An impact player on and off the field, Albert Pujols received his fourth Players Choice Award this past weekend.
In a pregame ceremony Saturday in St. Louis, Pujols was presented with the 2006 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, the Players Choice Award given annually to the player whose on-field performance and contributions to the community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.
Albert and his wife, Deidre, are the founders of the Pujols Family Foundation, which is dedicated to the love, care, and development of people with Down Syndrome and their families. The Pujols family also dedicates time to improve the lives of impoverished children and orphans of the Dominican Republic by donating money and time for education and gifts.
It is Pujols' fourth Players Choice Award. He was chosen Player of the Year (2003), NL Outstanding Player (2003) and NL Outstanding Rookie (2001).
Chris Carpenter also received his Players Choice Award as the NL's outstanding pitcher in the pregame ceremony on Saturday evening in St. Louis, while Johan Santana received his Players Choice Award as the AL's outstanding pitcher in a pregame ceremony in Minneapolis.
Players Choice Award winners in all categories will designate charities to receive grants totaling $260,000 from the Players Trust.
Marco Scutaro is Mr. Clutch: Marco Scutaro plays a lot of roles for the Oakland A's. The one he likes the best is Mr. Clutch.
Scutaro added to his resume of late-innings heroics with a game-winning three-run homer off of Mariano Rivera on Sunday to lift the A's to a 5-4 win over the Yankees.
The hit came with two outs on an 0-2 count, and it prompted a unique home run trot by Scutaro.
"I don't even know what I was doing. I was just jumping like a little kid," Scutaro told the San Francisco Chronicle.
It was the eighth game-ending hit for Scutaro since joining the A's at the start of the 2004 season.
"Now it's totally surprising when he doesn't get a hit," said second baseman Mark Ellis.
"I was just praying the ball wouldn't go foul," Scutaro said. "He doesn't give me too many pitches to hit. Even when he throws it down the middle, it's hard to hit. Against Mariano, the way I'm feeling at the plate, the last thing I expected to do was hit a home run. I still can't believe it."
Hudson stringing solid starts together: Tim Hudson picked up his second win in three games on Sunday as the Braves downed the Marlins, 8-4. Hudson went seven innings and allowed just one run, but that raised his ERA to 0.86 for the season.
"These three games couldn't have been much better for me," Hudson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This is a good three-game stretch for anybody, particularly for me after the way things went last year."
In 2006, Hudson went 13-12 with a 4.86 ERA. He was 92-39 with a 3.30 ERA in six seasons with the A's.
"Through the first three starts this year, that [Oakland form] is what we've seen," said Chipper Jones.
Since being acquired by the Braves, Hudson is 5-0 with a 1.57 ERA in seven starts against the Marlins.
"Hudson continues to just dominate right now," manager Bobby Cox said. "Under the conditions, he pitched an unbelievable ballgame, with the wind gusts and the rain and cold."
Pierre: Honoring Robinson is a memory that will last: The entire Dodgers team wore No. 42 in honor of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's first game in the Majors on Sunday night. Juan Pierre, one of three African-Americans on the team, was awed by the tribute.
"Our guys should remember it for the rest of their careers," Pierre told the Los Angeles Times. "Standing in the outfield and seeing all the infielders with No. 42 on their backs, it was a special moment."
Vargas' spot won't get skipped: The Milwaukee Brewers and manager Ned Yost had every chance to juggle the starting rotation thanks to postponed games. But instead of skipping No. 5 starter Claudio Vargas, Yost has decided to keep his starters lined up in order.
One reason for that decision is because of how well Vargas pitched in his last start against Florida. In five innings of work, he allowed only one earned run and struck out nine batters, while also waiting out a 49-minute rain delay in the top of the fifth inning.
"Because Vargas has been throwing good, instead of keep bumping him, I just think I'm going to let them go every fifth time," Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "When they go on six (days), the whole group will go on six.
"I've got five good starters. Claudio's been good from the first day of Spring Training. Those guys will get extra rest every now and then."
Wright's streak nears Mets record: David Wright has gotten the season off to a great start at the plate, but he's not worried about hitting streaks.
With a single to center field in the second inning Saturday, Wright became the first player Mets history to hit safely in the first 11 games of a season. Going back to last season, Wright now has a 23-game hitting streak, one short of the club record of 24 set by Hubie Brooks in 1984 and equaled by Mike Piazza in 1999.
"It's something that you don't even think about," Wright told Newsday. "To me, it's not a big deal. It's one of those things that you just try to go out and get a hit every day. It doesn't even come to mind when you're playing."
The Mets were rained out Sunday.
Hill fulfilling promise of spring: Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Rich Hill is off to a great start in 2007, allowing just one run in 14 innings of work, including seven shutout innings on Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds. Manager Lou Piniella said that Hill learned a lot in the spring, and it's showing now.
"I thought a lot of him in the spring," Piniella told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He's serious about his business and goes after you and changes speeds and throws strikes. What I was impressed with today was they tried to steal on him and did [in the second and fourth], so we went to the slide step, and he executed it perfectly. That's a complete pitcher."
Hill, who walked four, knows how to handle the free passes.
"That's one of the things [walks] you want to stay away from," Hill said. "You stay with it, stay on the attack if you walk guys back-to-back [as he did in the second]. I'm trying to pitch to my philosophy, which is be aggressive, attack, pitch to my ability, make them cause the action."
McLouth learns to be ready when called: Nate McLouth is a valuable piece off the Pittsburgh Pirates bench, and he takes his role on the team very seriously. And thanks to his positive attitude, manager Jim Tracy is confident that he can and will continue to excel.
"He's done a nice job, and he'll continue to do a nice job," Tracy told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He's a very intelligent player, and he's made the adjustment he needed to make in order to fulfill the role he's been asked to do."
McLouth says getting used to coming off the bench is an adjustment, but that it's a role in which he is growing more comfortable.
"It's a totally different approach from starting a game," he said. "It's a little more unpredictable. The experience I had doing it last year has helped me out a lot this year. I'm starting to feel more comfortable doing it. I'm kind of finding my niche, I guess you could say."
Tracy says that he likes what McLouth offers both offensively and defensively.
"He's a very versatile outfielder," said Tracy. "He's very solid at any of the outfield spots you play him, and he's a legitimate left-handed contact bat off the bench. That increases our opportunities to get him involved with the double-switches."
McLouth says he doesn't mind his role right now, but he does hope that eventually he can find his way into a starting lineup. "The more success you have coming off the bench, hopefully someday that will translate into an everyday-type role," he said.
Meanwhile, Tracy plans to get McLouth as many at-bats as he can.
"You have to incorporate bench people," he said. "You have to find spots for them, because you're going to need them. You have to get them opportunities in game situations. They can't be sitting for long periods of time without plate appearances. You can't do that."
Thome honors Robinson, history of game: Jim Thome, the only white member of the Chicago White Sox who planned to wear No. 42 on Sunday to honor Jackie Robinson, says he isn't sure what the proper way to honor Robinson truly is.
"To me, a tribute is a tribute to the game," Thome told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I don't understand what's enough of a tribute. A tribute is to celebrate somebody for all the good they have done for the game."
He also said that his love for the history of baseball is why he wanted to take part in the celebration -- not because anyone told him he had to.
"The interaction between every mix of players. I'm a big fan of all the old players and what it's meant to the game and what they mean to the game. I think it's really cool.
"You do it because you're honored to do it, not because you think you have to do it."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.