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2:17 AM ET, March 1, 2012


 Top News: 
Fox Sports:
Sources: MLB playoffs expanding in 2012  —  Baseball's playoffs will expand from eight to 10 teams, starting this season, according to major-league sources.  —  The sport's new collective-barganing agreement stipulated that additional wild cards would be added in each league no later than 2013.
Buster Olney / MLB:
Sources: MLB, union closer to 10-team playoffs  —  On the eve of Thursday's soft deadline for finalizing details of the implementation of a 10-team playoff field, Major League Baseball and its players association are close to announcing the change that would take effect in October, sources said Wednesday.
Discussion: Royals Review and Plain Dealer
Fox Sports:
Expanded playoffs are good for baseball  —  At first, I opposed expanding the baseball postseason.  —  Hardly anyone contended that the playoffs were too short.  If anything, the postseason was too long.  —  I'm still concerned that baseball's decision to add a wild card in each league …
Jeff Passan / Yahoo! Sports:
Rangers' signing of Dominican phenom Jairo Beras is investigated by MLB over age discrepancy  —  Major League Baseball will investigate the Texas Rangers' signing of Dominican prospect Jairo Beras for $4.5 million after questions about his age arose.  The Rangers believe he is 17 and eligible …
Discussion: Baseball Prospectus and MLB Rumors
Ben Badler / Baseball America:
Rangers' Surprise Signing Draws Industry Scrutiny  —  The Rangers reportedly have agreed to a deal with one of the top prospects in the Dominican Republic, but the deal has set off confusion and outrage through the industry because most organizations—including Major League Baseball …
Discussion: Lone Star Ball
Phil Rogers / Chicago Tribune:
Your Morning Phil: Beras, Soler, Braun  —  Talking baseball: 1.  Uh, oh.  This could get ugly.  One source in the Dominican Republic has reported that The Next Big Thing in Latin America, outfielder Jairo Beras, has agreed to a $4.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers, and the signing raises questions.
Adam McCalvy /
Crew, Axford to continue work on multiyear deal  —  Both sides say they'd like contract extension; talks cordial  —  PHOENIX — Brewers closer John Axford was quick to explain why he's the only member of the 40-man roster yet to sign a 2012 contract.  —  “Just like last year, I'm holding out for billions,” he joked.
Discussion: MLB Daily Dish and Al's Ramblings
Tom Haudricourt / JSOnline:
Brewers, Axford talking multi-year deal  —  By Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel  —  Phoenix — There's a good reason that closer John Axford is the last player on the Brewers' 40-man roster to sign a contract for the 2012 season.  —  Assistant general manager Gord Ash confirmed Wednesday …
Discussion: Brew Beat, HardballTalk and MLB Rumors
Associated Press:
Marlins RF prefers Giancarlo Stanton  —  JUPITER, Fla. — His mom calls him Cruz.  Teammates call him Bigfoot.  Most baseball fans know him as Mike Stanton, precocious slugger for the Miami Marlins, but his first name is actually Giancarlo.  —  “The man of a million names,” Stanton said.
Joe Capozzi / Fish Tank blog:
Miami Marlins slugger will go by a new name — Giancarlo Stanton  —  Batting fourth for the Miami Marlins, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.  That's how slugger Mike Stanton will be introduced from now on.  —  Starting Monday when he is introduced over the public-address system at Roger Dean Stadium …
Associated Press:
Pirates' Burnett struck in right eye by batted ball … BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett was struck in the face by a batted ball on Wednesday, and will fly from the team's spring training complex to Pittsburgh to have his right eye examined by team doctors.
Discussion: ESPN
Tom Singer /   Burnett to Pittsburgh for exam on injured eye
Bill Chastain /
Final night of '11 still resonates with Rays  —  PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Luke Scott called the final night of the 2011 season “the greatest night in baseball history,” and that seems to be the general sentiment among fans and players alike.  —  Rays fans won't soon forget that night at Tropicana Field …
Matt Gelb /
Howard sidelined indefinitely  —  CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ryan Howard has indeed suffered a setback in his recovery from Achilles surgery and will be sidelined indefinitely following a procedure to clean an infection from his original wound.  —  Foot specialist Mark Myerson performed a …
Discussion: HardballTalk
Bob Brookover / Boston Herald:
Phillies awaiting word on Ryan Howard's Achilles injury
Discussion: Phillies Nation and
Nathan Rode / Baseball America:
Giolito Hits Triple Digits  —  Los Angeles Times' high school reporter Eric Sondheimer tweeted breaking news Tuesday evening that Harvard-Westlake High (Studio City, Calif.) righthander Lucas Giolito hit 100 mph in a start against El Camino Real High (Woodland Hills, Calif.).
Doug Glanville / ESPN:
Appreciating Chipper Jones  —  Longtime Atlanta Brave has been killing opponents softly for a long, long time  —  Baseball locker rooms are full of debates.  Players often debate the best slider in the game, the best infield grass, maybe even the best postgame spread.
Discussion: MLB
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 More News: 
Amanda Comak / Washington Times:
Minor league right-hander Cortes not in camp with Nationals
Discussion: MLB Daily Dish
Mark Saxon / ESPN:
Mark Trumbo cleared for activity
Bob Harkins / HardballTalk:
Can Jesus Montero catch? He's motivated to show he can
Adam Kilgore / Washington Post:
Davey Johnson's history lesson
Discussion: HardballTalk
Dgoold / derrickgoold:
The Promised Pujols Cartoon
Greg Johns /
Gutierrez suffers right pec injury
 Earlier Picks: 
Paul Hoynes / Plain Dealer:
Albert Belle enjoys a laugh-filled reunion with the Cleveland Indians
Discussion:, HardballTalk and Deadspin
Fox Sports:
Braun should have quit while ahead
Danny Knobler /
Nationals camp report: Harper decision might make all the difference
Anthony McCarron / NY Daily News:
Bobby Valentine mocks Derek Jeter's ‘flip’ play, revels over how Jason Varitek ‘beat up’ Alex Rodriguez in 2004
Discussion: the joy of sox

From WeSmirch:

Entertainment Tonight:
Jennifer Lawrence and Darren Aronofsky Split After 1 Year of Dating (Exclusive)

Natalie Abrams /
Law & Order: SVU to tackle Harvey Weinstein scandal

A Woman Says Jeremy Piven Groped Her On The “Entourage” Set In 2009

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