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  1. Albert Pujols would be fine if the Cardinals gave his number away

    Apr 4, 2012, 6:41 PM EDT

    Albert Pujols

    No matter the way the relationship ended, Albert Pujols‘ No. 5 seems destined to be retired by the Cardinals someday after his career is over. Pujols, though, told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale he wouldn’t mind if they choose to give it away. “It’s just a number, so if someone else wants to wear it, that…

  2. Andy Pettitte gets standing ovation, pitches scoreless inning

    Apr 4, 2012, 6:22 PM EDT

    Andy Pettitte

    Andy Pettitte took the mound for an inning against the Mets in his spring debut Wednesday and retired three of the four hitters he faced, allowing just a single in the process. “It felt good to be able to get out there and get the inning in, especially in a big league game” he said.…

  3. Bobby Valentine slams Curt Schilling, but he probably shouldn’t have

    Apr 4, 2012, 6:00 PM EDT

    Boston Red Sox manager Valentine watches pitchers work out at the Red Sox new Major League Baseball spring training facility in Fort Myers

    Curt Schilling went off a couple of weeks ago about how Bobby Valentine wasn’t the right fit for the Red Sox. That caused Josh Beckett to slam Schilling. And now Bobby V. himself has taken to WEEI radio and has taken a shot at Schilling: “I never saw them, I heard about them and I…

  4. Yankees sign Ramon Ortiz to minor league deal

    Apr 4, 2012, 5:41 PM EDT

    Ramon Ortiz

    The Yankees never made an attempt to lure Pedro Martinez to the Bronx, but now they can show off the original “Little Pedro.” In need of a little extra pitching depth with David Phelps having made the team, the Yankees signed Ramon Ortiz to a minor league deal, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. He’ll…

  5. Josh Beckett says he’s fine, “dumbfounded”

    Apr 4, 2012, 5:02 PM EDT

    Josh Beckett

    Josh Beckett‘s flights around the country to get medical opinions on his thumb were tracked by the Red Sox press the way NORAD tracks Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  Beckett says, however, that he’s “fine.”  And he adds that it’s much ado about nothing: “I really have no idea how this got blown out like…

  6. Yankees acquire Chris Stewart from Giants, send “red-eyed and stunned” Francisco Cervelli to Triple-A

    Apr 4, 2012, 4:50 PM EDT

    Francisco Cervelli

    Russell Martin will have a new backup this season, as the Yankees acquired journeyman catcher Chris Stewart from the Giants in exchange for minor-league right-hander George Kontos and optioned Francisco Cervelli to Triple-A. Cervelli has been in the majors since 2009, backing up Jorge Posada and then Martin while hitting .272 with a .338 on-base…

  7. How uplifting: Fans love beanball wars

    Apr 4, 2012, 4:32 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Baltimore Orioles

    Via Baseball Musings, we learn of a study which is sad: Researchers report “beaning” a member of the opposing team — deliberately hitting him with a pitch — is divorced in fans’ minds from the notion of moral responsibility. In other words, the batter who received a nasty bruise — or worse — when he…

  8. Mets sign Jon Niese to five-year, $25.5 million contract

    Apr 4, 2012, 4:16 PM EDT

    Jon Niese

    Jon Niese‘s long-term contract with the Mets is now official, with Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger reporting that the five-year deal is worth $25.5 million in guaranteed money and covers all three arbitration eligible seasons plus his first year of free agency. It also includes a sixth-year team option for $10 million and…

  9. ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume explains why he picked the Astros last year

    Apr 4, 2012, 4:00 PM EDT

    Astros logo

    Last year, ESPN’s Steve Berthiaume famously picked the Houston Astros to win the NL Central.  They then proceeded to lose 106 games.  Missed it by thaaaaaat much. Today Berthiaume explains the thought process behind the pick that caused him so much grief: I had written a piece for this website in September of 2010 and felt…

  10. A’s place first baseman Daric Barton on disabled list

    Apr 4, 2012, 3:49 PM EDT

    Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics

    Daric Barton isn’t sufficiently recovered from September shoulder surgery, so he’ll begin the season on the disabled list while the A’s go with Brandon Allen and Kila Ka’aihue at first base. Barton was once firmly established as Oakland’s long-term first baseman and had an underrated, All-Star caliber season in 2010 with a .393 on-base percentage…

  11. Brandon Belt makes the Giants roster

    Apr 4, 2012, 3:30 PM EDT

    Brandon Belt

    It seemed crazy that Brandon Belt wouldn’t make the Giants roster, but for a while there during spring training it seemed like a possibility. Aubrey Huff and Brent Pill were getting a lot of starts at first base and the Giants fan base was rather freaking out. Today Bruce Bochy let ’em off the hook.…

  12. Zack Greinke no longer without an agent, hires Casey Close

    Apr 4, 2012, 3:15 PM EDT

    greinke getty

    Zack Greinke dropped his agent in December and said in February that there was “no reason” for him to hire a new one, but the Brewers right-hander has done just that by hiring Casey Close of Excel Sports Management. Close previously worked for Creative Artists Agency, which is the representation that Greinke left in December.…

  13. Quote of the Day: Tiffany Simons on the Marlins’ fish tanks

    Apr 4, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

    Tiffany Simons

    I was just down in the basement studio taping tomorrow’s HBT Extra. You know what the best part of doing that is? While the technical people are getting the technical things squared away, Tiffany Simons and I just talk about stuff. The news, the weather, whatever. We have often talked about how it would be…

  14. Indians send Ryan Spilborghs to Triple-A, release Felix Pie

    Apr 4, 2012, 2:14 PM EDT

    Ryan Spilborghs

    This was a tough day to be a veteran outfielder trying to crack Cleveland’s roster, as the Indians sent Ryan Spilborghs to Triple-A and released Felix Pie. Spilborghs signed a minor-league deal with the Indians after being non-tendered by the Rockies, but lost a camp battle with Aaron Cunningham to be the right-handed-hitting backup outfielder.…

  15. And the Red Sox’s new closer is … Alfredo Aceves

    Apr 4, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT

    Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays

    Mark Melancon seemed like the obvious closer fill-in for the Red Sox following Andrew Bailey‘s thumb surgery, but manager Bobby Valentine announced today that Alfredo Aceves will begin the season with ninth-inning duties. Melancon saved 20 games for the Astros last season, whereas Aceves has just four career saves, and while Aceves is certainly capable…

  16. San Jose is no panacea for the Athletics … how about New York?

    Apr 4, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

    oakland athletics small logo

    The A’s have been waiting about three years for Major League Baseball to clear their way to San Jose. At this point I’m wondering if it will ever happen. But even if it does, Neil deMause explains that San Jose is no pot of gold for the Athletics. That’s because (a) the A’s would probably…

  17. Corey Hart had two hits in spring debut, is ready for opener

    Apr 4, 2012, 12:48 PM EDT

    corey hart getty

    Corey Hart essentially missed all of spring training following knee surgery last month, but finally saw his first game action yesterday and notched a pair of hits while declaring himself ready for Opening Day. In addition to the two hits Steve Gilbert of notes that Hart also looked fine in right field defensively and…

  18. ESPN has 49 experts making predictions

    Apr 4, 2012, 12:32 PM EDT

    crystal ball

    I thought it was kind of excessive that four of the HBT writers offered our predictions earlier. But that’s nothin’: ESPN has 49 experts doing picks. There’s nothing so crazy as Steve Berthiaume picking the Astros last year — this year his craziest thing is the Marlins in the NL East — but if you peruse…

  19. Jason Marquis to build up arm strength in minors after time away from Twins to be with injured daughter

    Apr 4, 2012, 12:16 PM EDT

    Jason Marquis

    Jason Marquis was away from Twins camp for two weeks to be with his family after his seven-year-old daughter was hospitalized following a bicycling accident. He’s back with the team now–and she’s recovering well from significant injuries, thankfully–but because Marquis wasn’t able to stay on his usual throwing program to build up his pitch count…

  20. Sean Rodriguez beats Reid Brignac for Rays’ shortstop job

    Apr 4, 2012, 11:51 AM EDT

    B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez

    Reid Brignac‘s foot injury opened the door for Sean Rodriguez to overtake him on the Rays’ shortstop depth chart and sure enough manager Joe Maddon announced that Rodriguez will open the season as the primary starter. Brignac (.742 OPS) and Rodriguez (.743 OPS) had nearly identical production this spring, but Brignac was limited to just…

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