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12:50 PM ET, February 7, 2019

Ballbug

 Top News: 
Associated Press:
Yanks' Clint Frazier feeling good after concussion cut short 2018 season  —  TAMPA, Fla. — Clint Frazier showed no hesitation chasing down a fly ball on the warning track and hit batting practice drives well over the left-field fence, appearing to have recovered from the concussion that decimated his 2018 season.
Discussion: Pinstripe Alley
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Coley Harvey / ESPN:
'Don't run from the fire.  Run toward it': Inside Clint Frazier's long, rockin' road to recovery  —  MARIETTA, Ga. — Clint Frazier's ears have been ringing a lot lately.  —  In recent months, they've been bombarded with booming bass beats, decibel-deafening melodies and sudden, piercing shrieks from excited music fans.
Jeff PassanESPN / ESPN:
The broken winter: Why baseball must fix free agency ASAP  —  On this, the 97th day of free agency, four days before the first pitchers and catchers report to spring training, less than six weeks ahead of Major League Baseball opening its regular season, the two best free agents in more than a decade remain unemployed.
RELATED:
Dave Sheinin / Baltimore Sun:
MLB considering drastic rule changes that could speed up games and create universal DH  —  The Washington Post  —  Major League Baseball and its union have had substantive discussions in recent days over a series of proposals, among the most drastic proposed changes in years …
RELATED:
Gabe Lacques / USA Today:   MLB rule changes are wise - but be careful what you wish for
Bob Nightengale / USA Today:
MLB, union discussing dramatic rule changes
Discussion: MLB Baseball News …
Jacob Bogage / Chicago Tribune:
After 1968's ‘Year of the Pitcher,’ MLB lowered the mound.  Now, the league could do it again.  —  The Washington Post  —  During Bob Gibson's record-setting 1968 season, he hung a sign above his locker that read, “Here comes the judge.”  He felt untouchable, he said.
Mark Gonzales / Chicago Tribune:
Cubs have struck out with homegrown pitchers in recent years, but they're working to change that  —  Chicago Tribune  —  Dylan Cease didn't advance very far in the Cubs organization before they traded him to the White Sox.  But he hasn't forgotten the special care the Cubs gave …
RELATED:
Paul Sullivan / Chicago Tribune:   Column: Cubs' last hurrah on WGN-TV could be a tearjerker
Gabriel Burns / The Charlotte Observer:
Are Braves favorites in competitive NL East?  —  BY GABRIEL BURNS THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION  —  The more I look at it, the more I'm convinced there isn't a more competitive division top-to-bottom than the National League East.  That isn't exactly a hot take, but a week away from spring training …
Discussion: Federal Baseball and Talking Chop
Jacob Fisher / Cincinnati.com:
You can play as a Cincinnati Reds legend in ‘MLB The Show 19’  —  Some familiar faces are coming to the latest installment of Sony's popular video game franchise.  —  Former Reds pitcher Rob Dibble and outfielder Yasiel Puig will be playable characters in “MLB The Show 19,” …
Bob Nightengale / USA Today:
After injury-devastated season, Dustin Pedroia plots his comeback for Red Sox  —  CHANDLER, Ariz. — Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, sitting on the weight bench in the gym of his palatial home, is restless, rubbing his hands together, chugging another bottled water …
Discussion: Forbes, Over the Monster and NESN.com
Associated Press:
Junichi Tazawa, Chicago Cubs reach agreement on minor league deal  —  CHICAGO — Reliever Junichi Tazawa has finalized a minor league contract with the Chicago Cubs and will report to big league spring training.  —  If added to the 40-man roster, Tazawa would receive a one-year contract paying $800,000 while in the major leagues.
Jeff Wilson / Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Mazara gives health a thumb's up.  But another change could help fuel his 2019 for Rangers  —  An injured thumb can wreck a season, as Nomar Mazara discovered in 2018.  —  His right thumb was damaged just before the All-Star break, while making a play in right field at Camden Yards.
Rob Longley / Toronto Sun:
‘EVERYBODY LOVES HIM’: New Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo brings passion, personality to rebuilding team  —  TUCSON, Ariz. — You are about to know him as an energetic man with a quick smile and even quicker wit, a baseball lifer committed to mining the best out of those who surround him.
RELATED:
Yahoo Canada / MLB Baseball News, Scores …:
Bryce Harper's fit with Blue Jays isn't a fan fever dream
Discussion: Bluebird Banter
ESPN:
Reliever Brad Boxberger agrees to deal with Royals  —  Reliever Brad Boxberger has agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals, a source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.  —  The deal is for $2.2 million with $1 million in performance bonuses, a source told ESPN.  MLB Network first reported the agreement.
Dan Albano / Orange County Register:
Orange Lutheran's Kyle Ford shows his passion for USC, signs with the Trojans  —  ORANGE - Kyle Ford's commitment to USC faced a few tests on the journey to National Signing Day on Wednesday.  —  First, Trojans' heralded new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury departed to coach …
 
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 More News: 
Jack Etkin / Forbes:
Coming Off A Superb Season, Kyle Freeland Hopes To Be Even More Effective By Varying Two Pitches
Discussion: Purple Row and Rox Pile
Matthew Florjancic / WKYC-TV:
Former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. receives Lifetime Achievement Award at Greater Cleveland Sports Awards
Chicago Tribune:
Deep Dish Baseball: Gearing up for spring training and talking to Reds announcer Marty Brennaman
Mark Gonzales / Chicago Tribune:
Cubs invite 27 non-roster players to spring training
Jeff Todd / MLB Trade Rumors:
Pirates To Sign Tom Koehler
Discussion: DodgerBlue.com and Bucs Dugout
 Earlier Picks: 
Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
SunTrust Park to host youth baseball Hank Aaron Invitational
Rick Hummel / St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
It's Truck Day — and the unofficial start of Cardinals spring training
Arizona Republic:
MLB's highest paid players 2019: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Trout lead rankings
Jason Rollison / Bucs Dugout:
Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Nick Franklin to a Minor-League Deal