Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder to appear nude in ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue”

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ESPN The Magazine puts out its “Body Issue” every summer. While couched in terms of physical ideals and the beauty of the athletic specimen and blah, blah, blah, it’s basically ESPN’s answer to the swimsuit issue: cheesecake to sell magazines during the slow season.

Hey, everyone’s gotta make a buck. And at least with ESPN it’s an equal opportunity affair, with men’s bodies getting the same cheesecake treatment as women’s. I mean, sure, you can try to speak all high-mindedly about what they’re after here, but a naked Matt Harvey with a room service tray is way more about providing a springboard to a fantasy than anything else. As for the athletes: they got it, so it’s not our place to criticize them for flaunting it.

But this year it is taking a direction we’ve not really seen before:

The keystone to the issue is the “Bodies We Want” section, where athletes will be featured in tasteful nude poses.

Swimmer Michael Phelps, tennis star Venus Williams, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will be included in the issue.

Wait, what?

Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder

Um, really?

Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder

Well, then. Maybe it’s not all about athletic ideals in ways I had not yet considered.

 

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.

Report: Rays trade Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers for prospect Jose De Leon

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 4: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays waits in the dugout to get on deck to bat during the third inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals on August 4, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
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Update (7:05 PM EST): The Rays and Dodgers have both announced the trade.

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Update (6:57 PM EST): That was fast. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the two sides have agreed to the trade. Forsythe for De Leon. An announcement is expected shortly.

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Dodgers and Rays are “deep into discussions” on a trade involving second baseman Logan Forsythe. Passan adds that the two sides have discussed pitcher Jose De Leon — the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect — as part of the return for Forsythe, but it’s unclear if he’s in the deal currently being discussed.

Forsythe, 30, hit a productive .264/.333/.444 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI in 567 plate appearances in 2016. He was even better the year before, finishing with an .804 OPS.¬†Forsythe can fill the Dodgers’ obvious need at second base, but he also has experience playing third base, first base, shortstop, and corner outfield.

Forsythe is entering the second year of his two-year, $10.25 million contract extension with the Rays. He’ll earn $5.75 million in 2017 and his controlling team has an $8.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for the 2018 season.