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Rounding Third: Is it time for baseball yet?

<p>For some in the Northeast who are still digging out from the snow and ice dumped on them in the last week, there may not be a better phrase to hear than "pitchers and catchers report."</p>

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - For some in the Northeast who are still digging out from the snow and ice dumped on them in the last week, there may not be a better phrase to hear than "pitchers and catchers report."

As much as it may not feel like it in some parts of the country, baseball is indeed upon us, as players will start to trickle into Florida and Arizona this coming week, with exhibition games set to begin in less than three weeks.

Actually, the Arizona Diamondbacks reported on Thursday and Los Angeles Dodgers will show up on Friday, as they get a head start on the field thanks to their season-opening series in Australia.

With all due respect to the NBA and NHL, the weeks between the Super Bowl and the start of spring training are normally the worst time of the year if you are a sports fan.

The gap is bridged a bit this year with the Sochi Games, but most of the events will be occurring while you are sleeping, so that kind of takes a little steam away. And maybe it's just me, but besides Sports Network Olympics aficionado Gerard Gallagher, do you know anyone who is excited for these Games?

So far the best thing to come out of Sochi has been reading about the awful conditions those who are covering it have been exposed to. Stray dogs, toilet cameras, no door knobs, the threat of terrorism? Sounds delicious. Where do I sign up?

Maybe I will get into the Games a little more when roller derby is added as an event. I mean snowboarding is an event, why not roller derby?

Bottom line I am glad the moving trucks are on their way to the teams' spring training facilities. After this past week, I definitely need a reminder that baseball season is in fact right around the corner.

RALPH KINER PASSES AWAY

Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner passed away on Thursday at the age of 91.

Kiner may have played the majority of his brilliant 10-year career in Pittsburgh, but it was New York where he became a staple, as he was part of the Mets' initial broadcast booth in 1962 and still sat in on games as late as last season.

Regardless if you rooted for the Mets or the Yankees, his post-game interviews on Kiner's Korner was much-watch television, as he often produced statements that even Yogi Berra would shake his head at, such as, "On Father's Day, we again wish you all happy birthday."

By the way, take a look at Kiner's numbers. A six-time All-Star who led the National League in home runs in seven straight seasons from 1946 through 1952, Kiner was a career .279 hitter, slugged 369 homers and drove in 1,015 runs over 1,472 games with the Bucs, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

How it took him 20 years to get in the Hall of Fame is beyond me.

Plus he once dated Elizabeth Taylor.

MARINERS INK FERNANDO RODNEY

Word started to trickle in early on Thursday that the Seattle Mariners were close to a deal with a free agent. Like most, I assumed the Mariners were about to ink outfielder Nelson Cruz, but reportedly the team has agreed to a deal with closer Fernando Rodney.

Rodney will likely slide in as the Mariners' closer, with Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen getting set-up duty. Wilhelmsen, of course, has saved 53 games over the past two seasons for the Mariners, whose bullpen last season ranked near the bottom of the league last season.

Still, don't cross the Mariners off the list of teams who could grab Cruz. Even with the addition of Robinson Cano, their lineup still needs a lot of help.

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