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Musial on manager's mind at Cardinals fan festival

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Musial on manager's mind at Cardinals fan festival

ST. LOUIS (AP) Mike Matheny first encountered Stan Musial about two decades ago, watching the Hall of Famer draw a harmonica out of his jacket with an impish grin and captivate yet another crowd.

Whichever way the St. Louis Cardinals decide to remember Stan the Man, whether they wear armbands or a patch on their uniforms, their manager expects his team to adhere to Musial's work ethic. Matheny, who begins his second spring training in charge in about three weeks, believes Musial's passing will serve as perspective and motivation while reminding players that the window of opportunity is short.

``I think everybody around here, young and old, gets how important Mr. Musial was and still is - and will be - to this organization and this community. Just everything he stood for,'' Matheny said Monday at the end of the three-day Winter Warm-Up fan festival.

``Whether it's something we physically put on our sleeve or not, I'm sure there will be something that will memorialize Mr. Musial.''

The 92-year-old Musial, a seven-time National League batting champion and three-time MVP, died on Saturday. A public visitation will be Thursday at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, with a funeral Mass on Saturday.

``I think whether you grow up in St. Louis or not, if you're a fan of baseball you're going to hear Stan Musial's name repeatedly,'' said third baseman David Freese, who grew up suburban St. Louis. ``He's going to be missed, I think everybody knows that.

``What a life he lived.''

Matheny's on-field focus has been tested beyond the anguish of a blown a 3-1 NLCS lead against the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants last fall. He faces bankruptcy over a series of failed investments that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported have left him more than $4 million in debt.

Matheny told the newspaper he expects to liquidate all of his investments and real estate holdings, including his dream home, which has 17 rooms on 11 acres. From all accounts, Matheny was able to block out those issues when he put on the uniform.

``You just never know any situation how you're going to react until you get into it, but I was able to show up every day with an incredible ability to just focus and do my job,'' Matheny said. ``Stuff on the outside I was able to compartmentalize and deal with that as I had to.

``It's a story that doesn't have anything to do with woes, it's about some pretty cool things that have happened, but I'm looking forward to moving on.''

The Cardinals, meanwhile, hope to sign pitcher Adam Wainwright, entering the final year of his contract, to a new deal. The 31-year-old Wainwright returned in less than a year from reconstructive elbow surgery last season and was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA, after totaling 39 wins in 2009-10.

``You can be sure we'll try to sign him,'' chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. ``Whether we'll be able to, remains to be seen.''

Wainwright wore a T-shirt that read ``Just Happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub.''

``If they want to talk about it with my agent, they're more then welcome to,'' Wainwright said. ``I don't respond well when I'm thinking about other stuff on the mound.''

The Cardinals have three remaining arbitration-eligible players - closer Jason Motte, left-hander reliever Marc Rzepczynski and Freese. They're closer to deals with the two pitchers than Freese, the 2011 World Series and NL championship series MVP.

The 29-year-old Freese played his first full season last year, batting .293 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs, and is seeking $3.75 million. The Cardinals have offered $2.4 million.

``Publicly I'm not going to get involved with talking about where we're at,'' Freese said. ``It's going to get resolved sooner or later, it kind of has to.

``When I don't know, but obviously we're in the process.''

Motte submitted for $5.5 million and was offered $4.5 million and Rzepczynski requested $1.3 million and was offered $900,000.

Outfielder Carlos Beltran, entering the second year of a two-year, $26 million contract, wasn't looking ahead.

``Whatever happens after this year, I don't know,'' Beltran said. ``But I also have to find out what the organization's plans are.

``They don't really have to come to me and explain it to me. It depends on how this year goes, probably.''

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Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

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USA Today Sports Images

Manny Machado pens goodbye to O's fans on Instagram

Days after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that captivated much of Major League Baseball, former Oriole Manny Machado took to Instagram to thank the only organization he's ever known. 

The 26-year-old's contract expires at the end of this season, which the Orioles chose not to renew as the last-place club enters a rebuilding phase. 

Machado put up big numbers in the team's first 97 games totaling career-highs in home runs (24), RBIs (65), OBP (.387) and OPS (.962). 

He is expected to play shortstop for a Dodgers club which finished the first half of the season 10 games above .500 in a competitive, tight NL West. 

The Dodgers will pay Machado $6.3 million. 

To my Baltimore family, I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out how I would say goodbye but there wasn’t an easy way to do it. I first joined this organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could’ve imagined. Throughout the ups and downs, you embraced me unconditionally and you took a kid from Miami and brought me up as one of your own. I’ve enjoyed my time here and you all have played a big part in that!! Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart! To the Baltimore Orioles, it has truly been a blessing to put on that uniform every day. To the Angelos Family & Dan Duquette, thank you for making my dreams come true!!! To Buck and the coaching staff, thank you for your commitment and dedication to making me the best player and teammate I can possibly be…I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. To my teammates, we’ve shared some amazing times with lots of memories & friendships that I’ll cherish forever. Schoopy, I love you bro and I know you will carry the torch!!! ! Much love always, Manny #13

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Manny Machado trade rumors are dominating headlines at All-Star Game 

Orioles star shortstop Manny Machado traded to Los Angeles Dodgers 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series