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Whoa: Opening Day hype video a must-see

Opening Day is nearly upon us. The 2018 season will officially get underway Thursday, March 29 with a full slate of games. Whether you're already excited for Opening Day or need a little nudge out of the winter doldrums, this video will have you pumped up for the 2018 season all the same:

The latest on all 30 closer situations

Opening Day is a little more than a week away, and all eyes are on the remaining position battles in big league camps. Among those battles are competitions for closer, a role that is still undefined for many clubs.

Following is a look at where things stand for all 30 teams.

Opening Day is a little more than a week away, and all eyes are on the remaining position battles in big league camps. Among those battles are competitions for closer, a role that is still undefined for many clubs.

Following is a look at where things stand for all 30 teams.

AL East

Blue Jays
Roberto Osuna is only 23 years old, but he is already entering his fourth full season as Toronto's closer. He remains one of the elite relievers in the game, but he's coming off a year in which he blew 10 saves. That was pretty uncharacteristic, and a bounceback season should be expected in 2018.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Next man up: Ryan Tepera was a solid setup man in 2017, so he could get a look if needed, as could Seung Hwan Oh, who has big league closing experience.

While All-Star Zach Britton rehabs from offseason Achilles surgery, the Orioles are expected to use righty Brad Brach as their primary closer. Brach, an All-Star as well, has filled the role capably, and there's no reason to think that won't be the case in 2018.

Next man up: Mychal Givens could get some save opportunities early on.

Alex Colome will return as the Rays' closer, and he'll be a closer in the traditional sense of the word, which means logging the final three outs of a game and not coming in earlier in the game to snuff out hot situations. Colome, who led the Major Leagues in saves in 2017 with 47, knows about getting extra outs, too. He led the AL in 2017 with six saves of four outs or more.

Next man up: Sergio Romo is a veteran who has closed before, although up-and-coming flamethrower Ryne Stanek would be an intriguing option.

Video: Outlook: Colome is still solid closer option for Rays

Red Sox
Craig Kimbrel is back for his third season with the Red Sox, and he is in the elite category, considered the best in the game by some. His combination of upper-90s fastball and wicked knuckle-curve remains devastating. He is entering his free-agent year, but the Red Sox will try to keep him long-term.

Video: Kimbrel focused despite daughter's health concerns

The Yankees' elite bullpen features the hardest fastball in the sport's history, as Aroldis Chapman prepares for his second full season as a member of the club. Despite losing his ninth-inning role for a period in 2017, the flame-throwing lefty recorded 22 saves while striking out 69 in 50 1/3 innings. His 3.22 ERA was the second-highest of his career.

Next man up: The Yankees have no shortage of options, but Dellin Betances or David Robertson would likely get the first crack.

NL East

Arodys Vizcaino will open the season as the closer, but A.J. Minter is capable of taking the role if necessary. Vizcaino surrendered a career-high seven homers last year, but four came within two games. He produced career-best marks in hits per nine innings and walks per nine innings.

Next man up: If Vizcaino regresses, the ninth inning could belong to Minter, who has shown he can miss bats nearly as frequently as Kimbrel.

Brad Ziegler has 95 career saves, and the 38-year-old is in position to have a chance to reach 100. Still, his status in the role is subject to change. Ziegler is a finesse, ground-ball specialist. The organization views hard-throwing righties Drew Steckenrider and Kyle Barraclough as longer-term candidates.

Next man up: Steckenrider or Barraclough, who averaged 14.0 and 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings last season, respectively.

On paper the Mets' closer is Jeurys Familia. The actual answer is more complicated, with the team also planning to use AJ Ramos, Jerry Blevins and Anthony Swarzak in high-leverage situations. If Familia shows he's not totally recovered from shoulder surgery -- his velocity was down this spring -- he could cede even more save chances to the other three.

Next man up: Ramos, a closer in Miami, would probably get the first shot, with Swarzak potentially in the mix.

Video: Familia shares thoughts on Callaway, '18 expectations

For the first time in years, the Nationals are settled at closer. Left-hander Sean Doolittle has a firm grasp on the job after his impressive end of the 2017 season once the Nats acquired him from Oakland. Combine him with Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Madson, and the Nats are set at the back end of the bullpen.

Next man up: Kintzler or Madson, who are both proven closing options.

Video: Outlook: Doolittle can be elite closer if healthy

Hector Neris emerged out of a volatile Phillies bullpen to solidify the closer role down the stretch last season. The 28-year-old right-hander posted a 3.01 ERA and recorded 26 saves, with 86 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings. He ended the year converting his final 20 save opportunities, putting him in a good position to start 2018.

Next man up: Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, Philadelphia's key bullpen signings, were valuable setup men last season, and either could close.

AL Central

This season will mark Cody Allen's fifth in a row as the Tribe's primary closer. Over the past four years, the righty has turned in a 2.62 ERA with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 120 saves in 282 appearances. The Indians may also give relief ace Andrew Miller save chances on occasion.

Next man up: Miller is one of the most valuable relievers in the game, and he's more than capable of closing if called upon.

Video: Allen on offseason program, being better in 2018

Right-hander Kelvin Herrera will return as the closer in 2018, even though he lost that role in September to left-hander Mike Minor, who signed a free-agent deal with the Rangers in the offseason. Herrera had a rocky 2017, with five blown saves and three losses. After losing his closer's job, he took on a setup role and had five scoreless appearances to end the season. But manager Ned Yost said Herrera should learn from his 2017 experience, which will make him stronger this season.

Next man up: The Royals don't have the deepest bullpen, but Yost said the recently signed Justin Grimm is in line for a setup role, so he might be called on if needed.

Shane Greene was the last of three Tiger closers last season, taking over once Justin Wilson was traded to the Cubs. Greene was quietly effective, racking up nine saves in 10 chances over the final two months while striking out 23 batters in 21 2/3 innings. His ability to work multiple innings as a converted starter provides the advantage of four-, five-, even six-out saves. A solid first half could put him on the block for contenders around July's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Next man up: Alex Wilson has had some success in the Tigers bullpen and could be an option.

The Twins signed veteran Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal to be their closer after trading Kintzler and losing Matt Belisle to free agency. Rodney, 41, saved 39 games with the D-backs a year ago; the Twins also have Addison Reed waiting in the wings in case Rodney falters.

Next man up: Reed, who filled in as Mets closer in Familia's absence last season.

Video: Outlook: Rodney can still be effective as a closer

White Sox
Manager Rick Renteria has a number of options at the back end of his bullpen in Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Juan Minaya. But he has not named an official closer, and he probably won't. Instead he will mix and match based on the highest-leverage late-inning situations, also employing numerous relievers who can work multiple innings.

Next man up: If one of those three emerges as closer, another will likely be next in line.

NL Central

Corey Knebel started last season as a setup man but ascended to closer duty in May and was so dominant he made the NL All-Star team. His fastball/curveball combo produces a ton of swings and misses, leading to 126 strikeouts in 76 innings, a Brewers relief record.

Next man up: That could be Josh Hader or new addition Matt Albers.

Video: TEX@MIL: Knebel strikes out Hood

The Cardinals still don't know. It'll be closer-by-committee at first, but the club hopes the late-inning chain of command solidifies before long. Luke Gregerson, Dominic Leone and Bud Norris were imported to battle it out, but no one had a better spring than Mike Mayers. Prospects Jordan Hicks and Ryan Helsley could spend time in St. Louis sooner rather than later. And then there is Alex Reyes, whom the club doesn't want to restrict to such an opportunity-based role. But his stuff certainly profiles for it in the short-term.

Next man up: That depends on who wins the closer job. Gregerson seems the most likely, in which case Leone or Norris could be next up.

Brandon Morrow set up Kenley Jansen in Los Angeles last season. This year he will be the Cubs' fourth closer in as many seasons, and it will be his first time in that role since 2008, when he was with the Mariners. He's been a starter and setup man since then. This year he can focus on getting the last out.

Next man up: Both Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. have excellent stuff and could close a game.

Felipe Rivero established himself as one of the Majors' best young late-inning arms last season, moving from a setup role into the ninth inning. After signing a long-term contract extension this offseason, the hard-throwing left-hander will be there from the start this season to lead an inexperienced bullpen.

Next man up: George Kontos seems the likeliest to get opportunities should something happen to Rivero, with Michael Feliz another option.

There's no question who will close games for the Reds in 2018: Raisel Iglesias. Last season he had 28 saves in 30 chances and led the Majors with eight saves of at least two innings. With a better bullpen assembled, the Reds hope they don't have to use Iglesias for more than three outs often, but if he's rested, it's something the right-hander could easily do.

Next man up: With Michael Lorenzen hurt, it could be Wandy Peralta, Jared Hughes or Kevin Shackelford.

Video: Outlook: Iglesias could be dominant closer for Reds

AL West

The Angels have been noncommittal about using a designated closer this season and seem more likely to use a committee that will include Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Jim Johnson. The Angels were fluid with their bullpen roles in 2017, and that structure will likely carry over to this season.

Next man up: Any one of those three could fill in.

Ken Giles, who saved 34 of 38 games in the regular season and struck out 83 batters in 62 2/3 innings, enters the season as the closer despite his World Series woes. In seven playoff appearances last year, Giles gave up 10 runs and 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Next man up: Chris Devenski might get the first shot, although newly added Joe Smith or Hector Rondon could be options.

Video: Ken Giles on rebounding from from 2017 playoffs

The A's gave up two of their former closers -- Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson -- in a deal for Blake Treinen last summer, also landing prospects Jesus Luzardo and Sheldon Neuse from Washington. Treinen quickly became their new closer, picking up 13 saves with a 2.13 ERA in 35 appearances.

Next man up: It could be either Chris Hatcher or Liam Hendriks.

Edwin Diaz is one of the youngest closers, as he turns 24 on Thursday, but the hard-throwing right-hander from Puerto Rico already has racked up 52 saves in his first year and a half in that role, with 177 strikeouts in 117 2/3 innings. He tied for fourth in the AL with 34 saves in 39 opportunities last season.

Next man up: Juan Nicasio had an impressive 2017 season in the NL and might be the first to get looks.

Alex Claudio finished last season as the Rangers' closer and has pitched well this spring, but the Rangers love his versatility and ability to pitch multiple innings in any situation. Tim Lincecum could become the closer once he gets some innings in the bank. The Rangers have not pursued Greg Holland, but he remains unsigned.

Next man up: Lincecum would be interesting, but Matt Bush or Keone Kela might get the first crack if Lincecum hasn't proven himself ready.

NL West

The D-backs have a three-man competition as Opening Day approaches. Brad Boxberger is the only contender with significant experience closing games at the Major League level, saving 41 games for the Rays in 2015. Yoshihisa Hirano has the most experience overall, with 156 saves over eight seasons in Japan. And Archie Bradley is the most familiar, emerging as a dominant reliever after being a top pitching prospect in the Arizona system.

Next man up: One of the above trio, depending on who wins the job.

Video: ARI@MIL: Boxberger retires Yelich to end the 4th

Jansen is a two-time All-Star and two-time Trevor Hoffman Award winner, with three consecutive 40-save seasons. He's the franchise all-time leader in saves and strikeouts by a reliever, and he leads active relievers with a 0.87 WHIP while averaging 13.98 strikeouts per nine innings.

Next man up: Josh Fields or Tony Cingrani would appear to be first in line.

Mark Melancon's the guy. Whether that's good news for the Giants, nobody knows for sure yet. The Giants believed in Melancon enough to give him a four-year, $62 million contract before the 2017 season. He responded by converting 11 of 16 save chances and developing a sore forearm that required surgery. He has basically recovered but acknowledged that he still feels vague discomfort in the affected area.

Next man up: If injuries or ineffectiveness impede Melancon again, Sam Dyson, who has struggled through most of this spring, or Tony Watson, who has never closed full-time, would be summoned to preserve ninth-inning leads.

Video: Outlook: Melancon has something to prove in 2018

Brad Hand has become one of the game's most effective and durable relievers since he was claimed off waivers by San Diego in 2016. For the most part, he will serve as closer in 2018, but the Padres have said they'd be open to using him before the ninth if the matchups call for it.

Next man up: Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen or newly signed submariner Kazuhisa Makita might all be options.

Wade Davis begins a three-year, $52 million contract with the Rockies after converting 32 of his 33 save chances last season for the Cubs. Davis dealt with elbow issues in 2016 while with the Royals, so Cubs manager Joe Maddon used him carefully. He went three straight days just three times. Rockies manager Bud Black helped keep Holland -- who had missed 2016 because of Tommy John surgery -- fresh through a mostly successful 2017. So while there isn't a huge concern about Davis, Black has proven he can help keep a reliever healthy.

Next man up: Jake McGee or new signee Bryan Shaw would both be strong candidates, as both are proven setup men.

Arrieta fans 2, allows Cabrera HR in debut

Velocity encouraging sign as new Phillies pitcher fires 31 pitches in two-inning start @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jake Arrieta came out firing Thursday in his first start for the Phillies.

His fastball touched 95 mph in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field. Philadelphia's newest starter struck out the first two batters he faced before he allowed an opposite-field home run to Miguel Cabrera. Arrieta scattered two more hits and one more run in the second inning, and finished the afternoon with 31 pitches.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jake Arrieta came out firing Thursday in his first start for the Phillies.

His fastball touched 95 mph in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field. Philadelphia's newest starter struck out the first two batters he faced before he allowed an opposite-field home run to Miguel Cabrera. Arrieta scattered two more hits and one more run in the second inning, and finished the afternoon with 31 pitches.

View Full Game Coverage

Arrieta considered the start a success, although it seems unlikely he will be ready to pitch within the regular season's first five games or so. Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract on March 12, so he missed nearly a month of camp. And while he had been throwing before he joined the Phillies, the club wants to make sure he's stretched properly.

Video: DET@PHI: Arrieta breaks down spring debut with Phils

Philadelphia has Arrieta for three years. The first week, while important, isn't everything.

"I don't think it's completely out of the question," Arrieta said about the first week. "It might not be very likely. But it could happen. [Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and [manager Gabe Kapler] have just continued to reiterate that longevity is obviously most important vs. trying to jump out there a little premature.

"Do I think I could handle going out there? Of course. But, again, is it the smartest thing to do? Maybe not. I'm on board with what these guys intend to do. I know they have my health and the team's success over the long haul in mind. That's the most important thing moving forward. We'll probably have a better understanding of where we're going to go in three or four days."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Arrieta struck out JaCoby Jones on three pitches to start the game, then rang up Jeimer Candelario for the second out. Arrieta's 2-1 fastball to Cabrera, though, landed over the right-field fence for a home run.

"[Cabrera]'s one of the best in the game," Arrieta said. "With the wind flying to right and a guy who can really hit the ball well to right field, it's not the best combination. It was just a slightly elevated ball, away. He put a good swing on it. Other than that, I located the ball pretty well."

Arrieta retired the first two batters he faced in the second before Christin Stewart singled and Jose Iglesias doubled to score a run.

"Iglesias fought off some really nice sinkers in," Arrieta said. "I tried to go front-door cutter close to him. It leaked back a little bit, too much of the plate. He was able to get that run in. I'm not too worried about the end result. From a feel standpoint and mechanical aspects, everything was nice."

Video: DET@PHI: Arrieta collects his first K of the spring

Arrieta's fastball sat in the 92-95 range, encouraging as his velocity was a focus last season with the Cubs and before he signed with the Phillies. His fastball velocity dropped from 95.2 mph to 92.2 mph from 2015-17, according to Statcast™.

"What I'm focused on is being compact and explosive, but not putting max effort out there right now," Arrieta said. "So to have the ball coming out like that my first time out it's a good sign."

Arrieta's next start could come Tuesday in the Grapefruit League finale against the Pirates. He speculated he could throw 50 pitches in that start, then jump to 70 pitches after that. So while it is possible he could throw those 70 pitches in a big league start the first week of the season, it seems more likely the Phillies will take their time with him.

"Now that [the first start is] over," Arrieta said, "I take a deep breath and I remember what it feels like to be in a game situation. Umpires, crowd. And it felt great. I'm healthy. The ball is coming out good. To get the first one out of the way -- even though it is a little bit later -- it's a good sign."

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Jake Arrieta

Holland seeks destination as Opening Day nears

Among the high-profile Major Leaguers still unsigned is reliever Greg Holland, who's coming off a successful 2017 campaign as the Rockies' closer.

Holland seeking destination as Opening Day nears
The Orioles' four-year deal with right-hander Alex Cobb leaves Holland as the highest-profile free agent remaining on the market, and as Opening Day rapidly approaches, it remains unclear whose uniform the closer will don in 2018.

Among the high-profile Major Leaguers still unsigned is reliever Greg Holland, who's coming off a successful 2017 campaign as the Rockies' closer.

Holland seeking destination as Opening Day nears
The Orioles' four-year deal with right-hander Alex Cobb leaves Holland as the highest-profile free agent remaining on the market, and as Opening Day rapidly approaches, it remains unclear whose uniform the closer will don in 2018.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that the Braves, Cardinals and D-backs are among the teams that have contacted Holland and his agent, Scott Boras, at some point this offseason. But none of those three clubs appears to be a lock to sign the former All-Star.

A source with the Braves told Heyman that Holland is "a long shot" for the club, and the multiyear contract he seeks does not mesh with Atlanta's recent spending patterns. The Cardinals and D-backs, meanwhile, are two postseason contenders without a fully-established closer. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told on Thursday that his club may roll into Opening Day without a single pitcher tabbed as the closer, and St. Louis hasn't expressed any serious interest in Holland publicly to this point. The D-backs also seem content to try Archie Bradley or Yoshihisa Hirano at closer and fill in the gaps as necessary.

Heyman noted the Angels and Rangers as two other clubs without a set closer for 2018, though neither team has expressed public interest in Holland.

It's possible that all of these teams are waiting to see if Holland's asking price will come down, particularly with the start of the season so close. Signing Holland would also cost a team compensation in the form of either a Draft pick or international bonus pool money, as Holland rejected the Rockies' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November. Holland earned $15 million with the Rockies in 2017, his first season back from Tommy John surgery, tying for the National League lead with 41 saves. -- This report was first posted on March 22

Feinsand predicts Holland will sign with Rangers
The Rangers have been holding tryouts for closer, with newly signed Tim Lincecum vying for the role. However, Holland would be a proven ninth-inning arm and relieve Lincecum, who has come out of the bullpen in just eight of his 278 career appearances, of the pressures to close. For this,'s Mark Feinsand predicts Texas to be his best guess landing spot for Holland.

It may be in the realistic realm of possibility, as MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported last week that the Rangers have considered Holland. Texas was one of the few suitors for Holland last year, when the right-hander was more of a question mark coming off Tommy John surgery.

But after speaking to reporters on Thursday, general manager Jon Daniels said he doesn't expect any significant additions and believes the closer is in camp.

Once thought to potentially pursue a free-agent starter, the Rangers have quietly put together a veteran rotation that includes Cole Hamels, Martin Perez, Doug Fister, Matt Moore and Mike Minor. That likely will move Matt Bush to the bullpen.

Left-hander Jake Diekman has impressed this spring, making a case to be the closer, which would likely move incumbent closer Alex Claudio into a multi-inning setup role. Keone Kela has also been competing for the role. -- This report was first posted on March 15.

Braves have checked in on Holland
Though the Braves may not have initially been seen as a logistical fit to land Holland -- they're still on the back end of a multiyear rebuild and perhaps a year or two away from pursuing high-profile free agents -- the club is nonetheless doing its due diligence on the top remaining reliever.

The Braves have at least checked in on Holland, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, but it's unclear if that dialogue has moved much at this point. The Braves are projected to have a payroll of $109.8 million, per Spotrac, but according to Heyman, the club doesn't have much financial bandwidth to reach Holland's asking price (for context, Holland turned down both a $15 million club option for 2018 and a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rockies).

Holland also comes with Draft pick compensation, and the retooling Braves, who have MLB Pipeline's No. 2 farm system and are expected to graduate a few more prospects in 2018, may view their Draft picks as more coveted. Signing Holland would cost them their third-highest pick, per revenue-sharing regulations as part of the new CBA.

Moreover, the Braves cleared the $43 million still owed Matt Kemp when they traded him to the Dodgers, in part to free up money for next year, per Heyman.

Closer Arodys Vizcaino has looked strong this spring, other than his most recent outing against the Phillies. He's been the club's closer over parts of the past three seasons.

Holland hails from North Carolina, which loosely falls within the Braves' wide geographical audience net, but that doesn't necessarily indicate he's more likely to sign with Atlanta. -- This report was first posted on March 15.

Holland remaining in touch with Angels
The Angels might be one of the few remaining clubs in the market for a closer. And Holland, one of the top free agents at the position, is still available.'s Jon Paul Morosi reported the club has been in touch with Holland's agent, Scott Boras, recently -- this after reporting in late February that Holland and the Halos were in discussions, and that the club was interested "if the price is right."

Holland's case with the Halos could be more complicated than a pricey, multi-year deal for a pitcher entering his age-32 season. Holland comes with a rejected qualifying offer attached, which for the Halos would mean forfeiting their second-highest Draft pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Depending on the average annual value of a Holland deal, the Angels don't appear to be in line of exceeding the luxury tax for 2018, which is $197 million. According to Spotrac, they are at $171.3 million in total payroll currently. -- This report was first posted on March 7.

Angels could be in play for Holland
The Angels, who upgraded their pitching staff when they signed Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani in December, aren't seriously considering any other free-agent starters. However,'s Jon Paul Morosi reports the club would consider Holland "at the right price."

Los Angeles currently has Blake Parker, owner of 10 career Major League saves, projected as its closer. Holland, coming off a year in which he locked down a National League-best 41 saves, would likely be a significant improvement.

Holland, 32, flourished after signing a one-year deal with the Rockies prior to 2017, striking out 70 batters in 57 1/3 innings for Colorado in his return from Tommy John surgery. He was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time since making back-to-back appearances as a member of the Royals in '13-14.

Holland would be a welcomed addition to a bullpen that ranked 11th in the Majors last season with a 3.92 ERA. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 25.

Holland's landing spot may be guessing game, but Cubs seem a strong fit
With the Rockies well out of Holland's picture, having signed free agent Wade Davis, could Davis' former team -- now seemingly in need of a closer -- be the most logical fit for Holland? MLB Network insider Jon Heyman believes so.

In a post for FanRag Sports, Heyman admits that Holland's market remains a "guessing game" given the multitude of clubs with needs at closer. The Cubs' plan, for now, is to have Brandon Morrow handle the ninth inning for the revamped bullpen, which also includes new additions Steve Cishek, Dario Alvarez, Cory Mazzoni and Randy Rosario. However,'s Carrie Muskat reported in January that the Cubs were likely done adding relievers, particularly with young pitchers in the system that could contribute such as Dillon Maples and Rob Zastryzny. Chicago also signed the market's top starter, Yu Darvish, to a $126 million deal last weekend, thus potentially limiting their financial flexibility.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein shouldn't be counted out, though, when it comes to creative ways to land pieces he believes are essential. Davis delivered 32 saves last year, and Holland led the National League with 41. Morrow enjoyed a nice bounce-back year with the Dodgers, and pitched in all but one of their 15 postseason games. But he did so as a setup man to Kenley Jansen -- not as the closer.

For a Cubs club that has reached the NL Championship Series three straight years and showing no signs or plans of regression, fortifying the ninth inning may be a chief objective, as Heyman notes.

Other clubs Heyman predicts as possibilities include the Cardinals (to whom Holland has been strongly linked), Phillies (widely viewed as a potential dark horse in the NL), Angels (who have re-tooled their roster but still have a void at closer) and Astros (who retained Ken Giles, their 34-save closer from '17). -- This report was first posted on Feb. 15.

Cardinals a fit for Holland?
The premier free-agent reliever on the market is still looking for a new home, and the Cardinals are still in the market for bullpen help.

It's possible Holland's resurgence in 2017 could help him land the closer role in St. Louis were the two sides to link up,'s Richard Justice speculates.

The Cardinals brought in right-hander Luke Gregerson this offseason on a two-year deal, and while he has closed games for the Astros in 2015 and 2016, Holland racked up 41 saves for Colorado last year.

St. Louis is trying to replace former flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal, and Holland's 11 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.61 ERA last season bested Gregerson's numbers (10.3 K/9, 4.57 ERA).

Holland reportedly turned down a three-year offer to return to the Rockies before they signed Wade Davis. The 32-year-old is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, so he comes with some risk, but he -- paired with Gregerson and young fireballer Alex Reyes, who is recovering from Tommy John himself -- could form a formidable trio in the back end of the Cardinals' bullpen. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 14.

Return to Rockies not in cards for Holland
A return to Colorado seemed to be a logical fit for Holland this offseason, but earlier this month, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that Holland rejected the Rockies' offer of three years and $52 million. That's the same offer that Wade Davis eventually accepted to become Colorado's new closer, which gives him the highest average annual value of any reliever.

The free-agent landscape continues to move at a glacial pace, particularly at the top with marquee players like Holland. The Rockies represented the most obvious fit, given Holland's close relationship with pitching coach Steve Foster and the level of comfort he felt with the club in his return from Tommy John surgery. With Colorado seemingly out of the picture, there is no clear alternate front-runner for the former All-Star -- particularly one who would offer the historic deal Holland is looking for. The Cardinals could be a fit as they look to fill out the back end of their bullpen, while the rival Cubs could look to replace Davis with his former Royals teammate.

Employing his effective fastball-slider combination, the 31-year-old Holland paced the National League with 41 saves in 2017 while posting a 3.61 ERA over 57 1/3 innings. The righty was an integral part of Kansas City's back-to-back American League pennant winners in 2014-15, teaming with Davis and Kelvin Herrera to form one of the most dominant bullpens in recent memory. -- This report was first posted on Feb. 7.

Greg Holland

Best prospect bets for Opening Day rosters @JonathanMayo

Over the course of the Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules, countless prospects get the chance to show what they can do on a larger stage. At the very least, they can make a positive impression on the big league staff. At most, they can nab a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Some of the best prospects in the game have been recently sent down. There is no doubt Braves phenom Ronald Acuna, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect, will be in Atlanta sooner rather than later, with his reassignment more about service time than anything else. No. 6 prospect Victor Robles was also just optioned, though he struggled while Acuna soared this spring, and his move to Minor League camp had more to do with a lack of an outfield opening with the Nationals. Keep in mind that both are just 20 years old.

Over the course of the Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules, countless prospects get the chance to show what they can do on a larger stage. At the very least, they can make a positive impression on the big league staff. At most, they can nab a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Some of the best prospects in the game have been recently sent down. There is no doubt Braves phenom Ronald Acuna, MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect, will be in Atlanta sooner rather than later, with his reassignment more about service time than anything else. No. 6 prospect Victor Robles was also just optioned, though he struggled while Acuna soared this spring, and his move to Minor League camp had more to do with a lack of an outfield opening with the Nationals. Keep in mind that both are just 20 years old.

Video: McMahon could join Crawford, Alfaro on Opening Day

The top two active pitching prospects, No. 10 Michael Kopech of the White Sox and No. 12 Walker Buehler of the Dodgers, will also begin the year in the Minors. Kopech wasn't ever considered a candidate to break camp with Chicago and Buehler needs time to get stretched out after getting just four innings of work.

Of course, it's not how you start, but how you finish. Last year's American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge may have made the Yankees out of Spring Training, but the NL winner, Cody Bellinger, did not.

Here's a look at baseball's top prospects who are vying to win Opening Day roster spots, and whether they're locks, contenders or long shots.

Video: MLB Tonight analyzes Ohtani's rough Spring Training


Top 100
Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH (LAA No. 1, MLB No. 1) -- Yes, he's struggled. Could some time in the Minors be beneficial? Perhaps. But he wasn't brought in to be a Minor Leaguer. It would be a shock if he didn't start the year on the 25-man roster.

J.P. Crawford, SS (PHI No. 3, MLB No. 37) -- The Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to make room for Crawford, who has had an OK-but-not-spectacular spring. Look for him to hold his own at the plate while playing excellent defense.

Jesse Winker, OF (CIN No. 4, MLB No. 82) -- The guy has a pretty good track record of hitting and he's done it this spring (.378/.442/.595) in 16 games. He'll be part of the Reds outfield with Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Billy Hamilton and it's not difficult to see him hitting his way to an everyday role.

Non-Top 100
Chance Sisco, C (BAL No. 3) -- Austin Wynns was optioned to the Minors, leaving Sisco to battle Andrew Susac for Baltimore's backup catcher spot behind Caleb Joseph. Sisco is doing more than his fair share at the plate (.714 slugging percentage, 1.166 OPS through Tuesday) to try to tip the scales in his favor.

Jorge Alfaro, C (PHI No. 7) -- The Phillies' primary catcher for the final two months of 2017, Alfaro is entrenched as the team's No. 1 backstop and has had a strong spring (.281/.378/.531) to boot.

Video: TB@PHI: Alfaro catches Kiermaier at second

Brian Anderson, 3B (MIA No. 9) -- Anderson was already knocking on the door, which was swung wide open when the Marlins announced that Martin Prado would start the season on the disabled list, and his .286/.388/.667 Spring Training slash line and four homers certainly haven't hurt.

Mitch Garver, C (MIN No. 19) -- Garver has struggled somewhat this spring, batting .154 (4-for-26) through Tuesday, but he remains a lock to back up Jason Castro behind the plate for Minnesota.

A.J. Minter, LHP (ATL No. 15) -- Minter's somewhat historic debut last year have led many in Atlanta to drum up comparisons to a young Craig Kimbrel. Minter has only stoked that hype this spring, striking out nine batters while walking just one over 6 1/3 scoreless frames through Tuesday. He's a lock for the Braves' Opening Day roster, barring injury, and should attract plenty of eyes when he takes the mound.

Colin Moran, 3B (PIT No. 8) -- The Pirates saw Moran as their starting third baseman when they acquired him from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade, and Moran (.302 average through Tuesday) hasn't done anything this spring to dispel that notion.

Video: STL@MIA: Mattingly reacts to Brinson's adjustments


Top 100
Lewis Brinson, OF (MIA No. 1, MLB No. 27) -- He's edging closer to being a lock, given the spring he's had (.333/.365/.583) in 19 games. There's a pretty good chance he's the Opening Day center fielder. Hitting leadoff may not be a great fit, but we'll have to wait and see.

Ryan McMahon, 1B/2B/3B (COL No. 2, MLB No. 41) -- The bat is really going now (.350/.391/.583 in 25 games) and he's helped by the fact he can play three infield spots. But there isn't a clear roster spot for him and it might be better for him to play every day in Triple-A.

Tyler Mahle, RHP (CIN No. 5, MLB No. 84) -- Injuries to other starters have opened the door for Mahle a bit, and he's pitched well in Arizona (2.45 ERA, .146 BAA in 14 2/3 IP). It might be temporary until the hurt guys return, but Mahle could very well start the year in the big league rotation.

Brandon Woodruff, RHP (MIL No, 3, MLB No. 96) -- His 7.04 ERA this spring doesn't look great as he competes for a spot in the back end of the Brewers rotation. But he did give up just one run over four innings in his last outing, which was also his first Cactus League start.

Video: STL@WSH: Bader makes a nice diving catch in center

Non-Top 100
Harrison Bader, OF (STL No. 5) -- The fourth outfield spot has been the Cardinals' fiercest camp battle this spring. Bader has held his own in camp, batting .273 with six extra-base hits through Tuesday, and appears to have the inside track over fellow youngsters Adolis Garcia, Yairo Munoz and Luke Voit.

Luke Bard, RHP (LAA No. 21) -- The Rule 5 pick's attempt to win a bullpen spot might not seem to be going well, given his 6.10 ERA, but if you take out one outing that saw him yield five runs in one-third of an inning, it goes down to 1.74 in his other eight outings.

Alex Blandino, INF (CIN No. 19) -- Cincinnati's starting infield looks locked in, leaving Blandino to battle for a bench spot. Dilson Herrera's slow recovery from shoulder surgery opened up a spot, but Blandino still faces competition in veterans Phil Gosselin and Cliff Pennington. Blandino has been one of the Reds' best hitters this spring, compiling an .871 OPS through Tuesday's action.

Victor Caratini, C (CHC No. 8) -- The Cubs brought in veteran Chris Gimenez to provide comfortability to aces Jon Lester and Yu Darvish, but Caratini has made a compelling case to back up Willson Contreras. The 24-year old backstop was batting a respectable .265 through Tuesday, and manager Joe Maddon has praised his work behind the plate, too.

Franchy Cordero, OF (SD No. 10) --'s AJ Cassavell predicts the Padres will carry five outfielders, but Wil Myers' move to right field means Cordero is still in a tight battle with Travis Jankowski, Hunter Renfroe and Matt Szczur. Cordero's mix of power and speed will be hard for manager Andy Green to deny, and his spring numbers (eight extra-base hits and a 1.179 OPS through Tuesday) speak for themselves.

Video: CHC@SD: Cordero rips an RBI triple to the gap

J.D. Davis, 1B (HOU No. 9) -- Yuli Gurriel's hand injury has opened the door at the Astros' first base position, with Davis locked in a three-way battle with A.J. Reed and Tyler White. White's versatility will likely win out, though Davis' spring performance (three home runs and a 1.019 OPS through Tuesday) is giving manager AJ Hinch a lot to ponder.

Phillip Ervin, OF (CIN No. 23) -- Like Blandino, Ervin faces roadblocks as Cincinnati's starting outfield (Duvall, Hamilton and Schebler) appears to be set while, Winker and veteran Ben Revere appear closer to locking up a backup role. Contact has been an issue this spring for Ervin, who had struck out 14 times in 38 at-bats through Tuesday.

Kyle Farmer, C/3B (LAD No. 25) -- Farmer was already a viable third catcher for the Dodgers behind Austin Barnes and Yasmani Grandal, but Justin Turner's broken wrist has truly put him in contention for a final roster spot at third base. Farmer has submitted his own case as an improved hitter, posting a sterling 1.293 OPS and hitting three homers over 33 at-bats through Tuesday.

David Fletcher, SS/2B (LAA No. 23) -- The Angels' sixth-round pick out of Loyola Marymount in 2015, Fletcher has had a terrific spring (.333/.388/.444 in 45 ABs) while playing short and second in an effort to land a utility role.

Dustin Fowler, OF (OAK No. 5) -- Fowler hasn't overwhelmed at the plate this spring, struggling to a .439 OPS in 35 at-bats through Tuesday's games, but manager Bob Melvin said he's looking more comfortable as he returns from major knee surgery. Fowler has an excellent shot to be Oakland's starting center fielder and finally get his first Major League plate appearance on Opening Day.

Video: Fowler on his first spring game back after surgery

Domingo German, RHP (NYY No. 18) -- The right-hander has certainly made a case to stick around, with a 2.84 ERA and 15 K's in 12 2/3 innings in Florida.

Zack Granite, OF (MIN No. 27) -- It will likely come down to Granite and Robbie Grossman for the Twins' fourth outfield spot, and Granite's ability to play all three spots figures to give him an edge. But Grossman is a more established big league hitter and is also out of Minor League options, and those two facts could be the ultimate factors in the Twins' decision.

Jordan Luplow, OF (PIT No. 23) -- Luplow made his Major League debut last year, batting .205 in 87 plate appearances for the Pirates in the second half. While Pittsburgh's outfield remains crowded, the 24-year-old has hit four Spring Training homers in an attempt to mash his way onto the roster.

Ryan Merritt, LHP (CLE No. 22) -- After posting a 1.71 ERA in nine appearances for the Indians in the past two seasons -- as well as 4 1/3 scoreless frames in an ALCS Game 5 start last October -- Merritt is seeking a spot in Cleveland's deep rotation. The 26-year-old lefty has not sparkled in his most recent audition, however, as he has a 9.31 ERA in 9 2/3 spring innings. 

Yairo Munoz, UTIL (STL No. 12) --  Munoz has forced Mike Matheny and the Cardinals' coaching staff to take notice this spring, slugging over .600 and clubbing two home runs in the same inning against the Orioles last month. He's giving Bader a run for what will likely be the Cardinals' final roster spot in the outfield.

Video: STL@BAL: Munoz hits two homers in the same inning

Tanner Rainey, RHP (CIN No. 30) -- Rainey has impressed this spring, allowing two runs and striking out 11 batters over 6 1/3 innings through Tuesday, but he still appears to be on the outside looking in as a non-roster invitee among Cincinnati's crowded competition for bullpen spots.

Jacob Rhame, RHP (NYM No. 30) -- New York's bullpen mix is crowded, with a handful of starters like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo likely moving back there to join mainstays like Jeurys Familia and Hansel Robles. The 25-year-old Rhame (4.00 ERA over nine appearances through Tuesday) is on the outside looking in, and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Las Vegas.

Edgar Santana, RHP (PIT No. 27) -- The Pirates have a wide-open competition for their bullpen spots behind Felipe Rivero this spring. Santana has done his fair share to keep his name in that mix, compiling a 0.86 WHIP and holding hitters to a .206 average over eight appearances through Tuesday.

Burch Smith, RHP (KC No. 17) -- Smith has struggled with his command this spring (nine walks and 10 earned runs allowed in 10 innings through Tuesday), but the Royals are in a transition period and Smith's high ceiling should be enough to push him into one of the clubs' last bullpen slots.

Taylor Williams, RHP (MIL No. 18) -- The Brewers handled Williams carefully in 2017 following two years of injury, and so the thought here is they will begin the talented righty in the Minors to further manage his workload. Williams has impressed manager Craig Counsell and his staff while pairing 10 strikeouts with just one walk and permitting two earned runs over 8 2/3 innings.

Video: Hays, Scott discuss improving during Spring Training

Long shots

Top 100
Austin Hays, OF (BAL No. 1, MLB No. 23) -- He's hit a little better of late, but he's still just hitting .219 with a .507 OPS in 32 spring ABs. Missing time early with a back issue certainly did not help him make his case to land a spot. Having him play every day in the upper levels seems a better bet.

Scott Kingery, 2B (PHI No. 2, MLB No. 35) -- He's done all he can to show he belongs, hitting .375/.405/.650 with three homers and four steals while playing second, third and even some short. It's more likely he starts the year in Triple-A and waits for an opening.

Franklin Barreto, SS/2B (OAK No. 3, MLB No. 66) -- He's making a strong impression in Cactus League action, with three homers and a .614 SLG in 16 games. Like with McMahon, there isn't a clear path for Barreto, even though he can play on either side of second.

Non-Top 100
Cody Carroll, RHP (NYY No. 17) -- He's likely on the outside looking in for a relief spot, but he has thrown well, with 10 K's in nine innings of work.

Steven Duggar, OF (SF No. 3) -- Duggar's competition with veteran Austin Jackson for the Giants' starting center field job is San Francisco's headlining battle heading into the homestretch. Limited roster spots and Duggar's remaining options mean he'll likely be the runner-up, and he could benefit from a little more seasoning in the Minors after striking out in nearly one-third of his Cactus League at-bats.

Video: LAD@SF: Duggar dives and makes catch

Tom Eshelman, RHP (PHI No. 16) -- Incoming ace Jake Arrieta has some catching up to do, meaning there's still a chance Eshelman could sneak into a final swing rotation spot. The trouble is the same could be said for a host of other Phillies pitchers -- including Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter Jr. and Jake Thompson -- and Eshelman's 4.76 ERA through Tuesday didn't stand out.

Eric Lauer, LHP (SD No. 13) and Joey Lucchesi, LHP (SD No. 9) -- San Diego figures to have one left-handed spot open after bullpen locks Brad Hand, Jordan Lyles, Kazuhisa Makita, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates and Chris Young. Lauer and Lucchesi had combined to allow just three earned runs through Tuesday, but that southpaw spot figures to go to either Buddy Baumann or Kyle McGrath.

Renato Nunez, 3B/OF (OAK No. 20) -- Reports surfaced Tuesday that Nunez will start 2018 on the disabled list -- as had been expected -- as he nurses a strained left hamstring back to health. Nunez suffered the injury in the A's second Cactus League game this spring, giving him little opportunity to strut his stuff.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. Matt Kelly is a reporter for based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

The latest on Ohtani's roster status

It remains to be seen how the Angels will deploy Shohei Ohtani once the regular season begins, but a report emerged Wednesday indicating the two-way Japanese star will start at designated hitter for the club's Opening Day matchup against the A's and make his pitching debut two days later on March 31.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler denied the report.

It remains to be seen how the Angels will deploy Shohei Ohtani once the regular season begins, but a report emerged Wednesday indicating the two-way Japanese star will start at designated hitter for the club's Opening Day matchup against the A's and make his pitching debut two days later on March 31.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler denied the report.

"That is incorrect," Eppler told's Maria Guardado. "We have not laid out plans for anyone at this time."

The Halos have yet to commit to Ohtani, one of the offseason's most coveted free agents, making the Opening Day roster. Though that remains to be the expectation, it seemed like a certainty heading into Spring Training, but he's struggled thus far.

Could Ohtani start in the Minors?

Video: Chatting Cage: Eppler on Ohtani buzz around clubhouse

At the plate, Ohtani is batting .107 (3-for-28) in 12 Cactus League games. All three of his hits have been singles. On the mound, Ohtani's performance has been marked by inconsistency. In his last outing, Friday against the Rockies, he was expected to throw 75 pitches over four or five innings, but instead was tagged for seven runs and needed 50 pitches to record four outs. Including Minor League starts, Ohtani has given up 17 runs (15 earned) on 18 hits over 8 1/3 innings (16.20 ERA) in his four appearances on the mound this spring.

"We're not going to get into roster decisions," Scioscia said before Ohtani's last outing. "I can only say that Shohei's talent is real. Obviously we believe in it. We anticipate him being ready to both pitch and hit when the season starts. And we're going to work hard to reach that goal from now until we start the season. That's what we're going to focus on."

The Angels were off Wednesday, and Ohtani is scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday prior to his next start Saturday. He won't bat in a game again until, at the earliest, Monday against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for based in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Angels

Injury updates: Carrasco, Montero, Phelps, more

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues:

Carlos Carrasco, Indians
The right-hander left his start against the Royals in the fifth inning Wednesday with a left foot contusion after he was struck by a comebacker from Cheslor Cuthbert. Manager Terry Francona did not seem overly concerned with Carrasco's exit, noting he was nearing the end out his outing anyway.

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues:

Carlos Carrasco, Indians
The right-hander left his start against the Royals in the fifth inning Wednesday with a left foot contusion after he was struck by a comebacker from Cheslor Cuthbert. Manager Terry Francona did not seem overly concerned with Carrasco's exit, noting he was nearing the end out his outing anyway.

"He got hit with a ball kind of on the top side of his foot," Francona said. "He was already at 71 [pitches]. ... We couldn't let him walk him off. [We'd] rather let him go back and ice it, because he wasn't going to go much more anyway."

Carrasco is coming off a career year in which he paired with AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to form one of the Majors' best 1-2 starting combos. The righty went 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA and struck out 226 hitters over 200 innings. Should he recover in time, Carrasco will in all likelihood start the Indians' second game of the season March 31 against the Mariners in Seattle.

Rafael Montero, Mets
The Mets will be without Montero for the foreseeable future, as the team announced Thursday that Montero has a complete tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow. Montero will likely undergo Tommy John surgery.

The 27-year old Montero had struggled this spring, recording a 9.00 ERA over seven appearances (one start) and allowing a .316 average to opponents. Montero was a candidate for the Mets bullpen to begin the 2018 season but will now likely be shelved until at least next season.

Montero owns a career 5.38 ERA over 58 appearances (including 30 starts) across four big-league seasons in Queens.

Paul Blackburn, Athletics
Already hit with major injuries to Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk, the A's 2018 rotation mix took another hit Thursday as's Jane Lee reported that Blackburn felt tightness in his forearm that will likely sideline him at the start of the season.

Blackburn, 24, was a strong contender for Oakland's rotation after compiling a 3.22 ERA over 10 starts as a rookie last year. Lee reported that free-agent acquisition Trevor Cahill will also not be ready to start the season. That leaves just five healthy options for Oakland's five starting spots: Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Mengden and Daniel Gossett.

David Phelps, Mariners
Seattle's bullpen suffered a big blow Wednesday, as the club announced right-hander David Phelps needs Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2018 season.

Phelps tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow on the final delivery of his outing Sunday against the Angels. The typical timetable for recovery from Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months.

"There's no way to sugarcoat it," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He's a big piece of what we're doing here, and it's a big loss for us. He will feel it, his teammates will feel it and we'll feel it." More >

Johan Camargo, Braves
Braves manager Brian Snitker confirmed Wednesday night that Atlanta's starting third baseman has run out of time to rehab in time for Opening Day.

Camargo will most likely miss the first week of the 2018 regular season with back and right side discomfort, per Snitker, though the Braves have not officially placed him on the 10-day disabled list. Atlanta can place Camargo on the DL retroactively for up to three days of Spring Training, meaning he could be activated as soon as the Braves' April 6 matchup against the Rockies in Denver.

"After we evaluated it, what we ended up looking at was [Camargo] probably will only have one game to play and that will not be enough," Snitker said. "We'll just make sure he is good. That's the important thing." More >

Brandon Guyer, Indians
Guyer is recovering well from left wrist surgery in October, but it's not yet clear whether he will be ready for Opening Day. The 32-year-old outfielder went 3-for-3 at the plate in a Minor League game on Saturday, but Indians manager Terry Francona wants to make sure he gets enough at-bats under his belt before re-joining the big-league club.

It's possible Guyer could be placed on the 10-day disabled list to begin the season as he plays in rehab games to regain his timing in the batter's box, according to's Jordan Bastian.

"I don't think we have to slow him down, but I think we want to be aware that we are trying to get him ready for the long haul," Francona said earlier in the week. "I know [Opening Day] is a big day and guys shoot for it, but we like to get him back and keep him back healthy. We have talked to him about that a little bit. We don't want to slow guys down just to slow them down."

Guyer agreed, noting he'd rather play it safe than risk re-aggravating the ailment.

"Ever since my surgery in October, [Opening Day] has been my target," Guyer said. "Is it going to happen or not? I don't know. It's been my goal. But at the same time, I don't want to risk missing the majority of my season rushing to get back to Opening Day."

Guyer has batted .268/.364/.374 with four home runs and 34 RBIs in 70 games with Cleveland over part of the past two seasons.

Tim Beckham, Orioles
Beckham crushed a two-run home run off Boston starter Hector Velazquez in Thursday's Spring Training contest, but then disappeared into the Orioles' clubhouse with the team trainer after heading into the dugout.

It's unclear what caused Beckham to leave the contest, but he was replaced by Danny Valencia at third base to begin the third inning.

Beckham, 28, is hitting .273 with four homers this spring after slashing .306/.348/.523 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs in 50 games with Baltimore in 2017 after being dealt from Tampa Bay at the Trade Deadline.

Boone Logan/Wade Miley, Brewers
Logan and Miley, both originally expected to be options for the Brewers to begin the season, will begin the year on the disabled list. Miley has been diagnosed with a slight groin tear while Logan has a slight triceps strain, the team announced. However, there is some concern Logan's injury is in the same area of the lat tear he suffered last season. He is undergoing more tests.

Milwaukee general manager David Stearns told reporters Thursday morning it's "more likely" the pitchers who replace the pair of southpaws will be internal.

Miley was a non-roster invitee to Brewers camp, and was possibly going to earn a spot in Milwaukee's rotation if not for the injury. He has an "out" clause in his Minor League contract that allows him to request his release from the organization if he is not informed Thursday he'll make the Major League roster.

But Stearns said he'd like to keep Miley within the organization, if possible.

"We have to try to work through it and see if we can find a fit that makes sense for both sides," Stearns said. "I'm optimistic we can. I know Wade wants to continue with the organization; we want Wade to continue with the organization."

It's unclear how much time both players are expected to miss.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Steven Souza Jr., D-backs
The right fielder left Wednesday's loss to the Giants in the top of the fourth inning with a strained right shoulder after a diving attempt at a double to right-center field.

Souza appeared to land poorly on his arm and shoulder and walked off the field holding his right arm. He will undergo an MRI on Thursday morning.

Robinson Cano, Mariners
Cano, who was sidelined nine days with a strained left hamstring, returned at designated hitter Wednesday and went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored against the Brewers. He's expected to play second base Thursday night against the Rangers, which will allow Nelson Cruz -- out eight days with a right quad strain -- to return at DH for that game.

Michael Brantley, Indians
Brantley made his long-awaited Cactus League debut Wednesday night against the Royals and homered in his first of three at-bats. It was his first game action since undergoing right ankle surgery last October. The Indians have yet to rule him out for Opening Day.

Brantley, the third-place finisher in the 2014 American League MVP race, hit .299/.357/.444 with nine home runs, 52 RBIs and 11 stolen bases over 90 games in 2017.

Jose Abreu, White Sox
The White Sox appear to have dodged a bullet with their top hitter, as Abreu is hoping to return to Chicago's lineup by Friday after he was forced to exit Tuesday's game with tightness in his left hamstring.

Manager Rick Renteria downplayed Abreu's injury following Tuesday's 10-0 win, noting that Abreu was smiling when he left the game.

Abreu, 31, is bidding for his fifth straight season of at least 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in.

Dan Straily, Marlins
Straily was shut down Tuesday for five to six days of action after experiencing some mild tightness in his pitching forearm during his Minor League outing on Monday.'s Joe Frisaro reported that Straily's velocity was unaffected in that appearance, and the team is not concerned about Straily's health in the long-term.

The veteran righty was scheduled to start the Marlins' second game of the season March 30 against the Cubs, but there's now a chance that Straily's season debut could be pushed back.

Daniel Murphy, Nationals
Murphy is amping up his baseball activity, but is unlikely to be in the lineup when the Nationals open the season next Thursday against the Reds in Cincinnati. Recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee, Murphy's running is limited to a treadmill but he's progressed to moving laterally when fielding grounders and has added new strength exercises.

"I think the nature of our sport is that once you start, the games come fast and furious," Murphy said. "I don't want to break [camp] and get into the lineup and then have to have [manager Dave Martinez] manage me. You don't want to play with a 24-man roster."

Michael Conforto, Mets
Conforto homered twice and went 3-for-10 in a Minor League scrimmage on Wednesday. Batting twice an inning for five frames, the 25-year-old outfielder struck out and homered off David Peterson, the Mets' top pick in last year's Draft, in his first two plate appearances. He added another homer off left-hander Daniel Zamora. Originally with a return target date of May 1, Conforto is now hoping to get back to the big leagues sometime in April.

"I'm pretty close," Conforto said. "I'm starting to feel my legs a little bit and starting to feel like I'm in rhythm with everything. So I'm getting close."

Crews, Olin families persevere so many years later

Wives, children cherish memories, march on with lives after pitchers' tragic deaths @castrovince

This story originally ran in honor of the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Tim Crews and Steve Olin. We are revisiting it five years later.

The cloudless sky, the shining sun and the still waters betray the truth of what happened here.

This story originally ran in honor of the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Tim Crews and Steve Olin. We are revisiting it five years later.

The cloudless sky, the shining sun and the still waters betray the truth of what happened here.

This is where the world lost you, Tim, and you, Steve. On Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Fla. This is where you boarded a black power boat shortly after sundown on March 22, 1993, hoping the bass would be biting on that overcast evening. This is where you saw the headlights flashing from the shore, alerting you that the rest of your friends had arrived. This is where you hit the gas, Tim, not knowing that, in the blackness of a night with a new moon, the 18-foot, open-air Skeeter had drifted out toward the unlit dock on the opposite shore -- a 185-foot-long wooden structure that extended far into the water. This is where the boat slammed, head-high, into the end of that dock.

This is where life met death.

The baseball world couldn't fathom what happened here, because ballplayers aren't supposed to die. Not during Spring Training, when optimism is abundant and nobody frets over standings or statistics. Not when they have young, growing families waiting for them on dry land.

That's why baseball fans remember the names Tim Crews and Steve Olin. They remember the way your Cleveland Indians teammates wrestled with the emotional intensity of that 1993 season. The way Bob Ojeda, who had been with you on the boat and survived only because he happened to be slouching at the moment of impact, dealt with survivor's guilt and suicidal thoughts before returning to the team later that year.

What they don't know, what they can't know, is what it's been like for your families to live with the losses. What it was like for your wives to explain to their children that Daddy wasn't coming back. What it was like -- what it is like -- for them to wonder what their lives would be like today, if only you were still here.

Twenty years. You've missed so much.

* * * * *

Laurie is standing in the living room of the two-story cedar house built on 48 acres of former orange grove. This was your dream home, Tim. If you could peer out the back window, beyond the grazing pastures and the riding rings, you'd see the 22-stall horse barn you had built for her. And beyond that, the lake. The place where the dream died.

You found this place in 1992, not long after you signed a seven-figure contract with the Dodgers. Every Sunday that winter, you and Laurie scanned the classifieds, looking for the perfect spot where two native Floridians could settle down. You wanted five acres, but it seemed every time you looked, the properties got bigger and bigger. Finally, your realtor pointed you here, to Autumn Lane, to the unkempt acreage that wasn't even on the market. It took creativity to look at the land filled with all those scrubby trees and see what would become the "Bass and Bridle Ranch." You had that vision, and true to form, did your best to will it into being the following offseason, taking your little blue tractor into the fields, stripping dead citrus from the soil to clear the space where Laurie's horses could roam. "The Dirt Farmer" was your nickname, and Laurie laughs at the memory, because it didn't take long for you to give in and hire a construction company to finish the job.

The barn went up first, then the house. The whole process took more than a year. You moved in on Feb. 12, 1993, soon after signing with a new team, the Indians, who, as luck would have it, held Spring Training camp 40 miles to the south, in Winter Haven. You could commute, check in, ready your arm for the grind of another 80 innings or so of long relief, then head home to your wife, your three young children and your bass boat. Everything was perfect.

Six weeks later, you were gone. Laurie hadn't even finished unpacking.

Yes, she still lives here today, and some people can't comprehend that. They don't know how she could stay within eyesight of the spot where your head hit the dock in the dark. How the kids could play and swim in that very lake. How Laurie could willingly be surrounded by the daily reminders of the life the two of you had planned.

But what they also don't understand is Laurie's moxie, her indefatigable nature and her lineage. She's the daughter of Dutch parents who were born in Indonesia and spent three years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. When World War II ended, they came here, to a land of opportunity and individuality. Laurie's father found migrant farm work in Central Florida, and he kept two jobs at any given time. He bought a piece of property in Windermere, which has since become one of the most prestigious areas of Orlando, for $9,000, before Disney World was built. He was a hoarder of duct tape and wire and batteries and anything and everything that might come in handy if a war broke out. "The Dutch McGuyver," they called him.

He was a survivor. So is Laurie.

She has persevered here, at the safe place you had sought to raise your kids and groom her horses and cast your line into the tranquil waters of Little Lake Nellie. And if you could see your kids now, you'd know what a wonderful job she did.

Tricia is 29 now. She's a veterinarian in Williston, not far away, and she's grown into a beautiful woman with long brown hair, sharp brown eyes and a fearless approach to her craft. When she was a kid, she found her cat laying sick in the bushes and was afraid to touch it. Now, she's cutting off the heads of dead horses for rabies tests.

Your youngest, Travis, has also come a long way. Growing up, he was a scrawny little squirt who would be terrorized by his older brother, pelted with paint balls when he'd try to hide in a tree. He didn't have the hand-eye coordination to pursue baseball and once broke his nose trying to catch a fly ball. Now he's 6-foot-3, strapping, with a badge to boot. At 23, he's one of the youngest members of the Kissimmee police force.

And Shawn? Man, Shawn is your spitting image. The broad shoulders, the twang in his voice, the gleaming blue eyes. Like you, Shawn was a pitcher, before an array of arm injuries and surgeries forced him out of the game at the junior-college level. Now he's 24 and finishing up his degree in architecture at the University of Florida. He has plans to start grad school next fall, around the time his fiancée, Christen, is due to give birth to your first grandchild.

The memories of you are limited for Tricia, hazy for Shawn and non-existent for Travis. But they love that shot of you from the 1988 World Series, waiting near home plate to smack hands with Kirk Gibson after his legendary home run, and Laurie and your parents and brothers have done their best to fill in the blanks. The kids adore their mother and light up when they talk about how well she filled the roles of, as Travis says, "tough daddy and sensitive mama." Laurie is still as sassy and as chatty as the day you met at Valencia Community College, when you fell for the volleyball player who ran laps with the guys on the baseball team in her little red shorts.

But all that sass hasn't made the past 20 years any easier. Laurie can't count the number of times she'd pull up to the ranch, see your truck in the driveway and think, for a fleeting moment, that you had returned. Or the number of nights, in the weeks after the accident, that those three young bodies piled into bed with her. Sure, she made some mistakes along the way. Relationships came and went, and people didn't always respect her decisions.

Not long after you died, Laurie hired a young guy named Sean Griffith to build fences at the ranch, and, well, things progressed. Sean moved in, and, soon, Laurie was pregnant. She gave birth to a girl, Jeannie, less than a year and a half after the accident, and Jeannie has been nothing short of a beloved little sister to your kids ever since. Your parents have always treated her just like one of the Crews kids.

Still, the relationship with Sean drove a wedge between Laurie and some of her friends and relatives. They wondered how she could move on so quickly. But Laurie had it in her mind from the beginning that she would not let herself venture down the dark hole of depression, not let herself succumb to the what-ifs and the wherefore-art-thous. She was going to keep moving, keep doing. Feed the horses, clean the stalls, coach the kids' teams. Go, go, go. The rodeo shows, the skiing trips, the ocean fishing excursions, the trips to Holland to explore their ancestry. Your kids were well-traveled but they also understood the value of hard work. Heck, they were back in school the day after your funeral. Laurie did not for a moment let their dad's absence prevent them from learning how to fish, to throw, to repair a pipe or to change a light bulb.

So, yes, Laurie was tough-minded and strong-willed, yet she still needed support over the years. The relationship with Sean fizzled, but thank goodness for Jeannie, who was Laurie's best buddy as your kids grew up and moved out. But even Jeannie has grown up in a hurry. She's newly married and just gave birth to a son, Kaden, in January. At 18, she's discovering how quickly life can change.

She's in a family whose members have each other's backs. When Shawn was a pitcher in high school -- mimicking your mannerisms on the mound despite having no real memory of you on the mound -- he'd go to scouting tryouts or camps, and the two loudest voices from the stands would invariably be those of Laurie and Tricia.

"Woo! Look at that curveball! He threw that just like his daddy did!"

Shawn wonders if his baseball career would have taken off with his dad there to mentor him. Instead, he is now focused not on baseball but on his schooling and his own soon-to-blossom family.

There are times, though, when he'll visit his mom, retreat to the upstairs game room and gaze at your Dodgers jersey hanging on the wall or leaf through the photos and news clippings tucked into the dresser drawers. The vents are closed in that room, and it gets mighty cold up there in the wintertime. It is not a room visited often, because this is not a family that needs to keep the photos and mementos out in the open to preserve your memory. Nor is this a family that feels the need to make many visits to your grave at Woodlawn Memorial Park. For as pleased as they are that your tombstone overlooks a small pond, putting you in eternal reach of the waters you loved, they know your spirit is actually beside them, around them, speaking to them, sometimes in the strangest ways.

Your number with the Dodgers was 52, and they see it often. Travis will happen to look up at a clock at 52 minutes past the hour. Laurie will get a dinner bill for $52 and change. She remembers grabbing her high school yearbook -- published before she even met you -- and taking it to a hospital where her high school track coach, Ogie Keneipp, was dying of pancreatic cancer. She opened the book to a page showing a group of football players Ogie had coached, and the only jersey number they could make out in the blurry photo was 52. She closed the book and will forever believe that you were there for Coach as he prepared to venture into the ether.

Is that you up there, Tim? Because some of these things don't feel like coincidence.

Was that you preventing your old Dodge Ram from skidding off the ledge and falling down a cliff when Laurie hit a patch of ice on an S-curve during a family visit to North Carolina just a few years after the accident? Because it's difficult to believe that thin tree on the side of the road was what really held it up.

Was that you looking over Shawn, encouraging him to jump off his motorcycle just before it was T-boned by a speeding car at an intersection last September? Because the police officer working the scene told Shawn he had seen about 25 similar accidents in which the biker did not survive.

They hope that's you, pulling the plow and sprinkling in the reminders that you're a constant, hovering in their midst. They need those reminders, because the grief never ends.

The other day, Laurie was watching TV, and she got annoyed when Dr. Phil told a woman who had just lost her husband that the feelings of anguish get easier to handle over time. It doesn't get easier, Laurie thought; it just occurs with less frequency. Your life evolves, you keep busy and you don't let the absence overwhelm you. Laurie is busy as ever. She has about 20 regular students at the ranch, and she teaches them how to ride and care for the horses. She attends their barrel shows and arranges their summer camps. Those students are like sons and daughters to her. And she's got a new man in her life. Jerry Tate. He lives with her, and he's been good to her.

But you're still present as Laurie stands in the living room, scrolling through the music channels on the satellite radio and landing on a country station. Randy Travis' voice comes through the speakers, and Laurie mentions that you used to know Travis' promotion agent, who would hook you up with tickets to his shows. You saw Travis in Hawaii, shortly before the accident. You were there for some charity golf outing and Randy was filming a trailer for a TV movie. Tears well in Laurie's eyes. She has that memory of getting to ride Travis' black stallion on the beach in Maui, the waves crashing against the shore and you looking on as the horse galloped off toward the setting sun.

God, it was beautiful.

* * * * *

She sits in Section 114, Row N, Seat 8 in Goodyear Ballpark, shaded from the hot sun beating down on this March afternoon in Arizona. She has no rooting interest in the Cactus League game the Indians are playing against the Reds, and her eyes no longer reflexively peer over at the Cleveland bullpen, as they once did, waiting for you to trot out for the save.

Patti Olin-Winter, as she is now known, no longer enjoys the perks and endures the pressures of a baseball wife. She is, instead, a baseball widow. When she lost you, Steve, she was 25. Your daughter, Alexa, had turned 3 the day before the accident. Your twins, Garrett and Kaylee, were 7 months old.

Patti was lost. She was helpless.

You were supposed to be the closer on that '93 team. You had just bought a house in the Cleveland suburbs, and there was talk of a long-term contract. You had made the long climb from the anonymity of the 16th round of the amateur Draft, when the Indians gave you $1,000 to sign your first pro contract and you and Patti thought you were wildly rich. You were past the point of bouncing between the Majors and the Minors and well past the point of having your submarine-style pitching motion scrutinized. You had made that unorthodox delivery work, silenced the skeptics, and '93 was to be the first time the two of you could just enjoy Spring Training.

In those frantic moments after the accident, they wouldn't let Patti near the boat. Laurie Crews was hell-bent on getting down to the shore to find Tim, brushing past the paramedics like a running back breaking a tackle. But Patti hung back, sitting on a curb, trying to process the chaos surrounding her. It wasn't her personality to push forward with force. And for a long while after that nightmare at the ranch, she struggled to determine how to push forward at all.

Sure, home was Portland, Ore. -- the place where the two of you were born and raised. But what did "home" mean anymore, anyway? "Home" had become whatever baseball town the two of you happened to inhabit from year to year. "Home" was the wives' room at Municipal Stadium. "Home" was the stands in the seventh inning, when it was fair game to wait for the bullpen door to swing open and see you emerging from it. "Home" was anywhere and everywhere, as long as you were there.

So when the club broke camp and headed north to Cleveland, Patti did the same. She stepped into the house in Westlake and found the note you had scribbled to her when you made a solo visit in the offseason:

"Welcome to our new house!"

She admits now that she was torturing herself, living in that house and playing your favorite song, Garth Brooks' "The Dance," every day as a gauge. Patti said to herself that if she could hear that song -- the one you had once told her you wanted played at your funeral -- without crying, she'd know she had made progress. But that never happened. It was a good thing the kids were too young to understand what was happening. Their mother was a wreck, flailing in blind stabs at something that had slipped away. It wasn't until July that family members -- yours and hers -- convinced Patti to return to the only real home she had left. She packed up the kids and went back to Portland.

But for a long while, even attending Garrett's high school games was a surreal, sometimes painful, experience. "My God," she'd say to herself, "that's Steve." The way Garrett would shrug his shoulders or shake his hand between pitches. The way he'd step over the first-base line on his way to and from the dugout. And of course, the quirky sidearm delivery -- the one his coaches forced him to abandon for fear he'd hurt himself. That was all you, Steve.

Patti sits here today with her son by her side. But it's not Garrett, who is 1,800 miles away, learning the rigors of military life at an Army post in Georgia. This is 13-year-old Sam Winter, who, in his younger years, would hear your name often and, one day, drew a laugh and an explanation when he wondered aloud, "Is Steve my dad or my uncle?"

Sam was born on Christmas Day in 1999, a gift, Patti likes to say, from a benevolent being above. But the family he was born into has been pulled apart.

You knew Bill Winter. The two of you played against each other when you were at Portland State and Bill was a third baseman and right fielder for the University of Portland. Neither of you could have imagined then that Bill would one day help Patti rebuild her life after you were gone. Patti and Bill were introduced by a mutual friend and married in February 1996. It was your dad, Gary, who filled in for Patti's deceased father and walked her down the aisle. And it was your daughter, Alexa, who ran up to Bill at the reception and called him "Dad" for the first time.

Your family embraced Bill as they had embraced Patti years earlier. Your sister, Joell, is still Patti's closest female friend and has been since that day, long ago, at your grandpa's lake house, when you asked your little sis to keep your girlfriend company while you hung out with your buddies. They clicked that day, sitting by the lake, talking about Joell's guy trouble, connecting, confessing. They were "sisters" before they were ever sisters-in-law.

Today, Joell and Patti are both enduring the toll of divorce just as they once endured the trauma of loss. They lived together recently, helping each other get through yet another major change. Joell will tell you that Patti never really recovered from your death. Sure, she could smile for pictures, she could crack her kids up on car rides trying to rap like Eminem, and she could share a bed, a family and a future with another man -- a man who helped her do a terrific job raising your three kids. But Patti never had that glow again. That glow could only come from the boy from Beaverton with the free spirit, the roper boots and cowboy hats and the beat-up orange Datsun he affectionately called Barney.

You had this way about you, Steve. Even in the midst of an argument, you'd be the first one to stop and say, "This is ridiculous. We're going to get through this." You were always so patient, so cool when things got hot. Patti internalized everything, fretted over everything. You were the one who brought her calm. You were the one who never made her feel like anything less than the most important person in your world.

A love like that only comes along once.

Patti and Bill agree that they never had that love. The kids were their focus, and once they reached adulthood and began to move out of the house, Patti and Bill paid the price for their own neglected foundation. Nobody cheated, no bitter war was waged. The respect was there, every step of the way, but that consuming, empowering, addictive love was not. And when they sat the kids down about a year ago and told them about the split, Alexa, Kaylee and Garrett weren't totally surprised. They knew their mom had not been happy for a while, so in one sense they were relieved. But they knew the divorce would be toughest on Sam, and their heart ached for the little guy.

The baseball world ached for your kids when word spread of your death, Steve. It was heartbreaking to realize Alexa, Kaylee and Garrett would never get to know their father. But what nobody could have known was how much those kids would go on to embody your best qualities.

Alexa shares your love of the sun, the outdoors, bugs and dirt. She'd go off to summer camp every year as a kid, eventually becoming a camp counselor. Now she's putting that experience and her psychology degree from the University of Portland to good use, working at a rehab center with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. Some of those kids have all but given up on themselves, but Alexa encourages them to remember how much life they still have ahead, how much untapped capacity they possess. You'd see a lot of yourself in her enthusiasm for helping others. It was, after all, shortly before your death that you told your mom, Shirley, "When I make my first million, I'm going to start a house for the homeless kids here." That conversation always stuck with your mother, and she's so proud that Alexa is doing her part to make a difference.

Shirley has another memory of you that stands out when she talks about Garrett. It was Spring Training in Tucson, Ariz., and she was babysitting Alexa while you and Patti went out to dinner with another couple. When you got home, somebody mentioned that you had picked up the tab at the restaurant for a serviceman and his family. When the soldier thanked you, you told him, "I love my job. And if you weren't out there doing your job, I couldn't do my job."

Garrett's doing that job now. He enlisted in the Army over the winter and reported to Fort Benning in January. He was always more of a hands-on learner, so traditional schooling never suited him. When he finished high school and struggled to find stable work, the itch to serve took over. He looked so scared that final day before he reported for duty, and he sounded miserable in his initial correspondences from boot camp. But as the letters have kept coming, Garrett has sounded more and more passionate, convinced that he's done the right thing.

And remember how you used to hate losing, Steve? Well you should see Kaylee. Oh, brother. When the whole family gets together at the lake house and plays board games, Kaylee will up and leave the room if the outcome of Sorry or Monopoly or Apples to Apples doesn't go her way, because in those moments, she just can't be around other human beings. Of course, it's that expectation of perfection that has made Kaylee such an excellent student. She's a sophomore at UP, majoring in marketing, open to and hopeful for the boundless possibilities life provides.

You'd love to see how close your kids are with their cousins. You used to tell Joell and your other sister, Heather, to start pumping out some kids because you wanted a lot of "rugrats" running around. And now your parents have nine grandchildren in their lives, keeping them busy and blessed.

Your kids never knew you, but you are with them. Not just on the nightstand where Kaylee keeps your picture, not just on the wall where Alexa hangs the Fleer baseball card featuring the two of you in a photo on the back, and not just in the game-worn jersey that hangs in Garrett's closet.

No, you are with them, also, in permanent ink.

It started with Alexa, when she turned 18. She knew she wanted your No. 31 inscribed on her left wrist, and she found a letter you had written Patti, dated on the 31st of the month. The artist was able to make a stencil off the letter, and now your handwriting is right there on your daughter's arm. On her right wrist is another tribute -- a small ghost, because you used to call her your little "boo."

The twins followed suit. Garrett has his own No. 31 design on his forearm and his shoulder. And Kaylee has the words "Thirty One" written out across her back, between her shoulder blades. That one gave her poor grandmother heart palpitations, but when Shirley and Patti warned Kaylee that the tattoo will one day be visible to all honored guests when she wears a wedding dress, Kaylee calmed them with her response: "They'll know he has my back, and he's walking me down the aisle."

Your kids want you to know they're happy. They want you to know how brave, how supportive and how inspiring their mom has been through the years. They want you to know that they each strive, in their own way, to be just like you. And they remember what their grandmother told them when they were young: "Every time you feel the wind on your cheek, smile. Because that's your daddy giving you a kiss from heaven."

A light breeze blows here at the ballpark, as Patti reflects. Those awful, dark days almost feel like they happened to somebody else, like she read about it all in some magazine. These players on the field are unfamiliar to her, and this Spring Training vacation with her youngest son brings her joy, not pain. You can never be replaced, Steve, and Patti has learned not to wait for you to come out for the save. But she still thinks about you every day.

Maybe you're watching her doing it right now, as the breeze picks up and turns to wind.

* * * * *

Twenty years later, the waters of Little Lake Nellie are shallow. The dock, since rebuilt, extends across dry land. What happened in the spring of '93 could not happen now.

If only the lake had been this shallow that night.

Tim, you could be casting in those husband-and-wife bass fishing tournaments you and Laurie always talked about. Steve, you could have found that wide-open space where you'd ride four-wheelers and snowmobiles into the gloaming. Maybe you'd both be coaching some local team. Maybe you'd both barely remember that brief period in which baseball allowed your lives to intersect.

The thoughts of if only nearly ate Bobby Ojeda alive. They compelled him to fly to Stockholm, spontaneously, in the aftermath of the accident, not telling a soul where he was headed or what he was doing there. He thought about swallowing a fistful of pills and exiting the hell of reliving the incident in his head and wondering why he was the only one spared. Thankfully, your friend and teammate snapped out of it, came home, got psychiatric treatment, made a brief return to the mound, eventually became a pitching coach and, later, a Mets analyst for SportsNet New York. He politely declines requests to speak about the accident and the aftermath. Everybody deals with these things in their own way.

If only still haunts Fernando Montes. He was your strength and conditioning coach, the only non-player employee of the Indians invited to the housewarming party. Fernando was supposed to be with the three of you in the boat, but he lost the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors that determined who would jump back into Tim's truck and head up to the house to pick up Tim's friend, Perry Brigmond. That memory is now branded in his brain: arriving back at the shore and watching the boat make that turn from life to death. The sickening thud that hung in the air. Crying out, "Are you OK?" and hearing Ojeda's heart-breaking response, "No, no, we're not! We need help!"

What does a person do with that memory? What does a person do with those nagging questions: "Why was I spared? What's the grand plan here?" Montes still asks himself those questions, but he's tried to take advantage of the gift of life by living his the right way. He stayed in baseball for a while, with the Indians and the Rangers. Then he ran the Taylor Hooton Foundation, raising anti-steroid awareness and education. And in recent years, he's trained military personnel in the Army's 10th Special Forces Group to fight terrorism. He's cherished this work, and he's proud that those brave men have accepted him into their fraternity. But to this day, he never plays Rock-Paper-Scissors.

The if onlys lingered in the boat's wake. People latched onto the reports that your blood-alcohol level was .14, Tim -- in excess of the legal limit of .10 at the time. And some of those people were downright nasty. Those there that night insist that you were fully functional. Patti says she never would have let you get on that boat, Steve, if she had even the slightest suspicion that Tim was too drunk to drive. The only mistake, your loved ones insist, was steering the boat out into the dark of night. The little fishing excursion had been in the plans all day, but afternoon rainfall pushed it back toward the evening hours, and then the boat's water pump had to be fixed. If only.

Mike Hargrove let if only churn in his brain for a while. He was your manager, entrusted with molding minds on that Indians team -- a team that was just beginning to establish an identity, to feel like a family. But this? There was no standard operating procedure for this. Hours after the accident, "Grover" would find himself in a cramped clubhouse at the Chain O' Lakes facility, looking into the watering eyes of the players gathered at the dawn of a new day, not knowing what to say, not knowing if young men who had never had mortality slap them in the face would recover from it.

Why had it come to this? You guys weren't supposed to be training in Winter Haven, so close to the ranch. You were supposed to be on the southernmost tip of the Sunshine State, in Homestead. But Hurricane Andrew wiped away the facilities there and prompted the need to set up shop in Central Florida.

More to the point, the accident happened on the only off-day of camp. Hargrove had turned down the Dodgers' late request to reschedule a rained-out game in Winter Haven because he knew filling the anticipated break with a meaningless exhibition would cause a mutiny among the players. Oh, what he would give to redo that decision. The Indians never had another Spring Training off-day during Grover's tenure, which lasted another six years.

Sixth place. That's where the Tribe finished in that blur of a '93 season that followed. First they tried to honor your memory. Reliever Kevin Wickander wanted to make sure nobody would forget his best friend "Oly," and so, Steve, he set up a locker for you at every stop on the road. Eventually, though, Grover felt the tribute had ceased to serve a purpose. They weren't honoring you; they were continuing to mourn you. They moved on from that, and soon thereafter moved Wickander in a trade with the Reds. Wickander never was the same. He fizzled out of the game and did 2 1/2 years in Maricopa County Jail in Arizona on theft and drug-possession charges in the early 2000s. A lost soul who claimed he never got over your loss.

The Indians would see better days in the immediate years after the accident, moving to a beautiful new ballpark in 1994 and, on Sept. 8, 1995, capturing the American League Central Division crown -- the team's first title of any sort in 41 years. Jim Thome caught the final out and the players and coaches crowded in the infield grass near third base in celebration. Just then, a song could be heard on the in-house speakers at Jacobs Field:

Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars above
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye?

"The Dance" played, and some tiny percentage of fans in the stands might have understood its significance. But the men on the field knew.

It was Grover's way of saying, "We remember."

* * * * *

Baseball moves forward.

On any given day of the season, the transaction wire is awash with players coming and going. Lives mesh together and drift apart. At the funerals, promises were made to your widows that you -- and they -- would not be forgotten, and some have done a better job than others at keeping those promises. Death, Laurie and Patti discovered, is much like divorce. Save for a Christmas card here or there, people don't always know what to say or how to react.

Even Laurie and Patti were guilty of losing touch, for a long while. They live in opposite corners of the country and didn't know each other until that horrible day at the ranch. It seemed inevitable that they'd be separated by the sands of time.

But times change. You wouldn't believe the things that are possible with computers and communication. One piece of technology is called Facebook, and Laurie and Patti used it to find each other again last year. Now they're trading messages, keeping tabs on each other's lives and kids. Laurie has been insistent about having Patti visit, but Patti has been equally insistent that she can't ever go back to Little Lake Nellie. Patti will, however, be traveling to Fort Benning in May for Garrett's graduation from boot camp, and Laurie is going to make the drive up from Central Florida. It will be the first time they've seen each other in nearly 20 years.

Laurie will talk about her struggle to find a buyer for a property that, with the kids all grown and gone, is much too big for her needs. Patti will discuss the difficulty of the divorce, of venturing back into the dating world and trying to find love again.

They'll have a drink. They'll share stories. They might very well hug and shrug and break down and cry. Hopefully they'll laugh.

Under the Georgia sky, Laurie and Patti will show what it means to stay afloat. To endure heartache, to honor the past, to adapt to whatever strange and wonderful and terrible and amazing turns of life are yet to come.

They know you'll both be there, too.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Cleveland Indians, Tim Crews, Steve Olin