GOLF: MAY 15 PGA Tour Champions - Regions Tradition
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This is an article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM Newsletter, the ultimate guide to every day in sports. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every weekday morning here.

Good morning to everyone but especially to...


The Reds' relatively promising start to the season (they're five games back of the division-leading Brewers) just got an absolutely electric, 6-foot-5, switch-hitting boost. Elly De La Cruz, the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball, made his MLB debut Tuesday and impressed in a 9-8 walk-off win over the Dodgers.

  • De La Cruz, 21, walked in the first (and later scored), doubled in the third (which you can watch here) and walked again in the fifth. He grounded out in the sixth and struck out in the eighth.
  • He's the third Reds player ever to have an extra-base hit and multiple walks in his MLB debut, joining Spencer Steer in 2022 and Jay Bruce in 2008.
  • De La Cruz played third base and joins a young, uber-talented and potentially overcrowded Cincinnati infield that includes shortstop Matt McLain, a 2021 first-round pick who had the walk-off hit, and second baseman Jonathan India.

De La Cruz is not only one of the top prospects in the sport, but he's the most intriguing one as well, writes our R.J. Anderson.

  • Anderson: "De La Cruz hit .298/.398/.633 with 12 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 38 Triple-A games before his promotion. If he were to somehow maintain that pace over 150 contests, he would finish with a 43-43 season. For those wondering, no player in the history of Major League Baseball has ever accomplished that feat. How's that for a testament to the dynamic, explosive nature of De La Cruz's game? ... Wherever De La Cruz ends up playing, we can assure you he'll be worth watching."

With the win, the Reds climbed to 27-33 this season and are within striking distance in the struggling NL Central. Whether they remain in the playoff race or not, they took a big, exciting step forward Tuesday, and that's worth celebrating.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...

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The Rangers' dream start to the season has been interrupted -- at least for the moment -- by a nightmare injury: Prized free agent acquisition Jacob deGrom will undergo Tommy John surgery and is out for the rest of this season and some of the next.

  • DeGrom, who turns 35 later this month,  -- only Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Aaron Judge are making more per year -- and was expected to anchor the Texas rotation.
  • Instead, his debut season with the Rangers lasted just six starts and 30 1/3 innings. He finishes 2-0 with a 2.67 ERA. The Rangers went 6-0 in his starts.
  • DeGrom has two Cy Young Awards (2018, 2019) as well as six top-10 Cy Young finishes in 10 seasons. He has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.38) in MLB history and the second-best ERA (2.53) of the Live-Ball Era (since 1920), minimum 200 starts.

The Rangers' rotation has been terrific all season, with only the Rays' starters owning a better ERA. Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray and Dane Dunning have led the way, but deGrom's injury puts more pressure on those three. Texas (40-20) is off to the best 60-game start in franchise history, leads the AL West and has the best run differential in MLB. Only the Rays have a better record.

Injuries were a known issue with deGrom coming in. He made just 26 starts from 2021-22 while dealing with shoulder and forearm issues, and had prior elbow issues, including a first Tommy John surgery in 2010. The history of comebacks from a second Tommy John surgery, which includes Eovaldi, is a mixed bag, notes our Dayn Perry.

Not so honorable mentions

PGA Tour, LIV Golf merger: What comes next? ⛳

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When it was first emerging, LIV Golf promised to usher in a new era for the sport. That new era, it turns out, is joining up with its rival. In an absolutely shocking move, the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) -- which runs LIV Golf -- are merging to "unify the game of golf."

Here are the top things to know:

  • A Board of Directors will be appointed to manage the commercial golf business, with the PGA Tour appointing a majority of the members and holding a majority voting interest.
  • The PIF will make a new, exclusive investment and retain exclusive rights to make further investments.
  • The merger formally ends all ongoing litigation between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
  • Golfers will likely be able to reapply for PGA Tour membership after the 2023 season.
  • It appears as if the tours will continue to run independently in the future.

The announcement seemingly came out of nowhere and left plenty of PGA Tour golfers reeling. PGA Tour standouts such as Collin Morikawa found out about the merger via Twitter, while LIV golfers Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka took victory laps.

There are plenty of questions about the merger and what's next, and we won't get all the answers soon. The biggest question for now is, simply, "Why?" Our Kyle Porter tried to answer that.

  • Porter: "Despite all the posturing and nonsense in public and private, both sides ultimately reached an outcome that satisfied their desires. All the PIF has ever wanted is to have its hands in the world of golf; it had no real interest in running a league. ... The nation is also thirsty for global influence ... There is also the sportswashing aspect of the enterprise... Perhaps PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan realized the PIF could make the PGA Tour bleed money as long as it wanted given its endless reserves, and even if LIV Golf was without momentum or foreseeable growth, settling became a more attractive option."

This is an excellent review of why this happened and where things go from here, and furthermore, an acknowledgement that some PGA Tour players must be frustrated to say the least.

Here's how Monahan defended the decision.

Can Bob Baffert's redemption begin at Belmont? Plus post positions 🏇

Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

Bob Baffert has won at the highest level as one of two trainers to claim multiple Triple Crowns. He's also lost the ability to even enter horses in Triple Crown races after Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone after winning the 2021 Kentucky Derby, a title that was later stripped.

Now, he's back. For the first time since the 2021 Preakness Stakes, Baffert has a horse in a Triple Crown race. National Treasure, who won the 2023 Preakness Stakes under another trainer, is set to run for Baffert on Saturday.

Could this be the start of Baffert's redemption tour? It's hard to project, writes our Gene Menez.

  • Menez: "In another era, perhaps people could see the gray in Baffert and not just the black or white. But in today's world the middle ground is barely more than a rumor. Fair or not, Baffert may have to spend the rest of his career trying to clear his name with his critics. And even if the evidence goes his way, he still might not silence all of the critics. That's one race he is a longshot to win."

National Treasure will start Saturday's race from post position four, and favorite Forte will start in the sixth spot. Here are all of the post positions.

What we're watching Wednesday 📺

🥎 Florida State vs. Oklahoma, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Nuggets at Heat, 8:30 p.m. on ABC