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MLB Notes: Tim Tebow records first hit in spring training

MLB Notes: Tim Tebow records first hit in spring training

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Tim Tebow has gotten his first hit for the New York Mets.

The former NFL quarterback singled Monday in an exhibition game against Miami Marlins left-hander Kyle Lobstein.

Tebow was hitless in his first eight at-bats in spring training before his opposite-field single on a 2-2 pitch leading off the bottom of the fifth inning. He was then erased on a double-play grounder.

Playing left field, the former Heisman Trophy winner made a head-first diving catch in the second inning to rob Justin Bour of a hit.

Tebow batted eighth, and his appearance in the lineup was a surprise. On Friday, manager Terry Collins said there were no plans to bring back the 29-year-old Tebow after his second start.

But the Mets needed players because of the World Baseball Classic and multiple split-squad games and decided to have Tebow join them from their minor league camp.

Orioles: Alvarez returns as OF
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Pedro Alvarez will try shifting to the outfield in his return to the Baltimore Orioles.

A corner infielder with Pittsburgh and a designated hitter with Baltimore last year, Alvarez finalized a minor league contract Monday and would get a $2 million, one-year deal if added to the 40-man roster.

Alvarez says he is "looking forward to the opportunity to get to learn the position as best as possible. Obviously, whenever you try playing a new position you've got to put in a lot of work. And the one thing you can't replicate is game reps, so just looking forward to getting the opportunity to go out there and just play."

Blue Jays: Travis' status for opening day in doubt
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis ran sprints in the outfield Monday, still unsure of his status for opening day.

Travis has been slowed by a bone bruise on his right knee, which had offseason surgery to remove a small flap of cartilage.

"He's got to get moving quick to do that because he needs some work," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He's cutting it close."

Travis is taking batting practice and could get some at-bats as a designated hitter in minor league games this week.

"It's kind of hit or miss," Gibbons said. "Some days he feels better than others but he's moving in the right direction."

Travis had issues with the knee during last year's postseason. He hit .300 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 101 regular-season games.

Third baseman Josh Donaldson, who injured his right calf while running sprints Feb. 17, is expected to play for the first time this year in the next couple days.

"He's real close," Gibbons said.

Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, hit .284 with 37 homers and 99 RBIs last season. He has been an All-Star in three straight seasons.

Mets: Nimmo returns from pulled hamstring
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Outfielder Brandon Nimmo is returning to the New York Mets' spring training camp after pulling his right hamstring while playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

Nimmo, who turns 24 on March 27, walked in the first inning Sunday at Guadalajara, Mexico, took a called third strike in the third, then left the game after consecutive triples by Puerto Rico in the fifth.

The Mets said Monday that Nimmo, a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, will be re-evaluated once he arrives back at camp.

Nimmo homered against Venezuela on Saturday.

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

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Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."