaron Hicks (.268/.379/.518) and was named the Yankees' Opening Day right fielder.

Video: NYY@PHI: Judge cranks opposite-field solo home run

Brian Cashman, general manager: "I'd say halfway through camp, Hicks was winning by a hair. The last two or three weeks of camp, Hicks didn't necessarily lose it as much as Judge took it. That wasn't false conversations. If Hicks wins the everyday job, then having Judge with options versus having Judge come off the bench, him coming off the bench would serve him no good. It was more like, you've got to win that everyday job or you're going to Triple-A, and he knew that."

Judge: "[Spring Training] didn't start off too well with the strikeout in the first at-bat, but just being able to make solid contact, I was happy with the swing. I felt comfortable in the box. That's all I was looking for. If I'm making consistent contact, even if they're outs or right at somebody, if I'm just making consistent contact, I'm happy."

CC Sabathia, pitcher: "He was fighting for a job. We just wanted him to feel comfortable and make the team and just be on the Opening Day roster. Everything that came after that was just amazing and not a surprise, but the icing on the top."

Romine: "Any time you look at Judge, you can see the possibility of unbelievable things. He's an unbelievable athlete. I knew his swing was in a better place, I knew he was comfortable, but no one could have predicted what he did."

Reggie Jackson, special advisor: "Our owner, Hal Steinbrenner, wanted him in the big leagues in 2017. We were going to take a chance one way or the other, and he was going to make it or fail because he was going to get a chance to play. Our owner saw to that, our general manager made sure he was there, and of course, our manager [Joe Girardi] put him on the field."

Judge's first homer of the regular season came on April 9, off the Orioles' Michael Givens. His teammates quickly learned to pay attention during batting practice, not wanting to miss the next fireworks display.

Video: NYY@BAL: Judge ties the game, fan excited over catch

Adam Warren, pitcher: "When he first got drafted [in 2013], we were in Oakland. He came out and took BP with us. The ball sounded so much different off of his bat. You're talking about hitting with a bunch of big league guys. He was just out of college. You just knew right then why he was drafted and what kind of potential he had with the power. The best part about shagging BP for a pitcher is watching him. He hits balls where you've never even thought balls will be hit."

Bird: "I just know Judgey and know what he's capable of, and know how much work he puts in in the offseason. When he told me that he was ready, that was all I needed to know. He was confident, his work was good, he was sticking to what he knew and what he wanted to do. There's always been a lot of people helping him and around him. He's just very good at getting what he needs to get done, and saying thanks and being polite, but doing what he needs to do and taking care of his work."

Judge set a Major League rookie record by hitting 52 homers, highlighting a remarkable season that also included a winning performance at the T-Mobile Home Run Derby in July. Judge was named the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in the MVP Award chase to the Astros' Jose Altuve.

Video: Must C Crushed: Aaron Judge hits homer number 52

Severino: "Everybody was expecting that [Judge would be successful], but nothing crazy like what he did. I think he changed a little bit with his mechanics, how he hits. I thought maybe there was a good chance for him to have a good year, but nothing crazy like what he did."

P.J. Pilittere, assistant hitting coach: "There's a million people in the organization who had a hand in helping that guy speed the process up. He's such a genuine guy. What he gives the world and the media is the truth. It is a really clear picture of who he is as a person, and that personality is infectious. He's really fun to be around."

Sabathia: "I think everybody knew what he was capable of doing, you know what I'm saying? But to have him do that throughout the whole year was amazing to watch, especially his first season."

With the December 2017 acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees created a tandem that has been likened to the modern-day version of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. Despite the star power, Judge said that he is taking the same approach that helped him be successful in 2017.

Judge: "You're always still trying to win a job. That's everyone's mindset, come in here and fight for your job, win a job. Getting a chance to be with the team all of last year, you're more familiar with things, which is a little bit easier for me. But I've still got to fight for a job or my spot, just like everybody else."

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

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Cora 'not concerned' as Sox mull J.D. physical

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Perhaps it's only fitting that the signing that took the entire offseason and into the early portion of Spring Training to happen would have a little bit more of a delay before it becomes official.

Slugger J.D. Martinez is still expected to walk through the entrance to the Red Sox's clubhouse and put on his new uniform with the familiar No. 28 on the back in the very near future, but there was no grand entrance on Friday.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Perhaps it's only fitting that the signing that took the entire offseason and into the early portion of Spring Training to happen would have a little bit more of a delay before it becomes official.

Slugger J.D. Martinez is still expected to walk through the entrance to the Red Sox's clubhouse and put on his new uniform with the familiar No. 28 on the back in the very near future, but there was no grand entrance on Friday.

There are procedural issues related to the physical that are still being worked through, prolonging the formal announcement of a five-year, $110 million contract that includes opt-outs after the second and third seasons. The terms of the deal were agreed to on Monday.

Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

Friday marked the third straight day the Red Sox hoped to have a news conference, but it now appears Saturday is the earliest that one will take place.

Physicals can take varying lengths of time depending on the player, and certainly, the amount of the contract.

Martinez had a right elbow injury in 2016 and a sprained Lisfranc ligament in his right foot last year. The Red Sox could be having specialists scanning images to make sure there's minimal risk of those injuries recurring.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Another thing complicating matters is that most of the team's medical staff is in Boston.

Martinez, who lives in Miami, arrived in Fort Myers early Wednesday morning for his physical. His agent, Scott Boras, was also in town, as he typically likes to attend press conferences for his premium clients.

By Friday afternoon, nobody seemed to know if Martinez was still in town or if he had returned to his home in Miami.

"I have no idea," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who gave up his No. 28 earlier this week to free it up for Martinez.

Cora and the Red Sox went ahead with their regular business, beating the Twins, 4-3, in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.

Video: Outlook: Martinez's power makes him dangerous slugger

Has it been hard for the new manager to spend the last few days waiting on his highly-anticipated new addition?

"We're still working and getting ready," said Cora. "That's what we can do."

Is Cora concerned about the delay in the Martinez signing becoming official?

"I'm not concerned," Cora said. "The thing I can do is do my thing. My job here is to show up every day and get 'em ready."

The Red Sox have a double locker in the clubhouse that appears to be set aside for Martinez. It is between the stalls used by two other veterans -- Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez.

As of Friday, Martinez didn't have a nameplate. But there were three boxes on a shelf inside the locker.

Everyone around the Red Sox will feel better once there is a right-handed hitter in the fold to unpack those boxes.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

MLB rallies behind Parkland after tragic school shooting

MLB.com

Major League Baseball joined the nation in rallying behind the Parkland, Fla., community in the aftermath of last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.

All across the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, players wore Stoneman Douglas hats as teams took the field for the first Spring Training games of 2018. Signed caps will be auctioned with proceeds going toward the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund.

Major League Baseball joined the nation in rallying behind the Parkland, Fla., community in the aftermath of last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.

All across the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, players wore Stoneman Douglas hats as teams took the field for the first Spring Training games of 2018. Signed caps will be auctioned with proceeds going toward the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund.

Below is a closer look at how clubs and players showed support and aided in the healing process for the survivors of the tragedy:

Marlins, Cardinals host Stoneman Douglas teams
The Stoneman Douglas baseball and softball teams and their families were on hand as guests for the Marlins' and Cardinals' spring opener in Jupiter, Fla. The visit included a 17-second moment of silence before the national anthem to honor the 17 victims who lost their lives in the shooting.

"When there's tragedy, one thing you realize is communities rally around sports," said Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter. "I know when I was in New York playing after Sept. 11, obviously, you will never forget what happened. But at least for three hours a day, we gave people something to cheer for." More »

Video: Jeter addresses Stoneman Douglas baseball team

Astros welcome Stoneman Douglas coach
The Astros hosted Todd Fitz-Gerald, the head baseball coach at Stoneman Douglas, his two sons, one of whom is a junior at the school, and his assistant coach at camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Friday. Fitz-Gerald and his son were with Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow when he presented the World Series trophy at a pregame ceremony before the club's spring opener against the Nationals.

"To be out here and be able to enjoy a day with these guys, I couldn't be more thankful," Fitz-Gerald said. More »

Video: Stoneman Douglas baseball team meets with Astros

Stoneman Douglas students deliver Mets' lineup card
After a moment of silence for the victims, David Wright and a group of Stoneman Douglas students delivered the Mets' lineup card at home plate prior to New York's game against Braves.

"I'm just so thankful that Major League Baseball is with us," senior Devon Wiesenfeld said. "It's been really tough."

Video: Stoneman Douglas students speak at Mets spring game

Rizzo moved by response to high school tragedy
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo donned a Stoneman Douglas cap Friday for the first time since he graduated from the school in 2007. Rizzo traveled back to Florida to be with family and friends last week and spoke at a prayer vigil the day after the shooting.

"Everyone has come out of the woodwork to show their love and support for the community I live in, the school, the kids," he said. "It's been really nice to see people come out and approach me and go out of their way. It's much appreciated." More »

Video: Rizzo discusses Stoneman Douglas tragedy, students

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

Late addition? Best fits for 5 notable free agents

MLB.com @castrovince

It took all winter and a little bit of spring, but we've finally achieved something resembling momentum in the free-agent marketplace. I speak on behalf of the more than 60 still-unsigned players when I say: Let's keep it going!

Here are five free-agent fits that still make sense at this late stage.

It took all winter and a little bit of spring, but we've finally achieved something resembling momentum in the free-agent marketplace. I speak on behalf of the more than 60 still-unsigned players when I say: Let's keep it going!

Here are five free-agent fits that still make sense at this late stage.

1. Jake Arrieta to the Nationals

There is a strong argument in favor of teams like the Phillies, Brewers or Twins signing Arrieta to take a step forward and elevate their stature. There is an equally strong argument that, given his diminished velocity and the increased home run rate we saw from Arrieta last year, it's dangerous to assume he can step into the ace role for an up-and-coming club.

Hot Stove Tracker

But with the Nationals, it's not about being in the front of the line; it's about lengthening an already October-caliber rotation and reducing the susceptibility to injury risk (Max Scherzer has thrown more innings than anybody in baseball since the start of 2013, and Stephen Strasburg has just two seasons of 30 starts or more) on a team that needs to win right now. (A multi-year deal with Arrieta also provides cushion for Gio Gonzalez's upcoming free agency.)

If we go by FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement projections, Arrieta is a 2.3-win upgrade over potential fifth starter A.J. Cole. Before you even get to the strong relationship between Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, and the Nats' ownership, this is a clear contender with ample incentive to maximize their 2018 effort, especially given Bryce Harper's pending free agency. Speaking of which, the possible departures of Harper and Daniel Murphy mean there could be considerable money coming off the books after '18. And the Nats are already in luxury-tax territory, so while paying an extra 30 cents on every dollar for a player like Arrieta isn't ideal, it's not like it would prevent the club from resetting the penalty. The payroll, as calculated for luxury-tax purposes (average annual value of player contracts, as opposed to 2018 value), already works out to around $199 million, with the threshold set at $197 million.

Video: Outlook: Arrieta still excels but is no longer an ace

2. Carlos Gonzalez back to the Rockies

The game of outfield musical chairs has not been kind to CarGo. When the D-backs traded for Steven Souza Jr., that took away a really nice potential landing spot for him to have a bounceback season on a one-year deal. And then the Rays filled their newfound outfield hole with a different Carlos -- Carlos Gomez.

So I'm circling back to the Rox here. General manager Jeff Bridich spoke with MLB Network Radio this week about how there's "a lot of trust and a lot of respect" between Colorado and CarGo after nine years together. And while his 2017 (.262/.339/.423 slash, 87 OPS+) has cratered his market, there were some positive signs and strides in the September stretch run (.377/.484/.766), and there was obviously quite a bit of track record that preceded that awful walk year.

The Rockies have clear questions on their outfield corners, with Ian Desmond coming off a frustrating first year with the club, Gerardo Parra nursing a broken hand and David Dahl coming off a lost year due to injury. They've also got rookie Ryan McMahon penciled in at first base. The Rockies typically rank high in the Majors in run production as a product of where they play, but when you adjust for league and park factors, they had the fourth-lowest Weighted Runs Created Plus mark (87) in baseball last year. They still need another bat, and while returning Mark Reynolds or adding Logan Morrison are options at first, I'd rather take my chances on a CarGo comeback. He's projected by FanGraphs at 1.2 WAR this year, with the Rockies' current right-field setup projected at minus-0.1 (worse than every club but the Marlins).

Video: Outlook: CarGo could rebound after a tough 2017

3. Greg Holland to the Angels

The oft-cited clear landing spot for Holland is the Cardinals, but their recent organizational history of stumbling into closing solutions makes me doubt it happens. (There is some industry thought that trade acquisition Dominic Leone could be the guy who stumbles into the role this year.)

But as good as we might feel about the Angels' offseason acquisitions of Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart, not many among us could honestly assert unshakable confidence in the overall state of the pitching staff. I don't blame the Halos for taking a wait-and-see approach with their starting staff, because there is so much upside in the arms of Ohtani, Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, etc., if they're all simultaneously healthy. The bullpen, though, lost two important pieces of surprising 2017 importance in Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris (the latter of whom went to the Cards) and is projected by FanGraphs to finish in MLB's lower-third in the WAR tally.

It says here that, even if the Angels sign Holland, Blake Parker is perhaps more likely to occupy the ninth inning the better part of the year, but that doesn't mean the Angels shouldn't be trying to augment an area that currently reads as a weakness on a club otherwise built to climb up the American League West standings.

Video: Outlook: Holland can build on a great bounceback 2017

4. Mike Moustakas to the Braves

Moustakas' offseason was quiet before the Yankees -- an oft-rumored landing spot -- added Brandon Drury this week. So much for all that "pillow talk" -- the thought of Moose taking a one-year "pillow" deal to bash homers in the Bronx and potentially score a better deal next offseason.

Whether for one year or otherwise, Moose's options are pretty limited. The White Sox and Cardinals are speculative fits, but the former is in rebuild and the latter has prioritized versatility. Yes, the Braves are in rebuild, too, but I'm marking them down as the best fit for Moustakas because I feel better about their 2018 ceiling given the base of Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran, the upside of Ronald Acuna and all the young talent in their rotation picture. I recently wrote that while the Braves' floor is low, their ceiling is high, and signing Moustakas would shore up what is projected to be the worst third-base situation in baseball (0.6 WAR) and lend a little more credence to the idea that the Braves could be a frisky club in the National League Wild Card race, a la the Brewers a year ago.

Video: Outlook: Moustakas provides power bat at third base

5. Alex Cobb to the Twins

Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said he hasn't turned off his phone in the wake of the Jake Odorizzi and Anibal Sanchez acquisitions, nor should he. Maybe the Twins, who made instant analytical leaps with Falvey's arrival prior to 2017, can fix the issues that have led to a 6.09 ERA over the last two seasons for Sanchez, but, contrary to some reporting out there, his $2.5 million contract for this year is not guaranteed. And while the swap for Odorizzi was nice, it's still not enough to dramatically improve the outlook for a rotation that will be without Ervin Santana for at least the first month of the season.

The Twins know they're second in the AL Central pecking order right now, but their young offense (which scored the most runs in the Majors in the second half last season) has them smelling blood. The possibility that the Indians, who used only seven starting pitchers last season, have trouble repeating a relative run of good health in the rotation is real. And anyway, the Twins could stand to improve their projection in the Wild Card realm. They don't have major financial obligations on the books aside from the $13.2 million owed to Phil Hughes in 2019, so they could do a Cobb contract that gets him something a little bit better than the three years, $38 million Tyler Chatwood got from the Cubs. (In this market at this stage, that might be as good as it gets for Cobb.)

Video: BOS@TB: Cobb hurls a gem against the Red Sox

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Holland, Mike Moustakas

PHENOM ALERT: Teen Tatis goes deep

Top prospect is youngest player in any big league camp
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Fernando Tatis Jr. is the youngest player in any big league camp this spring. During Friday's Cactus League opener, he wasted no time proving he belongs.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 8 overall prospect, Tatis mashed an opposite-field home run in his second at-bat of Spring Training. He fell behind against Mariners right-hander Shawn Armstrong, before swatting a 1-2 fastball over the fence in the bottom of the eighth.

View Full Game Coverage

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Fernando Tatis Jr. is the youngest player in any big league camp this spring. During Friday's Cactus League opener, he wasted no time proving he belongs.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 8 overall prospect, Tatis mashed an opposite-field home run in his second at-bat of Spring Training. He fell behind against Mariners right-hander Shawn Armstrong, before swatting a 1-2 fastball over the fence in the bottom of the eighth.

View Full Game Coverage

The swing was smooth and easy, yet the ball jumped off his bat and carried over the right-field bullpen. Said one member of the team's front office: "That's just what he does."

The Padres didn't threaten offensively after that, and they would lose the opener, 3-2. But it was Tatis who stole the show with the team's first homer of spring.

Padres Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

"I'm just trying to show off what we've got," Tatis said. "I'm trying prove to these guys that I don't care about my age, I'm just trying to make the team."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Tatis, who turned 19 in January, is destined to start the year in the Minors, though it's possible he could earn a late-season callup. Last year, he set a franchise record with 21 homers for Class A Fort Wayne before finishing the year with Double-A San Antonio.

Many in the Padres' organization view Tatis as their shortstop of the future. The job will be open next offseason, when Freddy Galvis hits free agency. If Tatis continues his rapid ascent, it could be his position to lose.

"His demeanor's been outstanding early in camp," said Padres manager Andy Green. "I don't think he's been fazed by anything. He looks comfortable on a baseball field. ... The power is real. All you have to do is watch batting practice to know that."

It's no coincidence that Tatis has been paired with veteran hitters during BP. On Tuesday, he and fellow top prospect Luis Urias were part of a group that also featured Eric Hosmer and Chase Headley -- 18 years of experience between them.

"Guys like that, you just ask questions a lot," Tatis said. "You try to learn what focus they have and their approach."

It's an immense source of pride for Tatis that he uses the whole field to hit for both power and average. Between two levels last season, Tatis batted .278/.379/.498.

Video: Tatis Jr. is named the top Padres prospect

"I don't just want to be a pull hitter or something like that," Tatis said. "I want to hit the ball to every part of the field -- that way I can get more hits and hit more for average."

Tatis came to San Diego in the 2016 trade that sent James Shields to the White Sox. Quickly, he began to prove himself in the Padres' system, doing so as one of the youngest players everywhere he played.

Tatis has drawn early comparisons to Manny Machado, and it shows in his body type. The Padres have pumped the brakes on that comparison, however. Expectations are already lofty enough.

There are questions regarding whether Tatis will stick at shortstop. (In his five innings there Friday, the Mariners hit no balls his way.) Almost no one questions his bat.

"He's good," Green said. "And we know it."

Video: Tatis Jr. named Padres' Pipeline hitter of the year

On Friday, Tatis paired with Urias in the middle of the Padres' infield. Urias got in on the fun, launching a double off the right-center-field wall. It might not be long before the duo anchors the middle infield at Petco Park.

"They're going to push as hard as they can to be here as quick as they can," Green said. "We want them to do that. I think it's our job to tap the brakes and take our time with them if we think they need more time and seasoning. They're clearly dynamic baseball players, and we're excited to have them."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr.

Kemp clobbers one in first game back with LA

Veteran returns determined to win LF job with Dodgers
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was just like old times for Matt Kemp on Friday, batting fifth in the Dodgers' lineup, fans making the drive from Los Angeles to welcome him back, a 2-for-2 day at the plate with a three-run homer bringing the media back to his locker postgame.

"Y'all act like I've been gone forever," Kemp said with satisfaction. "That was exciting for me."

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was just like old times for Matt Kemp on Friday, batting fifth in the Dodgers' lineup, fans making the drive from Los Angeles to welcome him back, a 2-for-2 day at the plate with a three-run homer bringing the media back to his locker postgame.

"Y'all act like I've been gone forever," Kemp said with satisfaction. "That was exciting for me."

View Full Game Coverage

He's been gone for three years, but he's back. And for disbelievers who think Kemp can't play anymore because he let his body go, that looks like old news. He's fit and hungry to prove them wrong.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

For those who think he can't play defense, Kemp couldn't wait to remind reporters: "I caught my first fly ball today. We're doing good."

"He looks like he's moving around really well," manager Dave Roberts said of Kemp's defense. "That's something we challenged him with. He's very aware that this is a very good club with a lot of good players. He's here to compete, and it's something he welcomes."

Dodgers Spring Training info

It's only one game into the Cactus League season -- a 13-5 win over the White Sox -- but left field could be Kemp's job to lose, not that there aren't other right-handed options. Enrique Hernandez, who figures to lose the most at-bats if Kemp breaks with the club, also homered on Friday.

Trayce Thompson, out of options and healthy again, had two hits and drove in a run.

With Yasiel Puig resting a sore hip, Roberts batted Kemp behind Cody Bellinger, who had an RBI single.

Video: CWS@LAD: Bellinger smacks an RBI single to right

Whatever clubhouse friction existed when Kemp was dealt to San Diego three years ago, it's gone now as teammates envision the damage that can be done by a lineup lengthened with another 20-plus homer bat.

"You see his offensive numbers the past few years are still pretty special," said Justin Turner, who had one of four Dodgers homers. "So, you throw that bat in the middle of the lineup, that run production is pretty impressive. It will be nice to have another right-handed bat in the lineup. Obviously, today you see the impact he can have in a game."

Video: CWS@LAD: Dodgers hit four homers in first spring game

Kemp's defensive metrics plunged as his weight rose, but he already has trimmed down. And he sounds determined to improve the metrics as well, even though he admits left has always been the toughest of the three outfield spots for him.

"For sure, getting early work in, everything feels good, being in shape and feeling good, it's going to make playing defense a little bit easier," Kemp said. "I was naturally a right fielder, they moved me to center. Left field has been a challenge, but as I've gotten more reps, I get a little more comfortable out there every time."

The Dodgers feel they can help Kemp with analytics-driven positioning. He met with outfield coach George Lombard on Friday and expects to use positioning cards for reminders when the season starts.

"We talked a bit about where he wants me to play," Kemp said. "It's harder in Spring Training with guys you don't know. It's a lot easier during the season with the information we get."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. Listen to his podcast.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp

Gleyber thrilled to spring into game action

Returning from Tommy John, top prospect logs 5 innings at 2nd in Grapefruit opener
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- Having experienced his first game action in eight months, Gleyber Torres tugged on a black long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "I'M BACK." The wardrobe choice had been a coincidence, the Yankees' top prospect said, but it was appropriate for the milestone.

Returning from season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, Torres played five innings at second base while notching two hitless at-bats in the Yankees' 3-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Tigers on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Having experienced his first game action in eight months, Gleyber Torres tugged on a black long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "I'M BACK." The wardrobe choice had been a coincidence, the Yankees' top prospect said, but it was appropriate for the milestone.

Returning from season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, Torres played five innings at second base while notching two hitless at-bats in the Yankees' 3-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Tigers on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

"I feel happy, excited," said Torres, who is ranked as baseball's fifth-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "I lost a lot of months last year. This spring, my focus is right now to play hard, stay focused, stay humble, try to help my team win and do my job. I don't think about winning a job or something like that. I just want to try to stay focused, do my job every day and enjoy."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that the second-base competition is "to a degree, wide open," and Torres was immediately thrust into action. Detroit leadoff hitter Leonys Martin smacked Luis Cessa's second pitch up the middle, which Torres smothered for an infield hit. Torres said that he had the wind knocked out of him when his chest hit the dirt, but his left elbow was fine.

Video: DET@NYY: Martin leads off the game with a single

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I know he was excited to get out there today," Boone said. "You get five innings under his belt, an at-bat where he almost got a hit, a guy made a good play against him. Hopefully the first of many for us this season."

As for the shirt? It was celebrating Michael Jordan's return to the Bulls, marked with the date March 18, 1995. Torres, 21, wasn't born until December '96.

Paying tribute
Each Major League team and umpiring crew wore black caps with the maroon "SD" of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., for Friday's spring opener, honoring the victims of a Feb. 14 mass shooting in which 17 people were killed -- 14 students and three staff members. The caps will be autographed and auctioned to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund.

Video: Baseball pays tribute to Stoneman Douglas victims

"It means that we stand with them," Brett Gardner said. "I just can't imagine something like that hitting close to home, like it did for all these people. It's an honor for us to wear their logo. It's obviously an honor to put on the pinstripes every day and wear the Yankees logo, but to be involved with something like this and let them know that we're there in a way, I think it means a lot."

Video: DET@NYY: Yankees hold moment of silence for Parkland

Bombers bits
• There was no palpable carryover from the Aug. 24 clash between the Tigers and Yankees in Detroit, which led to suspensions for Miguel Cabrera, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez and Alex Wilson.

"I think on some level, baseball players never forget things," Boone said. "But one of our messages will always be that we're out there to win games and compete and turn the page on those kind of things as best we can."

• Non-roster invitee catcher Jorge Saez had two hits Friday, including a two-run single to center field as part of a three-run sixth inning.

Video: DET@NYY: Saez smacks two-run single to center field

"I thought we had a lot of patient at-bats from a lot of different guys," Boone said. "I thought we were aggressive swinging at pitches in the strike zone, but also laying off. Overall, pretty pleased offensively."

• The Yankees are counting on a healthy season from Greg Bird, so there was a pang of concern as he closed in on the wall behind first base to snare Nicholas Castellanos' third-inning foul pop.

Video: DET@NYY: Bird makes difficult catch in foul territory

"Nothing different than the regular season," Bird said. "Just being conscious of the wall. You just catch it."

Up next
The Yankees play their first road game of the spring on Saturday, visiting the Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Domingo German will start for New York. Position players making the trip include Miguel Andujar, Tyler Austin, Brandon Drury, Clint Frazier, Billy McKinney, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade.

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

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Miggy looking forward, focused on swing

After battling back issues last year, slugger goes 1-for-2 in Grapefruit opener
MLB.com @beckjason

TAMPA, Fla. -- A few scattered boos among the packed crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field was the one reminder of what happened the last time Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers faced the Yankees.

"If they want to make something, they can make something," Cabrera said Friday. "I'm not able to please everybody."

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TAMPA, Fla. -- A few scattered boos among the packed crowd at George M. Steinbrenner Field was the one reminder of what happened the last time Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers faced the Yankees.

"If they want to make something, they can make something," Cabrera said Friday. "I'm not able to please everybody."

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• Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

Cabrera said a few words as he stepped to the plate in the first inning, with Austin Romine behind the plate, but Cabrera said it was nothing. More important to the Tigers slugger was the at-bat, his first of the spring, as he tries to regain his old swing following back issues last year.

Cabrera grounded out to third base in that first at-bat, then singled through the right side of the Yankees' infield to lead off the fourth. He was lifted for a pinch-runner in the eventual 3-1 Tigers loss.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The swings were too few for Cabrera to tell a difference from last year, when he said chronic back issues left him struggling to reach outside pitches with his swing. His swings in batting practice at least have him encouraged.

"I feel loose. That's very important," Cabrera said.

He said he's still working on his approach at the plate.

"I'm trying to work on that right now, trying to be more calm at home plate and trying not to swing at a lot of bad pitches like last year," Cabrera said. "Wait for my pitch and try to put my best swing on it."

Tigers wear caps in honor of Stoneman Douglas High School
Like teams across Major League Baseball, the Tigers donned the caps of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball team for Friday's game following the tragedy in Parkland, Fla., last week.

Video: Baseball pays tribute to Stoneman Douglas victims

"We all know what's happened," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was really tough watching television and watching all this sadness. Kids going to school and what they love most is learning, and all of a sudden, so much tragedy."

Video: Tigers Stoneman Douglas Tribute

Tigers sign 17 non-arbitration players
The Tigers moved closer to getting their entire 40-man roster under contracts by reaching agreements with 17 players who aren't yet eligible for arbitration, a list that includes All-Star Michael Fulmer.

Others agreeing to terms included right-handers Sandy Baez, Eduardo Jimenez, Joe Jimenez, Gerson Moreno, Zac Reininger, Warwick Saupold and Spencer Turnbull; left-handed pitchers Chad Bell, Matthew Boyd, Jairo Labourt, Gregory Soto and Daniel Stumpf; infielders Dawel Lugo and Dixon Machado; and outfielders Mike Gerber and JaCoby Jones.

Players who aren't yet eligible for arbitration or free agency can either agree to terms on contracts or have their contracts renewed. Fulmer is a year away from arbitration.

The deals leave the Tigers with 29 of their 40-man roster players under contract for 2018.

Tigers sign Coleman to Minor League deal
Detroit signed right-handed reliever Louis Coleman to a Minor League contract, according to SB Nation. Coleman posted an 8-5 record, 3.51 ERA and two saves in 213 appearances over six seasons with the Royals and Dodgers before spending last year at the Triple-A level with the D-backs and Reds. The 31-year-old posted a 4-2 record and 2.25 ERA in 50 games between Reno and Louisville, allowing 44 hits over 64 innings, with 32 walks and 77 strikeouts.

Up next
Victor Martinez is expected to get his first at-bats of the spring, and his first playing time since heart ablation surgery last September, when the Tigers host the Blue Jays in a 1:05 p.m. ET game at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on Saturday. The 39-year-old is scheduled to start at designated hitter, while Jordan Zimmermann makes his first start of the spring.

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

Detroit Tigers, Miguel Cabrera

Pirates' Meadows leads top prospect performers

MLB.com

It's hard to get off to a better start than Austin Meadows did on Friday, which marked the first full day of Spring Training games.

Meadows, the No. 45 overall prospect and No. 2 on the Pirates' recently debuted Top 30 list, reached base four times and was perfect at the plate as the Pirates opened up Grapefruit League play against the Rays.

It's hard to get off to a better start than Austin Meadows did on Friday, which marked the first full day of Spring Training games.

Meadows, the No. 45 overall prospect and No. 2 on the Pirates' recently debuted Top 30 list, reached base four times and was perfect at the plate as the Pirates opened up Grapefruit League play against the Rays.

"Austin had a nice day. It was good for him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Three barrels. Drove in some runs. Swung the bat well. He looked good."

The 22-year-old went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a pair of doubles to begin what Meadows and the Pirates hope is a breakthrough year. However, Meadows hasn't played more than 100 games since 2015 as injuries have been a recurring problem during the early stages of his career.

"First things first. My body felt really good out there," Meadows said. "I felt healthy. I thought I was seeing the ball really well out there and things happened. It was a good first day."

Meadows may have put together the most impressive box score of the day, but there was plenty of prospect news to go around -- starting early in the morning with the news that the Rays' Brent Honeywell (No. 18 overall) likely needs Tommy John surgery. The news turned more optimistic as the day went on with the excitement of Gleyber Torres (No. 5 overall) putting on a Yankees jersey and returning to game action for the first time in eight months.

Video: DET@NYY: Torres talks about his rehab, 2018 season

Torres went 0-for-2, but his health is far more important than the on-field results, especially in late February.

With all that being said, let's take a look at how some of the other top prospects performed on the field:

Victor Robles, the No. 6 overall prospect, has a particularly impressive toolset that makes it easy to see why he's so highly touted. After batting .250 in limited time with the Nationals last season, Robles worked his way onto the postseason roster and then performed well in the Arizona Fall League. The outfielder picked up right where he left off as he went 1-for-1 with a double, a walk and then showed off his 70-grade defense with a diving catch in center field.

Video: WSH@HOU: Robles extends, snags liner with a dive

• No. 8 overall prospect Fernando Tatis Jr., who hit a career-high 22 homers in 131 games last season, showed off some power with his first homer of the spring, a solo shot to right field in the eighth inning.

Video: SEA@SD: Tatis Jr. hits solo homer to right in the 8th

• No. 14 overall prospect Brendan Rodgers drove in a pair of runs in the Rockies' 7-6 loss against the D-backs. Rodgers collected an RBI groundout in the fifth and then capped his afternoon with a solo homer in the 10th.

• No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames put the Rays on the board early as he drove in a run via a sacrifice fly in the first and later added a single as part of a 1-for-2 afternoon. While Adames got off to a quick start at the plate, Yonny Chirinos started fast on the mound. The 24-year-old right-hander put up a pair of zeros, walked one and gave up one hit in his first action of the year.

Video: TB@BAL: Adames plates Johnson on sac fly to center

• No. 27 overall prospect Lewis Brinson (Marlins' No. 1) showed off a bit of his skillset in his Marlins debut. Brinson, whom the Marlins acquired from the Brewers in January, made a diving catch in center and also doubled in a 1-for-2 effort.

Video: STL@MIA: Brinson lays out for a tough grab in debut

• No. 38 overall prospect Jack Flaherty (Cardinals' No. 2) was perfect with a pair of strikeouts in his two innings of work. Just as Flaherty was impressive starting the game, Jordan Hicks (Cardinals' No. 7) was impressive at the end. Hicks, who has already drawn rave reviews from his teammates, struck out a pair in a scoreless frame.

• No. 56 overall prospect Keston Hiura can certainly hit. The Brewers' No. 1 prospect batted .442 at UC Irvine before the Brewers picked him ninth overall last season, then he hit .371 in 42 games across two levels in the Minors. So it only makes sense that Hiura began his 2018 campaign with a pair of knocks, going 2-for-3 with an RBI in the Brewers' win over the Giants.

• No. 58 overall prospect Kolby Allard threw a scoreless frame for the Braves. The 20-year-old walked the first batter he faced, but then induced a ground-ball double play and a flyout to finish off the outing.

• No. 69 overall prospect Corbin Burnes (Brewers' No. 2) had a breakthrough season in 2017 as he finished second in the Minors with a 1.67 ERA and was named the Brewers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Of course, one inning in February is just that, but Burnes did throw well as he struck out two in a perfect inning.

Video: CHC@MIL: Burnes caps off impressive frame with a K

Orioles No. 3 prospect Chance Sisco isn't a big power hitter considering he hit nine homers in 107 games between Triple-A Norfolk and Baltimore last season. However, the catching prospect put his pop on display in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Rays. Sisco, who singled in his first at-bat and finished 2-for-2, provided all of Baltimore's offense with a three-run opposite-field homer.

Video: TB@BAL: Sisco cranks three-run homer to deep left

Astros No. 12 prospect Rogelio Armenteros struck out 146 batters in 123 2/3 innings across two levels last season and showed some of that swing-and-miss stuff against the Nationals. Armenteros struck out three of the first four batters he faced as he cruised through two hitless innings.

Video: WSH@HOU: Armenteros on strong Spring Training debut

Mets No. 16 prospect Corey Oswalt racked up four strikeouts in two scoreless frames. The right-hander struck out the first batter he faced in the sixth and then struck out the side in the seventh before exiting the game.

• Giants prospect Steven Duggar is going to get every opportunity to win a spot on the Opening Day roster, and he made a strong first impression with a two-run double in the second inning. Duggar, who finished 1-for-3, hit .262 in 44 games last season.

Video: MIL@SF: Duggar laces an RBI double to right field

William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Pirates ink lefty Siegrist to Minor League deal