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Around the Cage: Sights and sounds from BP

MLB.com

Here are some news and notes from batting practice around the league today.

7:22 p.m. ET: Maddon reflects on All-Star Game

Here are some news and notes from batting practice around the league today.

7:22 p.m. ET: Maddon reflects on All-Star Game

Friday was Joe Maddon's first game back with the Cubs after managing the NL All-Stars in Miami. He said it was a great experience, but also was able to follow through on his regular All-Star routine. Maddon and his wife Jaye jumped in a car after Tuesday's game and drove across Alligator Alley in southern Florida to a favorite hotel in Naples. They were able to spend some quality time there.

"Everything went like clockwork," Maddon said.

Also, the early bird Cubs fans at Camden Yards cheered as Anthony Rizzo hit a batting practice home run off the warehouse in right field.

7:05 p.m. ET: Phillies retro uniforms

The Phillies are wearing retro '80s powder blue and maroon road uniforms this weekend in Milwaukee as the Brewers celebrate the 35th anniversary of the 1982 American League championship team. The Phillies packed two sets of uniforms, including helmets, for a six-game road trip: retro uniforms for Milwaukee and standard uniforms for Miami. But what happens if a player puts a hole in their powder blue pants this weekend? A few position players have a backup pair, but if it's somebody else, they have a few extras on standby. Michael Saunders and Jeanmar Gomez opened the season with the Phillies, but are no longer with the team. They had uniforms preordered, so the Phillies likely would use them for any emergency patchwork.

7:00 p.m. ET: Webb meets his new teammates

The Brewers had a new face during batting practice Friday, when lefty reliever Tyler Webb introduced himself to new teammates. He and wife Lauren had just boarded a flight from Charlotte to Boston, where the Yankees open the second half tonight, when New York GM Brian Cashman called with word Webb had been traded to Milwaukee. The Webbs quickly deplaned and went to work on alternate travel plans.

"You've got to be on your toes and ready to move at a moment's notice," Webb said. "I think it's a good thing. I'm excited to be here and kind of settle in and help the team in any way I can."

6:52 p.m. ET: D-backs' first look at SunTrust Park

Rain called an early halt to the D-backs' on-field batting practice at SunTrust Park on Thursday night, so it was not until batting practice Friday that the team's outfielders got a chance to see how the walls would play.

Outfield coach Dave McKay worked with the outfielders as they took fungoes off the wall to see if there were any unique caroms.

"I think what Mac asks these guys to do is get out and become familiar with the ballpark and make sure they know the twists and turns," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "It's one of those things where we haven't been here before so we have to make sure we get as comfortable as possible in the amount of time we have."

6:31 p.m. ET: Souza Jr.'s pregame routine

Most Major Leaguers love the comfort of having a daily routine they follow, particularly if they are doing well. Steven Souza Jr., has had a solid season to date, entering Friday night's game in Anaheim hitting .271 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs.

A part of his daily routine is to camp down around the right-field line before the game and hit small rubber balls thrown from a close distance by hitting coach Chad Mottola. Even though the Rays' first game won't begin until 3 1/2 hours from now, there's already a good turnout of players going about their business on the outfield grass at Angels Stadium of Anaheim.

6:23 p.m. ET: Yost comes back from the farm

Royals manager Ned Yost cherishes his time away from baseball so he can go back to his farm in Georgia and spend the days working on his tractor. But over the All-Star break, one of the massive back tires on the tractor blew while Yost was cutting grass on a field. The tractor didn't flip or anything, which was the good news.

"That wasn't too funny," Yost said. "It was the one [crappy] tire of the bunch. I must have hit a stump. It was ready to go anyway."

6:03 p.m. ET: Home Run Derby is still all the buzz

Plenty of players before the Rockies-Mets game on Friday were still talking about the All-Star Week festivities, especially Aaron Judge's T-Mobile Home Run Derby performance.

"I've never seen anything like that before," Nolan Arenado said. "He was going second-deck oppo. I can't even go second-deck pull side.

"It was the most fun I've had at a Home Run Derby."

5:56 p.m. ET: Cooper to make MLB debut after trade

Garrett Cooper was getting off a plane from the Triple-A All-Star Game in Tacoma, Wash. when his cell phone lit up with several missed calls and text messages. The 26-year-old learned that the Brewers had traded him to the Yankees, with general manager Brian Cashman instructing him to report to Fenway Park for the opener of a four-game series on Friday evening.

Cooper is in the lineup for the Yankees, batting sixth and wearing uniform No. 64. The youngest of seven children, his brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews have all made the trip from Southern California and Arizona to be in the stands for his debut.

"It's every kid's dream to get the call up to the big leagues," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better organization to make it up with."

5:47 p.m. ET: Voit excited to return to action

It would have been understandable if Cardinals first baseman Luke Voit was frustrated at the timing of the All-Star break. The rookie was slashing .316/.366/.684 with eight extra-base hits in the 14 games leading up to the break. But he was still happy to have the four days off, admitting he never really had an All-Star break before in his career. Voit said he spent the time at a lake house, resting his body to prepare for the second half of the season.

5:46 p.m. ET: Robinson to see more playing time

Drew Robinson ended the first half as a utility player and began the second half as the starting left fielder. Manager Jeff Banister said Robinson has earned playing time against right-handed pitchers and could get an extended look against them.

5:46 p.m. ET: Bregman returns to Twitter

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman temporarily suspended his Twitter account earlier this week after his direct messages to a fan, who wanted the Astros to trade him, became public. He announced his account was back Thursday with a photo on Twitter with his teammates around him. Carlos Beltran chimed on Twitter, too, and wrote: "From now on send me DM!" Astros manager A.J. Hinch was asked about Twitter prior to Friday's game.

"I think we had enough guys address it with him," he said. "We talked about it and he knows how I feel about it. Twitter will teach you a few lessons, especially if you're active on it or engaged on it. It's handled internally. The guys did a good job of policing him. I know some of the older players have handled it internally. That's the good thing about this kind of stuff. Our guys can handle it in good fashion."

5:38 p.m. ET: Strop and Arrieta return to Baltimore

Former Orioles reliever Pedro Strop, who was with Baltimore previously in his career, found the return to Camden Yards a bit strange. While Strop, along with teammate Jake Arrieta, did exchange hellos with former teammates he also had to circle around and stop himself Friday afternoon from nearly going in the home clubhouse. Strop and Arrieta were dealt to Chicago for Scott Feldman and Jake Fox in 2013.

5:33 p.m. ET: Washington works with Adams at first

Now that he has helped Freddie Freeman get acquainted with third base, Braves third base coach and infield guru Ron Washington has placed his pregame focus on helping Matt Adams improve the throwing aspect of his games. At least twice this season, the Braves have been damaged by Adams' reluctance to make a throw in a late-game situation. Having Freeman and Adams at the corner spots weakens the Braves at two infield positions. But unless there is an overwhelming offer for Adams, there is a chance he'll remain in Atlanta through the rest of the season.

Video: Dansby Swanson takes some swings in the cage

5:11 p.m. ET: Watch out for Giancarlo

Always keep your head on a swivel when Giancarlo Stanton is in the box, especially if you're Marlins infielder Derek Dietrich. During Friday's batting practice, Stanton smashed a liner to third, where Dietrich was fielding grounders. Dietrich ducked just in time, and third base coach Fredi Gonzalez, who was tossing BP, jokingly motioned to Dietrich to move in and play closer. Both Dietrich and Stanton laughed the incident off.

5:02 p.m. ET: Votto looking to make history

Reds All-Star first baseman Joey Votto entered the second half tied for the NL lead with 26 home runs this season. He would be just the sixth player in franchise history to lead the NL in homers and the first since George Foster in 1978. Votto hit 29 homers last season, and his career high was 37 during his 2010 MVP season.

"Maybe I will continue this or maybe it's a first-half surge, I'm not really sure," Votto said before Friday's batting practice. "It feels like I can keep it up. At the same time, you never know. My goal is to continue the style of hitting I had in the first half, being really discerning when it came to balls and strikes, trying to be really competitive and focused with two strikes, passing the at-bat to the guy behind me so we can continue to have big innings. I would really like to just play every day. Those are the things that stand out to me."

5:02 p.m. ET: Swampy and soddy in Detroit

The Tigers had to re-sod center field at Comerica Park after the combination of a Metallica concert Wednesday night and heavy rain Thursday chewed up the outfield. Right fielder J.D. Martinez ventured out during early batting practice and noticed the smell as much as the look. "It smells like horse manure," he said. "I felt like I should've been bailing hay."

4:58 p.m. ET: Conforto learns from the best

Michael Conforto explained how he picked Reds first baseman Joey Votto's brain during All-Star week. The Mets' first-time All-Star said he and Votto, both with classic, left-handed swings, discussed approaches to various counts. Said Conforto: "He just said it's black and white to him. If the pitch is down the middle he's gonna swing at it. He doesn't care if it's 0-2 or 3-0."

4:53 p.m. ET: Osuna gets versatile

First baseman/outfielder Jose Osuna got back to work Friday at a new position, fielding a few ground balls at third base during early afternoon drills alongside utility infielder Max Moroff. Osuna will still primarily play first base and the corner-outfield spots while serving as a power bat off the bench, but the rookie could spend more time in the second half working at third with infield coach Joey Cora, as he did in Spring Training, to improve his defensive versatility. The Pirates will have fewer reps to go around in the outfield when left fielder Starling Marte returns from his 80-game suspension, and Josh Bell is locked in as the Bucs' future first baseman.

4:45 p.m. ET: Marrero works on pitch selection

Deven Marrero hasn't been known for his bat since being drafted out of Arizona State by the Red Sox in 2012. However, the third baseman is working hard to make improvements and he will continue to get more playing time now that Pablo Sandoval has been designated for assignment. In particular, Marrero has been working on tracking breaking balls from the pitching machine in his early work with hitting coach Chili Davis. Davis is encouraged by the recent progress Marrero has made, noting he isn't chasing as much.