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Fantasy baseball – Spring training injury watch

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Every year as fantasy baseball season approaches we pay particular attention to two groups of players: those coming off a stellar season (hoping they can have some semblance of a repeat performance) and those whose season was interrupted, abbreviated or altogether preempted by injury (hoping they can do anything but replicate the events of the prior year).

Forecasting the 2021 season from an injury perspective presents unique challenges. The arrival of COVID-19 resulted in a pandemic-induced short season and interpreting injury patterns and data from 2019 must be done with caution. Players did not experience a typical ramp-up to the start of last season nor did they endure the physical demands of a full complement of baseball games. Some dealt firsthand with COVID-19 and its associated complications; some opted to sit the season out. Through it all, injuries persisted.

With the 2021 season scheduled to begin on time, it seems like part of restoring normalcy should involve taking a look at some key players coming back from injury, so here we go.

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A $245 million payroll?! Why the Los Angeles Dodgers are outspending every other MLB team by a mile

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THE LOS ANGELES DODGERS spent $100 million to renovate Dodger Stadium ahead of the 2020 season, an ambitious undertaking that modified most of the infrastructure in an effort to modernize baseball’s third-oldest ballpark.

“Irony of ironies,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said. “After all these years of being the most beautiful stadium ever built to watch the game of baseball, we now also added 21st-century amenities. We have two acres of entertainment, and new food, and new history displays, and kids’ areas, and merchandise. Now we have elevators, and escalators, and connecting bridges — we now have all of that! We have a front door! You’ve seen pictures of it — it’s amazing!”

And it has all been just sitting there, untouched, for a year.

Kasten told CNBC in late October that a fan-less 2020 season led to revenue losses “north of $100 million” for the Dodgers, adding that it would take the franchise “years to catch up.” Three weeks later, the team followed a leaguewide trend in issuing organizationwide layoffs. Three months after that, they splurged on Trevor Bauer, brought back Justin Turner and raised a payroll that now is approaching a whopping $245 million, according to Cot’s Contracts, 26% higher than that of the second-place New York Yankees and the only one on pace to exceed baseball’s luxury-tax threshold.

The Dodgers’ payroll is high, but manageable, given their flexibility to creep back under that threshold in a year or two. Their roster is loaded with stars, but their abundance of young talent makes it seem as if the Dodgers’ run of excellence — consisting of eight consecutive division titles, a 2020 World Series championship and a 2021 PECOTA projection of 104 wins, the highest known number that system has ever produced — might never end. They have built a baseball utopia, evolving into the type of juggernaut their sport rarely produces. While most of their competition reels from the revenue losses of the coronavirus pandemic, which kept fans away from ballparks for an entire season, the Dodgers are doubling down.

How?

As one rival executive noted: “I think it’s important to go back to the beginning.”

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Who is 2021 MLB draft’s No. 1 pitching prospect? Scouting Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker

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In last week’s early 2021 MLB draft rankings, Vanderbilt right-handers Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker were second and third, respectively, on the list — and the top two pitching prospects on our board.

I had a chance to see the two pitch back-to-back in both ends of a doubleheader on Sunday in Nashville against Georgia State, so here’s a deep dive on both prospects and what could cause their stock to rise (or fall) heading into the 2021 MLB draft starting July 11 in Atlanta.

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Cincinnati Reds OF Shogo Akiyama returns to camp after wife seriously injured

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. — – Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama returned to spring training after a week away to be with his wife, who was seriously injured when a tree fell on her in a park in Ohio.

Akaya Akiyama was hospitalized after being injured by the tree last week while she was walking in Sharon Woods in Cincinnati. Her husband said Thursday that her condition is improving.

“I was in the hospital with her, I was spending time with [the] kids,” the 32-year-old Akiyama said through a translator at the team’s spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona. “I think it was the inevitable time that I needed with this week away.”

Manager David Bell said Akiyama won’t be in the lineup for a spring training game until Sunday.

The Reds signed the Japanese player to a three-year, $21 million contract before the 2020 season. He played in 54 games last year, hitting .245.

“That’s bigger than baseball,” Reds pitcher Lucas Sims said. “Being able to see him today, it made us all happy and glad to know that she’s doing all right. Hopefully, everything gets back to normal.”

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