Baseball

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MLB: Selig says MLB could expand internationally

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NEW YORK (AP) — Bud Selig began his 8,173rd and final day in charge of baseball by waking up in a Manhattan hotel, having breakfast and working out. After nearly 22 1/2 years that began with unprecedented labor unrest, unfolded with rapid innovation and ended with unparalleled prosperity, he predicted a future filled with more transformation, perhaps with expansion to other countries.

“My dream is for this sport to really have an international flavor,” he said Saturday during a half-hour interview with The Associated Press. “Does it need teams in other countries? … If one uses a lot of vision it could.”

Selig headed the group that forced Commissioner Fay Vincent’s resignation in September 1992. Owner of the Milwaukee Brewers since 1970, he was put in charge as chairman of the executive council and finally elected commissioner in July 1998 after years of saying he would never take the… Continue reading

MLB: Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks dead at 83

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Ernie Banks, known simply as “Mr. Cub” after hitting 512 home runs over a 19-year career spent entirely in Chicago, died Friday night at 83.

Best known for his effusive “Let’s Play Two” phrase that epitomized the joy he felt for the game and brought to Wrigley Field, Banks was an 11-time All-Star, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and won consecutive National League MVP awards in 1958-59. Yet, he never appeared in a postseason game, toiling for Chicago Cubs teams that famously finished in the bottom half of the National League in his first 14 seasons. His 277 home runs as a shortstop rank second in baseball history to Cal Ripken Jr.

Banks’ death was confirmed by the Cubs on Friday night. Banks would have turned 84 on Jan. 31.

In 1977, Banks was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, but that simple… Continue reading

MLB: Johnson, Martinez among 4 voted to Hall

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In this combination of photos Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz (from left) speak during their news conferences Tuesday after being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In this combination of photos Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz (from left) speak during their news conferences Tuesday after being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Photo by The Associated Press.

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz dominated in an era of offense, each in their own way.

The 6-foot-10 Big Unit became the tallest of 215 players elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame and the 5-foot-11 Martinez the shortest pitcher picked for Cooperstown since Whitey Ford in 1974.

Smoltz, who found unusual success both as a starting pitcher and a reliever, also was voted in Tuesday along with Craig Biggio, the first time since 1955 writers picked a quartet of players in one year.

For many, the election of Johnson and Martinez was the long and short of it.

“You’re talking about freakish talent,” Smoltz said.… Continue reading

MLB: Aces poised to lead what could be Hall’s biggest group in 60 years

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NEW YORK — Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz appear to be shoo-ins for election to the Hall of Fame in what is shaping up as the baseball writers’ biggest class of inductees in 60 years.

When the Hall of Fame reveals the results at 1 p.m. CST today on the MLB Network, holdover Craig Biggio and perhaps Mike Piazza could join those three first-ballot pitchers who were utterly dominant in a hitters’ era of artificially bulging statistics.

Here are some things to know about the balloting, conducted again in a period when who’s elected is as intriguing as whose names were not checked by Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters:

The Three Aces

Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz stand out among the 17 newcomers to the ballot.

The reed-thin, scraggly-haired Johnson is a five-time Cy Young Award winner — four in a row from 1999-2002 — with 303… Continue reading

Giants’ Bumgarner wins AP’s Male Athlete of the Year

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(PhatzRadio / AP)    —   SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner sat in the outfield alongside Jake Peavy before Game 7 of the World Series and told his teammate exactly what needed to happen: Tim Hudson would work a few innings and get the ball to Bumgarner, who would hand it off to the bullpen to finish the championship.

Peavy quickly offered his own prediction: Bumgarner would end it himself.

That’s exactly what MadBum did, following up a pair of World Series wins with a save at Kansas City to close out San Francisco’s third title in five years and cap a brilliant postseason that made him a household name — or, at the very least, a household nickname. He is the 2014 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.

“I was sitting in the outfield with Madison and he was asking me how I thought… Continue reading

MLB AP source: Red Sox agree to Cespedes-Porcello swap

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have agreed to trade outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Rick Porcello, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Right-handed pitching prospect Alex Wilson also will go to Detroit as part of the trade, the person said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

The Red Sox acquired Cespedes in the deal that sent Jon Lester to Oakland. Cespedes finished the year with a .260 average, 22 home runs and 100 RBIs.

The 29-year-old Cespedes gives Detroit another power-hitting presence in the middle of its lineup, along with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but the Cuban slugger came at a significant price. Porcello does not turn 26 until later this month, and he is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 15 wins, a 3.43 ERA… Continue reading

MLB: Red Sox strike fast, but they’re just getting started

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(PhatzRadio / USA Today)    —-    Rebuilding is not an option in Boston.

It’s why the Red Sox still play in Fenway Park and it’s why they’re focused on making sure finishing last in the American League East is a one-year aberration.

To that end, they’ve reached agreement with the two best hitters on the free agent market. Hanley Ramirez will sign a four-year, $88 million contract – with an option for a fifth year. And joining him from the National League West – Pablo Sandoval, who caught the last out of the World Series in October, then opted to join the Red Sox on a five-year deal rather than try for a fourth World Series title in San Francisco.

And with those bold but prudent moves – Sandoval will receive around $95 million over five years – the Red Sox are making it… Continue reading

MLB: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson highlight Hall of Fame ballot

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(PhatzRadio / SI Wire)     —   The Baseball Writers Association of America revealed the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2015, and pitchers Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson highlight the players in their first year of eligibility.

Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, Jermaine Dye, Darin Erstad, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Troy Percival, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz are the other players appearing on the ballot for the first time.

Martinez was an eight-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner during his 18-year career with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies. He won 219 games and finished with a 2.93 ERA and 3,154 strikeouts. Martinez won the World Series in 2004 with the Red Sox.

• Red Sox nearing five-year deal with SS Ramirez

Johnson was a… Continue reading

MLB: Hanley Ramirez agrees to five-year deal with Red Sox

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(PhatzRadio / AP)     —  The Boston Red Sox, in a stunning preemptive strike to add offense in an ever-diminishing market, are reportedly on the verge of signing free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to five-year contracts totaling close to $200 million.

CBS Sports reported Monday morning that the team had an agreement with Sandoval, the former San Francisco Giants third baseman and postseason hero, on a five-year contract worth close to $100 million.

This comes hours after Fox Sports reported the Red Sox were finalizing a deal with Ramirez, the former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop, on a five-year, $90 million contract.

While Ramirez’s departure from the Dodgers seemed likely, Sandoval’s defection from San Francisco would be devastating for a team that relied on his excellent defense and stellar postseason play. He… Continue reading

MLB: Manfred gets five-year deal to be MLB commissioner

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Praising the transition as quick and orderly, Bud Selig announced Thursday baseball owners unanimously approved a five-year term for Rob Manfred, who will succeed the longtime commissioner early next year.

Selig spoke at the conclusion of two days of meetings in Kansas City, where owners discussed a variety of issues that included pace of play, instant replay and domestic violence initiatives.

Selig will chair his final owners’ meeting in January in Arizona.

“I’ve been so busy and every day is so frenetic that the last month or two, I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time thinking about it,” Selig said, “but you know, we are where we want to be. We’re having a wonderful transition, orderly transition, good transition. That’s very important.”

Manfred, who has worked for MLB since 1998, was chosen to replace the 80-year-old Selig in August over Red Sox chairman Tom… Continue reading

MLB: Stanton agrees to record deal with Marlins

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MIAMI (AP) — The Marlins persuaded Giancarlo Stanton to say yes. He couldn’t afford to say no.

Stanton agreed to terms Monday on a $325 million, 13-year contract, team owner Jeffrey Loria said. It’s the most lucrative deal for an American athlete and averages $25 million per season.

“It’s a landmark moment for the franchise and Giancarlo,” Loria said.

The deal includes a no-trade clause, and Stanton can opt out after six years, Loria said. A news conference was planned Wednesday.

The Marlins right fielder and centerpiece wasn’t due to become eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, and signing him to a long-term deal was considered a long shot. The Marlins haven’t reached the playoffs since 2003, and he was distrustful of the franchise’s direction.

Miami’s 2014 payroll of $52.3 million was the lowest in the majors. The last time they spent big was before the… Continue reading

MLB: Kershaw, Trout capture MVP awards

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NEW YORK (AP) — For once, Clayton Kershaw was glad to see a long shutout streak end.

Kershaw became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson in 1968, coasting to an easy victory Thursday.

“A little bit of shock, honestly,” the Dodgers ace said on a conference call. “I guess I never really anticipated to win that.”

A day after unanimously taking the NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw completed a Los Angeles sweep. A little earlier, Angels outfielder Mike Trout was a unanimous pick for the AL MVP.

Trout had been blanked in his bid the past two years, finishing second both times to Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera. The 23-year-old Trout was the youngest unanimous MVP pick in major league history.

“Just anxious throughout the day,” Trout said of the waiting period. “I knew the experience I had the last two… Continue reading

MLB: Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Indians’ Corey Kluber win Cy Young Awards

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(PhatzRadio / AP)     —    NEW YORK — Everyone expected Clayton Kershaw to pitch a shutout, and he did — a unanimous choice for the NL Cy Young Award.

Corey Kluber edging out Felix Hernandez for the AL pitching prize, that was no sure thing.

Now, the big question: Is Kershaw the Most Valuable Player, too?

“I can’t even really fathom it happening,” Kershaw said on a conference call Wednesday, shortly after winning his third Cy Young in four seasons.

Kershaw led the majors in victories and ERA and threw a no-hitter, going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 26-year-old lefty with a wicked curveball will find out Thursday if he’s the first NL pitcher to sweep the MVP and Cy Young honors since Bob Gibson in 1968.

“I think a lot of things… Continue reading

MLB: Questions surround A-Rod’s return

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NEW YORK (AP) — When the New York Yankees take the field against Toronto for their opener April 6, it will be 556 days since Alex Rodriguez last played in a major-league game.

Will he resemble the star who won three MVP awards?

Or will he look more like the broken-down third baseman who hasn’t played a full season since 2007 due to leg injuries, operations on both hips and a season-long suspension this year for violating baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract?

“Really, until he gets out there and starts playing, you’re not going to know,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday.

Spring training is more than three months from now, and already the spotlight is on A-Rod.

Third base? First base? Designated hitter? The bench, if a suitable replacement is found?

Addition or distraction?

“You have the whole spectrum from minimal contributions to significant contributions,” Yankees general… Continue reading

MLB: Epstein: Cubs ‘welcome’ MLB’s Maddon investigation / Abreu, deGrom voted baseball’s Rookies of the Year

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PHOENIX (AP) — Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein says the team is totally fine with Major League Baseball checking into whether there was anything improper about the way it hired new manager Joe Maddon.

“We welcome the MLB investigation,” Epstein told reporters Monday night at the general managers’ meetings.

“As we said last week, there was no tampering whatsoever. I’d rather they investigate so we can clear our names and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation,” Epstein said.

The Cubs announced Oct. 31 that Rick Renteria had been fired after one season as manager and that Maddon was hired.

Maddon opted out of his contract with Tampa Bay soon after Rays executive Andrew Friedman left the club to take over the Los Angeles Dodgers in mid-October. Epstein recently said the Cubs checked with MLB to be sure Maddon was OK to talk with other clubs… Continue reading

MLB: Lawyer – A-Rod admitted steroid use to DEA

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MIAMI (AP) — A lawyer for the University of Miami’s former pitching coach says Alex Rodriguez admitted to federal investigators he used steroids.

Attorney Frank Quintero Jr., who represents Lazaro Collazo in his defense of charges of conspiracy to distribute performance-enhancing drugs, told The Associated Press that the New York Yankees third baseman confessed to steroids use, according to Drug Enforcement Administration documents provided by the government to lawyers in the case.

The Miami Herald first reported Rodriguez’s confession Wednesday.

Rodriguez has denied using steroids supplied by the Coral Gables clinic Biogenesis of America and its owner, Anthony Bosch. But the Herald reported Rodriguez admitted the steroids use in a January interview with DEA agents and prosecutors.

Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Rodriguez, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

 

MLB: Chicago Cubs introduce Joe Maddon as manager

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CHICAGO (AP) — Joe Maddon’s unusual road to the manager’s office at Wrigley Field included a job interview at an RV park in Pensacola, Fla. The first public stop was a bar across the street from the iconic ballpark, where Maddon offered to buy a beer and a shot for everyone in the room.

“The Hazleton way,” he said in tribute to his Pennsylvania hometown.

If the beginning of Maddon’s partnership with the Cubs is any indication, this is going to be one interesting ride.

Maddon brought his unconventional style Monday to Chicago when he was introduced as the Cubs’ fifth manager since the start of the 2010 season, replacing Rick Renteria after just one year on the job. Flanked by smiling executives Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, he slipped on a pinstriped No. 70 jersey and repeatedly said how he excited he was about his new job.

Perhaps… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Giants ace Bumgarner wins World Series MVP

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Madison Bumgarner was limbering up at Kauffman Stadium this week, getting loose with his San Francisco teammates near the dugout, when Tim Hudson and Michael Morse sneaked up from behind and ruffled the pitcher’s long, scraggly locks.

That was way too hairy for Bumgarner. He quickly spun and playfully sparred with the mischief makers.

They were about the only ones who could touch Bumgarner in this World Series.

“Yeah, it was hopeless,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost acknowledged.

The 25-year-old Bumgarner capped off a most splendid October and earned MVP honors Wednesday night, pitching five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 as the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2.

Moments after he retired Salvador Perez on a foul pop with a runner on third base for the final out, Bumgarner insisted he wasn’t worn down. About a half-hour later,… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Bumgarner leads Giants to World Series triumph

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants succeeded where no team had in 3 1/2 decades, winning Game 7 on the road for their third World Series title in five years.

Punctuating one of the finest October performances in baseball history, Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to pitch five scoreless innings on two days’ rest for his third win of the Series, and the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Wednesday night in a championship pushed to the limit.

A two-out misplay in the ninth almost wrecked it for Bumgarner and the Giants. He had retired 14 in a row when Alex Gordon’s single fell in front of center fielder Gregor Blanco, who let the ball get past him for an error that allowed Gordon to reach third.

Bumgarner calmly retired Salvador Perez on a foulout to third Pedro Sandoval. Bumgarner… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Royals rout Giants 10-0, Series goes to Game 7

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Madison Bumgarner is ready to pitch in for Game 7.

The biggest World Series ace of all plans to be in the bullpen Wednesday night, just in case the San Francisco Giants need him against the Kansas City Royals for an out or two.

Or possibly a few more.

Asked how many pitches he could throw in relief, MadBum tossed out a playful estimate: “I said maybe 200.”

From the outset Tuesday night in Game 6, there was little doubt this Series was headed to the limit.

The Royals turned bloops, bouncers and a botched grounder into a blowout, scoring seven runs in the second inning. Rookie Yordano Ventura, pitching with the initials of late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras on his cap, cruised to a 10-0 rout.

Now, a true treat for everyone: A winner-take-all matchup, with Jeremy Guthrie pitching for the Royals… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Free agency looms after World Series concludes

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KANSAS CITY (AP) — Giants star Pablo Sandoval dug into the batter’s box in Game 5 of the World Series, peering out at Royals ace James Shields standing on the mound.

By next month, both of them could be wearing different jerseys.

San Francisco was trying to wrap up its third championship in five years when it returned to Kansas City for Game 6 on Tuesday night. But once the Fall Classic ends, the attention will shift in a matter of days to next season, and the free agency that looms for several players from both pennant winners.

“It’s the business of baseball,” Royals outfielder Josh Willingham said.

Sandoval is the biggest name looming for San Francisco, but there’s also World Series starters Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong, reliever Sergio Romo and outfielder Michael Morse.

Shields is the most critical piece in limbo for Kansas City. Willingham… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Facing elimination, Royals need Yordano Ventura to deliver in Game 6

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(PhatzRadio / SI)     —    SAN FRANCISCO — They fell in the love with the fastball. With Yordano Ventura, it has always been all about that fastball. He was 17 years old when he showed up at the Royals‘ Dominican Republic Academy as an impossibly skinny kid, only 120 pounds; not exactly “can’t miss” with that kind of slight frame. He didn’t have the body, or the command, or the assortment of pitches. But he did have the one pitch: a fastball that came so easy out of his right hand, one that convinced the Royals to give the boy from Samana $28,000 to sign. It was a pitch that would become a key part of the Royals’ baseball revival.

Now it is six years later, and a great baseball dream in Kansas City rests on the narrow shoulders… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Bumgarner, Giants blank Royals for 3-2 Series lead

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(PhatzRadio / AP)     —   SAN FRANCISCO — With every pitch, Madison Bumgarner etched his place among the World Series greats.

The long, tall lefty kept slinging away and put the San Francisco Giants just one win from yet another championship, throwing a four-hitter to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-0 Sunday night for a 3-2 Series edge.

Hardly menacing on the mound, Bumgarner was simply untouchable — again — as “MVP! MVP!” chants broke out in the late innings.

And by the time the 25-year-old from Hickory, N.C., closed out his second win in a week, he had evoked memories of Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Curt Schilling and the top October aces of all-time.

Joined them, and maybe even passed them.

Who else has gone 4-0 in four World Series starts with an 0.29 ERA? Throw in only 12 hits in 31 innings,… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Giants surge past Royals 11-4 to tie Series 2-all

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The World Series was slipping away from the San Francisco Giants.

A botched grounder led to a three-run deficit, and they were in danger of falling behind the Kansas City Royals three games to one.

Instead of panic, it was time for some Panda-monium.

Pablo Sandoval’s single set up Hunter Pence to score the tying run in the fifth inning and the 2012 Series MVP followed with a go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth that sent the Giants surging past the Kansas City Royals 11-4 Saturday night at pulsating AT&T Park.

The Series is tied at two games apiece, ensuring the title will be decided at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium next week.

”We never give up, that’s the thing,” said Sandoval, who shook off a stomach bug after starting to feel ill Friday. ”We’ve been doing it all year in these situations. We know… Continue reading

MLB – 2014 World Series: Royals beat Giants 3-2 for 2-1 World Series lead

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sparkling defense, a stingy bullpen and just enough timely hitting. That winning formula of fundamental baseball has put the Kansas City Royals ahead in the World Series.

They even looked comfortable in the tricky territory at unfamiliar AT&T Park.

Jeremy Guthrie outpitched fellow World Series newcomer Tim Hudson, four Royals relievers combined on four hitless innings and Kansas City beat the San Francisco Giants 3-2 Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the Fall Classic.

Alex Gordon hit a run-scoring double for his first hit of the Series in 10 at-bats and Lorenzo Cain added an RBI and some slick defense in right field as the Royals backed Guthrie with nifty glove work.

Eric Hosmer had a sixth-inning RBI single in an 11-pitch at-bat for his first World Series hit — on his 25th birthday.

Game 4 is Saturday night, with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong trying… Continue reading

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