MLB notes: Expanded playoffs likely this year

Texas Rangers players celebrate after they defeated the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of MLB's ALCS...

Texas Rangers players celebrate after they defeated the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of MLB's ALCS baseball playoffs to take the pennant, in Arlington, Texas, October 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Stone)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

The MLB playoffs likely will be expanded to 10 teams this season, according to a report Friday.

Discussions have intensified aimed at resolving scheduling issues with the players union, a source told ESPN.com.

MLB and the union must reach an agreement by next Thursday or playoff expansion will be postponed until 2013,

"The feeling is now that it's likely that something is going to get done," a source said.

The new format will have two wild-card teams play a one-game playoff to advance to the division series. With the season ending Oct. 3 and the World Series opening Oct. 24, the challenge for MLB is squeezing the wild-card games into the busy playoff schedule.

SIZEMORE HURTING AGAIN

For the second year in a row, oft-injured Grady Sizemore will miss opening day.

The Indians centre fielder strained his lower back two weeks ago while fielding grounders. The injury has slowed his rehabilitation on his surgically repaired right knee, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Sizemore, 29, played in just 71 games in 2011 and in 33 games in 2010 because of various injuries. He hasn't played more than 106 games in a season since 2008, when he hit .268 with 33 homers and 90 RBI.

MAN-RAM IN SPOTLIGHT

Manny Ramirez is No. 1.

At least, that's what the number on his back says.

Ramirez checked into training camp Friday in Arizona, hoping to become the No. 1 slugger in the Oakland A's lineup. After he sits out 50 games for a drug violation, of course.

The 11-time all-star wore No. 24 with the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox, and No. 99 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, then returned to No. 24 in his brief stay with the Tampa Bay Rays last season.

He is wearing No. 1 with Oakland, signifying a new beginning.

"He didn't want 99," A's equipment manager Steve Vucinich told the San Jose Mercury News. "He wanted to start fresh and (No. 1) starts everything."

BRIEFLY

Justin Morneau said Friday he still is concerned about the concussion symptoms that have plagued him for the past two seasons. The Minnesota Twins first baseman said he hasn't felt any symptoms since January but plans on working out slowly leading up to Minnesota's Grapefruit League opener March 3 ... Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro declared his innocence regarding a sexual assault complaint. He said he has co-operated with Chicago police who are investigating but have not filed charges ... Infielder Jack Wilson strained his right calf and will be out four to six weeks. He is in his first season with the Atlanta Braves.

 


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