Bill Baer

Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez (50) throws to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Fort Myers , Fla. The Twins won 14-5. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

White Sox sign Miguel Gonzalez to a minor league contract

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The White Sox have inked pitcher Miguel Gonzalez to a minor league contract, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Gonzalez was released by the Orioles on Wednesday after putting up a 9.78 ERA in 19 1/3 Grapefruit League innings.

Gonzalez, 31, struggled last season, finishing with a 4.91 ERA and a 109/51 K/BB ratio in 144 2/3 innings for the Orioles. That was a stark contrast to his performance in the previous three seasons in which he compiled an aggregate 3.45 ERA over 69 starts and six relief appearances.

Encina adds that the Orioles made a “competitive” offer and the Yankees were also involved, but Gonzalez ultimately chose the White Sox.

Francisco Liriano fans 10 in Pirates’ Opening Day win over the Cardinals

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano (47) delivers the first pitch of the 2016 Major League Baseball season during the first inning of an opening day baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Pittsburgh, Sunday, April 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

At long last, meaningful baseball is finally here. We’re treated to a trio of games to kick off the 2016 regular season, starting with Cardinals-Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.

Pirates starter Francisco Liriano was in top form, both with the bat and with his arm. He helped his own cause, kicking off the scoring in the bottom of the second inning with a ground ball single to right field off of Adam Wainwright. On the mound, he was nearly unhittable, albeit a bit wild. The lefty walked five, but yielded only three hits while striking out 10 over six innings. According to August Fagerstrom of FanGraphs, Liriano is the first pitcher, dating back to 1913, to have such a line score. Last year, two pitchers struck out double-digit batters in their teams’ first game: Johnny Cueto and Felix Hernandez.

Along with Liriano’s single, Pirates first baseman John Jaso added an RBI single in the second inning. They made it 3-0 in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly to center field by Josh Harrison, which ended up being an interesting play. Gregory Polanco, who was on first base, tried to advance to second base, but was tagged out on a play that was reviewed and upheld on replay review. The Pirates tacked on a fourth run in the eighth on an RBI double by Jordy Mercer.

Wainwright, making his first start since April 25 last year, went six innings, allowing the three runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts. The right-hander suffered a ruptured Achilles last season and returned at the end of September, making three relief appearances.

Cardinals reliever Seung-hwan Oh, making his first appearance in the majors, worked around two walks with two strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning. The club inked him to a one-year deal for roughly $5 million in January.

For the Buccos, Tony Watson and Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively, in relief of Liriano. Closer Mark Melancon allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base to start the ninth inning in a non-save situation, but only one came around to score before the right-hander ended the game in a 4-1 victory for the Pirates.

The Blue Jays and Rays are just under way. The Mets will take on the Royals in a World Series rematch in a few hours. Baseball!

2016 Previews: The National League West in a nutshell

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke talks to the media during a press conference, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. Greinke could have stayed with the Los Angeles Dodgers or gone up the coast to the San Francisco Giants. Instead, he signed a massive contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, dramatically shifting the landscape in the NL West.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Associated Press
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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2016 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

There’s a new ace in the desert and, not coincidentally, a shortage of arms behind Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles. Will that allow the Snakes to steal the division from the Dodgers? And hey, it’s an even year, so you can’t count the Giants out, right?

Here are our N.L. West previews:

Los Angeles Dodgers Preview
San Francisco Giants Preview
Arizona Diamondbacks Preview
San Diego Padres Preview
Colorado Rockies Preview

2016 Previews: The American League West in a nutshell

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa awaits his turn to bat during the first full-squad workouts at the Astros spring training in Kissimmee, Fla., Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2016 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West.

The Astros are poised to rule the West for years, right? Well, not if the Rangers — who, Astros-hype aside, won the division last year — have anything to say about it. The A’s, Mariners and Angels are all flawed teams, but if recent history in this division is any guide, anything is possible.

Here are our previews of the A.L. West:

Houston Astros Preview
Texas Rangers Preview
Los Angeles Angels Preview
Oakland Athletics Preview
Seattle Mariners Preview

2016 Previews: National League Central in a nutshell

Chicago Cubs' Jason Heyward signs autographs before the team's spring training baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2016 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League Central.

The Cubs won 97 games and signed the biggest free agent of the offseason. The Cards and Pirates, however, won 100 and 98 games last year and, while they didn’t make as big an offseason splash, they didn’t get any worse. The Reds and Brewers will have a front row seat watching those three titans battle it out all year in one of baseball’s most entertaining divisions. Then they’ll have nice seats on their couches once the playoffs start because, hoo-boy, they ain’t makin’ the playoffs.

Here are our team-by-team N.L. Central previews:

Chicago Cubs Preview
Pittsburgh Pirates Preview
St. Louis Cardinals Preview
Milwaukee Brewers Preview
Cincinnati Reds Preview