At first, Josh Barfield had some reservations about the trade that sent him from San Diego to Cleveland. That's when having a former Major Leaguer as a father comes in handy.
Shortly after the trade was announced, Barfield called his father, former Major Leaguer Jesse Barfield, and expressed some disappointment about the trade.
"I called my dad right away, and I was bummed out, because I thought I'd be a Padre for a while," Barfield told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "But he told me, What are you bummed out about? This is great. You get to play with [Grady] Sizemore, [Travis] Hafner, [Victor] Martinez. ... They have a great lineup in Cleveland. You get to play in Jacobs Field. You're going to have a lot of fun.'"
Part of that fun will be no longer needing to worry about where he hits in the batting order. While in San Diego he often batted eighth in the order, just ahead of the pitcher's spot.
"It's hard because you know they're going to work around you to get to the pitcher," he said. "Even if you hit in the nine hole in Cleveland, you have Grady Sizemore coming up next. It's always a good situation here."
Jesse, meanwhile, never pressured Josh into playing baseball in spite of a career that saw him hit 241 home runs over 12 seasons.
"I've had friends whose dads put a lot of pressure on them to be Major Leaguers, or to live up to certain expectations," Barfield said. "It made it so much easier for me to have my dad, a former player, not pushing me at all where baseball was concerned. He supported whatever I did."
Floyd pumped for chance to play for Cubs: Chicago native Cliff Floyd has signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs and says that he's hopeful that he can get plenty of playing time in the potentially crowded Cubs' outfield.
"I think everybody likes to play [every day]," Floyd told the Chicago Tribune. "If I go out and play like I'm supposed to, you won't hear about [a platoon player] the rest of the season."
With serious power potential, the Cubs are excited to have Floyd in the mix and anticipate him getting plenty of at-bats.
"He gives us a tremendous presence ... and it really helps balance out our left-right [lineup] combination," said general manager Jim Hendry. "It gives a lot of danger to the middle of the lineup."
Floyd, who was a three-sport star athlete at Chicago's Thornwood High School, says that he can't really find the right words for how excited he is to play at Wrigley Field.
"I've been thinking about it all day, I don't know how to describe it," he said of playing in Wrigley Field.
Slimmed-down Jenks ready for 2007: Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks came into the 2006 season with a bigger body that manager Ozzie Guillen was comfortable with, but still managed to have a strong, 41-save season. For 2007, Jenks is even more prepared.
"I'm down about 25 pounds right now, but there's no set limit," Jenks told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I just want to come into camp ready to go. It has to do with both my health and my conditioning. In the long run, this will be more beneficial."
He got a jump-start on taking care of himself at the end of last season, meeting with a nutritionist toward the end of the season.
"It wasn't that I was overeating," Jenks said. "I was just putting the wrong things in my body. I had to learn that there were different types of meat besides a New York-cut steak.
"And there's a lot of different ways to prepare your food. It hasn't been a huge change necessarily, just a lot more vegetables. Basically, I can't get enough of eating anything green."
Loretta wins Hutch Award: Houston Astros infielder Mark Loretta was presented with the 2007 Hutch Award Thursday in Seattle. The award, first presented in 1965, is named after former big league player and manager Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer when he was 45.
The award is presented to a Major League player who best exemplifies the honor, courage and dedication shown by Hutchinson.
Past winners include a slew of Hall of Famers, including Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, George Brett, Johnny Bench and Paul Molitor. Craig Biggio of Houston was the winner last year.
"To be placed on the list with so many baseball icons is really phenomenal," Loretta, a 12-year big-league veteran, told Astros.com.
Loretta got to meet children and families Thursday at the Hutch School and was moved by the story of Gretchen Whiting, who has battled malignant melanoma for six years.
"Gretchen is really what the award is all about, people who showed courage, like Fred Hutchinson did, even though they are afflicted with a life-threatening disease," Loretta said. "To be able to get up there and tell her story, which was heart-breaking because she found the mole early, but they just couldn't detect it, I thought that was just tremendous."
Loretta has experienced the affects of cancer in his family. One of his uncles died of melanoma and a friend of his in San Diego is battling cancer. Loretta himself had a malignant melanoma removed from his chest two years ago.
"It really caught me off-guard. Having that history in my family, we really tried to remember sunscreen," said Loretta. "But growing up in Southern California, sunscreen was kind of an afterthought. But you do most of the damage before age 15.
"Thank God we caught it when it was treatable. But stage 3 and 4 are different stories."
Erstad an Angel no more: Longtime Angel Darin Erstad, newly signed to a free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox, leaves his former team on good terms and with no regrets.
"The Angels were great -- they gave me every opportunity to win that first base job," Erstad told the Los Angeles Times. "They had their concerns about health, and I can't fault them for that, but they were very professional.
"I'm going to miss everyone ... the friendships, the closeness you have with players and the staff, from trainers to coaches to equipment guys to clubhouse guys to security guys ... you know, everyone there was like one big family. It was a great atmosphere. I don't know ... I'm still processing it all myself."
Erstad even kept the door open for a return to the Angels one day down the road.
"I heard the word 'bittersweet' a lot," Erstad said. "Everyone kind of understands. It's tough to leave, but they're excited that I'll have a shot to play center field again. And the door is still open. There's nothing to say I won't end up back there again."
Cardinals target Weaver: Pitcher Jeff Weaver has not yet made up his mind on where he plans to pitch next season.
But in St. Louis, the Redbirds are hopeful that the winning pitcher in their Game 5, World Series-clinching victory will be back with the club.
"He would add significant depth. He's a guy who has some proven certainty," general manager Walt Jocketty told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "If we don't get him, we'll go back to what we've discussed previously. But Jeff's a guy we obviously believe makes us better."
So with the situation still not resolved, the Cardinals and Weaver are both in limbo.
"We're still optimistic, but we haven't had a conversation in the last couple days," Jocketty said. "It's not resolved by any stretch. But we're hopeful. I think we'll know a lot more in the next few days."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.