Posada back in (catcher's) gear
Yankees backstop gets behind plate for first time in spring
A familiar face was behind the plate on Monday for the New York Yankees as Jorge Posada took the position for the first time since last July.
"I was really looking forward to catching," Posada told Newsday, "and I felt surprisingly good. My legs were good. They asked me if I wanted to catch one more after three [innings], and I said yes. I wanted to catch Phil [Coke]. I felt good overall."
As Spring Training progresses, the club would like to progress to a point at which Posada catches on consecutive days and plays nine innings in one game. But for now, the Yankees are more than happy with what they see from him.
"For the first day, it was very good," manager Joe Girardi said. "We were happy with what we saw. I didn't want to have too many expectations."
Pudge makes waves at Classic, signs with Astros: The unofficial announcement came on Monday when Ivan Rodriguez walked up to Roy Oswalt at the World Baseball Classic in Miami and said, "What's up, teammate?"
Rodriguez and the Astros agreed to a one-year contract that will become official when the 14-time All-Star catcher completes a physical.
"I'm glad we got him," Oswalt told the Houston Chronicle. "It's going to help us out for sure. Hopefully we can work together a little bit at the end of spring and get going. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. The guy's got a lot of experience, and I think it will work out pretty well for us."
Wells gets back into action: Vernon Wells, out of action since injuring his left hamstring on Feb. 23, had six at-bats earlier this week in an intrasquad game.
"I got a hit, I struck out once, I hit a few balls hard and I came back in one piece," Wells told the Toronto Sun.
McGehee finds new home with Brewers: After being waived by the Chicago Cubs at the end of the 2008 season, the Milwaukee Brewers quickly claimed Casey McGehee. Now the infielder is in the running to land a spot on the Opening Day roster.
"It was a shock," McGehee told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of his reaction to leaving the Cubs, who drafted him in the 10th round in 2003. "This was the first time I felt I really had a chance to [make the Cubs' team], and to go from that to being told I'm let go -- I didn't see it coming.
"But it's been great for me here. Sometimes a change of scenery gives you a new focus. You see there are other teams, other opportunities out there."
McGehee is hitting .400 with three home runs and seven RBIs this spring.
Byrnes making strides on basepath: Eric Byrnes hopes to get into a Cactus League game by Friday after the team decided to have him play in another Minor League game on Tuesday. Byrnes, who is recovering from a torn hamstring, played in a Minor League on Sunday and was clocked at 4.18 seconds from home plate to first base. Byrnes takes that as a very encouraging sign.
"It says a lot," he told the Arizona Republic. "Look, I'm not one to get fixated on times. But to know that I consistently ran 4.2's when I was 100 percent healthy a couple of years ago when I stole 50 bases and I'm running 4.18s down there in my first game back shows me that it's there."
Murphy keeps a notebook nearby: Daniel Murphy is not only taking a page out of Carlos Delgado's notebook. The hard-hitting young leftfielder has gotten his own notebook and begun to keep records of his at-bats like his superstar teammate.
"Two years ago, I was in Minor League camp," Murphy told Newsday. "They showed us film of Delgado hitting a home run off somebody -- I think in San Diego -- and he went straight to the notebook and was writing down how the AB went. I was like, 'That's a pretty good idea.' So I started doing it."
Sanchez happy to be back on West Coast: Five days after being released by the New York Mets, Duaner Sanchez walked into the San Diego Padres clubhouse, excited about his new lease on baseball life and chance to make the Padres' Opening Day roster. Sanchez was 5-1 with a 4.32 ERA for New York last season in 66 appearances.
"I am excited about the opportunity," Sanchez told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "First of all, I love pitching in PETCO Park. Second of all, I played as a Dodger, and I love it there, and I love the people out there -- I love playing out there on the West Coast."
Nippert out to prove he belongs: Dustin Nippert is one of a handful of relievers competing for a spot in the Texas Rangers' bullpen this spring. Nippert was used as the team's long reliever at the outset of last season but was also used in the starting rotation. So far this spring, Nippert has allowed only one run in six innings.
"I just try to go out, do what I can do and have fun playing baseball," Nippert, who was 3-5 with a 6.40 ERA last year, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I don't want to think about where I'm going to be, what I'm going to do. I just wanted to get the ball and prove that I belong here."
Buchholz wants a chance to start: Clay Buchholz allowed only one run on four hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings in his last outing and believes he's ready for the Major Leagues.
"I would love to start in the big leagues," Buchholz told the Boston Globe. "Sometimes it doesn't even matter how good you do. Their mind is already made up. I'm OK with that. I'm sure I'm going to get a chance at some point this year."
Helton doing damage at the plate: Todd Helton, slowed last season by back problems, is swinging free and easy this spring and hit his third home run on Tuesday, giving him homers in consecutive games.
"There are a lot of keys [to hitting well], but it's having my legs up under me, being able to stay back on my back side and letting my hands work in front -- [those] are probably the biggest things," Helton, who missed about half of last season with a bulging disk and underwent arthroscopic surgery in late September to relieve pressure on a nerve, told MLB.com.
Duncan relishes chance at cleanup spot: Chris Duncan, one of three players being considered to bat fourth for St. Louis, understands it's a very different role than hitting second and having Albert Pujols in the No. 3 hole to protect him.
"For a young hitter, it helps you make that transition, to have a hitter of Albert's caliber behind you," Duncan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You can't do anything but relax and be more aggressive. ... [At cleanup], you know you're going to bat with guys on, often with Albert on. You might press with guys on base, but the more you come up in that situation, the more you get that opportunity, the more you realize it's about taking a quality at-bat whatever the situation."
Koskie grateful for opportunity on comeback trail: There's no guarantee Corey Koskie is going to be with the Cubs on Opening Day. But for Koskie, just the opportunity to compete for a spot after battling post-concussion syndrome for more than two years is an achievement.
"My biggest thing is being healthy, that I'm able to do this and put on a uniform, that I cleared medical exams," Koskie told the Chicago Tribune. "Sweat and hit and throw and take ground balls and come back the next day and do the same thing. That's the biggest [thing], to be able to do all that stuff. Anything after this is a bonus."
Gimenez uses versatility to get upper hand: Catcher and former outfielder Chris Gimenez is learning to play first and third bases in an effort to increase his potential value to the Indians.
"I like it," Gimenez told the Akron Beacon Journal, talking about being a jack-of-all-trades. "There's an excitement to it. You might play at a different spot every day. Mentally and physically, it's a little tougher than playing one position all the time. It's a challenge."
Bass thankful for new chance in Baltimore: Coming to the Baltimore Orioles and getting a chance to start last September could turn out to be a turning point in Brian Bass' career.
"It was a good opportunity," Bass told MLB.com. "Being in Triple-A at the end of the year, I wasn't really expecting anything. Bill Smith, the general manager with the Twins, called me one day and told me. They did a really good thing by letting me go. They didn't have to do that, and I was grateful for the opportunity to come over here.
"Meeting a new manager and a whole new set of teammates is different, but the group of guys we have here made it real easy. Everybody was really nice and really open. I feel like I belong."
Hinske ready to lend a hand wherever he's needed: In 2008, Eric Hinske was widely regarded as one of the team leaders on the young but talented American League champion Tampa Bay Rays. Now in Pittsburgh, Hinske is learning about his new team.
"You don't just jump into it," Hinske told MLB.com. "You first have to be yourself and see how it goes. I'm just here to help any which way I can. It might be that somebody gets injured, and I have to go in there every day, or it might be that I come off the bench. I'll be ready for whatever they tell me to be ready for."
Anderson not concerned with calf strain: A strained calf has kept Garret Anderson sidelined during Grapefruit League action. He is still able to hit, throw and lift weights but has done no running.
"I expect it to not be an issue whenever I get back out there and start moving around," Anderson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I don't want to have to revisit it. I'm still able to do my workouts and stuff that I was already doing, so from that standpoint I'm not losing anything there. It'll be just a matter of getting my legs back under me, and that shouldn't be too much of a big deal."
Colletti sees bright future for Loney: In his first full season in the Majors, James Loney batted .289 with 13 home runs and 90 RBIs. The Dodgers expect even better things from him in 2009.
"I don't think James has reached his full potential yet offensively or defensively," general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times. "I think there's a chance he'll win a Gold Glove or two before he's done playing. I think he'll also hit 20-plus home runs [a year]."
Ishikawa penciled in at first for Giants: With two and a half weeks before Opening Day, the Giants still have several roster and lineup questions. But one thing that seems to have been decided is that Travis Ishikawa will be the club's starting first baseman.
"Ishikawa has played enough now that you can see that he's going to be the first baseman, and it will remain to be seen how much latitude he'll be given against left-handed pitching," general manager Brian Sabean told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We've got time to find that out, too. He's very determined, and we're all impressed by how he's handled things."
Brandon Wood seeing action at shortstop: Brandon Wood, who came up through the Minors as a shortstop but who has played primarily at third in the Majors, is getting more opportunity to play his former position this spring.
Wood doubled twice and made several nice plays at short in the Angels' 12-7 win over the Padres on Tuesday.
"He's definitely good enough to play shortstop," pitcher John Lackey told the Los Angeles Times.
Powell gets early nod behind the plate: Landon Powell is off to a hot start in Spring Training, batting .308 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 12 games for the A's. A first-round pick in 2004, the catcher had ACL surgeries in both 2005 and 2007 in addition to a minor knee surgery last year.
"Landon is the leading candidate [at backup catcher]," general manager Billy Beane told the San Francisco Chronicle. "He's playing great this spring, a guy we think of very highly. He's coming off a knee injury, but he won't be under the demand of catching on an everyday basis."
Zambrano shows some love to South Side: Carlos Zambrano would never leave the Cubs, right?
"No," he told the Chicago Sun-Times, tapping his hand on that big "C" logo over his heart.
Although... "Well, if I do," Zambrano added, "I want it to be in a White Sox uniform."
As it turns out, Zambrano's interest in the South Siders is something that developed a long, long time ago.
"I grew up as a White Sox fan. That was my favorite team," he said. "I apologize to the Cubs fans for saying this, but you don't have control when you are 6, 7 years old of your feelings. Your feelings are with the team you see as a child. For me, it was the White Sox."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.