Last season, Scott Olsen made headlines as he was one of four rookie pitchers on the Marlins to post double-digit win totals. Olsen believes that the team's starters can do even better in 2007 and that last year's rookies will not rest on their laurels.
"No," Olsen told the Miami Herald. "It's not different, not at all. You still have to work. Just because of what we did last year, someone can still come take your spot. It's harder to do than it would be last year, but you still have to go out there and work hard.
"You have to have an edge you always have to have a competitive edge when you're playing. You don't lose that no athlete loses that. Are you satisfied right now? I'm not satisfied. I've only got a little over a year in the big leagues. I'm not satisfied. I want 20 years in the big leagues."
Olsen targets each member of the starting rotation to best last season's win total.
"I'm not talking about four guys," Olsen said. "I'm talking about all five of us winning 16 each. It hasn't happened, but a lot of things that hadn't happened before happened last year. Who is to say it can't happen?"
Olsen shared the team lead in wins last season. He went 12-10 with a 4.04 ERA.
"I want 16, 18 wins, somewhere in that area," said Olsen, a left-hander. "I want an ERA under 4.00 and a ring on my finger when the year is over."
A couple of firsts for Johnson: The Braves look to Kelly Johnson to replace Marcus Giles as the team's leadoff hitter and second baseman.
Originally drafted as a shortstop, Johnson moved to the outfield before sitting out the 2006 season after undergoing elbow surgery. But he's never been a second baseman.
"I've always thought second base would be a good position for me," Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Sometimes I'd wonder in the back of my head if I should have made the change [to second] in the first place."
One thing in Johnson's favor is that his manager has full confidence in him.
"When you've played shortstop, you can move to or from any position," Bobby Cox said.
Johnson goes to camp as the favorite, but he still has to win the job over Martin Predo and Pete Orr.
"He was our top hitting prospect," Cox said. "He takes a walk, he's got power, and he can run. He's too good a hitter not to be playing."
But the big question surrounding Johnson is how he will handle defense. He worked throughout the offseason with coach Glenn Hubbard, a former second baseman for the Braves.
"If I brought a scout in here right now, he'd say, 'He looks like a second baseman,'" Hubbard said, "and gradually the man himself is coming to share that conviction."
Schneider works to mold Nationals' new staff: The Nationals open Spring Training with just one established starting pitcher. They have a host of pitchers in camp hoping to claim a job in the rotation. It is a tough spot for a club to be in and nobody bears the brunt more than Brian Schneider, the team's starting catcher, who has to learn the strengths and weaknesses of all of the hurlers vying for jobs.
"It comes down to part of the definition of what a catcher's job is: to have the pitchers' confidence and trust in you," Schneider told the Washington Post. "If I don't learn what these guys have, if I don't learn what they like to do and when they like to do it, I'm not doing my job. It's not just pitch-calling. It's blocking. It's throwing. It's communicating. It's everything."
The Nationals have 36 healthy pitchers in camp.
"Not to be mean or anything," Schneider said, "but I've got to get to know the guys who might make the team. I can't spend time with everybody."
Schneider has taken pitchers to dinner for group meetings to help acclimate himself to as many people as possible in the quickest amount of time. He also is catching as many different people as he can to familiarize himself with their arsenals.
"I'm looking forward to having maybe some younger guys who believe that I can call a game, that if we come up with a game plan, we should stick to it," Schneider said. "You have a little more confidence that way. Hopefully, if a guy's sticking with me, and I want to do something, they're going to listen to me."
Garciaparra ready for the twinbill: Last year, Nomar Garciparra entered Spring Training with two big questions surrounding him. It was his first year with the Dodgers as well as his first year at a new position: first base.
Garciaparra answered both of those questions last year, but again enters the Spring with two big doubts on his mind. His wife, former soccer star Mia Hamm, is expecting twins in April.
"We're blessed and fortunate," Garciaparra told the Los Angeles Times. "But not being there with her the last month and a half of her pregnancy is going to be tough."
Garciaparra, who missed time last season with injuries, declared himself healthy and ready to go.
"I judge myself by the way I can work out in the offseason, and I didn't have to hold back," he said. "That's a good sign."
Still, manager Grady Little plans to keep Garciaparra rested with regular days off during the season.
"We have Olmedo Saenz to play first, Jeff Kent can slide over once in a while, and you might see Marlon Anderson there sometimes," Little said
Carpenter looks to add to arsenal: St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter has rolled through hitters each of the past three years including when he won the Cy Young Award in 2005 so his decision to work on another pitch can't be good news for opposing teams.
Carpenter is trying to improve his changeup to add another weapon to his already destructive arsenal.
"It shouldn't be that hard," Carpenter told MLB.com, "to throw a changeup."
With a two-seem and a four-seem fastball, a nasty curveball and a cutter, Carpenter would seemingly have enough to work with. But, he says, he wants to add to that.
"When I first came up, my changeup was my second-best pitch," he said. "I had a lot of confidence in it. It was a pitch I could throw for strikes. I got a lot of outs with it. Ever since I came back from surgery, it hasn't been there."
Not that he's looking to replace his curveball mind you; he just wants to improve on what he has.
"It would be nice to have one more weapon," he said. "It still could be my fourth pitch. But it would give me a chance, if one day my breaking ball is not there, maybe that changeup would be a good pitch for me. It's just something that we're working on, trying to figure it out."
Pitching coach Dave Duncan thinks another pitch would be good for the Cardinals right-hander.
"I think it's a pitch that would be a real valuable pitch for him," said Duncan. "There were times when he would get it going and it was a good pitch for him. He's thrown it. He just hasn't had the feel and the command of it that he did at one time. He's just trying to get the feel back for it."
Fast start is on Sanchez's mind: Pittsburgh Pirates infielder and National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez plans very few changes for the 2007 season. He will, however, look to increase his role in the Pittsburgh clubhouse.
"What I think can change is that I go into the season with a little more confidence, and maybe I can try to become a little more of a leader," Sanchez told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We all need to get things going early for us to be successful, and we need to work together to make that happen."
After batting .344 last season with 200 hits and 53 doubles, Sanchez is realistic about 2007. He doesn't necessarily feel like he needs to improve on his on-the-field performance.
"It's not a matter of trying to get better. It's a matter of being consistent, of doing it year in and year out," he said. "I'm not looking at this like I've got to do better than last year. Am I going to hit .340 every year? No. Not even the best hitter in the world hits .340 every year. But can I take the same approach and be consistent for my team? Yeah, I think I can do that."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.