Spring headlines: Exhibition games begin; A-Rod issues statement; Yankees shake up outfield

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Here is Friday's top headline for any baseball fan: It's game day. Professional teams are playing against each other! You've waited so long for this to be here again, and now it is. It's like you've been on a diet for five months and today you get to eat pizza.

How is it? As good as you imagined?

Eight teams are in action. Exhibition games, sure. But it's baseball. There will be strike outs and home runs and stolen bases. The bullpen will be called. Someone wins at the end. It's not quite Opening Day, but it's damn fine appetizer.

The first game at the Grapefruit League begins at 1:05 p.m. (ET), the Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves. The Cactus League has three games, all at 3:05 p.m. (ET) — Cincinnati Reds vs. Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals vs. Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres vs. Seattle Mariners.

Will the Uptons hug? Will Miguel Cabrera win the Triple Crown in one day? Will Felix Hernandez have money falling out of his pockets? All that and more, answered soon. Now, back to your regularly scheduled Spring Headlines.

Final Classic rosters brimming with talent: World Baseball Classic rosters were announced Thursday. In all, 45 Major League All-Stars are playing on the 16 teams in the classic, which starts March 2.

Most of the big roster moves you know about by now (The USA got Ross Detwiler, yay!) But if you're a baseball nerd eager to pore over all the rosters, even for Spain or Brazil, head over to the WBC page and check 'em out. Also keep an eye on The Stew, as we continue our "Getting to Know Your World Baseball Classic Squads" series until the games start next week.

Rehabbing A-Rod working to rejoin team this year: In A-Rod being A-Rod news: The controversial New York Yankees star released a statement to keep us abreast of his injury progress. You'll recall he's in New York rehabbing separately from his teammates in Florida.

Like a letter sent home from summer camp, A-Rod wants us all to know what he's up to. Per MLB.com:

"Right now I'm dedicating 100% of my energy and focus on my rehabilitation. I am conducting two rehab sessions each and every day in an effort to get back on the field and rejoin my Yankees teammates," Rodriguez said in his statement. "I think we have a great team and I want to be a part of it."

Granderson, Gardner may switch outfield spots: The New York Yankees, in need of a jolt, are pondering whether to swap the positions of outfielders Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.

Granderson started to play in left at Thursday's work out, while Gardner shifted to center.

From the AP:

''I think it has a chance to help us a little bit, but I'm not really sure,'' manager Joe Girardi said. ''That's why I've said from the beginning that I'm going to toy with it. I'm not saying today that this is what it's going to be opening day.''

Girardi plans to play the pair together in upcoming spring training games.

''See if we like it,'' Girardi said. ''If we do, we'll stay with it. If we don't, we won't.''

Miller cleared to throw, eyes return to mound: St. Louis Cardinals fans probably said, "oh no, not another hurt pitcher" upon news that star prospect Shelby Miller was pulled from throwing sessions on Wednesday with shoulder tightness. Fear not, Cards fans, Miller was cleared on Thursday to return to action.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The starter was given treatment that including anti-inflammatory medication and vigorous stretching of the joint. He said the soreness came after his first appearance against hitters this spring. Cleared to play catch today -- on flat ground, about 120 feet, normal stuff -- Miller could then return to the mound for a bullpen session or live batting practice as early as Friday.

"I feel 100 percent," he said. "All good."

Ivan Rodriguez back with Rangers in many roles: The great Pudge Rodriguez is back with the team he spent more than half his career with — the Texas Rangers. He's been given the job of special assistant to the general managers. Per the Associated Press:

He will assist the team in several areas, including international scouting, player instruction on the major and minor league levels and talent evaluation. He will also represent the team in community and marketing endeavors. Rodriguez traveled to the Dominican Republic with Rangers officials last month. He is expected to join the team in Arizona for spring training for a few days late next week.

Harlem Shake hits Royals clubhouse: Yes, even I am tired of the "Harlem Shake" now. But some of the Kansas City Royals hopped aboard the viral dance craze and I figured I'd share. Like the Royals, it could be better.

Photo of the Day: Here's San Diego Padres catcher Nick Hundley. What's he doing? Stretching? Praying? Neither. He's looking for a lost contact lens.

Tweet of the Day: Generally, I try not to mix religion and baseball twice in one post, but this was good.

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