Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez slated to report for winter ball on Monday

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With one week to go before training camp, it looks like Manny Ramirez is actually going to follow through with those plans to play in the Dominican Republic this winter.  He’s set to arrive this weekend and join Aguilas Cibaenas on Monday.

Ramirez retired from MLB in April after learning that he’d be suspended for 100 games for a second violation of the league’s steroids policy.  ESPN Deportes reported later that month that he was planning to play in the D.R. this winter, and Aguilas team president Winston Llenas confirmed the news (hat tip: USA TODAY’s Steve Gardner).  Apparently, his recent arrest on battery charges for hitting his wife won’t stop him from leaving the US.

Ramirez would almost certainly still have to serve that 100-game ban if he tried to return to MLB at some point.  However, he wouldn’t be the first player to hang around playing winter ball for years after retiring from MLB.  Fernando Valenzuela was done in the majors in 1997, but he pitched in Mexico up until 2006.  Vinny Castilla played two seasons in Mexico after retiring from MLB following 2006.

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: