Drew Silva

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Courtesy of MLB/MLBPA

Video: Mark Melancon, Jared Hughes try out new protective pitching helmet

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Major League Baseball and the MLBPA worked together over the winter with equipment company Boombang to design a new form of protective headgear for pitchers. They settled on a hybrid carbon fiber helmet cap and sent out prototypes to 20 different major leaguers this spring.

Pirates relievers Mark Melancon and Jared Hughes were among the first players to receive the new pitching helmet, and they both took the thing for a spin Sunday morning in Bradenton, Florida …

It’s still pretty bulky, but sometimes you have to sacrifice style for safety.

These aren’t going to be mandatory, but we’ll probably see more pitchers give them a try.

Chris Archer scolded two young Rays pitchers for showing up “late” to camp

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Every year in late February we see stories applauding certain players for showing up extra early to spring training, or for getting to the facilities at the crack of dawn.

Then mid-March rolls around and everyone is sick of the drills and the bus rides and meaningless Grapefruit League games and we forget all about those early arrivers.

So take this note from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times however you want to …

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale had a similar account

That would be Blake Snell and Jacob Faria, two of the Rays’ top pitching prospects. Snell, 23, posted a 1.41 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 134 innings last season between High-A Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham. Faria, 22, had a 1.92 ERA and 159 strikeouts in 149 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.

Everything is going to be fine.

Dodgers finalize six-year, $30 million deal with Cuban pitcher Yaisel Sierra

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Cuban defector Yaisel Sierra agreed to a six-year contract worth around $30 million last month with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it took a little while to get all the proper paperwork in order and the contract is just now being made official, per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.

Frankie Montas was placed on the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster for Sierra, a hard-throwing 25-year-old right-hander.

Sierra did not post great numbers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, but he impressed a bunch of scouts during a showcase workout last October in Florida and the Dodgers feel he’s going to be a late bloomer with his recent incorporation of a slider and changeup.

We should see Sierra in some type of major league role at some point this season.

Duh: Felix Hernandez named Mariners’ Opening Day starter

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Mariners skipper Scott Servais got this decision out of the way quickly, naming ace right-hander Felix Hernandez his Opening Day starter on Saturday afternoon before one of the club’s first official workouts of the spring. Seattle kicks off the 2016 regular season April 4 at Texas.

“It’s huge. It’s everything,” Servais told Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. “Everybody is always talking about the No. 1 starter. We have a legit No. 1 starter.”

King Felix will be making his eighth straight Opening Day start, and his ninth overall for the Mariners. He is 6-0 with a 1.49 ERA over his last eight.

“Felix has never thrown a pitch in the playoffs,” Servais added. “And it’s time. We have a lot of work to do to get there. He knows that as well. But for a player to have that kind of career and to not have pitched in the playoffs yet … It’s up to us to make sure we get the pieces around him. And it up to him to help pull a few guys along with him. It’s going to be a joint effort.”

Scott Boras expects Rangers to sign Adrian Beltre to contract extension

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Adrian Beltre is currently scheduled to become a free agent five days after the 2016 World Series, but it doesn’t sound like the future Hall of Famer will catch even a whiff of the open market.

FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi spoke Tuesday to Beltre’s agent, the always-insightful Scott Boras …

“I think Adrian already had a discussion with them, in which he expressed a desire to stay,” Boras told FOX Sports in a telephone interview. “They want him there, and we’re going to work on that.”

When asked whether a deal is possible before Opening Day, Boras replied, “I’d say there are certainly grounds for a discussion of advancing Adrian’s contract, yes.”

Beltre, 37 in April, will probably be looking for a three- or four-year deal worth a little over $20 million per year. He’s wrapping a team-friendly six-year, $96 million agreement with Texas — due an $18 million final-year salary in 2016.

The four-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and four-time Gold Glover batted .287/.334/.453 with 18 home runs and 83 RBI in 143 games last season for the AL West-champion Rangers while playing another round of stellar defense at third base.