Dexter Fowler

Dexter Fowler is in, you guessed it, the best shape of his life

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Calcaterra is on vacation, but before leaving he gave me permission to cover the “best shape of my life” beat should the need arise and … well, shockingly another player has been working out this offseason!

Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes that Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler has been working out with teammates Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki, and is “noticeably stronger from a season ago.”

Here’s more:

The scene at Philippi Institute provides proof. Fowler, once a blade of grass, easily muscles his way through a day that includes sledgehammer smashes, heavy ropes and decline push-ups. His knees, which he admitted bothered him in September, are sturdy. He has added about 7 pounds and dropped 4 percent body fat thanks to a diet heavy on greens.

“I have put on weight before and felt heavy. This is the best I’ve ever felt,” said the 6-foot-4 Fowler, who said he would like to play at 195 pounds. “Working out with these guys has really pushed me.”

Despite a midseason demotion to the minors Fowler finished last season with slightly better overall numbers than his rookie and sophomore years, hitting .266 with a .796 OPS compared to .263 with a .764 OPS coming into 2011. And much of his game is based on speed and athleticism, both offensively and defensively, so it’s worth wondering if the 25-year-old adding weight and muscle is automatically a great thing.

Either way, we’re thrilled to add another name to the “BSOML” list.

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.

Cubs are seeking a court order against unlicensed vendors

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If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”

[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.

While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.

Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.

This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.

The club’s full complaint can be found here.