Raleigh, North Carolina group declares itself ready for MLB expansion

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Recently there has been a lot of activity from the Portland Diamond Project, which is a group in Portland, Oregon whose mission is to build a major league ballpark for an expansion team or a relocated team. The group says it has secured land and, last November, released renderings of a stadium and all of that stuff.

The Portland group’s work coincided with an interview Rob Manfred gave last summer in which he identified it, and five other cities, as potential expansion sites.  “Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville in the United States, certainly Montreal, maybe Vancouver, in Canada,” Manfred said. “We think there’s places in Mexico we could go over the long haul.”

As of today there’s a city that wishes to join that group: Raleigh:

They have a website which makes the argument for Raleigh, including a part of it that explains why it, and not Charlotte, is the better option in the Carolinas. Some of the numbers there might be surprising to people who haven’t spent a lot of time in the Triangle. At the same time, the Raleigh group also fails to mention that the corporate/banking sector in Charlotte — the part of the community which buys luxury suites and pays for sponsorships and naming rights and things — is massive compared to most cities, let alone compared to Raleigh. It’s obviously a promotion site, though, not one aimed at a vigorous analysis of the matter at hand. The Raleigh group said itself in a tweet today that it’s looking to “start a conversation and galvanize support,” and that’s what the web presence is aimed at.

All of it is academic without expansion, however. Maybe the Rays will move cities one day and maybe the A’s don’t have the deal fully done on their new park in Oakland, but there is not likely to be much relocation in baseball’s near future. It’s not hard to imagine baseball going to 32 teams, though. Both because there are more cities that could support teams now than there are teams and because Major League Baseball owners love to print money in the form of expansion franchise fees, and two expansion teams are likely to put a couple billion bucks in the owners’ pockets.

Will those teams be in Raleigh? Portland? Montreal? My guess is that they’ll be in whichever city which signals that it will give the greatest gifts to the league and the new owners in the form of a stadium and other concessions. For now, though, let a dozen cites dream about it. And tweet.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

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TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”