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    Shohei Ohtani emerged from the bullpen and fanned Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout for the final out in a matchup the whole baseball world wanted to see, leading Japan over the defending champion United States 3-2 for its first World Baseball Classic title since 2009.

      The Philadelphia Phillies aren't putting Bryce Harper on the 60-day injured list at the start of the season. That leaves open the possibility for Harper to return to their lineup much sooner than the All-Star break in mid-July. But that doesn't necessarily mean the slugger will return quicker than expected from reconstructive right elbow surgery. Plus more news from around the league on Tuesday.

        Shohei Ohtani sparked a ninth-inning rally with a leadoff double, and Munetaka Murakami hit a walk-off, two-run double to lift Japan over Mexico 6-5 and into the World Baseball Classic final. Japan will face the defending champion United States in Tuesday's championship game. Ohtani went 2 for 4. The Los Angeles Angels star scored in the seventh when Masataka Yoshida hit a tying, three-run homer off reliever JoJo Romero.

          The Atlanta Braves have apparently decided who will replace the departed Dansby Swanson as their starting shortstop. It's not who most people expected it to be. Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake have been optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. That leaves utility infielder Orlando Arcia as the likely replacement for Swanson after his departure in free agency for a $177 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. 

            Hundreds gathered outside Miami Marlins' home ballpark in Little Havana on Sunday to protest for the Cuban national baseball team played the United States in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic. It's the first time the Cuban team has played in Miami, a landing spot for many who fled the country to escape the Soviet-style communist government of late leader Fidel Castro. The Cuban team is comprised of major league stars who defected from the island nation along with current Cubans, who are technically government employees. While some fans wanted to separate sports from politics, others wanted no part.

              Houston Astros star Jose Altuve has a broken right thumb and needs surgery after getting hurt in Venezuela’s 9-7 quarterfinal loss to the United States at the World Baseball Classic. The second baseman fell to the field after he was struck by the 95.9 mph sinker from Colorado reliever Daniel Bard in the fifth inning Saturday night. 

                Sergio Romo will retire as a member of the San Francisco Giants. He helped the franchise win three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The 2013 All-Star was an integral part of the team's bullpen from 2008 to 2016. He also pitched for the Twins, Athletics, Rays, Dodgers, Mariners, Marlins and Blue Jays. Romo signed a minor league deal with an invite to big-league spring training. He'll officially retire during San Francisco's final exhibition game on March 27 when the Giants host the A's at Oracle Park.

                Many of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani aren’t playing in spring training these days. They're in the World Baseball Classic. And people are watching. The fifth WBC tournament drew just over one million fans in the first round, up from about 500,000 in 2017.

                DETROIT — It's a crisis, to be sure. But the sky's not falling. At least, not yet. That's the biggest takeaway from the Bally Sports kerfuffle, with the regional-sports network's parent company, Diamond Sports Group, officially filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week. The move has been a long time coming, as Diamond — which owns 19 RSNs, covering 42 teams, including the ...

                Shohei Ohtani pitched shutout ball into the fifth inning and sparked a four-run third with a bunt single, leading Japan over Italy 9-3 and into its fifth straight World Baseball Classic semifinal. Boston’s Masataka Yoshida homered and drove in the go-ahead run with a grounder, giving him a tournament-leading 10 RBIs.

                The start of the season can’t come soon enough for teams looking to keep their pitching staffs as healthy as possible. A tough spring for pitchers continued Thursday with the announcements that New York Mets star closer Edwin Díaz and Washington Nationals prospect Cade Cavalli were expected to miss the entire season.

                Michael Conforto’s once-ailing shoulder appears healthy and the veteran slugger is back to mashing baseballs. The Giants have eased the 30-year-old back on the field after he missed all of 2022 following right shoulder surgery. But even in limited at-bats in the Cactus League, he’s hit four homers, which was tied for the spring lead through Wednesday’s games. 

                Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton handed Mitch Keller the opening day assignment and a celebratory bottle of bubbly. Shelton broke the news to the 26-year-old right-hander that he'll get the nod when Pittsburgh begins the season at Cincinnati on March 30. In a video posted on the Pirates' Twitter feed, Shelton and Keller sat down in the manager's office and began discussing the right-hander's side session. Shelton asked how many pitches he threw, and then asked Keller how many he thinks he'll throw on the 30th. Keller asked what the 30th was and the manager replied, "opening day."

                BALTIMORE — The nearest baseball field to the New York Court of Appeals is a sandlot that will soon host a youth league, ages 4 to 6. But inside the Albany, N.Y., courthouse Tuesday, Big Baseball was taking place. Attorneys for two Major League Baseball franchises pleaded their cases in a dispute that has gone on for more than a decade over roughly $100 million in television revenue. The ...


                Left-hander José Quintana won't make his New York Mets debut until at least July because of a stress fracture in his rib. The Mets are relieved that the prognosis wasn't even more severe. Mets general manager Billy Eppler told reporters Tuesday that a scan revealed a lesion on the impacted rib. Quintana went to New York to visit an orthopedic tumor specialist for a biopsy and additional scans that revealed the lesion was benign.

                Two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom finally pitched in a game for the Texas Rangers, though it was on a back field against minor leaguers. The Rangers have been cautious with their prized addition since he reported tightness in his left side before the first spring training workout just less than a month ago. He struck out five of the eight batters he faced while pitching for Triple-A Round Rock. 

                Joe Pepitone, an All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman on the 1960s New York Yankees who gained renown for his flamboyant personality, hairpieces and penchant for nightlife, has died at age 82.  Born in Brooklyn, Pepitone helped the Yankees to their second straight World Series title, a team led by Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Elston Howard. Pepitone gained attention for his off-the-field conduct. In a time when most players were staid and conformist, Pepitone was thought to be the first to bring a hair dryer into the clubhouse.

                The San Diego Padres are flirting with the idea of beginning the season with a six-man pitching rotation. Settling on an opening day starter may not be as easy a decision for manager Bob Melvin. With Joe Musgrove sidelined by a toe injury and Yu Darvish pitching for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, Melvin is exploring options that could include Blake Snell or Michael Wacha. Melvin is considering a six-man rotation because the Padres will begin the season with a stretch of 24 games in 25 days.

                A hit is a hit, even if it's only spring training. For Fernando Tatis Jr., it's been a long time coming. The San Diego Padres star had been 0 for 16 this spring before hitting a smash shot off the glove of Chicago White Sox shortstop Erik Gonzalez for a single in the first inning at Peoria, Arizona. The hit came against former teammate Mike Clevinger. 

                Injuries continue to pile up for the New York Yankees as they get ready to begin their AL East title defense. Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters Friday that outfielder Harrison Bader has an oblique issue. The injury puts Bader’s availability for the start of the season in doubt. Plus more news from around the league on Friday.

                Mike Trout was asked to be a part of this U.S. team for the World Baseball Classic. He didn’t have to be. The 31-year-old slugger knew he wanted to join this group ever since he watched the U.S. win the WBC title in 2017. The follow-up tournament was delayed two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. opens it title defense against Britain on Saturday night. They’re a part of Pool C, which also includes Canada, Mexico and Colombia.

                Major league hitters are working with the sport's brightest minds to close the gap on a technology-driven pitching renaissance. White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson is among a star-studded lineup of batters who worked on their swings with Driveline Baseball during the offseason. At places like Driveline and behind closed doors in unlabeled buildings around the major leagues, the race is on.

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