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A-Rod Issues an Apology to MLB and Fans

A-Rod Issues an Apology to MLB and Fans

Leon Halip/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez released a lengthy personal handwritten letter obtained by ESPN on Tuesday, apologizing to the fans of Major League Baseball and the organization.

Rodriguez apologized for taking steroids again and is hoping to move onto bigger and better things this season with the Yankees after serving a one-year suspension.

"I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season," Rodriguez said in the statement. "I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I'm sorry."

Rodriguez is owed $61 million over the next three years and can also make even more money in home run bonuses.

"I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that's on me," the letter continued.  "It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology but I decided the next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job."

The letter comes on the same day that Anthony Bosch, former owner of a Florida medical clinic, was sentenced to four years in a federal prison.

Bosch pretended to be a doctor and illegally supplied injections and other performance-enhancing drugs to professional baseball players, including Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also reached out to third baseman Chase Headley this week to get to know his new teammate.  The Yankees signed Headley to a four-year deal this offseason.

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Giants Agree to 1-Year Contract with McGehee

Giants Agree to 1-Year Contract with McGehee

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The San Francisco Giants have agreed to a one-year, $4.8 million contract with third baseman Casey McGehee. The deal allows the Giants to avoid arbitration with him.McGehee joined the Giants in December, when he was traded by the Miami Marlins for two minor league pitchers. Last season, McGehee played in 160 games, hitting .287 with four home runs, 76 RBIs, and a .355 on-base percentage. He helps fill the void created when Pablo Sandoval signed with the Boston Red Sox this offseason.McGehee was the Giants' last player in arbitration.

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Astros Sign RHP Roberto Hernandez to Minor-League Contract

Astros Sign RHP Roberto Hernandez to Minor-League Contract

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The Houston Astros signed right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, the club announced on Thursday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Last season, the 34-year-old Hernandez went 8-11 with a 4.10 ERA in 32 games with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.  He struck out 105 batters and walked 73 in 164 2-3 innings of work.

Hernandez originally came up with the Cleveland Indians in 2006, where he was known as Fausto Carmona. In nine big-league seasons, with the Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, Dodgers and Phillies, he's compiled a record of 67-93 with an ERA of 4.60.

Hernandez was named to the American League All-Star team in 2010.

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Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy Out 4-6 Weeks with Hamstring Injury

Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy Out 4-6 Weeks with Hamstring Injury

Milwaukee Brewers/ML​B(MILWAUKEE) -- Brewers All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be out four to six weeks with a strain in his right hamstring, the team announced on Wednesday.

Lucroy said during a phone interview that the hamstring issue started after he pulled up quickly while running hard into third base during a game in August.

The injury will sideline him all of spring training, but the team is hopeful he'll be ready to go for Opening Day on April 6 against the Colorado Rockies.

"One thing we wanted to make clear here, he can still throw, he can still hit," Brewers general manager Gord Ash said.

Lucroy batted .301 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs last year.

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Pete Rose Holding Out Hope He’ll Be Reinstated

Pete Rose Holding Out Hope He’ll Be Reinstated

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Former Cincinnati Reds player Pete Rose plans on reaching out to new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred about being reinstated into baseball.

Rose was hoping former commissioner Bud Selig would lift his lifetime ban prior to stepping down, but that never happened.

"I wish I could tell that I know what he'll do, but I've never met him. I've never seen him,'' Rose told USA Today Sports on Wednesday.  "But I'd love to talk to him.''

Rose played for the Reds his entire 24-year career and finished with 4,256 hits and a .303 batting average.

"I'll always have hope. That's all I've got," Rose continued. "I just want to be on that writers' ballot. Let the writers decide. If they want me in, I'm in. If they don't feel I should be in, I can live with it.

"Once they lift my ban, I should be just like anyone else. If I've never been on the ballot, my clock should start at zero. That will give them 10 years to decide, if they need it.''

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A-Rod Apologizes to the Yankees

A-Rod Apologizes to the YankeesMike Stobe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez met with the organization on Tuesday and cleared the air before position players report to spring training on Feb. 25. The Yankees said that they plan on disputing his h...

Report: L.A. Angels Avoid Arbitration with OF Matt Joyce

Report: L.A. Angels Avoid Arbitration with OF Matt Joyce

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Angels and outfielder Matt Joyce avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $4.75 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Angels acquired Joyce from the Rays on Dec. 16 for right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen. In 140 games with Tampa Bay last season, he batted .254 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs. The 30-year-old also scored 51 runs and had an on-base percentage of .349.

Joyce was selected out of Florida Southern College by the Tigers in the 12th round of the 2005 amateur draft. He made his major league debut with Detroit in 2008.

Joyce was named to the American League All-Star team in 2011.

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Mets’ Matt Harvey Ready to Pick up Where He Left Off in 2013

Mets’ Matt Harvey Ready to Pick up Where He Left Off in 2013

Norm Hall/Getty Images(PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.) -- It may be cold in New York, but the sight of starting pitcher Matt Harvey reporting for spring training has likely warmed the hearts of New York Mets fans.

After taking the baseball world by storm in 2013, Harvey needed to undergo Tommy John Surgery, and missed the entire 2014 season. After a full offseason of working out and getting into shape, Harvey is ready to go.

"Just the way the ball's coming out, I'm pretty on point with my accuracy right now, which is surprising," he said. "Obviously hearing from guys [who came back from Tommy John surgery], that was kind of the last thing that sometimes comes. I couldn't be happier with the way things feel."

In 2013, Harvey went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA with 191 strikeouts in 178.1 innings pitched while making 26 starts.

According to Harvey, he'll be ready to go for the team's first game against the Washington Nationals on April 6, but will likely make his first start on April 13 for the team's home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies.

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ESPN: Padres Sign Free Agent Pitcher James Shields

ESPN: Padres Sign Free Agent Pitcher James Shields

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The San Diego Padres incredible offseason continues as ESPN and other outlets are reporting that the team has signed free agent starting pitcher James Shields.

While financial details have not been officially released, it is believed Shields' deal is worth around $75 million over four years, and also includes a fifth-year option.

The 33-year-old Shields is one of the more durable workhorse starting pitchers in baseball. According to Baseball Reference, Shields ranks first among MLB pitchers with 1,785 2/3 innings pitched since 2007.

This past season with the Kansas City Royals, "Big Game James" went 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA while pitching 227.0 innings pitched.

Shields has pitched more than 200 innings in every season since 2007.

Shields is the latest addition to the Padres as they've remade their team this offseason. Along with Shields, they've added Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks.

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Red Sox Agree to 3-Year Contract with LHP Wade Miley

Red Sox Agree to 3-Year Contract with LHP Wade Miley

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- The Boston Red Sox and left-handed pitcher Wade Miley agreed to a three-year contract with a club option for the 2018 season, the team announced on Thursday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Red Sox acquired Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Dec. 12 for right-handed pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster and minor league infielder Raymel Flores.

Last season with the D-Backs, the 28-year-old Miley went 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA. He struck out 183 batters and walked 75 in 201 1-3 innings of work.

In 2012, Miley was named to the National League All-Star team and finished second to Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for Rookie of the Year.

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Rangers Sign OF Ryan Ludwick to Minor-League Contract

Rangers Sign OF Ryan Ludwick to Minor-League Contract

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Texas) -- The Texas Rangers agreed to a minor-league contract with outfielder Ryan Ludwick with an invitation to spring training, the club announced on Wednesday. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The 36-year-old Ludwick began his career with the Rangers, where he played from 2002-2003. In 31 games, he batted .215 with one home run and nine RBIs.

During his 12-year big-league career, Ludwick has suited up for the Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. He owns a career .260 batting average with 154 homers and 587 RBIs.

Ludwick was named to the National League All-Star team in 2008.

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Rockies Agree to Minor League Contract with RHP John Axford

Rockies Agree to Minor League Contract with RHP John Axford

iStockphoto(DENVER) -- The Colorado Rockies agreed to a minor league contract with reliever John Axford with an invitation to spring training, the team announced on Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In 62 games with the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Axford went 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA. He struck out 63 and walked 36 in 54 2-3 innings.

Axford’s best season came in 2011 while serving as closer for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 74 appearances, he had 46 saves along with an ERA of 1.95. He also fanned 86 batters in 73 2-3 innings of work.

The Rockies finished the 2014 campaign with a 66-96 record.

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Andruw Jones Planning MLB Comeback

Andruw Jones Planning MLB Comeback

Jim Rogash/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After a three-year absence from Major League Baseball, former outfielder Andruw Jones is looking to return to the Majors.

The 37-year-old Jones has spent the past two seasons playing for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan. He has hit .232 with a combined 50 homers over the past two seasons with the team.

"He wants to play in the big leagues again," Jones' agent, Scott Boras, said. "He's still got his power. If you can hit 25 home runs in Japan, you're doing something."

Boras said Jones is hoping to catch on as part-time outfielder/first baseman as well as a bat off the bench.

At his peak, Jones was not only a power hitting outfielder, but he was also one of the best fielders in Major League Baseball. He won ten-straight Gold Glove Awards from 1998-2007 during his time with the Atlanta Braves. In 17 seasons, Jones hit .254 with 434 home runs and 1,289 RBIs while playing with the Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees.

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Diamondbacks Agree to 1-Year Deal with Laird

Diamondbacks Agree to 1-Year Deal with Laird

Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks signed free-agent catcher Gerald Laird to a one-year minor league contract with an invite to spring training.Laird, 35, spent the last two seasons serving as the Atlanta Braves backup catcher, hitting .238 in 273 plate appearances.Laird has played 12 big league seasons: six with the Texas Rangers, three with the Detroit Tigers, two with the Braves, and one with the St. Louis Cardinals. During that time, he hit .244 with 38 home runs and 238 RBIs.Tuffy Gosewisch and Oscar Hernandez are the only catchers on Arizona's 40-man roster.

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Giants Avoid Arbitration with Brandon Belt, Agree to One-Year Deal

Giants Avoid Arbitration with Brandon Belt, Agree to One-Year Deal

Brandon Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The San Francisco Giants and first baseman Brandon Belt agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.6 million on Monday, avoiding salary arbitration.

Belt was one of the keys for the Giants in their run to the World Series title, hitting .308 in the Fall Classic.

During the regular season, Belt batted .243 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs in 61 regular season games.  He missed the final 2½ months of the season with a concussion.

The Giants have to work out one more deal with third baseman Casey McGehee, who is also eligible to go into arbitration.

The Giants' position players are scheduled to report to spring training on Feb. 23.  Pitchers and catchers are on Feb. 18.

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Report: Reliever Casey Janssen Signs with Nationals

Report: Reliever Casey Janssen Signs with Nationals

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Reliever Casey Janssen signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Washington Nationals, MLB Network Insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted Wednesday.The 33-year-old Janssen has played eight major league seasons, all with the Toronto Blue Jays. During that time he's pitched 493 innings, compiling 90 saves, a 3.52 ERA, 368 strikeouts and a 1.22 WHIP.Janssen served the last three seasons as the Blue Jays closer, saving 81 of his 91 opportunities.Janssen is expected to serve as a set-up man for closer Drew Storen.Janssen joins a bullpen that lost Ross Detwiler and Tyler Clippard to trades and Rafael Soriano to free agency this offseason.

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Reds Agree to 4-Year Contract with C Devin Mesoraco

Reds Agree to 4-Year Contract with C Devin Mesoraco

Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- The Cincinnati Reds and catcher Devin Mesoraco agreed to a four-year contract extension, the club announced late on Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Reds selected Mesoraco with the 15th overall pick in the 2007 MLB amateur draft. Last season, the 26-year-old batted .273 with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs in 440 at-bats. He was named to his first All-Star team in 2014.

"This is another example of rewarding a player we drafted and developed," Cardinals president of baseball operations and general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. "We are pleased to be able to sign him for the next four years and expect him to be an integral part of the team."

Mesoraco was set for arbitration this off-season, but his new contract will keep him in Cincinnati through the 2018 season.

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Report: N.Y. Yankees Preparing to Challenge A-Rod

Report: N.Y. Yankees Preparing to Challenge A-Rod

iStockphoto(NEW YORK) -- The New York Yankees are preparing to contest the validity of a marketing contact with third baseman Alex Rodriguez, according to ESPN.

In 2007, Rodriguez entered into a deal with the Yankees that would pay the 14-time All-Star a bonus for each milestone home run he reached.

Rodriguez is six homers away from tying Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time home run list, which will make him eligible for a $6 million bonus. The bonus is part of the 10-year, $275 million extension he signed with New York.

The Yankees are devising legal arguments against paying the bonus, because of Rodriguez's steroid revelations and year-long ban he received from Major League Baseball.

Rodriguez will also receive an extra $6 million each if he ties Babe Ruth at 714 home runs, Hank Aaron at 755 home runs, and Barry Bonds at 762 home runs, and breaks Bonds' all-time record.

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Marlins Sign Ichiro

Marlins Sign Ichiro

Rich Schulz/Getty Images

(MIAMI, Fl.) -- Ichiro Suzuki will give it another go in Major League Baseball.

The Miami Marlins have signed Ichiro to a one-year deal.  The deal is for $2 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Ichiro, 41, has played 14 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees. He needs 156 hits to reach the milestone of 3,000 for his career.

The Marlins outfield is set with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Ichiro will likely be utilized in a platoon and defensive replacement role. 

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Hall of Famer Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks Dies at 83

Hall of Famer Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks Dies at 83

Chicago Cubs/MLB(NEW YORK) -- Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks died on Friday night, just days before his 84th birthday, the Cubs confirmed. 

Banks was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 after 19 seasons playing in Wrigley Field.

"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time," Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, said in a statement released by the team. "He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known.

"Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."

Banks made his debut for the Cubs in 1953, as the team's first black player, and hit 512 homers, had 1,636 RBI's, with 2,583 hits during his 19-year run with the club.

Banks ranks first in games played (2,528), at-bats (9,421), extra-base hits (1,009) and total bases (4,706); second in home runs (512), RBI (1,636) and hits (2,583); third in doubles (407); fifth in runs scored (1,305); seventh in triples (90); and eighth in walks (763). 

Banks was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2013.

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