Cincinnati Reds v Baltimore Orioles

Aroldis Chapman strikes out the side in return to big leagues

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Reds left-hander Aroldis Chapman made his first major league appearance Saturday since landing on the disabled list on May 15 due to a mix of shoulder inflammation and general ineffectiveness. And the outing couldn’t have gone any better.

According to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the Cuban-born phenom struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning to help the Reds secure a 10-5 interleague victory over the Orioles.

Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters after the game that “Chapman appears to be back,” and it certainly looked that way. The 23-year-old struck out O’s catcher Matt Wieters on three straight pitches to start the inning, hitting 101 mph with a fastball to close out the at-bat. Chapman then carved up the free-swinging Mark Reynolds and light-hitting infielder Robert Andino. He needed just 12 pitches in all, and only three of those deliveries were balls.

Chapman was highly inconsistent on his lengthy 30-day minor league rehab assignment, so to suggest that all his troubles are behind him would be far too reactionary. But the early signs are most definitely promising.

MLB may introduce “tacky” baseballs in 2018

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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Jeff Passan of Yahoo has an interesting report today. MLB and Rawlings are developing a new baseball. It will have a tacky surface on the leather, allowing pitchers to get a better grip without having to resort to sunscreen and rosin and pine tar and stuff. Substances which, in theory, are for grip but which are really used by pitchers to doctor the ball, with MLB and opposing hitters mostly looking the other way.

They tested the new balls in the Arizona Fall League last year and Passan talks to a couple of the pitchers who used the ball. More testing would be required, though, so we’re not likely to see the new balls until at least 2018.

As you know, baseball players love change, so I’m sure we won’t hear another thing about the ball and its introduction will go off seamlessly.

Wait. It’ll still have seams. You know what I mean.

Here we go: Tim Tebow reports to Mets camp

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets speaks at a press conference after a work out at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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The first few days of spring training have been pretty quiet. Guys are going about their business and games are being played, but we haven’t had any news or controversy or silliness or anything fun like that. That’s about to change, however, as Tim Tebow has arrived at Mets camp.

Tebow, a non-roster invite, arrived at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida this morning and, unlike every other non-roster invite, had a press conference. You may be surprised to learn that he’s in great shape, is excited to get going and wants to improve steadily each day.

The plan for Tebow is to be a part of the minor league camp, not the major league one, so he’s not going to be as visible at workouts as you might expect. He will be playing in some major league spring training games, however, at least until we get deeper into spring training, after which you’d assume that veterans and players with a real shot of making the big club will play longer.

In the meantime, you can buy Tebow shirts. But not Curtis Granderson ones, it seems: