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A baseball read to hold you over until Opening Day posted by David

If you’re looking for a baseball book that will keep you entertained until Opening Day, check out Dirk Hayhurst’s The Bullpen Gospels: Major League Dreams of a Minor League Veteran.  The book details Hayhurst’s 2007 season at three different levels of the minors.  He describes long bus rides, living with host families, Kangaroo Court, and battling the urge to give up on a dream.  It’s an honest story about the arduous journey it takes so many ballplayers to reach their ultimate goal, knowing they may never achieve it.

Hayhurst has since made it to the majors, pitching in 25 games, making three starts, and compiling a 0-2 record and a 5.72 ERA for the Padres and Blue Jays.  The Kent State University graduate’s book received rave reviews from Bob Costas, Keith Olbermann, Tom Verducci and Tim Kurkjian, and made The New York Times Bestseller list.

Hayhurst also played for my hometown’s college summer league team, the Bethesda Big Train, back in 2001.  After missing all of 2010 with a shoulder injury, he signed a minor league contract with the Rays and will hope to spend this season in Tampa Bay.  Dirk Hayhurst, best of luck.

A big step in my career

After spending last season working for the Toledo Mud Hens, I’ll start a new job next month in the Research Department at MLB Network.  I’m thrilled for the opportunity to work with baseball people who love the game as much as I do.  The researchers support the on-air personalities by providing statistical and analytical information for each broadcast.  In addition to Bob Costas and Peter Gammons, MLB Network on-air personalities include retired ballplayers Sean Casey, Bill Ripken, Al Leiter, Kevin Millar, Harold Reynolds, and John Smoltz.  Since I’ll be living so close to New York City, hopefully I’ll make it to Citi Field and New Yankee Stadium this year for the first time.

Continue reading "A baseball read to hold you over until Opening Day"


Trevor Time calls it a day posted by David

Trevor Hoffman, Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader, announced his retirement this week after an illustrious 18-year big league career.  The seven-time All-Star finishes his career with 601 saves, a 61-75 record, a 2.87 ERA, and 1,133 strikeouts.  In 1089.1 innings pitched – spanning 1035 games – he surrendered exactly 100 home runs.  Hoffman spent the bulk of his career with the Padres, with whom he won four division titles and one National League pennant.

Hoffman was drafted as a position player, but after hitting .249 and .212 in his first two seasons in the low levels of the minors, the Reds turned him into a pitcher.  Hoffman found immediate success on the mound, going on to become a dominant closer for nearly two decades, but Cincinnati lost him to the Marlins in the 1992 Expansion Draft.  After half a season in the majors, he was traded to San Diego in a deal that sent Gary Sheffield to Florida.  Hoffman would spend the next 15 and a half seasons in a Padres uniform.

Hoffman’s best season came in 1998, when he recorded 53 saves (at the time, tied for second in a season), boasted an ERA of just 1.48 and a WHIP of 0.85, and allowed only two home runs.  In 73 innings, Hoffman struck out 86 batters while walking 21.  That same year, he came in second in Cy Young Award voting despite receiving more first-place votes (13) than the winner, Tom Glavine (11).  In an MVP race that saw sluggers Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire finish first and second, Hoffman came in

Continue reading "Trevor Time calls it a day"


Another Triple Crown candidate storms to the top posted by David

Albert Pujols and Joey Votto have been battling each other all year, but Carlos Gonzalez has leap-frogged the front-runners in the Triple Crown race.  Gonzalez leads the National League in hitting (.337), is tied with Votto for the league lead with 100 Runs Batted In, and with 32 home runs is just five back of Pujols, two behind Adam Dunn, and tied with Votto and Mark Reynolds.  While he may have the best shot at the Triple Crown, I suspect Gonzalez’s home-road splits (.387/.435/.783 at Coors Field, .288/.310/.450 on the road) will keep the voters from naming him the NL MVP.

How 'bout that?

How about Joakim Soria?  The Mexicutioner has very quietly put together an outstanding season in Kansas City – a 1.71 ERA, 37 saves, and 63 strikeouts compared to just 14 walks.  The Royals’ closer allowed zero runs in the entire month of August (12 innings, 12 strikeouts, eight hits, and two walks) and has continued his scoreless streak through the first week of September.  Though Mariano Rivera is having one of his finest seasons at the age of 40, Soria has been the best closer in baseball this year.

How about Nelson Cruz?  Three trips to the Disabled List have kept him from putting together an MVP-caliber season, but the guy can flat out hit the ball, and despite his size (6’2”, 240), Cruz can run pretty well too – he’s racked up 15 stolen bases to go with his .313 batting average, 17 home runs, and .567 slugging percentage.  If anybody likes playing at Rangers ballpark, it’s Cruz, whose line at home is a robust .359/.414/.660 – a sure way to become a hometown favorite.

Continue reading "Another Triple Crown candidate storms to the top"


Will Chipper hang 'em up? posted by David

Chipper Jones is out for the year with a torn ACL, but let’s hope this isn’t it for the man who has played his entire major league career for manager Bobby Cox.  Chipper has made it known since last season that retirement could be around the corner, but like Baseball Tonight’s Eduardo Perez, I don’t see Chipper calling it quits now that his season has ended unexpectedly.  He wants to go out on his own terms, and these aren’t them.  At 38, his career is nearing the end, but I find it hard to believe that he will be able to say good-bye after watching from the bench as his team battles for the National League crown.

If he’s truly done, Chipper’s numbers speak for themselves: a .306 career batting average and .405 On-Base Percentage, 436 home runs, 147 stolen bases, 2,490 hits, two Silver Sluggers and an MVP award.  The six-time All-Star won a batting title at the age of 36, hitting a staggering .364 to edge Albert Pujols, who hit .357.  He is also tied for the most home runs in a season by a switch-hitter (45 in 1999; Lance Berkman accomplished the feat in 2006).  A little known fact about Chipper is that he and Paul Waner hold the Major League record for most consecutive games with an extra-base hit (14).  Chipper will join Waner in Cooperstown as soon as he is eligible.

How ‘bout that?

How about Jered Weaver?  The 27-year-old righty leads the majors with 182 strikeouts and is having his best season (11-7, 2.87 Earned Run Average) since his rookie year (2006), when he went 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA.  Since the All-Star break, Weaver has been even better, posting a 1.93 ERA, limiting opponents to a .204 batting average, and averaging seven innings per outing over six starts.  With the Rangers playing so well in the AL West, the Angels are unlikely to win the division for the fourth straight year and may even finish under .500 for the first time since 2003, but they have to be pleased with how their ace has pitched this season.

Continue reading "Will Chipper hang 'em up?"

Michael McGauley

"Time for the Giants to Focus on the Rockies and Not Wednesday's Disaster" posted by Michael McGauley

Okay Giants' fans, it's time to get over Wednesday's loss, and get ready for the Rockies Friday night. Hey, I can be just as greedy as anyone, especially when it comes to a potential three-game sweep of the defending N.L. Champion Phillies. Everything was looking good: Lincecum on the mound, a three-run lead in the top of the 9th, and Brian Wilson getting loose in the pen should Timmy run out of gas. Then, with one out, a four-pitch walk to Shane Victorino, Bochy yanks Lincecum after 106 pitches, and Wilson cannot close the door. Jayson Werth's bases-clearing bloop double down the right field line tied the game at 4-4. In my opinion, total fluke! Wilson had not allowed a single run all season, and actually retired the first batter he faced. There were two outs before Utley singled and Howard walked to load the bases. Listen, if Wilson had finished off the game as he usually does, we wouldn't be having this endless discussion about Bochy's ill-fated pitching change. If he had left Timmy finish the game and he blew it, the same people would be criticizing Bochy FOR NOT making a move. It's really an impossible position for the skipper. I don't mind seeing Lincecum throw 120 pitches, but you have to figure it will make a difference later in the season once he exceeds the 200-inning plateau. If Bochy can save him, and limit the pitch count here and there, it could keep him fresher into September, and that's really the big picture. Don't pound your horses into the ground in April. Yes, it would have been nice to see the complete game, but IT IS Wilson's job to slam the door, and Wednesday just wasn't his day.

Continue reading ""Time for the Giants to Focus on ..."

Jeff Lewis

The Chicago cubs 2010 posted by Jeff Lewis

    After two consecutive years of winning the National League Central Division, the Chicago Cubs watched their hated rivals the St. Louis Cardinals win it. In order for this not happen again, the Cubs have some concerns they have to address in order to get back to their winning ways.

    First, they have to get rid of Milton Bradley. This guy was a cancer on and off the field. He was quoted saying that he does not like the Cubs fans. I am here to tell you that the feeling is mutual. The Cubs general manager, Jim Hendry, needs to get this guy off this team no matter how. If that involves eating majority of his contract in a trade, then that's the way it needs to be done. There have been a few teams mentioned in trade talks for Bradley. The Tampa Bay Rays, the San Diego Padres, and the team that keeps getting mentioned the most the Texas Rangers. It doesn't matter what team the Cubs get the deal done with, as long as this guy is off the team come next year.

    Second, the Cubs need a lead-off hitter and center-fielder. These two go together, because the Cubs can fill both of these holes with one player. Coco Crisp. Crisp is a great player. He has speed, he is a descent outfielder, and he can hit. He did have a down year last year, but he played for the Kansas City Royals. Put a good team behind Coco he will shine! Look what he did in Boston an few years ago. There have been rumors that the Cubs are in the Curtis Garnderson sweepstakes. Grandy would be a good fit with the Cubs, and probably benefit from the National League style of play. The one downside to getting Garndy is that he can't hit left-handed pitchers. So the Cubs would have to find someone to platoon with Grandy in center when they are facing a lefty. With the Cubs payroll, I don't see that happening. Crisp should be Hendry's guy, but we will see what happens.

Continue reading "The Chicago cubs 2010"

Michael McGauley

"Carney Lansford the Scape Goat for Giants' Offensive Struggles" posted by Michael McGauley


  Do we really blame Carney Lansford for a bunch of over-anxious, free-swinging hitters?  The stats certainly don't lie.  Only the Padres, Pirates, and Astros scored fewer runs than the Giants' 657 runs in 2009.  San Francisco's 122 home runs was second-to-last in the N.L., behind only the Mets, who stroked just 95 homers with a half-injured team in their brand-new, spacious Citi Field. Walks: 392 for the Giants was dead last in the league (the Rockies had 660 walks to lead the league). And that leads us to on-base percentage; where the Giants ranked last at .309!  That is just dismal, anemic, pitiful....any other good adjectives to throw in there?

  Bottom line, this has been a consistent problem for the Giants for several years now. They never really replaced Bonds and Kent - the last time they had a legitimate three-four combination in the batting order.  Yes, they've built up the pitching big time. Yes, Pablo Sandoval can rake. But that's not enough -- we need two or three more hitters like Pablo. Hey, you've got to give up something to get something, and the time is now to part with a starting pitcher, and acquire a bat. It's not the most desirable scenario, but consider the lack of available sticks in free agency. In addition, they will have to invest some money to keep the young guys happy (Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson are due for BIG raises, and I say, give them whatever they want!).

  Back to Lansford, I don't blame him. He won a batting title (1981 with Boston), and knows how to hit. That doesn't always translate into being able to teach others how to do the same however. Just to use a brief basketball analogy -- how good of a coach was Magic Johnson with the Lakers? Same idea, but on a smaller scale. Lansford is bright and knowledgeable, but without a couple of big thumpers, this line-up loaded with number two and number six hitters (besides Sandoval) is not going to get the job done. We all know this. The Giants know this. But for some reason, they felt like they had to make a statement with this firing. The rest of the staff was retained by the way, when it was officially announced that Bruce Bochy would be returning for two more years with a club option for a third year. Same goes for GM Brian Sabean.

Continue reading ""Carney Lansford the Scape Goat for ..."

Debbie Donner

Barmes' Unbelievable Catch - Was It Real? posted by Debbie Donner

Of course we all know by now that Barmes' unbelievable catch was just that. More of an acting job than catching. To his credit, he did make an outstanding defensive play, getting two outs off the pop-up by Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick, that would have otherwise tied the game.  Seeing this catch brought back bad memories from two years ago, when the Rockies beat the Padres in a tie-breaker game for a play-off spot, because of a bad call at home plate.  Did Holliday really touch home plate or not?  I think not, after they showed the play over and over again.  Those dang Rockies are always gettin' lucky.  I'm real close to rooting for the Dodgers in this last series coming up between them and the Rockies.  The bad call at home plate from two years ago just stings too much still.  So what do you think?  Should the MLB use instant-replay challenges like they do in the NFL? At least during post-season games? Hmmm.

The past two days were thoroughly enjoyable though, watching the Padres take both games against the Dodgers.  Another great finish by the Pads late-inning pitchers.  If they should end up losing Heath Bell to another team next season, Gregerson has my vote as the Padres' next closer.  Or Adams if he can stay healthy.  With Clayton Richard's one-hit shutout and Kouz's three-run shot, the Padres made sure the Dodgers are going to have to work for the NL West title.  I'm not sure what's been going on with the Dodgers lately, losing six of their last ten games.  They went so strong all season I think maybe they're spent.  Or maybe Manny's hair is just too long now.  I think it's getting in his way.  Vin Scully even noticed it last night too.  Maybe if Manny would cut his dreads it might change the bad mojo.  Just a thought.

Continue reading "Barmes' Unbelievable Catch - Was It Real?"

Debbie Donner

San Diego Padres - Lookin' Good! posted by Debbie Donner

Woohoo! Lovin' my Pads these days!  After taking three out of four games against the Pirates to win their fourth consecutive series, the Padres are headed to Colorado to hopefully continue their role as spoiler in the NL West.  What a difference from last season, when the Padres were hard-pressed to come back in a game, any time they were down by two or more runs.  This season, how many times have they been down by four, five, even six runs, and they fight back to win a game. I love it! 

 I am so proud of this 2009 San Diego team.  They started off strong at the beginning of the season, in spite of having several inexperienced youngsters on the team  They hit a long rough patch when they were suddenly inundated with injuries prior to the All-Star break, losing some key veteran players, and suddenly the San Diego Padres were more like the "San Diego Rookies."  But man, have these young players stepped up! I mean, obviously they are going to be eager to prove themselves, and I think they have done just that.  Cabrera, Venable, Headly, Blanks, Gwynn - they have been impressive.  And of course our remaining veterans have done no less - Gonzalez, Eckstein, Kouzmanoff.  Is Brian Giles still on the team?  JK, but seriously, we probably don't even need him now, so I'm wondering what will happen for him next season.

I am very excited about next season.  These Padres have shown a tremendous amount of heart as a team, especially during the second half.  And finally we seem to have a solid starting rotation of pitchers and a strong bullpen.  And our late relievers?  Adams, Gregerson, Thatcher (coming around this season), and closer Heath Bell?  Pitchers that I think other teams are not looking forward to facing these days.  So awesome.  If they can keep this group of players together, I think this could be at least, a division-winning ball club in another season or two.  go Pads!

Continue reading "San Diego Padres - Lookin' Good!"

Michael McGauley

"Brad Penny to the Rescue as Giants Avoid the Sweep" posted by Michael McGauley

  I went to Sunday's game, and enjoyed another strong outing from Brad Penny - this time against his former team the Dodgers in a 7-2 Giants' win.  Penny is now 3-0 in the orange-and-black.  After two disastrous games Friday and Saturday, the Giants finally got the offense going with seven runs on fifteen hits; knocking Chad Billingsley out of the game after just four-innings.  Juan Uribe really set the tone with an early two-run home run that barely cleared the wall in left.  Uribe and Travis Ishikawa each banged out three hits, while Sanchez, Sandoval, and Winn each contributed two hits.  It was nice to see Sanchez come through with a clutch two-run single to cap off that four-run, sixth-inning rally.  Billingsley hasn't been at his best over the past month or so, and L.A. fans had better hope he rights the ship in time for the play-offs.  It was odd that Torre pulled him after only 70 pitches and six K'S through four.  However, it was Jeff Weaver who gave it up in relief, allowing four earned.  Once the real strength of the Dodgers' bullpen got the ball, they shut things down the rest of the way.  L.A.'s starting rotation may be questionable, but that bully is rock solid, especially with the trade deadline acquisition of extra-closer George Sherrill from Baltimore as a set-up man for Broxton.   Some observations about the atmosphere Sunday.  I can't remember the last time I went to A.T.& T. Park with both my sunscreen and rain gear.  It did sprinkle a bit and was quite dark mosContinue reading ""Brad Penny to the Rescue as Giants ..."

San Diego Padres News

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MLB roundup: Padres, Gyorko agree to $35 million extension (The SportsXchange)

The San Diego Padres signed second baseman Jedd Gyorko to a contract through the 2019 season with a club option for the 2020 season, the team announced Monday. Gyorko, 25, enjoyed a breakout season during his rookie campaign in 2013, leading the Padres with 23 home runs and 63 RBIs while hitting .249 with 62 runs scored and 26 doubles in 125 games played. His 23 home runs led all major league rookies in 2013 and were the third-most ever by a rookie second baseman in major league history. ---Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia does not have a fracture in his left wrist, reported. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Padres open MLB season with win over Dodgers (AFP)

The San Diego Padres rallied with three runs in the eighth inning on Sunday to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 in Major League Baseball's 2014 "Opening Night" showcase. The Dodgers got seven shutout innings from South Korean starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin, who retired 17 of the last 18 batters he faced -- including one span of 16 in a row. Ryu allowed three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts, and left the game with the Dodgers up 1-0. However, Padres pinch-hitter Seth Smith tied the game with a long home run to right field to start the eighth inning off relief pitcher Brian Wilson. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Ranking all 30 ‘traditional’opening day starting pitchers (Big League Stew)

The 2014 season opener is just hours away and not far behind will be our first full slate of action on Monday afternoon. With that in mind, here's a look at all 30 pitchers who will take the ball in their team's respective North American opener —the Australia games counted, but not here —and we rank them heading into the new season. You can also look back to see how we fared in 2013 . 1. Felix Hernandez —Seattle Mariners (at Angels, Mon. 10:05 ET): The King of Seattle is also the King of opening day. He’s set to start his franchise record seventh opener, which ties him with Justin Verlander for the most opening day starts among active pitchers. You can safely pencil him into the Cy Young race already. 2. Justin Verlander —Detroit Tigers (vs. Royals, Mon. 1:08 ET): The former Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP will start his seventh consecutive opener for Detroit despite the fact Max Scherzer is coming off a Cy Young season of his own in 2013. Verlander’s seniority with the team and his longer list of accolades likely played a role in that decision. Their inability to come to terms on an extension with Scherzer may have sealed it. Either way, life won’t be easy for Kansas City on Monday afternoon. 3. Stephen Strasburg —Washington Nationals (@ Mets, Mon. 1:10 ET): He’s healthy, he’s added a slider to an already impressive array of pitches, and he seems determined to take the next step in his career. If Clayton Kershaw doesn’t win the NL Cy Young, Strasburg will likely be the guy. 4. Adam Wainwright —St. Louis Cardinals (@ Reds, Mon. 4:10 ET): Wainwright will go for a milestone in Cincinnati as he enters the season sitting on 99 career wins. He’s sure to have a decent sized chip on his shoulder as well after the Cardinals fell in the World Series and he finished second to Clayton Kershaw in the Cy Young balloting. Reserve his spot on the all-star team. 5. David Price —Tampa Bay Rays (vs. Blue Jays, Mon. 4:10 ET): Easy call for Joe Maddon after the Rays elected to hold on to the 2012 AL Cy Young winner. Of course, the question now becomes where will Price’s opening day start in 2015 come, but that’s something Rays fans don’t want to think about until they absolutely have to. 6. Jose Fernandez —Miami Marlins (vs. Rockies, Mon. 7:05 ET): No-hitter alert on opening day? If it happens, Miami’s 21-year-old phenom and the reigning NL Rookie of the Year may have the best opportunity. In 15 home starts last season, he allowed only 13 earned runs for a minuscule 1.19 ERA. In two starts against Colorado, he allowed only nine hits over 14 innings. 7. Chris Sale —Chicago White Sox (vs. Twins, Mon. 4:10 ET): A strikeout machine - 529 in 500 2/3 career innings - Sale gets a nice matchup to start his season. If Head groundkeeper Roger Bossard can’t thaw out the turf at U.S. Cellular Field by Monday afternoon, Sale might do it himself. 8. Jered Weaver —Los Angeles Angels (vs. Mariners, Mon. 10:15): Weaver completes one of the better opening matchups against Felix Hernandez. With a no-hitter, three all-star selections and three top 5 Cy Young finishes, he doesn’t have to take a back seat to many, but this is one of those rare occasions. 9. James Shields —Kansas City Royals (@ Tigers, Mon. 1:08 ET): Shields makes his second opening day start for Kansas City after being acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on Dec. 9, 2012. Firmly established as an ace and a workhorse, Shields has topped 30 starts and 200 innings seven years in a row. 10. Jon Lester —Boston Red Sox (@ Orioles, Mon. 3:05 ET): Manager John Ferrell only confirmed Lester as his starter on Thursday, but there was little doubt he’d get the call. The 30-year-old left-hander is coming off a strong postseason in which he posted a 1.56 ERA over five starts. He’s also looking for a contract extension, but both sides have put those talks on hold . 11: Johnny Cueto —Cincinnati Reds (vs. Cardinals, Mon. 4:10 ET): The Reds will unveil a new manager in former pitching coach Bryan Price, but the opening day starter remains the same with Johnny Cueto getting the nod for a fourth straight season. The issue with Cueto has never been getting him ready for the opener, though he did battle through a scapula irritation last week. It’s about keeping him healthy for 30+ starts and a possible postseason run. 12. Madison Bumgarner —San Francisco Giants (@Diamondbacks, Mon. 9:40 ET): While San Francisco’s typically dominant rotation crumbled a bit in 2013, Bumgarner stayed steady and earned his first all-star appearance. Now he’s receiving the first of what should be many opening day starts. 13. Justin Masterson —Cleveland Indians (@ A's, Mon. 10:05 ET): Masterson didn’t get the extension he was seeking during the offseason, which may serve as extra motivation heading in to his third opening day start. Not that he needs to show a lot. His 2013 season was all-star worthy and included an MLB best three shutouts. 14. R.A. Dickey —Toronto Blue Jays (@ Rays, Mon. 4:10 ET): The knuckleballer’s debut season in Toronto didn’t meet expectations, but the Blue Jays will need a bounce back season if they hope to move up the standings in a loaded AL East. It's far from a given considering the unpredictability of his No. 1 weapon, but he's still the ace until proven otherwise. 15. CC Sabathia —New York Yankees (@ Astros, Tues. 7:10 ET): Sabathia posted a dreadful 4.78 ERA last season —at least by his standards —but Joe Girardi will give the nod for his 11th opening day start. View it as a tip of the cap for getting into the best shape of his career. 16. Hyun-Jin Ryu —Los Angeles Dodgers (@ Padres, Sun. 8:05 ET): Ryu started the Dodgers second game in Australia, so he's technically making back-to-back starts. He also has a chance to improve to 2-0 before any of the other 29 teams win their first game. 17. Brandon McCarthy —Arizona Diamondbacks (vs. Giants, Mon, 9:40 ET): Wade Miley started the real opener in Australia, but only after Patrick Corbin was sidelined for the season. Still, this is a nice honor for McCarthy to start their true home opener, especially considering the hurdles he‘s had to overcome dating back to his skull fracture in 2012. 18. Yovani Gallardo —Milwaukee Brewers (vs. Braves, Mon. 2:10 ET): It’s the fifth straight opening day assignment for Milwaukee’s ace. An impressive feat given that he’s only 28. His 4.18 ERA last season was a career high, but he’s still Ron Roenicke’s most dependable option despite their recent signing of Matt Garza. 19. Jeff Samardzija —Chicago Cubs (@ Pirates, Mon. 1:05 ET): Will it be his last opening day start with Chicago, or just the first of many to come? We should know by the trade deadline. 20. Francisco Liriano —Pittsburgh Pirates (vs. Cubs, Mon. 1:05): Liriano started last season on the DL with a broken arm but is cleared to start the 2014 opener despite a groin injury suffered last week. That’s big news for the Pirates, as Liriano became a big part of their first winning season in 21 years by posting a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts. 21. Andrew Cashner —San Diego Padres (vs. Dodgers, Sun. 8:05): Took a big step forward in 2013 and may now be on the cusp of reaching all-star status. A tough challenge awaits in the opener, so we may get a feeling for how realistic those expectations are. 22. Chris Tillman —Baltimore Orioles (vs. Red Sox, Mon. 3:05 ET): Tillman didn’t develop as quickly as Baltimore hoped he would, but arrived in 2012 posting a 2.91 over 15 starts. He cemented his spot last season with 16 wins, a 3.71 ERA and his first all-star selection. Manager Buck Showalter is calling the assignment a reward for rebounding and stabilizing the Orioles’rotation. Facing the defending world champions is some reward. 23. Cliff Lee —Philadelphia Phillies (@ Rangers, Mon. 2:05 ET): Lee’s best days are behind him, but manager Ryne Sandberg had few options with Cole Hamels out through April. It will be brutal assignment against a playoff contender and one of his former teams. Can he meet this challenge? 24. Julio Teheran —Atlanta Braves (@ Brewers, Mon. 2:10 ET): The 23-year-old right-hander almost gets the job by default after Atlanta lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries. Mike Minor will also start the season on the disabled list after experiencing shoulder soreness. The team added Ervin Santana two weeks ago to help carry the load, but Teheran is clearly the best option now. In his rookie season, he went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 185 2/3 innings. 25. Jorge De La Rosa —Colorado Rockies (@ Marlins, Mon. 7:05 ET): At 32, De La Rosa is coming off a career best 3.49 ERA in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He’ll try to anchor Colorado’s rotation until Jhoulys Chacin returns sometime in May. 26. Sonny Gray —Oakland A's (vs. Indians, Mon. 10:05 ET): The 24-year-old right-hander has never attended an opening day, but he’ll start one in only his 14th career start (postseason included). After throwing eight shutout innings against Detroit and out dueling Justin Verlander in the ALDS, we’re guessing he won’t be fazed by the atmosphere. 27. Ricky Nolasco —Minnesota Twins (@ White Sox, Mon. 4:10 ET): Nolasco inked the richest free agent deal in Twins history this winter at four years and $49 million. With that much committed, he better be the opening day starter. 28. Dillon Gee —New York Mets (vs. Nationals, Mon. 1:10 ET): It’s a shame it’s not Matt Harvey, and a surprise it’s neither veteran Bartolo Colon or young right-hander Zack Wheeler getting the nod. Gee‘s seniority with the Mets ultimately won out. 29. Scott Feldman —Houston Astros (vs. Yankees, Tues. 7:10 ET): No offense to Feldman, but get back to us when Mark Appel is ready. 30. Tanner Scheppers —Texas Rangers (vs. Phillies, Mon. 2:05 ET): It’s not often a pitcher’s first career start comes on opening day , but such is the case for Scheppers, who as of one week ago wasn’t even a lock to make the rotation. Scheduled opening day starter Yu Darvish was scratched on Wednesday with neck soreness. The Rangers are also missing lefties Derek Holland and Matt Harrison, and released veteran Tommy Hanson. It‘s a situation very similar to Atlanta‘s, only the Rangers are forced to turn to a reliever turned starter in Scheppers. More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports: - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813 [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Cardinals extend lead over Padres

St Louis Cardinals beat San Diego Padres 6-2 to move 2-0 ahead in the National League Division Series. [read full article]

From BBC Sport

APNewsBreak: MLB hopes for new drug deal this week (The Associated Press)

Baseball players and management hope to reach a new drug agreement this week that would increase initial penalties for muscle-building steroids and decrease suspensions for some positive tests caused by unintentional use, people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. For future suspensions, the deal also would eliminate the loophole allowing Alex Rodriguez to earn almost $4 million during his season-long ban, the people said. The sides hope to reach an agreement by Sunday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers open the U.S. portion of the major league schedule at the San Diego Padres. ''It will be a significant deterrent because players will know they're not going to just easily walk back into a lineup,'' Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. [read full article]

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