They backed it up with a plus-136 run differential (a fairly absurd figure across just 60 games), and then in the postseason went 13-5 en route to winning the World Series for the first time since 1988.,Because of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, fans weren't permitted to attend MLB games last season until the very last rounds of the playoffs.,The plan right now is for fans to be in attendance at spring training games and regular season games, albeit in limited numbers and in accordance with local guidelines.,Last season, no fans attended any regular season Astros games even as they advanced as far as the ALCS, so they've yet to hear about their transgressions in the typical manner.,Last season, the Padres busted out in a big way, as they won at a .617 clip -- the best win percentage in franchise history -- and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

I think it’s been very well documented what they did this winter and how they’ve gotten better as an organization over the last two, three years,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said as pitchers and catchers prepared for Thursday’s first workout.,Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman did acknowledge it’s “hard to say” if the Dodgers would have pursued pitcher Trevor Bauer as aggressively in the free-agent market if the Padres hadn’t started the arms race with their acquisitions of Blake Snell, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove this winter, fortifying a roster led by third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (third and fourth, respectively in the 2020 National League MVP voting).,Let’s do everything we can to go out next year and do it again,” Friedman said during an appearance on SportsNet LA, summarizing the texts that were going around among members of the Dodgers’ front office in the afterglow of last year’s title.,But as much as the rising threat in San Diego, the challenge for the Dodgers in 2021 is providing validation for last year’s short-season title by winning another in a standard-length season.,“I have argued and would still argue that last year’s circumstances were more difficult than a regular potential grind that we’ve known in the past, all that we’ve ever known,” Roberts said.

Mural artists Brian Peterson, left, and Damin Lujan of Santa Ana created a 35-by-40-foot mural depicting Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers on a building overlooking the parking lot of Philippe the Original sandwich shop in Los Angeles.,(Photo courtesy of Brian Peterson and Damin Lujan)

David Ahn stands beneath the mural of Kobe Bryant and Mookie Betts he commissioned to be painted on the side of his building at 686 N. Spring St. in Los Angeles, CA.,(Photo by Andy Holzman) read more

The Dodgers reached agreement on a two-year contract with catcher Austin Barnes Sunday.,The contract is reportedly for $4.3 million over the next two seasons including a $300,000 signing bonus and salaries of $1.5 million in 2021 and $2.5 million in 2022 with potential escalator clauses based on games played.,Barnes had sought a $2 million salary for 2021 in arbitration with the Dodgers countering at $1.5 million.,Even as Yasmani Grandal and now Will Smith were the Dodgers’ primary catchers in the regular season, Barnes has started 30 of the Dodgers’ 54 postseason games over the past four seasons including 15 of 18 World Series games in that time.,In six seasons with the Dodgers, the 31-year-old Barnes has a .230 batting average and .700 OPS.

Because of their day-to-day experiences with traffic flow, crowd control and project management, arenas and stadiums proved practical as Covid-19 testing sites and food banks.,To help with dispensing, food centers were established by charities and organizations at stadiums nationwide.,Stadium parking lots in the spring and summer, filled in years past by tailgaters, staff and street vendors, instead became home to pop-up tents for Covid-19 testing.,Arenas and stadiums across the country opened their doors in the fall for an additional purpose: polling locations during the 2020 election cycle.,David Ortiz, public information officer for the LA City Fire Department, told CNN's Paul Vercammen that working with the Dodgers and using their stadium lot is a boon for the county's vaccination efforts.

Dodgers fans will be watching every move made by fan-favorite Justin Turner over the next few weeks.,As we all anxiously wait to find out if JT will be returning to Los Angeles, everything he posts on social media will no doubt be thoroughly examined.,The interest in Justin Turner was renewed when the Yankees officially signed DJ LaMahieu to a 6-year deal on Friday.,The Ball Yard in Chatsworth is a private facility that Turner often uses to get his swings in during the offseason with the Dodgers.,The fact that he is taking swings in a local cage only adds to the intrigue of free-agency.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dodgers star Cody Bellinger agreed to a $16.1 million, one-year contract Friday with the World Series champions that avoided salary arbitration.,The Los Angeles outfielder and first baseman was the 2019 NL MVP and 2017 NL Rookie of the Year.,He hit a career-low .239 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs in the shortened season, down from a .305 average with 47 homers and 115 RBIs, all career bests.,He slumped to a .136 average (3 for 22) with one homer and three RBIs in the World Series against Tampa Bay as the Dodgers won their first title since 1988.,A two-time-All Star, Bellinger earned $4,259,259 in prorated pay last year from an $11.5 million salary.

Hiring the longtime college coach with three national championships signifies a new direction for a franchise that has lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.,In other NFL news:

—Quarterback Jared Goff will start the Los Angeles Rams’ playoff game at Green Bay on Saturday, and John Wolford will be inactive.,—Four stars from Alabama’s national championship team, including Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Mac Jones, are leaving early to enter the NFL draft.,Keller was charged Wednesday in federal court in Washington after a video emerged that appeared to show him among those storming the Capitol last champion Rollins-McNeal suspended in doping case read more

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Goff to start for Rams in Green Bay read more

In Arizona and Florida at MLB spring training, both minor- and major-league players don't know what's next.,While there was a 60-game MLB season in 2020 and teams could also have prospects at alternate sites, the minor-league baseball season was canceled, and most minor leaguers did not get a chance to play in organized games.,Several Angels players told Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a non-profit advocacy group working to provide a voice for minor league baseball players and improve working conditions, that they "didn't see a dime" certain months and have charged their organization for failing to pay.,According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, team officials claim "a vast majority of the players likely would have been released toward the end of spring training even if baseball hadn't been halted by the coronavirus pandemic.",MLB clubs also granted players the option of playing in independent baseball leagues despite many of those teams canceling seasons of their own.