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Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:55:50 PDT

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MLB season preview: The Astros are chasing their World Series destiny (Big League Stew)

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:55:50 PDT

It’s time to win the World Series. When the Astros were in the midst of their rebuild in 2014, Sports Illustrated deemed them the future 2017 World Champions. A lot has happened since then: Carlos Correa arrived and is looking to take the next step toward superstardom.

MLB season preview: Who can beat the Cubs? (Big League Stew)

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:41:01 PDT

With baseball season upon, Big League Stew is in full preview mode. Today: A roundtable discussion about who has what it takes to knock off the defending champs. The day after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last November, they were immediately listed by one Las Vegas sportsbook as the odds-on-favorite to repeat.

MLB season preview: Mets pitchers are healthy and expectations are sky high (Big League Stew)

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:45:59 PDT

OK, maybe that’s not exactly it, but that sure is the gist of the season for the 2017 New York Mets, who lost in the wild-card game last season after their 2015 World Series run. The Mets went through so many pitching injuries last season that it’s a wonder they made the postseason. If they’d advanced any further, it would’ve been Noah Syndergaard and Bartolo Colon leading their rotation.

Yankees SS Didi Gregorius out 6 weeks; Bonds rejoins Giants (The Associated Press)

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:54:40 PDT

New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is expected to miss the first month of the regular season after straining his right shoulder while away at the World Baseball Classic.

MLB season preview: The Rangers are within reach of that elusive World Series win (Big League Stew)

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:50:23 PDT

The Texas Rangers enter 2017 with one goal and it’s the same goal they’ve had for years, the same goal that’s been lingering since that disappointing 2010 World Series loss to the Giants. The Rangers want to win it all. There are all the makings of a World Series team here, but there’s also a big hump that they haven’t been able to get over.

Rangers C Chirinos gets new deal with option for '19 (The Associated Press)

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:10:33 PDT

Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos has signed a new contract through 2018 that also includes a club option for 2019. Chirinos, already signed for this season, was the Rangers catcher for opening day in both 2015 and 2016.

Yankees shortstop Gregorius hurts shoulder, return uncertain (The Associated Press)

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 23:50:32 PDT

New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius has a bruised right shoulder, ending his time at the World Baseball Classic and leaving his status for opening day in doubt.

Marlins 3B Prado likely to miss opener with hamstring injury (The Associated Press)

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:08:08 PDT

Miami Marlins third baseman Martin Prado is expected to miss the start of the regular season after straining his right hamstring at the World Baseball Classic.

Tigers outfielder JD Martinez sprains foot, out several days (The Associated Press)

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 17:30:22 PDT

Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez sprained his right foot making a shoestring catch Saturday and is expected to be sidelined for several days.

Smart shifting puts the Netherlands into the WBC semifinals (The Associated Press)

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 15:10:04 PDT

The semifinal round of the World Baseball Classic is about to go Dutch, thanks to a lot of creative shifting by Team Netherlands. Stocked with star infielders in Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius, Jonathan Schoop and Jurickson Profar, manager Hensley Meulens has found a way to get all of them in the lineup. Meulens, a former big leaguer and now hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants, uses three of them at second base, shortstop and third base.

Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees team up to no-hit Tigers (The Associated Press)

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 22:41:37 PDT

New York manager Joe Girardi didn't keep the lineup card as a souvenir, but still appreciated the effort. ''I'm happy for our guys,'' Girardi said. The Japanese ace has thrown 13 1/3 scoreless innings in exhibition play.

Rangers RHP Gonzalez a no-throw with partial ligament tear (The Associated Press)

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 18:08:55 PDT

Rangers pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez has been diagnosed with a partial tear of a ligament in his right elbow and will not throw for at least six weeks. Gonzalez, who had been in contention for the fifth spot in the Texas rotation, had an MRI and was examined Friday in Arizona by Rangers team physician Dr. Keith Meister. The exam came after Gonzalez felt discomfort in his elbow.

FANTASY PLAYS: Spring training performances that matter (The Associated Press)

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 18:02:36 PDT

Despite being told yearly that spring training statistics are overrated, fantasy baseball owners still buy into them and will over or underrate players as a result. With the 2017 Fantasy Baseball season fast approaching, here are some player performances that actually mean something. BRYCE HARPER, Washington Nationals: There is a reason Harper continues to be a high first round pick despite disappointing owners last year.

Schwarber welcomes White Sox lefty Holland to Cubs' rivalry (The Associated Press)

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:17:10 PDT

Derek Holland was warned about Friday's atmosphere. With 12,927 house-divided fans packed into Camelback Ranch, this spring contest between Holland's Chicago White Sox and the crosstown rival Cubs was rather anticipated, as exhibitions go. Kyle Schwarber tagged Holland for a three-run homer and drove in four runs, helping the Cubs beat the White Sox 7-3.

Jones, Hosmer homer to lift US to 4-2 win vs Venezuela (The Associated Press)

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:56:13 PDT

On a night when well-hit balls died on the warning track, Petco Park finally yielded to a hometown favorite and the All-Star Game MVP. Adam Jones hit a tying home run leading off the eighth inning and Eric Hosmer added a two-run shot three batters later as the United States rallied to beat Venezuela 4-2 on Wednesday night in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. Jones played at Morse High about 8 miles east of Petco Park.

Royals expect Salvador Perez to be ready for opener (The Associated Press)

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:03:28 PDT

Kansas City expects All-Star catcher Salvador Perez to be ready for its opener at Minnesota on April 3 after tests showed inflammation but no structural damage in his injured left knee.

Team USA rides late homers to win against Venezuela (Big League Stew)

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 21:22:30 PDT

Team USA opened up the second round of the World Baseball Classic with a thrilling 4-2 win against Venezuela on Wednesday night. After seven innings of frustration offensively, Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer brought the team to life with clutch home runs in the eighth inning against Venezuelan reliever Hector Rondon. Jones’ blast to open the inning tied the game, while Hosmer’s two-run shot proved to be the difference in what may be the United States’ most important win yet in WBC competition.

Jury convicts sports agent, trainer in Cuban smuggling case (The Associated Press)

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:59:32 PDT

The verdict came after jurors heard about six weeks of testimony in the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who were indicted on conspiracy and alien smuggling charges for an operation that began in 2009 and involved a number of high-profile Major League Baseball players. Prosecutors said Hernandez faces between three and 15 years in prison and Estrada - convicted of more smuggling counts - faces between five and 35 years behind bars. Trial evidence showed an existing Cuban smuggling operation that brought people from the communist-run island to Mexico became the platform in 2009 for the much more lucrative trade in elite ballplayers.

MLB agent found guilty of smuggling Cuban baseball players into the U.S. (Big League Stew)

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:37:27 PDT

A Major League Baseball agent and one of his business associates were found guilty by a Miami jury Wednesday in a human smuggling case that opened a window into the seedy underworld that brings would-be baseball stars from Cuba to the United States. Agent Bart Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada are now awaiting punishment after a jury found that they illegally smuggled baseball players into the country using falsified documents. The crux of the case involved Seattle Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin, who Hernandez represented when he signed a five-year, $15.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers in 2011.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to pitch in WBC for Netherlands (The Associated Press)

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 11:32:05 PDT

Kenley Jansen is ready to help the Netherlands. The Los Angeles Dodgers closer said Wednesday he will join the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic in time for Monday's championship round opener. The Netherlands advanced to the final round early Wednesday with a 14-1 win over Cuba in Tokyo.

Alex Bregman calls out Rougned Odor for premature WBC bat-flip (Big League Stew)

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 11:19:33 PDT

The 2017 World Baseball Classic has provided plenty of excitement and drama. With his team down by a run, Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera would hit a solo home run to tie things up. After a walk put the go-ahead run on base, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor stepped to the plate hoping to give his team the lead.

Rockies' Desmond needs hand surgery, no return date set (The Associated Press)

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 21:08:22 PDT

The Colorado Rockies now need a second plan for first base.

Spring Training 2017: Ian Desmond needs surgery on injured hand (Big League Stew)

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 17:11:30 PDT

Ian Desmond will need surgery Wednesday to fix his broken hand. BIGGEST NEWS OF THE DAY: The Colorado Rockies paid $70 million to see what kind of pop Ian Desmond can add to an already dangerous lineup. Desmond needs surgery on his injured left hand, the Rockies announced Monday.

FANTASY PLAYS: A primer on catchers (yes, they're necessary) (The Associated Press)

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 00:02:43 PDT

Fantasy baseball catchers are like tight ends in fantasy football, root canals, and purple Skittles: they are necessary evils. Since playing fantasy baseball gives us the illusion of running a baseball team, drafting a catcher is a must, and most leagues draft at least two. Low batting averages, minimal power stats and absent stolen bases make fantasy owners cringe when thinking about catchers.

Rockies 1B Desmond, Indians 2B Kipnis sidelined by injuries (The Associated Press)

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 22:57:28 PDT

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies lost one of their biggest offseason acquisitions when Ian Desmond was hit by a pitch Sunday, breaking his left hand.

Rockies 1B Desmond breaks hand in spring game (The Associated Press)

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 16:54:32 PDT

The Colorado Rockies lost one of their biggest offseason acquisitions when Ian Desmond was hit by a pitch Sunday, breaking his left hand. Desmond was plunked by Cincinnati right-hander Rookie Davis with a 93 mph fastball in the fourth inning of the Rockies' 9-8 loss in spring training. The team says the preliminary diagnosis on Desmond is a left hand fracture, and he will see a specialist on Monday.

FANTASY PLAYS: Shortstop position youthful in fantasy (The Associated Press)

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 13:56:20 PDT

It's a true mixed bag - a handful of studs, some late-round sleepers, the usual assortment of defensive specialists with little power, and scattered head-scratchers like Freddy Galvis, who hit as many home runs in 2016 (20) as he did in his previous three seasons combined. If you're looking for a singular theme to tie this position together, it is ''youth.'' According to National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) average draft position (ADP) data, the top six shortstops being drafted were born in 1991 or later. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, 22, encapsulates this group perfectly.

FANTASY PLAYS: Second base not as deep as it appears (The Associated Press)

Sun, 12 Mar 2017 13:35:38 PDT

Second base looks like one of the better positions in fantasy baseball for 2017, but a closer look reveals the pool is not as deep as it appears. Among the top 12, there are plenty of core players that fantasy owners should look to draft. Jose Altuve (Houston) and Trea Turner (Washington) both have National Fantasy Baseball Championship average draft positions among the top 10.

House released from hospital, a day after hit by liner (The Associated Press)

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 17:56:29 PST

Toronto Blue Jays reliever T.J. House has been released from a hospital, one day after he was hit on the head by a line drive during a spring training game.

Rangers' Andrus plays for 1st time since hernia surgery (The Associated Press)

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:49:01 PST

After missing the first 13 games of spring training while recovering from sports hernia surgery in November, Elvis Andrus returned to shortstop for Texas, playing four innings without a fielding chance and going 0 for 3 Saturday as a Rangers split squad beat the Chicago White Sox 5-1. ''I hear games are a little quiet,'' Andrus said. When Joey Gallo's helmet tumbled off after a two-run single in the third inning, Andrus joked with his power-hitting teammate.