Mark Townsend

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  • Fan battles a hill and loses badly while chasing home run

    Everyone needs spring training. Even the fans.

    Don’t believe us? Just ask Alex. He’s the fan you’ll want to console after watching the video above.

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    During Wednesday’s Marlins-Astros game at the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla., Alex took a hilarious tumble while attempting to catch a home run off the bat of Marlins prospect Isaac Galloway.

    Honestly, he probably didn’t have much of a chance to catch the ball anyway. There were too many obstructions, a couple of which could have been hazardous for his health. The steep hill may have actually saved him from crashing into something painful, but it didn’t save him from embarrassment.

    Alex's friends stop by to lend a hand and a laugh. (MLB)
    Alex’s friends stop by to lend a hand and a laugh. (MLB)

    The worst part was that the cameras were rolling actually on Wednesday. Far less than half of the games to be played this spring in Arizona and Florida will be broadcast live. This was one of them that made television,

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  • New website celebrates the legacy and impact of Latinos in baseball

    Felix Hernandez is one of several Latino baseball players to be featured at 'La Vida Baseball.' (Getty Images)
    Felix Hernandez is one of several Latino baseball players to be featured at ‘La Vida Baseball.’ (Getty Images)

    There’s a new website that all baseball fans need to check out. It’s called “La Vida Baseball,” and it’s focused on celebrating the history and spotlighting the impact Latinos have had on baseball, while working to engage current baseball fans from all over the world.

    It’s an interesting concept. One that also seems to be long overdue. As many have noted already, the majority of those that cover baseball in North America do not speak Spanish. In that regard, there’s some degree of disconnect between player and writer, which makes it more difficult to share stories on a broader level.

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    La Vida Baseball hopes to bridge that gap, share those stories and much more, as writer Adrian Burgos noted in his opening address.

    The history of Latinos and baseball dates back to the mid-1860s, when a wave of Cuban students arrived in

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  • Mets right-hander pitcher Zack Wheeler is hoping to put his arm troubles behind him. (AP)
    Mets right-hander pitcher Zack Wheeler is hoping to put his arm troubles behind him. (AP)

    Welcome to The Stew’s Spring Headlines, our daily look at the biggest MLB stories and news items from around spring training. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

    GOOD NEWS: The Mets have long awaited good news on right-hander Zack Wheeler. They finally got some on Wednesday. After completing a live batting practice session without any setbacks, the 26-year-old right-hander is now on track to make his Grapefruit League debut on March 10.

    Wheeler had missed time early in camp with elbow discomfort. That was especially concerning he hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of the following year. His 2016 season was marred by several setbacks that started out as discomfort and lingered. Fortunately, it appears he’s over that hump, but there are still

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  • Theo Epstein reminds us that he's good at everything

    Cubs president Theo Epstein might be baseball's true jack-of-all-trades. (Getty Images)
    Cubs president Theo Epstein might be baseball’s true jack-of-all-trades. (Getty Images)

    Everything Theo Epstein touches eventually turns to gold.

    That’s certainly true of the baseball franchises he oversees. If he put his mind to it, it might even be true of his own career on the field. As we saw on Wednesday, the accomplished baseball executive picked up a bat during a Cubs batting practice session and actually impressed onlookers with some pretty good swings.

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    Here’s one that was captured on video.

    Seriously, is there anything Epstein can’t do?

    OK, so it’s a small sample size. We only saw one swing during one batting practice session. Still though, that was a pretty impressive swing to drive the ball to the opposite field. It came against former Cubs hurler Ryan Dempster, who’s not exactly coasting out there either. He’s working out

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  • The Dominican Republic has one thing in mind entering the 2017 World Baseball Classic: Repeat.

    After becoming only the second country to win the Classic in 2013, this well-rounded team has an opportunity to repeat history by joining Japan as back-to-back WBC champions.

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    Is anyone willing to bet against them?

    With the return of several All-Stars, including Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista, and Nelson Cruz, and a young core led by Manny Machado, this squad is primed to do something very special. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem either. The WBC is clearly a priority for many of the country’s top players, and they aren’t just coming to hang out. They’re coming to win, and, in this instance, continue asserting  dominance.

    In the 2013 Classic, the Dominican Republic became the first team to go undefeated, finishing 8-0.

    That can’t be topped, but it can be matched if the players collectively put their best foot forward.

    The Dominican Republic has its sights set on another WBC championship. (AP)
    The Dominican
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  • Sonny Gray not eligible for WBC after being denied insurance coverage

    Oakland A’s ace Sonny Gray has been forced to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic after being denied insurance coverage for the event.

    Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the ruling stems from Gray’s time spent on the disabled list last season. Gray was on the DL for more than 60 days last year and he didn’t play in more than 10 innings after coming off the DL at the end of the season. That put him in the category of a “chronic condition player,” which prevented him from qualifying.

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    “I know Sonny’s bummed,” Oakland general manager David Forst said Sunday. “He wanted to pitch and we were excited to let him do that.

    “It’s not up to us or MLB, it’s up to the insurance company,” Forst added. “MLB pushed the issue and asked the insurance carrier to let him pitch, and they didn’t do it.”

    An insurance issue will keep Sonny Gray from competing in the World Baseball Classic. (Getty Images)
    An insurance issue will keep Sonny Gray from competing in the World Baseball Classic. (Getty Images)

    Earlier this spring,

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  • Daniel Bard's comeback bid is gaining momentum

    Daniel Bard is hoping to pitch his way back to prominence. (AP)
    Daniel Bard is hoping to pitch his way back to prominence. (AP)

    For a time, Daniel Bard was one of baseball’s most effective and feared relievers.

    Now the 31-year-old right-hander is scratching and clawing for one more opportunity in the big leagues, which he hopes will come this season with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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    For the first time in a long time, there seems to be real optimism that Bard’s goal can be achieved. This stems from a recent workout where he impressed on-lookers with his velocity and command.

    According to Hall of Fame writer and MLB Network contributor Peter Gammons, Bard’s fastball still has the same zip that once made him a top prospect and then a top setup man with the Boston Red Sox. Of greater significance, though, is that he appeared to have harnessed the control issues that threatened to drive him out of MLB for good.

    Here’s a look at the video.

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  • Spring Training 2017: Michael Bourns adds name to weird injury list

    Michael Bourn will miss at least four weeks with a broken ring finger. (Getty Images)
    Michael Bourn will miss at least four weeks with a broken ring finger. (Getty Images)

    Welcome to The Stew’s Spring Headlines, our daily look at the biggest MLB stories and news items from around spring training. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

    WEIRD INJURY OF THE DAY: Orioles outfielder Michael Bourn will be sidelined four weeks with a broken ring finger on his right hand.

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    That sounds bad enough, but it’s slightly more painful when you hear how the injury occurred.

    It’s not weird because he broke his finger catching a football. That happens frequently. It’s weird because it happened on a baseball field in preparation for baseball season.

    As noted in Roch Kubatko’s

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  • Royals and Rangers pay tribute to Yordano Ventura before spring opener

    Saturday was a bittersweet day in Surprise, Ariz.

    As the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers took the field for their Cactus League opener, there were mixed feelings and emotions.

    Sure, the excitement that’s always attached to the first spring training game was palpable. The hope that always exists when a new season dawns was there too. But there was also a degree of emptiness. That’s because everyone knew that something, or more specifically someone, was missing.

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    Saturday marked the first time the Royals have taken the field without their “Ace” Yordano Ventura, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Jan. 22. There was nothing they could do to bring him back or recreate his spirit and energy. But they could honor his memory and celebrate his life, and that’s exactly what they did with a helping hand from the Rangers.

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  • Hartford's minor league stadium focus of reported FBI investigation

    Dunkin' Donuts Park is expected to be open for business in April. (Hartford Courant)
    Dunkin’ Donuts Park is expected to be open for business in April. (Hartford Courant)

    The strange saga surrounding the construction of Dunkin’ Donuts Park has added another layer.

    According to the Hartford Courant, the city’s publicly funded minor-league park is now the focus of an investigation being conducted by the FBI.

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    The Courant story notes that details of the investigation have not been released by the FBI or the office of U.S. Attorney Dierdre M. Daly. However, Hartford mayor Luke Bronin told the paper he believes the investigation is focused on Centerplan Construction Co., which originally oversaw the stadium’s development.

    Centerplan has since been fired due to cost overruns and other issues that have delayed the stadium’s construction and pushed back its opening. The Courant estimates that the stadium has already cost Hartford $71M, which far exceeds the initial estimate of $56M.

    “The probe being reported today is not

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