Joe Blanton

Joe Blanton is in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Blanton retired — practically speaking anyway — last season. But he’s making a comeback with the Royals this spring. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has a story about him today. Guess what?

Blanton, 34, weighed more than 250 pounds early in his career. But he’s in stunningly good shape this spring and reported to Surprise weighing in the range of 215 to 220 pounds. He also pronounced himself emotionally and mentally reinvigorated by a summer away from the game.

Hmm . . . “stunningly good shape?” Is that — could that be . . . ?

Blanton is 34 years old and has a combined 5.09 ERA in 541 innings dating back to 2010, so any edge he can get will be helpful. Good luck, Joe.

David Freese is in The Best Shape Of His Life

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David Freese reported to spring training Saturday with a new physique and a quiet confidence.

The former is the result of a strength-and-conditioning program that helped the Angels third baseman “redistribute” the 220 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame, adding muscle and losing fat.

“I can’t explain it,” Freese told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. “I just know that now, things are different. I’m excited to be back here and to get to work. I’m glad I’m an Angel. They’re going to be glad I’m still an Angel. I’m confident of that.”

Freese, 31, batted just .260/.321/.383 in his first season with Anaheim. He is entering a contract year.

Brad Peacock is in The Best Shape Of His Life

Brad Peacock
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Astros right-hander Brad Peacock underwent surgery in October to remove bone chips from his hip and may miss the beginning of the season, but he spent the offseason getting into The Best Shape Of His Life:

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Ryan Raburn is in The Best Shape Of His Life

Ryan Raburn
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Ryan Raburn had a rough 2014 season, hitting .200 while spending lots of time on the disabled list, so naturally now he’s in The Best Shape Of His Life:

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Heath Bell is in The Best Shape Of His Life

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Veteran relief pitcher Heath Bell agreed to a minor league contract with the Nationals on December 22 and has spent the final two months of the offseason on a strict diet and workout program, dropping nearly 40 pounds from his typical playing weight of 250.

Bell is now in … The Best Shape Of His Life.

MLB.com’s Jamal Collier has the story

Bell was one of the early Nationals to arrive Wednesday, a day before the club’s pitchers and catchers were set to report, and he tossed batting practice to two of his sons in the cages. He was noticeably thinner, prompting someone nearby to say, “I honestly had no idea that was Heath Bell.”

Bell’s minor league contract with the Nats will pay him $1 million while he’s in the majors. The 37-year-old right-hander surrendered 16 runs — 14 earned — in 17 1/3 innings of relief last season with the Rays.