Spring provides fresh start for major-league clubs | Baseball roundup
New Marlins manager Mike Redmond arrived at his office at 5 a.m. Monday, ready to go long before the Florida sun was shining. His thoughts were already...
New Marlins manager Mike Redmond arrived at his office at 5 a.m. Monday, ready to go long before the Florida sun was shining. His thoughts were already on a date 254 days from now: Game 1 of the World Series.
Ah, spring training. When all 30 teams are still contenders.
"Everybody's excited," Redmond said in Jupiter, Fla. "Obviously, we've got a tremendous opportunity for guys in this camp and I think everybody realizes that. It's a fresh start."
From a chilly and damp Phoenix to balmy Kissimmee, Fla., pitchers and catchers for 10 teams reported to training camp Monday, taking physicals, meeting new teammates and, in some cases, managers and coaches.
The pop of fastballs in mitts, they could be heard, too.
Many eager players have been working out "informally" for weeks on minor-league fields — position players don't report for several more days, and all teams will be in full swing by the weekend.
In Tampa, Fla., Yankees captain Derek Jeter ran on a treadmill for the first time since breaking his ankle on Oct. 13, a big step toward reaching his goal of being in New York's opening-day lineup on April 1 against Boston in the Bronx.
In his third week of baseball activities, Jeter was on the infield grass fielding ground balls and in a batting cage taking swings — all while dozens of autograph-seeking fans lined up outside the Yankees' minor-league complex down the road from the big-league facility.
"I feel fine," Jeter said. "I was able to do everything else. I just had to be careful with my ankle, but now I've gotten the green light with that. I've gotten all the green lights I need."
In Fort Myers, Fla., Red Sox principal owner John Henry put to rest reports that he was considering selling the franchise.
"You just don't get an opportunity to own something like the Boston Red Sox. As long as we can do it, the three of us are committed to being here," Henry told reporters, while acknowledging team president Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner. "These thoughts that we're somehow selling, those are just not true."
With a new manager, John Farrell, replacing Bobby Valentine after one disastrous 69-93 season, Henry likes Boston's chances.
"I would say, especially in comparison to last year, I should be optimistic," Henry said.
In Kissimmee, Fla., the Houston Astros began their first day in the AL West. One of the most inexperienced teams in baseball will wear fiery orange practice hats and jerseys that evoke the orange rainbow stripes of a better time for an organization that lost over 100 games each of the past two seasons.
"We've talked about change throughout the organization, from the time (owner) Jim Crane has taken over the ballclub and all the hires he has made," first-year manager Bo Porter said. "This year (the uniform change) kind of sets the tone because they visually see things have changed. And when you realize that things have changed, you first realize that they're never going to be the same."
Also hoping for a clean start, Bartolo Colon is back with the Oakland Athletics after serving a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. He had little to say crossing a damp practice field in Phoenix after a 90-minute exam but he's excited to be with a team that won the AL West in thrilling fashion last year, rallying over the final 10 games to grab the title from the Texas Rangers.
• Criticized for not spending enough on free agents in recent years, the Cleveland Indians splurged on another star.
The club agreed to terms with outfielder Michael Bourn on a four-year, $48 million contract. It's the second major deal this winter for the Indians, who signed free agent Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million contract in January.
Bourn, who was an All-Star with Atlanta last season, must pass a physical later this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed. Bourn batted .274 with nine homers, 57 runs batted in and 42 steals last season for the Braves.
As long as there isn't a hang-up, the 30-year-old Bourn, who has remained on the market all winter, will move into the Indians' starting lineup.
• Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and the Cincinnati Reds have agreed on a one-year contract for $7,375,000,
• Speedy outfielder Dexter Fowler and the Colorado Rockies avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $11.6 million contract.
• A person with knowledge of the negotiations says free agent left-hander Hideki Okajima has reached agreement on a minor-league contract with the Oakland Athletics.
The deal is pending a physical, which could take place as soon as Tuesday.
• Angels manager Mike Scioscia was not surprised closer Ryan Madson had elbow soreness in his rehabilitation from reconstructive surgery.
Madson, the team's free-agent acquisition who hasn't pitched since 2011, said that he suffered a setback while throwing on Feb. 1. Scioscia called the pain flare-up a part of the "normal rehab process" and that he expects Madson to be pitching "at some point in April."