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Angels' Ohtani struggles in mound debut

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Shohei Ohtani didn't quite dazzle in his spring pitching debut with the Los Angeles Angels.

Maybe things will change when he swings the bat for the first time in a Cactus League game.

The star two-way player from Japan had mixed results in his first big league mound appearance Saturday, when he allowed a home run and didn't make it through his scheduled two innings in a 6-5 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.


Rays top P prospect needs Tommy John

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm and will have Tommy John surgery, sidelining him for the entire season.

The 22-year-old right-hander was hurt during a live batting practice session Thursday at spring training.


Clark: MLB players concerned about FAs

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Nearly two full weeks into spring training, dozens of accomplished free agents around the major leagues are still unsigned.

There's a new rule limiting visits to the mound, too, creating at least some early confusion about how to keep track.


Dropped by Bucs, Saunders joins Royals

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) Former All-Star outfielder Michael Saunders has ended his two-day stay with Pittsburgh, instead seeking a better chance to play with the Kansas City Royals.

Saunders arrived at the Royals' camp on Saturday after signing a minor league contract. He will receive $1.5 million if he is put on the big league roster and could earn another $500,000 in performance bonuses.


Twins sign SS Aybar to minors contract

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) The Minnesota Twins have signed 12-year veteran shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

The Twins announced the deal on Saturday, when Aybar was expected to report to camp. Aybar made his debut with the Los Angeles Angels in 2006 and was their everyday shortstop for seven seasons. He won a Gold Glove award in 2011 and made the All-Star team in 2014. He played last year for the San Diego Padres, batting .234 with 11 stolen bases in 333 at-bats.


Pirates have high hopes for 3B Moran

PITTSBURGH (AP) Colin Moran was considered one of the best players in college baseball in 2013 while starring at North Carolina.

"We loved him going into the draft that year," Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "He was a player we had a lot of interest in."


Yankees prospect Estrada profressing

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Yankees minor league infielder Thairo Estrada is increasing his workout program after being shot in the right thigh area during a robbery attempt last month but may not be ready for the start of the season.

The 22-year old Estrada was entering a restaurant with his wife in his hometown of Bejuma, Venezuela, when the incident took place.


Reds sign P Perez to minor league deal

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) The Cincinnati Reds have signed left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez to a minor league contract.

Perez spent the past two seasons with the Washington Nationals. He made 50 appearances with the Nationals last year, pitching 33 innings with a 4.64 ERA.


Nats closer Doolittle banking on slider

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) Comfortably installed as a closer for the first spring in his career, Washington Nationals lefty Sean Doolittle is taking advantage of role security to expand his pitching arsenal.

During the early weeks of spring, Doolittle, with the help of new pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, is experiencing encouraging results from the slider he's been cultivating.