Roy Oswalt will pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic this March.
01/07/2009 1:20 PM ET
Oswalt will pitch for Team USA
Gold medalist will attempt to recreate feat from Sydney
Oswalt did not play for the USA in the inaugural WBC in 2006 but said his memory of playing for the gold medal winning Team USA at the Sidney Olympics in 2000 helped to persuade him to play this year.
"If I only play three more years, this would be a good opportunity," Oswalt told the Houston Chronicle. "I thought it'd be a great time to do it and try to win a gold medal."
Team USA begins double-elimination first-round play in Toronto on Mar. 5 along with the other Pool C teams: Canada, Venezuela and Italy.
Clark gets another year in Arizona: The Arizona Diamondbacks will welcome Tony Clark back next year after the first baseman agreed to a one-year deal. Clark, who was acquired by Arizona from San Diego last season, played with the Diamondbacks from 2005-2007 before signing with the Padres prior to the 2008 season.
"Tony gives us a lot of options," general manager Josh Byrnes told the Arizona Republic. "Not only matching up late in games, but he can also be called on to start."
Clark, who will bring an experienced bat off the bench, is valued by Arizona as much for his experience as for his bat.
"I think he brings leadership for what's ahead," Byrnes said. "Right now, we're not content with the kind of season that we had last year, and I think Tony's been through enough to help instill the mindset to raise our standards and try to achieve those goals."
Mauer recovering from surgery: Joe Mauer recently had surgery to correct "a minor kidney obstruction that he's had since birth," according to Twins general manager Bill Smith. But, Smith added, Mauer should be ready for Spring Training.
"It's something that had been bothering him for a while," Smith told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He had been experiencing some minor pain from it, and when doctors checked it out, [surgery] was the way to take care of it."
Hafner on target for Spring Training return: Travis Hafner, who had an arthroscopic clean-out of his shoulder in October, is on track to start "pre-hitting activities" this week, with the idea that he will begin a hitting program later in the month.
"We'll have to be practical, from a volume standpoint, early on in spring," Cleveland head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff told MLB.com. "But we're optimistic that he'll be in full baseball activities during Spring Training."
Park could start or relieve for Phillies: Chan Ho Park has agreed to a one-year deal to join the Philadelphia Phillies, and, according to general manager Ruben Amaro, he will be given the opportunity to earn a spot in the starting rotation.
"In Chan Ho, we've acquired a veteran guy who can pitch in either a starting role or as a reliever," Amaro said in a press release cited on MLB.com. "He will come to Spring Training and be given every opportunity for a spot in the starting rotation."
Nelson Cruz slotted to take over in right for Rangers: With Milton Bradley signing with the Chicago Cubs, Nelson Cruz is in line to get the majority of playing time in right field for the Texas Rangers, general manager Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"Cruz will get the opportunity to show he's capable of helping the club win," Daniels said.
Cruz showed great promise at the end of last season for the Rangers. The MVP of the Pacific Coast League, Cruz was recalled from the Minors on Aug. 25 and hit .330 with seven home runs and a .421 OBP in 31 games for Texas.
Burrell brings big bat to Rays: Seeking a powerful bat to add to the lineup, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Pat Burrell to a two-year contract on Monday.
"As we were going through it," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman told the Tampa Tribune, "we felt like it was important for us to end up with one of our top guys and not end up in a situation where, when the music stopped, we were looking at the sixth or seventh guy on the list."
Burrell, who is a Clearwater, Fla., resident, had spent his entire career with Philadelphia before joining the Rays.
Helton taking a new approach to winter activities: In past offseasons, Todd Helton would spend his time hunting or swinging the bat in the batting cage. This winter, he is doing back exercises daily in an effort to strengthen his core and return to the field for the Rockies.
"It's not that long, 45 minutes or something like that," Helton told the Rocky Mountain News, "but it's tedious, boring exercises where you kind of feel like you're not getting anything done while you're doing it. But in essence you are, because you're strengthening muscles you probably never used before."
Helton said he expects to be ready for the start of the season.
Proctor becomes veteran of Marlins' bullpen: The Marlins lost four members of their 2008 bullpen in the offseason. Now they finally added a reliever, as they signed former Yankee and Dodger Scott Proctor to a one-year deal. At 32, Proctor is the senior member of the team's relief corps.
"To be able to help younger guys the way some older guys did for me is going to be a lot of fun," Proctor told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "That's just the way the game is. Guys help you through when you're younger, and then you return the favor when you're in that position. Whatever capacity they use me, I'm just going to try and help the guys in any way I can to be ready for any situation."
Indians high on Pavano's potential: Cleveland signed Carl Pavano to a one-year deal with the hope that he can recapture some of his past success.
"He's a big strong guy with an average fastball," general manager Mark Shapiro told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Hopefully, he can get back to where he was in his two years with Florida."
At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Pavano made an impression on the Tribe during his physical.
"He was in a group of pitchers that we were interested in," Shapiro said. "His physical conditioning was the separator. He's strong and he's healthy."
Hoffman headed to a new home: Now that the big three free agent relievers have signed, interest is heating up in all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman. The Brewers are interested in signing the former Padre, and the Dodgers have offered him a one-year deal. Hoffman, who lives in California, hopes to make up his mind in the next week.
"He's got three young boys, so he could go home a lot more if he signs with Los Angeles," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Los Angeles Times. "That's what free agency allows a player to do -- pick where it's best suited for him to play."
Manny gets interest from Giants: The Giants appear set in the outfield with Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn, but that has not stopped rumors from starting that the club is interested in free agent Manny Ramirez. The San Francisco Chronicle published excerpts from an interview on Sirius/XM radio with general manager Brian Sabean, which confirmed he had discussions with Scott Boras, Ramirez's agent.
"We have not made an offer," Sabean said. "We've talked in parameters of what would be our tolerance year-wise. It would have to be a perfect fit dollar-wise, and more so what we're doing to try and build this thing ... on a younger basis. It's actually not what we're looking for, except that he's such a profound middle-of-the-order hitter, which we need.
"We're pretty well set in the outfield. If we got him on board, we'd have to trade an outfielder and it would cause some havoc in terms of how the roster is built."
Cardinals sign Ring as lefty specialist: Not completely satisfied with what they have on the left side of their bullpen for the 2009 season, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed Royce Ring to compete for a spot in their bullpen. Ring, who worked in 42 games last year with Atlanta, is set to work as a specialist that works mainly against lefties.
"We're looking at him for a specialist's role," St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "When he was stretched out, he didn't perform as well. He's definitely durable and wants the ball. Now we just have to decide on how to use him."
Turnbow latest addition to Rangers bullpen: Derrick Turnbow and the Texas Rangers have agreed to a Minor League contract. Turnbow, once the closer for Milwaukee, could provide needed depth in the Texas bullpen. He was 7-1 with 39 saves and a 1.74 ERA for the Brewers back in 2005.
"He's working out and long tossing now," Damon Lapa, Turnbow's agent, told the Dallas Morning News. "He thinks he'll begin mound sessions the middle to late part of January, and we anticipate him entering Spring Training without any physical restrictions."
-- Red Line Editorial