Albert Pujols aiming to participate in World Baseball Classic but first wants to test his right knee

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MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has the story:

As long as his surgically repaired knee continues to feel good, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is expected to play for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, his agent, Dan Lozano, said.

Pujols underwent a cleanup procedure on his right knee in October to alleviate some mild discomfort that he developed near the conclusion of the 2012 regular season. Lozano told Gonzalez on Saturday that his client “feels great so far” but will probably test his knee out at spring camp before officially committing to his native country’s roster for the 2013 WBC.

Pujols, who will turn 33 years old this Wednesday, batted .285/.343/.516 with 30 home runs, 50 doubles and 105 RBI across 670 plate appearances last season for Anaheim. The Angels still owe him $238 million.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.