Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Mar 28 2015, Page 67

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - March 28, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C10 We’re more than just one building. Whether it’s in one of our 55 homes or yours, we’re proud to touch the lives of thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities and autism across Manitoba every year. W E ’ R E H E L P I N G O U R C O M M U N I T Y B E Y O N D O U R W ALLS STAMANT . CA W Y B S C 10 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2015 winnipegfreepress. com SATURDAY SPORTS SPECIAL E VEN before Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper and the rest of the ramped- up Washington Nationals hit the field for their first full- squad workout at spring training, they got the message. There it was, printed across the top of a practice schedule posted in the clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium. Simple and direct, from manager Matt Williams. “ The road to the World Series begins today.” A challenge? A prediction? A statement? Or, perhaps, a rally cry from Wrigley Field to Fenway Park. Because as Major League Baseball launches speed- up rules this year to cut the length of games, a lot of teams are on the clock. Throw in the return of Alex Rodriguez from a drug suspension, the possible reinstatement of Pete Rose — imagine the roar he’d get at the All- Star Game in Cincinnati — and fresh ideas pitched by new commissioner Rob Manfred, and it’s a full plate going into opening day. “ There are so many plotlines unfolding, especially at the start of the year. It’s like a very meaty novel — people want to see how it’s going to turn out,” Toronto Blue Jays sage R. A. Dickey said. Chicago Cubs newcomer Jon Lester will throw the first pitch of the season, a Sunday night special April 5 against St. Louis. Hope springs eternal all over, and now there’s a special kind of Chicago Hope . Credit that to a key free agent — wily, ol’ manager Joe Maddon. The Cubs haven’t won the crown since 1908, before Wrigley was built. As the fabled ballpark gets a renovation that includes a giant, bright video board, fans are thrilled their franchise is being refurbished, too. “ I always feel good vibes in baseball,” Maddon said. The feeling is mutual across the big leagues. From Cuba to Canada, from the Bay Area to the snow- besieged Northeast, great expectations abound. Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and the remade Boston Red Sox; Nelson Cruz with the run- starved Seattle Mariners; Jimmy Rollins and the just- keep- missing Los Angeles Dodgers. Hey, if Kansas City can come so close in the World Series — should Alex Gordon have tried to score in Game 7? — and Pittsburgh can blossom into a perennial playoff contender, then any club truly can reverse its fortunes. “ You look at what the Royals and Pirates have done,” Yankees veteran Carlos Beltran said. “ The success they’ve had, other teams want to emulate that. They inspired a lot of people to think, ‘ This could be us.’ The Cubs, the Mets, the White Sox, more. Everybody has a chance.” No wonder Harper, after hearing his Nats had added Scherzer to their robust rotation, tweeted: “ Where’s my ring?” Toss the Angels, the Cardinals, the Padres, the Indians, the Tigers and champion Giants and a few more into the mix, along with Rusney Castillo and plenty of Cuban prospects. “ You have more young talent now, elite talent. More than I’ve ever seen from the mound,” Dickey said. “ That’s why so many teams are hopeful, because youth is hopeful.” So start with this: With Derek Jeter gone, who will reign as the face of the majors? Could be Andrew McCutchen, despite trimming his trademark dreadlocks. Or $ 325- million man Giancarlo Stanton or unanimous MVP Mike Trout or King Felix or ace Clayton Kershaw, provided he can overcome his October struggles. Maybe the main man on Madison Avenue will be the MadBum himself, Madison Bumgarner. That is, if his long left arm holds up after he threw 270 innings while becoming the World Series MVP and leading San Francisco to its third title in five years. The Giants get a boost with the return of injured pitcher Matt Cain. That’s a common theme, guys named Matt coming back from health woes — Harvey, Wieters, Shoemaker. Plus, Prince Fielder, Jose Fernandez and Manny Machado are on the mend. Several stars weren’t so lucky in spring training. Pitchers Yu Darvish, Zack Wheeler, Marcus Stroman and Tim Collins already are lost for the season, Cliff Lee and Chris Sale are ailing, and Kershaw is OK after being hit in the face by a line drive. Giants sparkplug Hunter Pence is out for a while, his forearm broken by an errant pitch. Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar missed 10 days and was hurt in a much different fashion — he strained his side when he sneezed. “ I was very upset that it got out and it became as big of a story as it was,” Pillar said. — The Associated Press THERE’S a Hall of Famer in the Minnesota dugout and plenty of Cuban talent all over the diamond. New stars in different places, plenty of shifts and the lingering effects from performance- enhancing drugs are part of the lineup going into opening day, too. A quick look at Major League Baseball in 2015: SWITCHING SIDES : Jon Lester and Jason Hammel joined the Cubs while Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson and Melky Cabrera moved to the White Sox in a Windy City whirlwind. Max Scherzer signed with Washington, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez went to Boston. James Shields, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton wound up in San Diego and newcomers Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson try to boost Toronto, the only team that hasn’t made the playoffs this century. Home run leader Nelson Cruz, Yoenis Cespedes, A. J. Burnett, Jason Heyward, Jimmy Rollins and Ben Zobrist also changed uniforms. PED HAZE : Any chance MLB emerges from the drug cloud this year? Nope. Baltimore slugger Chris Davis will miss opening day, completing a 25- game amphetamine suspension imposed last season. Angels star Josh Hamilton should hear soon whether he’ll be penalized for his latest off- the- field trouble. ROOKIE WATCH : Cuban prospects proliferate, with Boston’s Rusney Castillo and Yoan Moncada, Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, Arizona bopper Yasmany Tomas and Dodgers infielder Hector Olivera all getting rich deals. Also on deck: Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who led the minors with 43 home runs last year and hit nine homers in his 12 spring training games this year. REPLAY DANCE: No more of that strange onfield waltz between managers and umpires, waiting for someone on the bench to signal whether to challenge a call. Now, that decision can come from the dugout. SHIFTY: Look for teams to collect more data and employ more shifts. The Tigers put all four infielders on the right side vs. Bryce Harper when they played the Nationals in spring training. JUST CALL HIM SKIP: Paul Molitor takes over the Twins, trying to prove a Hall of Fame player can also excel in the dugout. Along with Joe Maddon of the Cubs, the first- year managers are Kevin Cash in Tampa Bay, Chip Hale in Arizona, A. J. Hinch in Houston and Jeff Banister in Texas. SWING, BATTER: Power and scoring is down across the majors, batting average is the lowest in four decades, strikeouts are at record levels. A quick- fix idea? Jump on the firstpitch, get- it- over fastball — Jose Altuve loves to do it, and he led the majors in hitting last year. PACE YOURSELF: Games took over three hours last year despite decreased offence, and baseball wants to chop time. Fans will see clocks counting down so pitchers and hitters are ready when commercial breaks end. Straying from the batter’s box can result in a fine, but Boston star David Ortiz vows he’d rather get docked than alter his routine. WHAT ABOUT ROSE? Shortly after commissioner Rob Manfred took over in January, 73- year- old Pete Rose applied for reinstatement. The career hits leader signed a lifetime ban in 1989 and later admitted he bet on Cincinnati games while managing the Reds. If allowed back, Rose would be eligible for the Hall of Fame. But he’d need to get voted in by a hall committee, and that wouldn’t be easy. A last thought: If Rose is reinstated, could Shoeless Joe Jackson be far behind? — The Associated Press Lots of MLB stars realign for 2015 season By Ben Walker By Ben Walker Chicago HOPE Even the Cubs have reason for optimism this spring Max Scherzer BOB CHWEDYK / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Renovation work continues at Wrigley Field as opening day approaches. CHRIS CARLSON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Chicago Cubs will attempt to run from their hapless past when the season opens. CHRIS CARLSON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Chicago Cubs newcomer Jon Lester will throw the season’s first pitch on Sunday, April 5. C_ 10_ Mar- 28- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C10 3/ 27/ 15 8: 50: 48 PM

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