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Tag:AL Central
Posted on: March 26, 2011 10:50 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/26: Marlins on a roll

Wes Helms
By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

Florida Marlins -- It seemed like something of a joke a week-and-a-half ago when Florida owner Jeffrey Loria blew up at his team over their spring training play. At the time, the Marlins were 5-13 and losers of nine straight. Since then, they've gone 7-1-1, including Saturday's 6-5 victory over the Cardinals with a walk-off single from Wes Helms (above). Sure, the wins don't count, but even in the spring, it's better to win than to lose -- and also to keep the boss happy.

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- Rodriguez hit his sixth homer of the spring on Saturday and fifth int he last eight games. A-Rod has had a sweltering spring, hitting .422/.469/.978. 

Justin Verlander, Tigers -- It doesn't count, but the Tigers' ace just wrapped up a pretty damn impressive spring. In six starts he went 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA. He struck out 23, walked three in 28 innings, while giving up 21 hits and three runs. He finished it on Saturday, allowing five hits and a run in seven innings against the Phillies.

3 DOWN

Ryan Franklin, Cardinals -- It's the position Franklin is paid to succeed in -- the Cardinals go into the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead and three outs to go for the win. Greg Dobbs led off the bottom of the ninth for the Marlins before Franklin recorded two outs. Jeff Domiguez doubled to make it 5-4, then Jorge Padilla followed with another double to tie the game and then Helms singled in Padilla to give Florida a 6-5 victory.

Braves defense -- Atlanta had five errors in Saturday's 8-2 loss to the Mets. Right fielder Wilkin Ramirez had two errors, while Brooks Conrad, Jonny Venters and Joe Mather each had one. The Braves have 32 errors in 31 games this spring. The Braves had 126 errors last season, one fewer than the Nationals and Pirates in the bottom spot for that stat in the National League.

Aroldis Chapman, Reds -- The Reds fireballer didn't record an out in his outing against the World Champions. After back-to-back singles, a wild pitch allowed the first run to score, then he hit Mark DeRosa. After that Charlie Culberson singled and Andres Torres doubled. In all, Chapman gave up four hits and five runs, with converted infielder Jerry Gil allowing his inherited runners to score, while giving up a run of his own.

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:33 pm
 

Pepper: Japanese players coping

Daisuke Matsuzaka

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sometimes the nature of our 24/7 news cycle makes us forget -- or at least move on from -- even the biggest of news stories get lost in the next big story.

Even though Japan is still dealing with the destruction of the earthquake and tsunami -- and will be for years -- we're not hearing as much about Japan right now. It's only natural. But that doesn't mean that everything's OK there.

Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa went to Japan last weekend and was deeply moved by what he saw.

"It was pretty disastrous," Igawa told the New York Daily News through an interpreter. "The roads were a mess, and when I was home, the water wasn't running. It was pretty hard for me."

Igawa's parents and family are OK, but keep in mind his hometown of Oarai well south of the epicenter and 100 miles from the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima. He said his house didn't suffer flooding, but did suffer damage from the earthquake.

The Yankees allowed him to return home, where he spent five days and returned earlier this week.

"Compared to the rest of the country -- especially up north, where it was much worse, I feel really fortunate," Igawa said. "I wanted to stay home a little longer, because my family and friends are going through  hard time. But I also had to resume baseball, because that's my job."

Igawa will start the season in Triple-A. He's in the final year of his five-year, $20 million contract.

Many other Japanese players are trying to come to terms with what's going on at home, as well.

"Fortunately, I am a survivor, but it hurts, of course," the Angels Hisanori Takahashi told the Los Angeles Times through an interpreter. "It has definitely been difficult to focus on baseball.

"Seeing all the [TV] footage, you get a little numb, but it's a real thing. I have to keep my eye on the tragedy, but I also have to play baseball here."

Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka said he's still too emotional about the situation to discuss it publicly, but he showed how he felt by giving $1 million to the Red Sox Foundation, which is giving all that money to the Japanese Red Cross Society to help fund relief efforts. The Red Sox said Hideki Okajima, Junichi Tazawa and Itsuki Shoda have also made personal donations through the Red Sox Foundation.

Matsuzaka joins fellow stars Ichiro Suzuki (100 million yen, roughly $1.2 million) and Hideki Matsui (50 million yen, roughly $620,000) in making large donations to the Red Cross for relief efforts in Japan.

BATISTA FINED -- Reliever Miguel Batista was the only Cardinal fined for last week's scuffle between the Cardinals and the Nationals. Batista hit Washington's Ian Desmond to start the fracas. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

BUCK FALLOUT -- We've already had Buck Showalter backpedaling about his comments to Men's Health about his comments on Derek Jeter and the Red Sox. Derek Jeter, not surprisingly, wouldn't comment on Showalter's comment. However, a look at the stats say Showalter's wrong -- Jeter actually doesn't get the calls on the inside corder. [ESPN]

TULO'S FINAL FOUR -- Finally, a Final Four that matters. You can now vote for one of four songs Troy Tulowitzki will use for his at-bat music. Well, to me they're all crap, but I'm not the target audience. Tulowitzki had "Party in the USA" last year, so the selections this year are just as bad -- "Firework" by Katy Perry, "Baby" by Justin Bieber, "We R Who We R" by Ke$ha and "Yeah 3X" by Chris Brown. Vote here. [Denver Post]

THE LEGEND BEGINS -- I'm reading Jane Leavy's The Last Boy  about Mickey Mantle right now, so I knew about the legend of Mickey Mantle's home run at USC in 1961. Well, the Los Angeles Times remembers it too. A really cool story on the birth of the legend of the Mick.

MILLWOOD GOOD? -- Is Kevin Millwood really that bad? Looking at some of the recent pitchers to have 16 losses and an 82 ERA+ like Millwood did last season shows some pretty decent pitchers have done that before. [Baseball-Reference.com blog]

HE'S NOT FAT, HE'S BLOATED -- Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal explains he was bloated from medication, not fat when spring training started. Furcal ate contaminated meat in his native Dominican Republic in January and the drugs he took made him bloated. He looked big when he checked in, but he was just 193 pounds, about the same he usually checked in at. He's now at 188, just about where he likes to play. [Los Angeles Times]

D-BACKS BULLPEN ISN'T BORING -- Diamondbacks bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas has discovered bored, rich relievers will pay people to amuse them. So, Motuzas takes on dares to pick up extra bucks. Among the things he's done -- snorted wasabi, eater regurgitated yogurt, left hot balm on his shaved armpits for an entire game and gotten shot in the earlobe with a BB gun. Livan Hernandez once paid him $3,000 to drink a gallon of milk in 12 minutes. The two also had a deal that Hernandez could punch him in the junk for $50 a pop -- with a $300 bonus after every 10th punch. [Wall Street Journal]

BUT IS HE WRONG? -- An anonymous "MLB star" had several things to say to  ESPN the Magazine about the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, including "why isn't Cabrera paying a guy $100 a night to drive him around? Plenty of guys do that. That he didn't is a slap in his teammates' faces." [MLive.com]

ROCK THE KAZMIR -- Mike Scioscia didn't sound too optimistic about Scott Kazmir when he announced the lefty had made the team's rotation. If Kazmir struggles continue into the regular season, Matt Palmer may be an option. [Los Angeles Times]

TOGETHER WE'RE GIANT -- Our buddy Will Brinson loves the Giants commercials. I found them amusing, but still not as good as the Mariners commercials. I like the Cardinals ones better, too.

RIGGLEMAN DOESN'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STATS -- You've seen some good commercials, now listen to a bad one. The Washington Nationals, MASN and Jim Riggleman are attacking stats in their newest campaign. Apparently a bunt or a "well-placed single" are "smart" -- and the walk is recognized as a good thing. But yeah, a pretty silly campaign.

THE NATURAL ON THE HILL -- Robert Redford will throw out the first pitch at the Cubs' opener on April 1 against the Pirates. [Chicago Tribune]

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 9:06 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/25: Beachy brings it



By Matt Snyder


3 UP

Brandon Beachy, Braves. Fresh off being named the Braves' No. 5 starter to open the season -- over the favorite, Mike Minor -- Beachy went out and dominated the Tigers. He threw six innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while strking out six. He took his spring ERA all the way down to 1.13. That is two earned runs in 16 innings, to go nicely with 16 strikeouts. His WHIP is a minuscule 0.63. If he carries this over into the season, the Braves will have an even more formidable rotation.

Drew Storen, Nationals. It's been a rough spring for Storen, who was initially expected to be the Nats' closer but has since been tabbed as part of a committee in the back-end of the bullpen. Friday, though, he was plugged in for the ninth inning with a one-run lead and made it stand. He threw a perfect inning, striking out two batters.

Adam Jones, Orioles. Breakout season on the horizon? He's got the goods. Friday he showed it, too. Jones went 3-4 with his fifth bomb of the spring, this one a two-run job off Scott Baker.

3 DOWN

Brandon McCarthy, A's. The former big-time prospect was having a really solid spring in his quest to earn the A's final starting spot, but he was roughed up Friday. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He even walked his first batter of the spring. Of course, he did strike out six, so the 20:1 K:BB rate should be enough for him to grab that last spot. He's looking to hold off Tyson Ross and Rich Harden -- if he's ever healthy. Ross is only 23, but he's sporting a 0.59 ERA in 15 1/3 spring innings.

Mitch Talbot, Indians. The Tribe's No. 4 starter was crushed by the Brewers Friday. He gave up 14 hits and seven earned runs in six innings. He even gave up a grand slam to Carlos Gomez. Yes, that same Carlos Gomez who only has 17 career home runs in 1,308 career at-bats. Of course, he does have three this spring, so maybe he's looking to muscle up this year.

Edinson Volquez, Reds. He's here because the outing was termed as "solid" and he said afterward that he "felt great." (MLB.com ) Really? If you're the Reds and this is your ace -- especially considering Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto are on the shelf and Bronson Arroyo is getting tested for valley fever -- it's gotta be a bit troubling, no? I see five innings pitched, nine hits, three earned runs and four walks. So that's 13 baserunners (a gawdawful 2.60 WHIP), including four extra base hits, and a 5.40 ERA from an ace in his last outing before the regular season. Spring stats don't mean anything and it's possible he's going to flip a switch before the real games start. I'm just saying it's pretty surprising this was considered such a good outing by Volquez and the Reds.

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Mike Sweeney retiring

By Matt Snyder

The Kansas City Royals have announced they will make a "major announcement" at 5:00 p.m. ET involving Mike Sweeney. Reportedly, it will be the retirement of the former Royals All-Star. (Kansas City Star via Twitter)

Sweeney, 37, played 16 seasons in the major leagues, 13 of which were with the Royals. He made the All-Star team five times as a Royal, most recently in 2005.

Sweeney retires with a career .297 average and .851 OPS. He hit 215 home runs and drove in 909. He was one of the better hitters in the league in his prime, which includes a three-year stretch from 2000-2002 when Sweeney hit .325 with a .939 OPS. He averaged 27 home runs and 110 RBI per season and received MVP votes in all three of those campaigns.

Sweeney is all over the Royals' record books. His .299 average with the team is the third highest in club history. His OBP ranks seventh, slugging percentage third and OPS second. He's sixth in runs, sixth in hits, fifth in doubles, second in home runs and fifth in RBI. His 144 RBI in 2000 is the team record for a single season. His .340 average in 2002 was the second-highest in Royals' history -- after George Brett's historic .390 in 1980.

Last season, Sweeney played 30 games for the Mariners and 26 for the Phillies, hitting .252 with eight home runs and 26 RBI. He signed a one-day contract with the Royals in order to retire as a member of the organization.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 25, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 11:56 am
 

Brewers trade for Mitre

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chris DickersonUPDATE (11:39 a.m. EST): The Brewers have announced they've sent outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Yankees in return for right-hander Sergio Mitre.

Dickerson, 28, was hitting .278/.350/.389 this spring in 36 at-bats. A gifted athlete, Dickerson has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Last week Dickerson was injured in a collision with the Giants' Pablo Sandoval. Dickerson can play all three outfield spots. He has a career .267/.356/.403 slash line with eight home runs and 20 stolen bases in 527 plate appearances in parts of three seasons.

Dickerson was acquired by the Brewers last season in a trade with the Reds for Jim Edmonds.


Sergio MitreThe Brewers have acquired Sergio Mitre from the Yankees, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports via Twitter.

Mitre appeared to be the odd-man out of the Yankees' rotation, behind Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon for the last two spots in New York's rotation. The Yankees also have Freddy Garcia and have signed Kevin Millwood to a minor-league deal.

This spring, Mitre has a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings, striking out eight and walking one. Mitre was 0-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 27 games last season, making three starts.

He goes back to the National league, where his ERA was actually worse. In five years with the Cubs and Marlins, Mitre was 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA in 78 games and 52 starts.

Mitre, 30, has started 64 games in his career and is 13-25 with a 5.48 ERA as a starter. He was 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in eight starts last season.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:57 am
Edited on: March 25, 2011 10:58 am
 

He's a Great Book! with Ozzie Guillen

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I'll admit, I laughed.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 25, 2011 10:01 am
 

Pepper: Young, Daniels clear the air

Michael Young

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With no games to play, sometimes some stories get a little too overexposed. From the Cliff Lee sweepstakes to Chase Utley's day-to-day health and the Jon Daniels-Michael Young feud, we're all pretty much tired of them by now.

The story won't be closed until Young is no longer in a Rangers uniform, then he'll have a press conference, have his say and it'll all be over. For now, he's still a Ranger and back on speaking terms with his general manager. The two met Wednesday and Thursday, and Young said neither minced words.

"I laid out in detail what I was feeling, what my concerns were and gave him the opportunity to do the same," Young told the media on Thursday, including the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. "Anytime you're going to sit down with somebody where there's a problem or an issue and air things out face-to-face, it's always productive."

Young would not say if he still wants to be traded, but Daniels said it's "unlikely" to happen before the season begins -- and Young understands that.

"It created a situation where fans, media and other people in the organization were almost taking sides," Daniels said (again, from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram). "It should have never been that way. We both want the same thing, for the Rangers to win. Through that process, I think Michael took a lot of shots from the media and fan base that from my persecutive weren't necessary."

That last statement is interesting to me -- it's Daniels standing up for Young. He may have thought or said in private some of the same things the fans or media have said, but he's not going to do that in public. It's a wise move, one that  Young -- no matter what he's said in the past -- has to at least see as a move in the right direction.

Maybe Young plays out his days as a Ranger, maybe he doesn't. But either way, hopefully we can end this chapter.

READ THIS TODAY -- The Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger writes a great column on former Royal Willie Mays Aikens and his faith. Aikens is dealing with family tragedy even after everything in his life was looking up. After 14 years in jail, Aikens had been hired by the Royals this offseason. I'll let Mellinger tell the rest of the story.

BLAME THE MESSENGER -- Well, once someone says something interesting, we all know they'll come back and claim it's "taken out of context." That's what Buck Showalter did on Thursday, backing away from his comments in the April issue of Men's Journal about the Yankees and Red Sox. [Boston Globe]

GALARRAGA TO BULLPEN -- The Diamondbacks are expected to move Armando Galarraga to the bullpen, with Aaron Heilman taking the fifth spot in the team's rotation. Galarraga has an 8.44 ERA in 16 innings this spring. Galarraga said he still wants to be a starter. [Arizona Republic]

NATS PICK FIFTH STARTER -- Tom Gorzelanny will fill out the Nationals' rotation, manager Jim Riggleman said on Thursday. Livan Hernandez will open the season for the Nationals, followed by Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Jason Marquis. [MASNSports.com]

AND SO DO THE Rockies -- Colorado's fifth starter will be right-hander Esmil Rogers. Rogers will follow Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Jason Hammel. [Denver Post]

LAWRIE SENT DOWN -- After saying he was done with the minor leagues this offseason, Brett Lawrie discovered he's not the one in charge of that decision. The 21-year-old third baseman said he was disappointed, but understood his demotion. The Blue Jays acquired Lawrie this offseason by sending Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee in exchange for the former first-rounder. [MLB.com]

ORDONEZ READY -- Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez said he'll be ready for opening day. Ordonez returned to action for the first time since last week on Thursday night. Ordonez went 1 for 4 on Thursday with a double. [MLB.com]

BELTRAN IMPROVING -- Carlos Beltran reported no pain in his knees after a workout on Thursday and Mets manager Terry Collins was so impressed with the way he looked that he wouldn't count out Beltran for opening day. [New York Times]

MORALES IMPROVING -- Orthotic inserts have helped ease the soreness in the left foot of Angels first baseman Kendrys Morales. Morales still won't be available for opening day, but he has gotten the OK by the team's trainers to start "baseball activities." [MLB.com]

DAVIS DRAWING INTEREST -- Doug Davis, the 35-year-old left-hander, threw for as many as eight teams in Tempe, Arizona, on Thursday. Davis made just eight starts last season for the Brewers due to a heart problem and elbow surgery. Among the eight teams to watch him were the Rangers, Rockies, Orioles, Mets and Angels. [MLB.com]

WORK OF ART -- Pedro Martinez will be on hand at the Smithsonian on Friday for the unveiling of his portrait at the National Portrait Gallery. A painting of Martine done by Susan Miller-Havens has been donated to the gallery by MLB.com's Peter Gammons and his wife.  [Smithsonian]

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER -- The man the late Buck O'Neil handpicked to run the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City following the legend's death, is finally getting the job. Bob Kendrick was passed over as the head of the museum two years ago and on the brink of collapse, Kendrick has been tabbed to takeover.

Few people were as upset at the snub as former Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski, who has kissed and made up with the museum on his blog. [Kansas City Star]

FAN-DESIGNED UNIFORM -- I didn't know until yesterday that the White Sox uniforms of the the 80s were the product of a contest run by the team to design a new uniform. Richard Launius, then of Dayton, Ohio, designed the White Sox's pullover Sox uniforms with numbers on the pants.  [ESPN.com]

FOOD NETWORK INVADES YOUR PARK -- The Food Network is offering steak sandwiches at eight ballparks this summer. If you're in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Diego, St. Louis or Texas, you can go visit Paula Deen working her cart at your park. What, you don't think she's going to be there? Maybe Morimoto? We can hope. [Sportsandfood.com]

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: March 24, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Lack of Mauer power not concerning

Mauer

By Evan Brunell

MAUER POWER: Joe Mauer dipped from 28 home runs in 2009 to just nine last season, one coming at the new home park of Target Field. That's partly due to struggling with injuries and partly thanks to Target Field being the hardest park to hit a home run in. Mauer struggled to adjust in the first half (.293/368/.424) but finished strong in the second half (.373/.447/.527) and isn't interested in struggling again this season.

"A lot of times, I was hitting balls to left field that would be out of a lot of other parks, and they were caught for outs," Mauer said. "So you try to muscle it up a little bit more, and you become a little late [with each swing]. So yeah, it definitely does play with your mind."

While Mauer may try to load up on away home runs, he has the proper frame of mind for how to approach his new home.

"Just keep it simple, try to hit hard line drives, find those gaps and run a little bit."

That could lead to a ton of doubles for Mauer, who racked up 43 after just 30 in 2009. While anyone would prefer homers to doubles, the fact that Mauer can still drive the ball for doubles shows that his power is far from waning.

That hasn't stopped some from questioning the eight-year, $184 million pact that will keep Mauer in a Twins uniform. The deal, universally hailed at the time, has since come under question, but GM Bill Smith dismissed the concerns.

"The contract wasn't done in a one-year vacuum," Smith said. "It's the body of work that Joe had from 2005 through 2009. And we look forward to the coming years, hopefully the coming decade, with Joe Mauer as one of the cornerstone players in this franchise." (Minnesota Star Tribune)

THE EMERGENCE: Brandon McCarthy struggled in Texas to deliver on the promise that caused the team to trade John Danks. However, now with Oakland, McCarthy has moved away from power pitching and has focused on letting the movement on his pitches do the work. That's led to a sensational spring training, and McCarthy is now ready to go for the season. (San Francisco Chronicle)

CLOSING TIME: Now that Alexi Ogando is officially returning to the bullpen, he indicated he would enjoy closing. Ogando may get that shot if Neftali Feliz remains in the rotation, but that's unlikely to happen. "I feel I'm mentally strong and don't think it will affect me that much," Ogando said. (MLB.com)

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: After years of not training players to deal with the media, the Yankees changed their tune in 2007 to integrate a media-training program. That program has since escalated to mock interviews, role playing, guest speakers and more. Derek Jeter has also assisted in this, telling youngsters that they are still on the clock even when the uniform comes off. (Wall Street Journal)

HERE'S A TIP: Daniel Hudson had such a poor start Wednesday that he landed on the 3 up, 3 down list. The righty feels he may have been tipping his pitches, as he noticed hitters "spitting" his changeups while nailing fastballs. (MLB.com)

NO PAIN, BIG GAIN: Tim Stauffer came through his start with excellent results Wednesday after skipping a previous start due to a sore hip flexor. Stauffer put together perhaps the most impressive outing a Padres starter has had so far this spring and is ready for his first full season in the majors as a starter. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BEER, FASTER: Ever wanted a way to get your beer at the ballpark faster? You're in luck as the Red Sox are adding two beer stands to Fenway Park this season that fills beers from the bottoms up. Yes, you read that right. A recyclable magnetic cap on the bottom of the beer cup flips open to allow beer to pour in before sealing itself shut. This will allow up to 44 beers to be filled per minute. (Boston Herald)

GETTIN' IN THE GROOVE: Brian Matusz didn't mince any words when asked what went wrong during his start Wednesday. "From the get-go, warming up, I couldn't find my rhythm tonight," he said. The good news? Matusz headed to the bullpen after his 1 1/3-inning outing and found his groove then. "It's going to be four hard days of work and then be ready to go on the fifth day," he added. "It was just one of those days where I didn't have it, I didn't get in my rhythm, I didn't do it. Now I know what went wrong and I know what to fix and I'll take it from there." (MASN)

MORE HOT DOGS, PLEASE: Get this: hot dogs may actually be healthier for you than rotisserie chicken, a new study reveals. While the skin of the chicken has more protein, it also packs more carcinogenic compounds, while hot dogs, along with pepperoni and deli meat, have very low amounts. (MSNBC)

FACELIFT: A year after heading to the World Series, the Rangers have spruced up the home ballpark by throwing up a video board that is virtually more than double the size of the old one, the sound system being completely reworked, an upgraded weight room and more. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com