Volume XIV April to July, 2017 Issue 56

Mike Trout, Kris Bryant Win Baseball's MVP Awards

By Jay Cohen, The Associated Press

CHICAGO --- The Angels' Mike Trout won the American League MVP award for the second time in three years, and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was voted the National League MVP in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

"To win it one time, it's hard to do," Trout said. "Twice, I guess you saw my emotions tonight, it was something special."

Mike Trout

While the Angels finished fourth in the AL West, Trout, pictured here, was his usual brilliant self. The center fielder batted .315 with 29 homers, 100 RBIs and 30 steals. He scored 17 percent of Los Angeles' runs, the highest percentage for an AL player since Rickey Henderson with the 1985 New York Yankees.

Trout, who was a unanimous winner in 2014, had finished second in three of the past four years. He becomes the first MVP from a losing team since Alex Rodriguez for Texas in 2003 and just the fifth player ever to accomplish the feat, joining Hall of Famers Ernie Banks (1958 and 1959), Andre Dawson (1987) and Cal Ripken (1991).

"At the end of the season a lot of people were asking me about the same question, you know, if your team has a losing record is it going to hurt you in the MVP?" Trout said. "With this MVP this year, I guess it doesn't matter."

Bryant hit .292 with 39 homers and 102 RBIs in just his second year in the majors, helping the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908. The No. 2 overall pick from the 2013 draft becomes just the sixth player to win rookie of the year and MVP in one or consecutive seasons.

"This year has certainly been one of the best years of my life," said Bryant, who got married in January. "I mean winning a World Series, now this, it's just icing on the cake."

The Las Vegas native is the first National MVP from the Cubs since Sammy Sosa in 1998 and the eighth player from the club to win the award since 1935. The once-forlorn franchise is enjoying its best run in decades also had two of the top MVP candidates, with first baseman Anthony Rizzo finishing fourth.

Kris Bryant Voting by BBWAA members was completed by the start of the playoffs.

"If it wasn't for Anthony and his protection and guidance, I wouldn't have won this award," Bryant said. "I mean he texted me and I said the same thing to him, I said if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have been able to do this."

Bryant, pictured here, was a runaway winner, grabbing 29 of 30 first-place votes and 415 points. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, who batted .347 for the National League East champions, was the runner-up with the other first-place vote and 245 points. Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was third after he was the unanimous winner of the NL Rookie of the Year award on Monday.

Seager will look to follow in Bryant's footsteps this year.

Bryant was the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year after he hit .275 with 26 homers and 99 RBIs last season. Bryant joins Dustin Pedroia (2007-08), Ryan Howard (2005-06) and Cal Ripken (1982-83) as the only players to go Rookie of the Year-MVP in consecutive seasons. Ichiro Suzuki (2001) and Fred Lynn (1975) are the only players to win the awards in the same year.

"Kris is just an impressive young man in every aspect," Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said."He is very mature, professional, light-hearted, but serious at the same time. He's just kind of a dream player for any organization."

Trout received 19 first-place votes and 356 points. Mookie Betts, who batted .318 with 31 homers, 113 RBIs and 26 steals in 158 games for the Boston Red Sox, was second with 311 points, and AL batting champion Jose Altuve of Houston was third. Retiring Red Sox slugger David Ortiz got one first-place vote finished sixth in his final year in the majors.

"A well-deserved honor for a player that puts his name in the MVP conversation year in and year out," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said in a release. "Mike is the consummate team player and deserves every accolade he receives on the field just as he should off of it for the person he is."

Photographs by Pioneer Press; and Sports Illustrated




Brewers Center Fielder Keon Broxton Has Rare Speed, Power Combo

By The Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. --- Keon Broxton went from confused to confident at the plate. The 26-year-old Milwaukee Brewers center fielder is thinking that how he ended 2016 will carry over into this season.

Keon Broxton

"I wouldn't quite say a breakout year, but definitely something that's more of a polished player this year," said Broxton. "I'm just trying to build off last year and everything that happened last year. I'm just trying to move forward and be more consistent at the plate and getting better reads in the outfield, just progressing my game all around."

Broxton, who is listed at 6-3, 200 pounds, is a rare combination of speed and power.

"That's definitely one of my goals this year is go 20-30," Broxton said.

He hit nine home runs and stole 23 bases in 75 games last year. Broxton is hitting .366 with three home runs in 15 exhibition games after going 1 for 3 in the Brewers' 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I try to bring everything into the game as much as possible --- power, speed, throwing arm, base running, everything," Broxton said. "I just try to be a complete player. I've still got a lot of things to work on."

Broxton made the Brewers' opening day roster last year, but was optioned April 16 to Triple-A Nashville. He did not get a hit in his first 24 big league at-bats before a May 25 bunt single. he was 8 for 64 (.125) when he was demoted July 3 for a third time.

When Broxton returned July 25, he took off. He hit .294 with eight home runs in 49 games before his season ended Sept. 16 when he broke his right wrist running into the Wrigley Field wall.

"I made a bunch of changes in my stance and I got really comfortable with it," Broxton said of his second-half splurge. "My confidence is what really changed when I came back up. It definitely showed in my performance."

"You've got to play this game with a little bit of confidence. You've got to believe in yourself. The last time I came up that's what I did." He hit .242 with a .354 on-base percentage and .430 slugging percentage for the season. While he drew walks in 14.8 percent of his plate-appearances, he struck out 36.1 percent of the time.

"Cutting down on strikeouts, trying to put more balls in play," Broxton said, describing how he wants to improve this year. "That's No. 1, for sure, for me."

Manager Craig Counsell had explored the season with speedsters Jonathan Villar, who led the majors with 62 stolen bases last year, and Broxton at the top of the order.

Broxton had a .373 batting average on balls in play last season.

"Looking at stats, balls I put in play, the majority of them are hits," he said. "I figure if I put in play at least 50 of the balls out of my 100 strikeouts last year, at least 30 or 20 of them have got to be hits or somewhere around there. I'm just looking on making more contact."

Photograph by Jsonline, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel




Tigers' Michael Fulmer Named American League Rookie of the Year

By Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press

Michael Fulmer started the 2016 season in Triple-A Toledo. He ended it as the American League rookie of the year.

Fulmer became the Detroit Tigers' first rookie of the year in a decade, besting New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin, as voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Michael Fulmer

He received 26 of 30 first-place votes and four second-place votes for a total of 142 points, to beat out Sanchez (91 points) and Naquin (20 points). Fulmer was the only player voted on every ballot.

"I was ecstatic," Fulmer said. "Talking to the guys like (teammate) Justin (Verlander) and all the veteran guys are telling me how big of a deal this is and I'm really happy and I know how blessed I am to win this award."

Fulmer, 23, posted a 3.06 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 26 starts. Only Toronto's Aaron Sanchez (3.00) and teammate Justin Verlander (3.04) had better ERAs among American League starters.

"It's still hard to wrap my head around a little bit," Fulmer said last week. "It was a fun season."

With the win, Fulmer becomes the fifth rookie of the year winner in franchise history, joining Harvey Kuenn in 1953, Mark Fidrych in 1976, Lou Whitaker in 1978 and Verlander in 2006. He was acquired in a trade with the New York Mets for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline.

In 159 innings last season, Fulmer struck out 132 batters. His year was highlighted by a five-start stretch from May 27 to June 17 in which he compiled a 33 1/3-inning scoreless streak, second-longest by a rookie starter in the past 45 years. He also threw a four=hit shutout of the Texas Rangers on August 14.

Mark Trumbo

"It really wasn't on my mind," said Fulmer. "We were in the middle of the playoff race, trying to get that Wild Card spot and it came down to the last day so I didn't think anything of it during the season. ... I appreciate that my rookie season was very memorable and full of ups and downs and I'm just glad where I'm at on this Tigers team."

After starting the season with the Mud Hens, the right-hander was called up to the big leagues in early May, after Shane Greene hit the disabled list. He quickly became a dominant force at the front of the Tigers' rotation, equipped with a mid-m.p.h. fastball and wipeout slider. But it was the changeup that took his game to the next level.

Prior to his May 21 start against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica park, he was throwing changeups in a bullpen session when something "clicked," he said. (The development of that off-speed pitch had been the main reason the team assigned him to the minor leagues.) Against the Rays, he allowed one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out 11 with one walk.

And he never looked back.

Fulmer was lauded for his mound presence -- wise beyond his years -- and off-field work ethic. His big build allowed him to pitch past the innings limit that the team had set for him coming into the season. He seems to be on track for a 200-inning season in 2017.

"After tonight, and being blessed with the opportunity to win this award, I'm looking forward to next season," Fulmer said. "And we're going to give it our all and I'm going to try to do anything I can to help the team and get to the playoffs and ultimately win the World Series." With the win, the link between Fulmer and Verlander has solidly been forged.

"I got kind of nervous talking to Verlander," Fulmer said. "He's been texting me and saying he's hoping that me and him have back-to-back a decade apart. But now I'm rooting for him to get the Cy Young."

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was unanimous choice for National League rookie of the year. He hit a team-high .308 with 26 home runs.

Photographs by Detroit Tigers/Wijily; and USA TODAY




Mark Trumbo Happy With 3-year Deal, and So Are Orioles

By The Associated Press

BALTIMORE --- Mark Trumbo figured his first foray into free agency would be a huge success.

"You kind of go into it thinking that you might have a ton of suitors. You lead the league in home runs, and who's not interested in that?" said Trumbo. "And then you realize that there aren't that many vacancies at times for what you do, especially this year."

Mark Trumbo

Trumbo topped the major leagues with 47 homers for the Orioles in 2016. He then received a qualifying offer of $17.2 million --- which he spurned. Pictured here, Trumbo follows through on a three-run home run against the Houston Astros during a game in Baltimore.

He entered free agency along with heavy hitters Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Yoenis Cespedes. As it turned out, Trumbo ended up right where he started: in Baltimore.

The 31-year-old slugger finalized a $37.5 million, three-year contract in January. Though it wasn't as much as he was hoping for, at least Trumbo won't have to test the market again until 2020.

"I'm quite happy with it," he said of the deal. "Going year to year, for six years at the major league level, with no guarantee beyond a one-year deal, that can be a bit nerve-wracking. Getting rewarded with a multi-year deal is quite nice. It does feel pretty satisfying." Getting Trumbo back in a lineup with long-ball hitters Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop means Baltimore intends to follow the same formula that got the team into the playoffs last season.

"Of course, we love pitching, defense and three-run homers," vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. "So we're glad that Mark's back from that perspective. He's a good player, he fits in with the team and a good teammate."

Duquette wanted Trumbo all along, but at a price that made sense. "It's just that we wanted to get the deal that was right for the club in our market," Duquette said, "and eventually we got that."

Trumbo played with the Los Angeles Angels, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Orioles last season. He thoroughly enjoyed his first season in Baltimore, and not just because he had a career-high 108 RBIs to go with his personal-best home run total.

Trumbo heard the talk about his below-average play in the outfield, and how that might have impacted the interest he received. He played in 159 games last year, most of them as a designated hitter.

Whether manager Buck Showalter chooses to use Trumbo at DH or in the field, the important thing for the Orioles is they've got his bat in the lineup.

"Trumbo came through with a lot of clutch hits, including in the playoffs against Toronto," Duquette said. "And beyond that he's got some great personal qualities. He's very dependable, he shows up to work every day, he's got an excellent work ethic. He's a very, very good veteran player and is an example for younger players in the organization."

Photograph by Gail Burton, The Associated Press




Reds Star Joey Votto Says He's Energized by Team's Youth Movement

By The Associated Press

GOODYEAR, Ariz. --- Youth dominate the Cincinnati Reds' roster this spring. Maybe that's helping rekindle Joey Votto's intensity and competitive edge. The Reds went 68-94 last year, tied with San Diego for the worst record in the National League.

"Last year, I felt like I was on the border of being burned out," the first baseman said. "I didn't feel like that this offseason."

Joey Vetto

The 33-year-old Votto, pictured here, is starting his 10th full season in the majors after hitting .326 with 29 home runs, 97 RBIs and an NL-leading .434 on-base average.

Cincinnati was in its seventh straight losing season when Votto was called up in September 2007. The team broke through in 2010, with Votto winning the NL MVP award and the Reds taking the Central title.

The Reds posted three 90-win seasons in four years, including two division titles.

Since then, they have traded Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and others. Just before training camp opened, star second baseman Brandon Phillips was dealt.

Votto remains behind and after signing a 10-year contract in 2012, he is going through a second rebuilding cycle.

"It's been a big transition," Votto said. "It has happened slowly. Brandon being traded was the final step."

The Reds lost the NL wild-card game to the Pirates in 2013. They were at least 10 games under .500 the last three seasons.

"I enjoy the time I have with these guys," Votto said. "I'm excited about this next group. I like to see guys find themselves, I've enjoyed watching Billy (Hamilton), Scott (Schebler) and Adam (Duvall) improve and be All-Stars."

Aside from pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey, shortstop Zack Cozart and catcher Devin Mesoraco, most of the remaining Reds have less than three full years in the majors.

"I know the younger guys welcome the turnover. They can say this is our time," Votto said.

Votto doesn't necessarily want to be known as a leader. He would rather teach by example.

"I have guys treat me with deference, which is uncomfortable," Votto said. "I've had guys take it the other way. I just want to fit in." Votto continues to swing one of the best bats in baseball. he overcame a slow start last year, hitting just .215 on June 1. He batted .378 over the last 104 games. He hit .419 on July and .394 in August.

"There's been years I've started out really, really well and years I've struggled," Votto said.

Votto finished seventh in the MVP voting last season. He thinks the state of the team influences the outcome.

"A lot has to do with the how well the team plays. Fifty years ago, they valued batting average more than they do now," Votto said.

Photograph by Wikipedia




Buster Posey Re-energizes After Down Year

By Janie McCauley, The Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona --- Buster Posey leans on the back of the batting cage under Arizona's blue skies, one leg crossed over the other as he watches his teammates take their cuts while awaiting his own turn. The star catcher chats with athletic trainer Dave Groeschner and talks hitting with manager Bruce Bochy.

Buster Posey

"Hi, Buster!" hollered 6-year old Jordan Larocco, a first-grader from Peoria who attended the workout on February 20 with his father, Michael, and 1-year-old brother Sebastian Posey immediately turned and offered a wave and a smile.

Gearing up for the World Baseball Classic and his ninth major league season in an already decorated career, Posey is perfectly happy to leave last year behind.

He is unable to put a finger on why his power numbers fell or say for certain whether fatigue was a factor. He cleared the fences for the fewest times when playing a full season in his eight years as a big leaguer.

"Oh, you feel down at the end of every year regardless if you have power numbers or not. You usually feel a little bit better when you are hitting a few more homers, just the way it goes," Posey said. "I don't know exactly what the explanation was. I'm looking forward to getting out and getting after it this year."

Now, the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year and 2012 Most Valuable Player is working on an abbreviated spring schedule with the San Francisco Giants to learn the pitchers and find his hitting stroke before departing for the World Baseball Classic to play for the United States team.

Posey batted .288 with 14 home runs, 33 doubles and 80 RBIs in 146 games. He has read statistics that his exit velocity, or how hard he hit the ball, was as high as ever.

"If I look at that, it tells me I was probably hitting too many balls on the ground," said Posey, who turned 30 in March. "Maybe that could be something mechanical. More than likely it probably is. Hopefully, there's an adjustment I can make where I can keep that consistent hard contact rate but maybe get a few more balls in the gap or better."

Posey also made a career-high 122 starts behind the plate last season and played 123 games at the position in all. Bochy plans to have him catch fewer games if at all possible.

"I'd like to try to rest him a little more, to be honest," Bochy said. "We'll see how it goes, how the games go more than anything. If they're good crisp games, that plays a part in how much he plays. If you have a bunch of long games you have to rest him a little bit more." Improving his diet became a priority for Posey, with wife Kristen's assistance.

"My wife gets credit for that," Posey said of his clean eating. "I just don't have the option to eat bad stuff from what she buys. I think it can be very beneficial. The main thing is trying to eat as raw as possible. That's kind of the way we look at it. We're still going to eat our grains and we're not against the carbs that way, but just trying to eat as raw as possible."

They also work together through his foundation as strong advocates and support for pediatric cancer research and treatment through their foundation.

Posey has never had a hard time finding motivation to work in the offseason, yet the disappointing way last season ended provided "a little bit of an extra push."

The Giants are revamping their bullpen after the struggles down the stretch and in their final game: squandering a three-run lead in the ninth against the Cubs using five relievers.

"This is the first time that we had lost in the playoffs and even coming off of World Series wins, I've been ready to go at this time of the year," said Posey.

Posey caught new closer Mark Melancon on Day 1 in February at Scottsdale Stadium and has made a point to quickly get up to speed with all the pitchers.

"I'm excited to learn from Mark and just get better together," said Melancon. "I feel like we're going to be able to help each other out a lot. I already know his work ethic and the thought that he puts into each game. Those things really excite me because I'm on the same page with that."

Photograph by Matt York, The Associated Press



Joe Mauer Enters 14th Year Still Excited as a Minnesota Twin

By The Associated Press

For a local kid that grew up a Minnesota Twins fan, Joe Mauer has had quite a career with his home team.

Entering his 14th season with the Twins, a total that matches two of the organization's previous stars, Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek, and is one year less than former standout Tony Oliva, the 33-year-old Mauer is touched when his name is mentioned with those stalwarts who wore the Minnesota uniform before him.

Joe Mauer

"It's pretty special," said the soft-spoken Mauer. "I'm a Minnesota kid. I know a lot about this organization, who played for this franchise since I was a little kid. I understand the history. When you mention some of the greats, it's pretty humbling and quite an honor."

Mauer grew up in St. Paul. A three-sport high school star in football, basketball and baseball, he originally committed to play football at Florida State until the Twins called his name first overall in 2001 amateur draft.

A stellar big league career followed.

"I'm happy I'm here. It's a crazy game," he said. "It seems like when I started up until now, it seems like there's been a lot of guys changing uniforms and moving on. Ever since I've known about this team as a little kid, I'm happy and grateful to put the uniform on."

A three-time batting champion from 2006-09, Mauer was the American League's most valuable player in 2009. He hit over .300 in seven of his first 10 seasons in the majors before dropping off the past three seasons.

He is looking to rebound, just like the team, which is coming off a club-record 103 losses. Mauer hit under .280 in each of the last three years, capped by a career-low .261 last season.

"I'm anxious every year," he said. "It's a fun time of the season, a clean slate. I'm excited to see what this year will bring."

The local guy that's had a solid career with his childhood team still enjoys playing at home. In 2010, he signed an eight-year extension that will take him through 2018.

"It's been great," said Mauer. "It's funny, at FanFest there were a lot of Minnesotans walking around saying 'Hey, Joe.' That's pretty cool. I feel like I'm one of them and it goes both ways."

Mauer's presence in the clubhouse is appreciated by his teammates, too.

"It's a tremendous accomplishment," right-hander Phil Hughes said of Mauer's longevity. "He kind of takes the same approach. He's not a very vocal guy, but certainly goes about things and does things the right way. I think that's instrumental for the young guys to see that because he's accomplished so much in the game."

Twins' center fielder Byron Buxton said, "Joe's got that knowledge for you to pick his brain, to try to learn to make your game better and be smarter in the game of baseball. That's a good weapon to have."

As he got to his locker after a workout, Mauer started stretching while he was talking.

Asked how he felt, a smile came across his face before he answered: "I'm a little more stiff than most of these guys in here, but it feels good. It's good to be back."

Photograph by Minnesota Post




Rockies Spend Big in Offseason to Bolster Bullpen, 1st Base

By The Associated Press

DENVER --- The usually cost-conscious Colorado Rockies went on a little spending splurge in free agency. They made big investments in an effort to give the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants a run for their money in the ultra-competitive National League West.

Greg Holland

The Rockies signed All-Star outfielder Ian Desmond ($70 million, five-years) to transition over to first base, added left-handed reliever Mike Dunn (19 million, three years), brought in versatile infielder Alexi Amarista ($1.25 million, one year) and, in their boldest move of all, scooped up right-hander Greg Holland ($7 million, one year), the once-dominant closer who is coming back from elbow reconstruction surgery. Holland is pictured here for the Kansas City Royals throwing against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on April 8, 2015.

One thing is for sure: The moves boosted morale for a team that has not been to the postseason since 2009.

"We could have went in a completely different direction, and that might have been a little disappointing for me," said reliever Adam Ottavino. "I've been here a while and I really want to win as soon as possible. The fact we're taking steps toward that end, it's that much more exciting."

There will be a new voice in the dugout, too, with manager Bud Black taking over for Walt Weiss. Black is the first Rockies skipper with a bona fide pitching background, which should come in handy at Coors Field.

"When I first talked to him, it felt like I've known him for a long time. He's easily relatable," said right-hander Jon Gray. "It's easier to buy into something when your coach has been through the same spot you're going through."

Colorado boasts a powerful lineup led by Nolan Arenado and an-up-and-coming starting rotation anchored by Chad Bettis, who was recently pronounced cancer-free after dealing with testicular cancer during the offseason.

What's more, the Rockies shored up its glaring deficiencies in the bullpen and at first base through free agency. Holland could be the lights-out closer the Rockies have been searching for, provided, of course, his arm is healthy again after missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery.

No wonder the Rockies are a trendy pick to make a run at a playoff spot.

"We don't really pay attention to what people are saying about us," said shortstop Trevor Story, who was having a monster rookie season before going on the DL in early August with a torn ligament in his left thumb. We're a pretty tight-knit group. We're a very confident group. We have a belief we can be really good."

Outfielder David Dahl is primed for a big season. That is, if he can get steady playing time. The team already has a plethora of outfielders with Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and Gerardo Parra. Dahl hit .315 with seven homers last season.

Left-hander Kyle Freeland has a good chance to make the roster. He grew up in Denver and was the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft.

In the infield, there is Arenado, the four-time Gold Glover at third base who led the league with 133 RBIs. Story is healed and ready to pick up where he left off and second baseman DJ LeMahieu is fresh off winning a National League batting title. Desmond has quickly picked up first base.

Catchers Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy figure to split time, while Dustin Garneau may be in the mix as well.

Bettis was given a clean bill of health and should be ready for the start of the season. "Opening day --- 100 percent, it's my mindset," said Bettis. "Just keep moving forward."

Photograph by Orlin Wagner, The Associated Press




Dallas Green, Who Managed Phillies to 1st World Series Title, Dies at 82

By The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA --- As a big league pitcher, Dallas Green was pretty mediocre. "I was a 20-game winner," he would joke, "it just took me five years to do it."

Instead, it was in another role where the imposing, 6-foot-5 Green really made noise.

Dallas Green

"When you think of big, with that deep voice, that booming voice, he could hold a team meeting, boy, he could scare you right out of your seat," Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona recalled.

Green, the tough-talking, no-nonsense skipper who in 1980 guided the Philadelphia Phillies to their first World Series championship, died Wednesday, March 22. He was 82.

The Phillies said Green died at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. He had been in poor health for a while.

Green spent 62 years in baseball as a player, manager, general manager, team president and other roles.

"He was a big man with a big heart and a bigger-than-life personality," Phillies Chairman David Montgomery said in a statement.

As a pitcher, Green went just 20-22 in the 1960s. His most notable distinction on the mound might have been giving up the only grand slam launched by all-time hits leader Pete Rose.

In 1980, with Rose playing first base on a team that included future Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, Green guided the Phillies to a very elusive crown, ending a drought that stretched back nearly a century.

Dallas Green

"The Phillies lost a prominent member of their family yesterday," Schmidt said. "He was our John Wayne figure through the strongest years of Philly baseball."

Green sure got his team's attention midway through that championship season. After a loss to Pittsburgh left the Phillies around .500, his clubhouse tirade was so loud that writers outside the locker room at Three Rivers Stadium swore they could hear every word.

"The baseball world lost a giant," Rose tweeted. "Dallas was a hell of a guy and a real leader."

Green later managed the New York Yankees --- where bombastic owner George Steinbrenner liked the idea of someone being able to stand up to him --- and the Mets.

"Dallas was pure and simple a 'true baseball man,'" the Mets said in a statement.

Green also was the GM and president of the Chicago Cubs and made a shrewd trade to get a young infielder from the Phillies, future great Ryne Sandberg. The deal helped turn a long-dormant franchise into a club that came within one win of reaching the 1984 World Series.

Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement, "Dallas Green had an eye for talent. Our fans can credit him for acquiring and drafting several of the most accomplished players to wear a Cubs uniform, including Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg, as well as All-Stars like Shawon Dunston, Mark Grace and Rick Sutcliffe."

In 2006, the Phillies inducted Green into their Hall of Fame. He spent 46 years overall in the Phillies system and was an adviser to their last four managers, always known for his commanding presence and shock of white hair. Pictured here, Green hugs Phillies manager Charlie Manuel after he threw out the first pitch before Game 5 of the 2009 NLCS.

Dallas Green and Charlie Manuel

Green was known for his rugged reputation and embraced it. Yet he was left in tears in 2011 when his 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was shot and killed outside a grocery store in Tucson, Arizona, as she went to see U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed in the mass shooting as Giffords met with constituents.

"I'm supposed to be a tough sucker, but I'm not very tough when it comes to this," Green said at the time.

Francona witnessed the effect her death had on Green.

"I know when that happened with his granddaughter, the shooting, I know that just tore him apart," said Green. "I saw him at a golf tournament for that, about a year and a half ago, and you could tell that ate him alive."

"I don't know if he was sick, but maybe he's happier now," Francona said.

Green was born in Newport, Delaware in 1934. He graduated from Conrad High School in 1952 and attended the University of Delaware until he signed with the Phillies as a pitcher in 1955.

Green played 13 years of professional baseball (1955-67), including parts of eight seasons in the majors with the Phillies (1960-64), Washington Senators (1965) and New York Mets (1966).

Born and raised in Delaware, George Dallas Green is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sylvia, his sons, John and Douglas; and five grandchildren.

"He was a big man with a big heart and a bigger-than-life personality," David Montgomery, the Phillies' chairman, said in a statement.

Photographs by Fox News; Twitter/Philadelphia Phillies; and Matt Slocum, Associated Press Photo




Yankees Manager Joe Girardi Draws Up Blueprint to Improve the WBC

By David Waldstein, The New York Times

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. --- Joe Girardi is known as a meticulous taskmaster as the Yankees' manager, one who can organize detailed spring training workouts or map out bullpen usage with aplomb.

World Baseball logo

So perhaps it would come as little surprise that Girardi has given careful consideration to how the World Baseball Classic is organized. He has, in fact, devised a plan that he thinks would make the event a more compelling and competitive tournament --- and less risky. Pictured here is the opening ceremony for the WBC in Seoul, South Korea, before a game between South Korea and Israel on March 6.

Some managers around baseball would like to do away with the event altogether. They do not like having their players leave camp to join their national teams, and they dread injuries.

Girardi was the Yankees' manager in 2013 when Mark Teixeira injured his wrist while preparing for the W.B.C., and Teixeira played only 15 games that season. But Girardi recognizes the increasing popularity of the tournament. The event set a record with 621,851 fans attending the pool stage, a 34 percent increase over the previous high, set in 2013.

"Obviously, there's value to the W.B.C.," Girardi said, adding, "So can we make it work? There would be a lot of value to it in the summer." That is his basic idea: Make it a summertime event. Move the first two rounds of the W.B.C. later by a week in March, so that the players --- especially the fragile pitchers --- are stronger and more prepared to play competitively. Then the semifinals and the final would be held during an extended weeklong All-Star Break in July.

For those concerned about the length of the season, Girardi suggested either playing three fewer games in the years when the W.B.C. is held --- sacrilege to some --- or starting the season three days sooner.

Andrew Miller

Under Girardi's plan, the semifinals of the W.B.C. would be held on Tuesday, and the final on Wednesday. The workout for the All-Star Game would be held on Thursday, and the game itself on Friday. Saturday and Sunday would be off, and the regular season would resume on Monday. It would be staged in the same town, with the entire baseball world focused there, or in a different city with available stadiums.

One benefit of that system would be that pitchers could throw more pitches without the restrictive pitch counts that they currently play under at the W.B.C. For now, pitchers are limited to 65 pitches in the first round, and 80 and 95 pitches in subsequent rounds. Relief pitchers cannot throw on three consecutive days, regardless of pitch counts, and anyone who throws at least 50 pitches in a game must rest for four days. If a pitcher throws 30 pitches, he must rest a day.

U.S. pitcher Andrew Miller, pictured here, stands in the dugout after being relieved during the eighth inning in a first-round game of the W.B.C. against the Dominican Republic on March 11, in Miami. The Dominican Republic won 7-5.

The W.B.C. began on March 6 this year for some teams. Girardi thinks the first round should begin a week later, allowing pitchers more time in spring training to build up arm strength. An extra week, he thinks, could translate into an additional five to 10 pitches and could spare managers from having to go to their bullpens too early, which in turn places strain on the relief pitchers.

Girardi also noted that there are more elbow injuries that require Tommy John surgery in April than any other month, suggesting that those injuries are caused more often by arm strength problems early in the year than by fatigue at the end of it.

Joe Girardi

"I think they have a better chance of being hurt in March than they do in July," he said, "when they're really built up."

Such issues intrigue Girardi, who is also well versed on the effects of scheduling regulations and game rules. He is always ready to share a few pointed thoughts on baseball's rules updates, like those governing instant replay that were introduced earlier this spring.

Girardi is not as worried about the position players, despite the injuries to Teixeira in 2013 or this year to Salvador Perez, the catcher for the Kansas City Royals who suffered a swollen left knee in Venezuela's game against Italy early in March. But when a pitcher like Betances takes the mound, there is concern, especially early in the year.

"You hold your breath a little bit," said Girardi, pictured here managing the Yankees.

But for all of Girardi's ruminations on the subject, he said he has never made a formal presentation to Major League Baseball, the godfather of the W.B.C., about his plan. He also said he would not want to prevent a player from participating. But when someone declines, like Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees pitcher from Japan, that is O.K., too, he said.

"You want to give your players the opportunity," Girardi said. "But you don't have a problem when they say no."

Photograph by Chang W. Lee, The New York Times; Lynne Sladky, AP Photo; and Newsday




Longtime A's Announcer Bill King Wins Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award

By The Associated Press

OXON HILL, Md. --- Former Oakland Athletics announcer Bill King has won the Ford C. Frick Award presented by the Hall of Fame for excellence in broadcasting.

The award was announced on December 7 at the winter meetings. The longtime radio voice of the A's died in 2005 after 25 years of calling Oakland A's games.

Bill King

King liked to punctuate big plays with his signature exclamation of "Holy Toledo!" He also was known for his handlebar mustache and beard, making his face as well as his voice familiar with fans.

For nearly a half-century, King called games in the Bay area. He started out as a fill-in on Giants broadcasts and later did play-by-play for the Raiders and Warriors. He joined the Athletics' crew in 1981.

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was the longtime GM of the A's in the 1980s and '90s, when the Bash Brothers rose to prominence. Alderson said he enjoyed King's interest in sports and other fields.

"Outstanding! Bill was so fantastic. What I loved about him was he was so unlike most baseball announcers. He was very erudite, loved language, had great command of it, but infused that language with tremendous energy and enthusiasm and passion," Alderson said.

"He felt strongly about certain topics, both in the game and out of the game. He loved German food. He loved the opera. he always drove a car that was at least 20 years old and was just an incredible personality, an eccentric in a positive way that stood out even in the Bay Area, which is full of eccentrics," said Alderson.

"I think one of the reasons he didn't get in earlier is because he was so well known for his other sports, as well, and people forgot how good he was in baseball."

King was among eight finalists on the ballot for the Frick honor. Gary Cohen, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Pat Hughes, Mike Krukow, Ned Martin and Dewayne Staats also were considered by a 17-member panel.

King will be recognized on July 29 during the Hall of Fame induction weekend in Cooperstown, New York.

"Listening to Bill King was like watching the game on the radio," Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement. "I once complimented him on his basketball commentary and how he was able to do it so well despite how fast the action is," Davis said. "Mark, basketball is actually the easiest sport to call," replied King. "Baseball is the toughest because of all the dead time you have to fill."

Davis said, "We are very happy for Bill and his family for being honored with the Ford Frick Award."

Photograph by Nick Lammers, Oakland Tribune via The Associated Press



John Schuerholz Tours Baseball Hall of Fame

By The Associated Press

Cooperstown, New York --- Eight weeks after receiving the biggest honor of his professional life, John Schuerholz spent a day soaking it all in.

Schuerholz, who has worked in baseball front offices for more than five decades, toured the baseball Hall of Fame on January 26 in preparation for his induction this summer.

John Schuerholz

"I'm sitting in a director's chair, I'm looking down this grand hallway in Cooperstown in the Hall of Fame having just been shown where my plaque will be installed ... and how do I feel? I feel spectacular," said the 76-year-old Schuerholz, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in December.

"I feel awed, I feel as thankful and appreciative of all the people who have helped me in my career and in my life," said Schuerholz, "to get to this point where a group decided that this guy qualities for the Hall of Fame, this guy ought to be in the Hall of Fame."

Schuerholz will be inducted along with Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Ivan Rodriguez and Bud Selig on July 30. This walkthrough was the customary visit given to all inductees to help prepare for the big day.

Schuerholz began his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966, then moved to the expansion Kansas City Royals in 1969. After being promoted from farm director to general manager in 1981 at age 41, he put together the 1985 team that won the team's first World Series. At the time, he was the youngest general manager in big league history.

"I've learned by watching good people, smart people, how they work, how they prepare, how they communicate, how they lead, how they deal with people," said Schuerholz. "And if you're in a leadership position, it's about people believing in you, knowing that you trust them and you empower them and you honor them, and they'll work harder and give you better information. Therefore, you succeed more. And that's what happened to me."

In 1990, Schuerholz moved to the Atlanta Braves as general manager and one year later the team won the first of 14 consecutive division titles and a World Series crown in 1995. In his 26 years as GM of the Royals and Braves, from 1982-2007, his teams won 2,348 games, an average of more than 90 wins per season.

Now vice chairman of the Braves, Schuerholz also became the first general manager to build World Series championship teams in both major leagues.

Inside the Hank Aaron exhibit, Chasing the Dream, Schuerholz said, "Great player. Great man. My role model in life. Someone to look up to."

Photograph by AJC.com




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