Healthy and under contract with the San Diego Padres, Randy Wolf wants to get back to being the 200-inning-per-season pitcher he was with the Phillies in 2002 and 2003.
Wolf and the Padres finalized their one-year deal, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Wolf was 9-6 with a 4.23 ERA for the Dodgers last season, but made only 18 starts due to soreness in his left shoulder. He is recovering from surgery he underwent in September.
"My shoulder's doing great," Wolf said during a conference call. "I'm on my third week of throwing now. Everything's progressing great."
Wolf has battled injuries since pitching 200 innings in 2003. Over the next three seasons he experienced a sore elbow, needing reconstructive surgery in July 2005 that knocked him out of action for more than one year. Wolff expects the injury bug to be behind him.
"I have every expectation to be 100 percent and make every start," Wolf said. "If I make every start, and am making quality starts, I expect to throw 200 innings. Unfortunately, for three years I battled with my elbow and didn't know I had a torn ligament. It was tricky."
Inge ready to find new home? Brandon Inge is a professional, and to that end you're not going to hear him doing a lot of complaining when it comes to the Tigers' newest addition, third baseman Miguel Cabrera. General manager Dave Dombrowski has said that Inge has handled the apparent loss of his starting position with nothing but class.
"He very much loves it here and has very mixed emotions," Dombrowski told MLB.com. "We think the world of him also, but with the acquisition of Cabrera, we don't have that role for him [at third base]. His desire would be to go somewhere and have an opportunity to play at third base."
As for his attitude, it sounds like Inge is upbeat -- but probably anxious to resolve his own situation.
"He was super when I talked to him on the phone," said Dombrowski. "He's a tremendous person. He didn't act angry with me, but I'm sure there's a part of him with mixed emotion."
Gibbons, Roberts get their kicks out of kids' day: Jay Gibbons, along with teammates Brian Roberts, Jeremy Guthrie and Jamie Walker and former Orioles Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor and Dave Johnson, were the Orioles representatives at the party at the Inner Harbor's ESPN Zone, where the Orioles played host to 90 students from George Washington Elementary School last week.
Gibbons loves events like this so he can be around the children.
"It's about the kids," Gibbons told the Baltimore Sun. "[Longtime Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks] got me into this about five years ago, and I love it. Seeing the kids smile and playing the games with them, I'm not going to miss this for anything."
"Maybe you let them experience something they don't get to experience during the holidays," Roberts told MLB.com. "They may not have Santa and they may not have gifts. Some of them may not even get to eat like this at home every day.
"It's important for them to experience something good during the holidays, and it's fun for us to see them smile, go up there, play games and have a good time. It kind of puts everything in perspective."
A new dog, trip to the White House for Lowell: Mike Lowell was joking about how his life has changed since being named the World Series Most Valuable Player this past season. Not only did he sign a new three-year deal to remain with the Red Sox, but he has a new acquisition as well.
"We got a new dog," joked Lowell to the Boston Herald, "but that wasn't because we won the championship."
Life has changed for Lowell, however. He and manager Terry Francona were recently invited to dinner at the White House with President George Bush for an event to be held in January.
"It seems like a very exclusive invitation," Lowell said. "I guess it's just another perk from being on a world championship team."
Lowell said he is relaxing this winter, but he knows that his new deal will bring added pressure when the 2008 season roles around.
"I think it's a three-year motivating test," he said, "for me to prove that despite everyone thinking it's just for three years, it's the beginning of something that is going to last more than three years."
Phillies add Blackley for pitching depth: Looking to fill their fifth starter spot, the Philadelphia Philliies last week picked up left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley in the Rule 5 Draft. Last season at Triple-A Fresno in the Giants organization, Blackley won 10 games with an ERA of 4.66.
Mike Arbuckle, the Phils' assistant general manager of scouting and player development, said the team was glad to get Blackley with the 24th spot in the draft.
"He's a guy with a chance to compete for that fifth-starter job, a left-hander who can give you innings," Arbuckle told MLB.com. "We still think he's on the upswing from [shoulder surgery], and he continues to get better. He has good command, a fringe fastball, good changeup, good breaking ball and a feel for pitching. If he doesn't end up as a fifth starter, his stuff may allow him to pitch out of the middle."
If Blackley doesn't make the Phillies' rotation, he's also been mentioned as a possible middle-innings reliever.
Gagne signed, sealed and delivered to Brewers: The Milwaukee Brewers finalized their one-year deal with reliever Eric Gagne, adding another arm to a revamped bullpen.
Signing Gagne wasn't cheap, and general manager Doug Melvin credits owner Mark Attanasio for understanding what it was going to take to sign the right-hander. Boston manager Terry Francona also recommended Gagne to Brewers manager Ned Yost during the winter meetings.
"Mark stepped up," Melvin, who tried to acquire Gagne in July before Boston prevailed, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We kept saying a closer is very important. It's a one-year deal and with what we've done with the bullpen, we decided it was worth a shot."
Gagne took a physical on Monday and looked trim after resuming his running program. Gagne looks more than ready to take over the closer's role for the Brewers.
"With our club making the strides it did last year, it's very important that we go into next year knowing we have someone of Eric's ability at the back end of our bullpen to close out ball games," Melvin said.
Gagne is anxious to join a bullpen that has undergone a radical transformation since the end of the season.
"I've been part of really good bullpens in the past," said Gagne. "Being here is a great thing because they've got three or four guys who could be closers. We just need to get to know each other and complement each other."
Rays' right field spot in hands of Baldelli, Gomes: The Tampa Bay Rays traded away right fielder Delmon Young as part of the deal that brought pitcher Matt Garza to the team. The trade opened a spot in the outfield, and the Rays hope Rocco Baldelli can remain healthy enough to fill it, along with Jonny Gomes.
"Rocco's the issue; we're still not exactly sure what he's going to be able to do yet," Rays manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Tribune about Baldelli, who was limited to 35 games last season due to hamstring problems. "Once we're able to answer that question, we can be a little bit more specific, I think. Jon Gomes, I still have a lot of faith in him -- I think, specifically, Jon against left-handed pitching does a nice job."
Gomes hit .313 against lefties last season but only .218 against right-handed pitchers. In all likelihood, Gomes will share time in right field with another outfielder while Baldelli is slotted in the designated hitter role. Gomes hit better when starting in the field than at DH last season while Maddon praised Baldelli's hitting when he saw action as the DH in 2007.
"We've thought from last year, if Rocco could at least come back as almost an everyday DH, that would be great, because he does handle it well," said Maddon. "He keeps himself prepared between at-bats and he kind of likes it. A lot of young guys don't like it, but he's OK with it. He's got the mentality that plays in that role, which definitely matters."
Lo Duca likes Nationals' chances in East: The Nationals signed free agent catcher Paul Lo Duca to a one-year deal. Lo Duca will take over for Brian Schneider as the starting catcher for the Nationals. Schneider was traded to the Mets, Lo Duca's previous team, earlier this fall. The Nationals hope Lo Duca will replace Schneider as a clubhouse leader, too.
"I don't think you have one leader in the clubhouse," Lo Duca told the Washington Times. "I think you have a lot of leaders. I don't care if you have one year in the big leagues or 20: If I'm out of line, I want somebody to put me in my place because I'm going to put you in your place."
In addition to his leadership, general manager Jim Bowden wanted Lo Duca because his teams have been above .500 for seven consecutive seasons.
"He's a gamer," Bowden said. "There's a reason he's won seven straight years. His team has never had a losing record. He's been a No. 1 catcher, and they always win. He's a winner."
Lo Duca chose the Nationals over the Blue Jays, in part because he wanted to stay in the National League East.
"I'm excited to be part of a team that's young and has a chance to win this division," Lo Duca said. "I really feel that way. I feel the NL East is wide open."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.