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Dunn enjoying baseball again

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Dunn enjoying baseball again

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For all his accomplishments in the big leagues -- all the towering home runs and all the walks -- Adam Dunn's resume over the last decade had two disturbing entries: zero All-Star Games, zero postseason appearances.

And after suffering through the worst season of his life in 2011, there was legitimate reason to wonder whether the former Nationals slugger would ever get back to the Midsummer Classic, or whether he'd ever get to experience the postseason with a White Sox franchise that seemed to be falling apart.

Well, Dunn managed to cross that first item off his list, earning a spot on the AL's All-Star roster 10 years after he made his one and only appearance in the game with the Reds. And with the White Sox currently holding a three-game lead in the AL Central, he might just get to cross off that second item as well in a couple of months.

"Obviously I feel a little better this year than I did last year," he said. "The good news is, last year is still over, and this year we've still got a whole half to go."

As consistent an offensive player as there was in baseball -- he averaged 40 homers, 101 RBI and 107 walks from 2004-10 -- Dunn wound up in Chicago last season after the Nationals decided not to match the White Sox's four-year, 56 million contract offer. The move was criticized in Washington at the time, though that criticism dwindled after the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to an eight-year, 126 million deal and especially after Dunn slogged his way through a disastrous debut season in the AL.

In 122 games last year, the DHfirst baseman hit a paltry .159 with 11 homers, 42 RBI and 177 strikeouts. The crowds at U.S. Cellular Field routinely showered him with boos when he stepped to the plate.

"I don't blame them," he said. "I would've booed me, too. Seriously."

Few knew what to expect out of Dunn (or the White Sox, who went 79-83) this season, but each has enjoyed a renaissance. Dunn already has 25 homers and 64 RBI in 84 games, though his .208 batting average barely sits above the Mendoza Line. And, of course, he leads the league both in walks (68) and strikeouts (134).

Those power numbers were enough to earn Dunn a ticket to Kansas City for tonight's All-Star Game, where he'll look across the field and find three guys wearing the uniform of the first-place Nationals.

Will that be a bittersweet moment for Dunn, who lost 196 in two seasons in Washington but always insisted he wanted to be part of the franchise's eventual turnaround?

"No," he said. "I really enjoyed my time there. I really enjoyed the people. There's no hard feelings. Some of my good buddies still play on the team. I love Mike Rizzo. I love the Lerners. Everybody's great over there, and I wish them nothing but the best. And you saw it coming. You just didn't know how early it was going to be. I'm happy for them."

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

RELATED: NATS REVEAL 2018 SPRING TRAINING TV SCHEDULE

He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.

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