Niners Jersey for Kids Torrey Smith extension expected ‘at some point’

For all of the midseason frustration and trade speculation surrounding Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II made it clear Wednesday that there will be no changes at quarterback in 2014.

The Steelers Niners Throwback Jersey have traditionally extended their quarterback’s contract with two years remaining. Rooney suggested salary-cap issues might prevent that from happening this offseason, but he still expects an extension “at some point.”

Whereas Rooney noted the Steelers “slipped” on defense, he believes the “arrow points up” for an improved offense.

“I certainly liked the way we finished. We, as far as I’m concerned, should be in the playoffs,” Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “… (Roethlisberger) got better as the season went on, and that’s certainly what we were hoping for … I do think the way he performed over the last, let’s say, three-fourths of the season, is what we were hoping for.”

An underlying tension in Pittsburgh the past two years has been Roethlisberger’s desire for more control versus the organization’s hope that he would change his playing style to emulate Peyton Manning and extend his career.

The two sides reached a happy medium over the final seven games in which Roethlisberger was sacked just seven times.

Offensive coordinator Todd San Francisco 49ers Nike Torrey Smith  Team Color Jersey Haley finally allowed Big Ben to take the reins in a no-huddle attack, taking control at the line of scrimmage in a manner similar to Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

“You have to like the fact that he stayed relatively clean in the second half of the season, and there’s no doubt that’s what we like to see,” Rooney explained. “We’d like to see him last another 5, 6, 7 years, whatever it is.”

The Steelers will spend the offseason fixing a defensive nucleus that has deteriorated to the league’s bottom third. Buoyed by Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, the offense will need nothing more than minor tweaks.

Bagwell made four All-Star Game appearances, had 2,314 hits, 449 home runs, 1,529 RBIs and six trips to the playoffs. He was forced to retire after a degenerative shoulder condition made it impossible for him to throw a baseball and nearly impossible to swing a bat.

Bagwell drove in at least 100 runs in all but one season from 1996-2003, and slipped to 27 homers and 89 RBIs in 2004, though he hit .286 with two homers and eight RBIs in the playoffs.Led by Torrey Smith Jersey Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman, Carlos Beltran, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, the star-studded Astros came within a game of the World Series.

After seeing his vote totals rise in each of his previous two years in the ballot — 41.7 in 2011, 56.0 in 2012, 59.6 in 2013 — Bagwell slipped by 5.3 percent. Players can stay on the ballot for 15 years as long as they receive at least 5 percent of the vote each year.

“Again, Jeff was hurt more by the numbers of players on the ballot,” Ausmus said. “I think that’s more an indication of why his vote went backwards a little bit this year. I still think, in the long run, he’ll also get in. [Bagwell and Thomas] were essentially the same player until Jeff got hurt Torrey Smith White Jersey, and Jeff played a lot more first base.”

Tale of the Tape: Canadiens vs. Bruins.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey

For the third time this season, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will renew a heated rivalry that has shown no signs of cooling.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey.

First place in the Northeast Division will be on the line when the Canadiens and Bruins take part in this week’s Wednesday Night Rivalry contest on NBC Sports Network. Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.Each team owns a one-goal win in the other’s building this season, with the latest installment in this Original Six grudge match taking place at TD Garden.

In what was each team’s ninth game of the season on Feb. 6, the Bruins used goals from Tyler Seguin and David Krejci during the first 2:05 of the third period to rally for a 2-1 victory. 1989 Joe Montana Jersey.On March 3, the Canadiens turned the tables and earned a 4-3 comeback victory on goals from Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais in the third period.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey.

There were two fights in that last contest, including Bruins captain Zdeno Chara dropping the gloves with Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin. Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.Chara was assessed 17 minutes in penalties and was in the penalty box for the Canadiens’ tying and winning goals..


MLB’s stars reveal what drives them to play. Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey

Justin  Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey Verlander plays “for the unhittable pitch.” Mike Trout plays “for the history about to be written.” Andrew McCutchen plays “to steal my way to the pennant.”

Willie Mays played because “winning was important.” Don Drysdale played because “I hate all hitters.” Christy Mathewson played because “You can learn everything from defeat.”

What is that one thing that has driven baseball players since the 1800s and drives them in this Major League Baseball regular season that begins Sunday night in Houston?

What is that one thing that kids everywhere will be playing for again this summer, when they drag the diamonds and an umpire shouts “Play Ball!” on a hot afternoon?

It is time to play “I Play” and find out.

MLB has launched a new campaign to usher in the 2013 season, showcasing the intensity and passion of the game’s young stars while illustrating what drives them to succeed and highlighting their desire to lead their team to the postseason.

You can see the Opening Day spot right here on, featuring Robinson Cano, Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Adam Jones, McCutchen, Buster Posey, David Price, Trout, Verlander and David Wright. Many more videos are on the way, and you’ll see them on MLB Network, ESPN, FOX and TBS throughout the season.

“I am thrilled to be a part of Major League Baseball’s Opening Day campaign,” said McCutchen, the Pirates’ All-Star center fielder. “As a player, as soon as the final pitch of the previous season is thrown, I am marking off the days until Opening Day on my calendar. Every time you walk into a ballpark on Opening Day, it feels like the first time you ever stepped onto that field. This campaign will really give everyone a sense of the excitement we as players feel.”

Mariano Rivera plays “for title No. 28.” Wright Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey  plays “to turn leather into gold.” CarGo plays “for no regrets.” Price plays “to turn K’s into Ws.”

Bob Feller played because “Every day is a new opportunity.” Jackie Robinson played because “I hate to lose.” Tom Seaver played “for the love of the game.”

The first individual spots feature Cano (in Spanish, set to run on ESPN Deportes and FOX Sports en Espanol), Harper and McCutchen.

In each spot, the camera isolates on the player’s face as his inner monologue provides a glimpse into reasons why each of them plays at such a high level to reach their goal of playing in October. Additional player-specific creative featuring some of the game’s top young talent will roll out throughout the season.Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.

“The desire to play in October drives every player to push himself and his team to new heights, and this new campaign captures and showcases that desire in a compelling new way,” said MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan. “These spots also illustrate the intense passion our young stars have for the game and the connection they feel to the cities they play in and the fans they play for.”

Look for a companion campaign throughout social media as well, targeting fans who play or have played baseball or softball. You are encouraged to share photos and videos on social media along with the hashtag #IPlay, demonstrating as creatively as possible why you play the game. Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.The most creative user-submitted stories already are being showcased on

Daniel Reader, a Giants fan in the Bay Area, tweeted this example: “#IPlay because out on the diamond it doesn’t matter that I’m Deaf.”

1989 Joe Montana Jersey.Harper plays “for nine guys playing as one.” Posey plays “for three rings in four years.” Cano plays “for Yankee pride.”

Yogi Berra played because the game wasn’t “over.” Nellie Fox played because “you don’t have to be big to be a big leaguer.” Bob Uecker played because of “next time.” Dave Winfield played because a ballplayer “can be the hero or the goat 162 times a year.”

Bat girl Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey contest to help fight breast cancer under way

The fifth annual Honorary Bat Girl Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey Contest is under way, encouraging fans to share “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” stories for a chance to be honored on-field during Mother’s Day celebrations around Major League Baseball.

Anyone 18 or older who has been affected by breast cancer and demonstrates a commitment to eradicating the disease can go to to submit a story before April 17. MLB launched the campaign on Tuesday and will honor all affected fans on Sunday, May 12, by decorating specific equipment and other items with the symbolic pink color.Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

Fans are invited to share inspirational stories that they or loved ones have or currently are experiencing that provide hope and motivation in the fight against breast cancer. Additionally, fans will share the reasons they want to represent their favorite teams as an Honorary Bat Girl. Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.More than 4,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than 10 million fan votes have been cast over the first four years of the program, and entries can be submitted by breast-cancer survivors, advocates and/or supporters of the cause.

“Major League Baseball is honored to recognize brave women who show strength in the face of breast cancer, as too many are directly affected by this disease season after season,” said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. “We are proud that our Honorary Bat Girl program is a part of the fight to eradicate this global disease through on-field awareness and fundraising, while recognizing some of the strongest and most spirited fans across the country.”

During MLB’s annual Mother’s Day recognition, one Honorary Bat Girl per club will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink merchandise along with two tickets to that day’s game. For clubs on the road that day, a home game in May will be selected to recognize their Honorary Bat Girls.

Players will be among a panel of judges that will again help select the winning submissions based on originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast-cancer awareness and public appeal as determined by online fan votes. Celebrity judges will be revealed later.

“At first, I didn’t know how much I would need to do,” Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said last year, when he was one of the judges. “But after reading people’s testimonies, it really didn’t matter. If it was one page or two pages, I didn’t have any problem reading them through. I like to help with anything related to any form of cancer.”

“Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” is a joint partnership between MLB and its licensed partners, Stand Up to Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It has set out to raise awareness about the breast-cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast-cancer research.

On every Mother’s Day since 2006, hundreds of players have used Louisville Slugger pink bats stamped with the MLB breast-cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast-cancer cause, players and on-field personnel have worn the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms, along with pink wristbands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also have been pink.

You will be able to help raise funds for this cause by bidding on game-used items from those Mother’s Day games, including the pink bats, at the Auction. Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey .Factory pink bats also will be available at the Shop, with part of the proceeds benefiting this cause.

“She taught me true strength, showed me how to be brave even during life’s toughest moments, and helped me to understand the value of life,” Kaitlon Busser, one of last year’s Honorary Bat Girls, representing the Cubs, wrote of her mother, who had recently lost her fight with breast cancer. “My mother will always be my pink warrior. There is nothing I would rather do than go to bat against breast cancer by being an Honorary Bat Girl in her name on the first Mother’s Day I will not be able to share with her.”

Go to for more information on the full calendar of baseball’s community events in 2013, and to see how you can be involved in its ongoing programs.1989 Joe Montana Jersey.

Dodgers Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey option Gordon, hot-hitting Puig to Minors

The Dodgers  Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey optioned Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig to Double-A Chattanooga and Dee Gordon to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday.

The decision not to rush Puig, the Dodgers’ top-ranked prospect, was made, in part, as a result of a decision two years ago to rush Gordon.

Puig, who signed for $42 million last summer as a relative unknown, dominated the Cactus League with a .526 batting average, a Bo Jackson-like frame and an explosive energy that thrilled fans and ruffled opponents.

But the Dodgers outfield is full with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. Besides, Puig has only 95 professional plate appearances after missing the entire 2011 season following a failed attempt to defect from Cuba.1989 Joe Montana Jersey.

Management believes he needs more seasoning, especially in the subtle parts of the game, and needs to play every day, which would have been almost impossible in the big leagues. Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston are the extra outfielders.

“I told him he had a great camp and he didn’t do anything wrong,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It was an organizational decision from the standpoint of what we think is best for him now and the long term.

“He came into camp and the guy wasn’t even on the radar. We really didn’t know what to expect. He put himself on the map, probably knocking on the door instead of a couple years away. We knew he was tooled up. We found out he was really smart, he learns quick. He needs a little work in certain areas, the details of the game.Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

“I look at Yasiel as a Ferrari — got the motor, the body, the wheels. Just hasn’t been painted yet and you don’t want to leave it in the sun. We want a guy as ready as possible when he walks in the door at Dodger Stadium so he never has to go down again.”

Mattingly said Puig didn’t say anything, but “he didn’t seem too happy about it.”

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In part, Gordon is one of the reasons Puig was sent down. The Dodgers did the opposite when Gordon was their best position prospect. They dealt away shortstop Rafael Furcal at the Trade Deadline in 2011 and gave the job to Gordon, who responded with a solid final two months of that season.

But he struggled on both sides of the ball in the first half of 2012, then suffered a torn thumb ligament on a head-first dive into third base just before the All-Star break, requiring surgery that cost him virtually the rest of the season.

“We felt he needs to be playing every day and continuing to develop,” Mattingly said. “We felt like we rushed him a little bit. He had a good camp, great attitude, no issues. He’s another guy we want to come up and be able to stay. We want him ready, polished, able to do the stuff we found out he wasn’t ready for. You make a plan for a guy, an injury happens [to Hanley Ramirez], what’s the best answer? We didn’t feel Dee was the best answer for Hanley.”

Gordon Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey ‘s injury last year led to the acquisition of Ramirez from Miami. Ramirez suffered a similar injury at the World Baseball Classic earlier this year, but instead of allowing Gordon to replace him, Luis Cruz was moved over from third base, with a trio of utility men — Juan Uribe, Hairston and Nick Punto — rotating at third base.

Freese Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey will open Cards’ season on disabled list

Due to a lingering back injury, David Freese Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey will begin the season on the disabled list, the Cardinals announced on Tuesday. The news comes one day after Freese characterized being ready by Opening Day as a “possibility.”

An MRI on Monday identified inflammation in Freese’s lower back. The third baseman had an anti-inflammatory shot shortly after to address that issue, but that also meant he would have to stay off the field until at least Thursday. The Cardinals wrap up their spring schedule Friday and begin the regular season Monday.

That left insufficient time for Freese to get his body conditioned for the demands of the regular season. He has not played nine innings in a game this spring.Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.

“At first, frustration kicks in and you don’t really understand the situation,” Freese said. “But when you think about it … it’s more reassuring to myself and the team that I can get out there and play the rest of the way. … I wanted to get back out there and obviously it didn’t work out. We’re going to take the more cautious approach and get this thing right. It’s about the team. I’m not worth anything unless I’m healthy and unless I’m out there.”

Because Freese last played in a Grapefruit League game on March 22, the Cardinals can backdate his 15-day DL stint nine days, meaning that the third baseman would be eligible to return April 7. General manager John Mozeliak said that the club is targeting the April 8 home opener as a return date for Freese.

In conjunction with moving Freese to the DL, St. Louis has brought Ryan Jackson back from Minor League camp and will give him a place on the 25-man roster until Freese returns. Matt Carpenter is slated to be the team’s third baseman during Freese’s absence, meaning that Daniel Descalso will start at second.

Freese Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey  has taken only 16 at-bats since he bruised his tailbone after tumbling into the stands trying to make a catch on March 4. Only six of those at-bats have come since March 14.

“It’s just more of a practical matter in the sense that he hasn’t played nine innings all spring,” Mozeliak said. “He hasn’t gotten a lot of at-bats over the last two weeks in an aggregate sense. Looking ahead at what’s best for David is to get him some at-bats next week where he could get a lot of work in.”Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

Freese will remain in Jupiter to get those at-bats during the Cardinals’ extended spring training. He hopes to resume some of his workout program Wednesday and slowly build up from there.

“Today it feels better,” he said Tuesday morning. “Obviously, the inflammation should start going down pretty quick here.1989 Joe Montana Jersey.I think the big thing is to remember when I feel good in a couple days, to understand that I have still some more time to get ready and get out on these back fields and play some games.”

Freese becomes the third player the Cardinals have had to move to the DL, joining starter Chris Carpenter and shortstop Rafael Furcal. Carpenter and Furcal are out for the season. Closer Jason Motte, though not placed on the DL yet, is also expected to begin the season on it.

Toronto sends former ace Romero Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey to Class A

In a move that nobody could have predicted a year ago, the Blue Jays optioned left-hander Ricky Romero to Class A Dunedin on Tuesday evening.

Romero Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey goes from being the club’s Opening Day starter in 2012 to not cracking its 25-man roster the following spring. It’s a shocking twist in an otherwise uneventful Spring Training for a team that entered camp with its roster basically set in stone.

The Blue Jays opened camp by saying Romero was guaranteed a spot in the rotation, but that message changed in the past two weeks when they put him through a series of mechanical adjustments on the mound. There simply was a lot of work left to do and not enough outings in Spring Training to get everything done.

“We saw a lot of good things and he was fine, but it’s not the Ricky we know he can be,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We can try to just keep going, and when you’re at the big league level, it’s hard to continue working on things, or take a little more time, get him back to where he can be.

“It’s always a tough conversation, but he knows he’s not exactly as sharp as he needs to be, and he knows it’s going to take a little bit more time.”

Romero, who wasn’t available for comment, has been one of Toronto’s most valuable pitchers since he first broke into the Major Leagues in 2009. By ’11, he had become the Blue Jays’ No. 1 starter following the departure of Shaun Marcum, and Romero responded with a 15-11 record and a 2.92 ERA en route to his appearance at an All-Star Game.

The following season Romero once again was named the No. 1 starter, but things didn’t go nearly as well. Romero began the year with an 8-1 record, but that masked some struggles on the mound as evidenced by a 4.34 ERA and 46 walks in 95 1/3 innings.

The problems got worse from there, as Romero battled control issues and at times a seeming lack of confidence on the mound. Romero was also dealing with tendinitis in both of his knees, but he pitched through the discomfort and went 1-13 the rest of the way with an alarming 7.35 ERA.

In spite of that, it wasn’t until this spring that the club noticed a flaw in Romero’s delivery. He had always thrown across his body, but was doing so more drastically now and wasn’t maintaining a straight line to the plate.

The Blue Jays attempted to have Romero make the adjustments in mid-March, but there wasn’t enough time to get everything done before the start of the season.

“It’s not results as much as we see some things he needed to change,” Anthopoulos said of Romero, who had a 6.23 ERA this spring. “You talk about direction and lines to the plate, it’s basically your balance going to home plate and where your front foot lands. It sounds easy, but it just takes time when you start repeating it.1989 Joe Montana Jersey.

“He has done this before, he just has a tendency to do it. It’s one thing if you’re just not getting results and you just have to continue to pitch and get out of it. We have a plan for him. We know what we need to address. It’s just not coming as fast as we wanted it to come.”

The fact that Romero has been sent all the way down to Dunedin will be a familiar development for followers of the Blue Jays, as the club took the same approach with right-hander Roy Halladay back in 2001. Halladay went through all three levels of the Minors that season before eventually rejoining the Blue Jays and establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in the game.Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.

But Anthopoulos says Halladay’s situation isn’t comparable to the one currently facing Romero. Halladay had a complete overhaul of his mechanics, whereas the Blue Jays have continually described Romero’s changes as “minor.”

Anthopoulos also said that the decision to send Romero all the way down to Class A had more to do with the climate than the level of competition he’s set to face.

“We thought about where we would send him, we ultimately decided, the other affiliates it’s cold, rainouts, we want to make sure he gets his work in,” Anthopoulos said.

“We’re going to continue to work with him down here where it’s warm, where can get his work in, and really just continue to get the direction of the plate because he’s making strides. Like we told him, we just ran out of time in getting him to where he needs to be.”

The Blue Jays will now hand the No. 5 starter’s job to J.A. Happ. The veteran left-hander has been one of the club’s most reliable starting pitchers this spring, but until Tuesday, he had been expected to begin the season at Triple-A Buffalo.

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Happ put lots of pressure on Romero this spring by posting a 1.89 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 19 innings. The controversy over who should become the club’s final starter seemed to grow with every outing, but Anthopoulos said the decision didn’t have anything to do with how well Happ performed.

The final call ultimately came down to Romero Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey and his flawed mechanics. There’s a belief that Romero will eventually get back on track, but when that occurs is anybody’s guess.

“Obviously we have to move forward, but I have no idea what the roster’s going to look like, what’s going to happen,” Anthopoulos said. “Obviously, if he gets back to where he can be, he’s one of the best starters in the game and I think he ends up being on anybody’s team at that point, certainly ours.

“But without trying to forecast what happens a week from now, three weeks from now, a month from now, it’s impossible to say. But I can’t wait for that day to come, when he’s ready and he’s back to what he was.”

Harang, Capuano Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey waiting to see where they fit

Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey don’t know where they stand with six days before the season opens, except to know they aren’t in the Dodgers’ starting rotation.

Harang literally didn’t know where he was Tuesday night, when glare from stadium lights on a new pair of glasses left him dizzy on the mound in a start against Colorado. Between the second and third walk he issued to open the game he tossed aside the glasses, but he was still dizzy when Michael Cuddyer belted a grand slam.

“The batters were moving,” said Harang. “I thought I was in the Twilight Zone. I got rid of them after the second batter, but everything was still moving. I’ve been pitching six years half-blind and haven’t done too bad. I’ve debated Lasik [corrective surgery]. At night it’s harder to see.”Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

Harang regrouped once his vision cleared and he allowed only one more run in 5 1/3 innings. If any scouts missed the first four batters, perhaps he’ll be dealt to help clear the Dodgers’ glut of pitchers. Teams that have been scouting Dodgers pitchers include Pittsburgh, Seattle and Cleveland.

“It’s in the back of your mind,” he said of the roster jam. “You know something is going on. Young guys want to figure it out. I don’t even try.”

Capuano Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey  is right there with Harang, saying he doesn’t know where he stands, although there are indications that the Dodgers would prefer to keep him as a second lefty in the bullpen. The downside to that for Capuano and Harang is that they might be free agents after the season (both have mutual options), and long relief is not an ideal springboard for a rich contract.

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“The rotation is set but my role is still unclear,” Capuano said. “At this point I’m still progressing as a starting pitcher. Physically I think I’m still capable of it. I still feel I can go out and compete as a Major League starter. I’ve got a lot in the tank. A lot of stuff should be clearer over the next few days.”

Ted Lilly is the third Dodgers starter without a role, but bad luck with health and weather this spring left him behind in innings. He will pick up for Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday.1989 Joe Montana Jersey.

The club has considered a disabled list rehab assignment for Lilly so he can build up innings, but Lilly said he is coming to Los Angeles after Wednesday’s game.

Ethier exits early with ‘little soreness’ in hamstring Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey

Dodgers Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey right fielder Andre Ethier left Tuesday night’s Cactus League game with what he called “a little soreness” in his right hamstring, but manager Don Mattingly said it was precautionary.

Ethier wasn’t cautious in the one at-bat he had, racing for a triple on his drive off the center-field fence. Joe Montana Throwback Jersey Mitchell and Ness.Mattingly said Ethier was scheduled for two at-bats in the game but lifted him in the third inning after the lone at-bat.

“[Dodgers trainer Sue Falsone] warned me before the game and [Ethier] didn’t say it after the hit, but I didn’t want to see it after that. He’d had enough,” Mattingly said. “It’s been a long camp.”

Ethier already was scheduled to miss Wednesday’s getaway-day game and Mattingly said he expects him to be playable for the Freeway Series of exhibition matchups Thursday-Saturday against the Angels.

 Ryu gets nod to start second game of season.Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will start the second game of the season for the Dodgers, manager Don Mattingly confirmed Tuesday, with Chad Billingsley missing his first turn through the rotation because of his healing bruised index finger.

Billingsley will pitch in a Minor League game Friday in Arizona and will slide into the rotation at some point after Clayton Kershaw, Ryu, Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke pitch the first four games. Billingsley was able to throw curveballs during a bullpen session Monday, but he will be given an extra day to rebound.

Mattingly Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey  said he has had conversations with the three veteran starting pitchers not in the rotation — Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang — “so psychologically they know where it sits if nothing would change.”1989 Joe Montana Jersey.

Lilly still needs to build arm strength to be a starter, while Capuano and Harang are being scouted by Pittsburgh, Seattle and Cleveland, although no deal is imminent.

The Dodgers might keep two of the three for bullpen work, although that would make it nearly impossible for non-roster reliever Kevin Gregg to make the club.

Mattingly also said that reliever Scott Elbert, who had a setback in his recovery from two elbow operations, went to Los Angeles for a platelet-rich plasma injection. He will resume tossing this week, but there’s no timetable for his return.

Multiple playoff contenders? Consider NL Central Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey

The National League Central has a reputation in some quarters, and that reputation isn’t entirely good. It also isn’t entirely fair.

Over the past 10 seasons, the Central produced the most playoff teams of the three National League divisions, as well as the most NL pennant-winners. And once again in 2013, the odds are good that multiple playoff teams will come from the NL Central.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey.

The clubs in best position to do that are the ones that did it last year. The reigning champion Reds made a nice upgrade to their lineup, bringing in Shin-Soo Choo to lead off, but otherwise bring back most of a club that won the division by nine games. The Cardinals lost two starting pitchers from their end-of-year starting five, but they’re confident in what they have to replace Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse.

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So it’s no exaggeration to say the rest of the division is chasing the Redlegs and Redbirds. After all, one or both of those two teams has made the postseason in each of the past four seasons.

Each of the three challengers has reason to think it’s closer to the top. The Pirates made a major upgrade at catcher, and they’re counting on steps forward from some promising young players. The Brewers believe they fixed the bullpen that cost them so many wins last year.Joe Montana Mitchell and Ness Jersey. The Cubs overhauled their rotation, likewise fixing what was their biggest problem in 2012.

They’re all still chasing the Reds and Cards, but they may be getting closer.Authentic 49ers Joe Montana Jersey.

You may notice someone has been left out of this discussion, by the way. That’s because there’s a little more elbow room in the Central this year. 1989 Joe Montana Jersey. Formerly baseball’s most populous division, it’s now down to five clubs thanks to the Astros’ move to the American League West.

We polled our NL Central beat writers — Brewers reporter Adam McCalvy, Cardinals reporter Jenifer Langosch, Cubs reporter Carrie Muskat, Pirates reporter Tom Singer and Reds reporter Mark Sheldon — and asked them to rank the clubs in four major categories as well as to give some input as to the race as a whole.