Rookie thrives with addition of Johnson
Coghlan learning a lot from veteran acquisition
It's no coincidence that rookie leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan has batted .474 (29 of 69) -- including a franchise-record stretch of eight consecutive multi-hit games -- since the trade-deadline deal that brought Nick Johnson to the Marlins.
"Nick has been huge and has helped me out so much with his approach, telling me about other pitchers we're facing," Coghlan told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "He's a hitter I'd like to be like some day, real patient and gets on base, so I watch video and then pick his brain on the pitchers so I'm not clueless when I go up there."
Johnson, who bats in the No. 2 slot, gets a good view of Coghlan's at-bats from the on-deck circle and has something to offer.
"[Coghlan's] got the right approach, so we'll talk about guys I faced that he hasn't," Johnson said. "He's got a short swing, goes the other way pretty good, and that's huge -- to extend the middle of the field and work the ball all over the place. You can't be scared to hit with two strikes."
Roberts tough to stop stealing third: Brian Roberts is confident about his ability to steal third base.
"I feel like I can beat the other team in stealing third base pretty much every time," Roberts told the Baltimore Sun. "Not in an arrogant way, but I don't think there are very many ways that they can stop you if you know what you're doing."
Since 2003, Roberts has stolen third base 72 times in 78 chances -- the most steals of anyone in Major League Baseball.
Morse keeps locker full of gloves: The Nationals recalled Mike Morse from Triple-A Syracuse. Morse, who can play any position in the infield or outfield, keeps four different gloves in his locker.
"I prefer whichever [position] I'm in the game that day," Morse told the Washington Post. "That's how I like to think of it. Keeps me a little humble."
Napoli pushes lineup into .300 territory: The Angels' starting lineup on Tuesday featured eight hitters batting over .300 for the season. Mike Napoli made it a clean sweep with a 2-for-4 night, which raised his average to the .300 mark.
"That's crazy, man," Torii Hunter told the Los Angeles Times. "That's unbelievable."
The Elias Sports Bureau notes that one must go back to 1930, when both the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals did it, to find lineups with all nine players batting over .300 with at least 200 at-bats.
Pudge makes return to Rangers in trade: Pudge Rodriguez is happy to be back with the Rangers, the team with which he began his career back in 1991.
"I'm feeling great, feeling good. It's nice to be back to the place that I started," Rodriguez, who waived his no-trade clause, told MLB.com. "It's nice to be back there. It's also sad. I think Houston is a great team and a good group of guys. The fans are great, but business is business. You've got to prepare for anything. Especially being a veteran player -- those things can happen."
Rodriguez, acquired on Tuesday, played for the Rangers from 1991-2002 in his first stint with the club.
Escobar playing his way into lineup: Since joining the Milwaukee Brewers, Alcides Escobar has started every game except for last Wednesday's, his first game with the club.
"I had originally thought of having Escobar not play against [Houston right-hander Roy] Oswalt [on Sunday]," Manager Ken Macha told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But he's playing pretty well and feeling good about himself, so I'll let him go out and do it."
Known for his fielding ability, the rookie shortstop has performed well at the plate, hitting .263 with four runs scored, one RBI and one stolen base.
Drew producing at the top: Hitting at the top of the order on Monday, Stephen Drew singled and hit a homer in five at-bats.
The Diamondbacks shortstop has hit safely in 23 of 25 games in the leadoff spot, going 35-for-112 (.313) with 21 runs scored, five of his 10 home runs, eight of his 24 doubles, four of his eight triples and 16 of his 49 RBIs.
"It's one of those things where you get comfortable as a hitter," Drew told the Arizona Republic, "and I feel real comfortable right now."
Wagner preparing to join active roster: Billy Wagner, who had Tommy John surgery in November, is close to being activated from the disabled list by the Mets.
"Right now, I just want to be able to contribute in whatever role," Wagner told Newsday. "I'm not up here to do any one thing. It's just whatever I can do to help. I'm just really happy to be able to get out there and pitch. Eleven months ago, there were rumors my career was over. Now I have a chance to go out there and maybe get a little bit back."
Swisher hopes to settle in with Yankees: Nick Swisher, who reached the 20 home-run threshold for the fifth straight season on Sunday, would like to stick around next year with the Yankees, which is his third team in three seasons.
"I think it's pretty cool, just getting that opportunity," Swisher told MLB.com. "I've been bouncing around from team to team the last couple of years, but -- knock on wood -- hopefully I've found a home. I really feel honored to be part of this tradition."
Teagarden taking advantage of starts: Taylor Teagarden, who has started nine of the Rangers' last 11 games as the replacement for the injured Jared Saltalamacchia, went 2-for-3 with a walk on Sunday, including a 419-foot, game-winning home run.
"For a guy like me, I haven't hit one like that all season," Teagarden told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "When I connected, I knew it was gone. It's a little bit of a relief to see the ball go off the bat like that and help us maintain our lead. It gave us a little bit of comfort."
Huff not ready to make vacation plans: Aubrey Huff, acquired earlier this week by the Tigers from the Orioles, says the move from last place to first place changed his outlook.
"Normally at this time of year, you're just grinding it out," Huff told MLB.com. "You've got your [offseason] vacation plans. You've got [a trip to] Hawaii all booked up. This is exciting; this is like a second Opening Day."
Wood stays positive: Kerry Wood hasn't had as many save chances as he would have liked this season with the Indians, but he is trying to find the bright side in his lack of opportunities.
"I've had some chances and didn't get it done," Wood told the Akron Beacon Journal. "I look at it this way: I didn't get a bigger workload, so I've saved a little wear and tear on my arm."
Aubrey gets the call after trade: When the Orioles sent Aubrey Huff to Detroit earlier this week, the move created an opening for 27-year-old Michael Aubrey, who was batting .290 with 29 doubles and 52 RBIs between Double-A Norfolk and Triple-A Columbus.
"It was a surprise," Aubrey told MLB.com of his promotion. "I think any time you get an opportunity like this, it comes as a surprise. I guess, initially, you get mixed feelings, but at the same time, you're excited to get out there and play and see what you can do."
Park now more appreciative of fans: Chan Ho Park's affection for his Korean fans has grown over the years.
"To be honest with you, I used to hate it when people would ask for autographs -- again and again and again," Park told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Now, I want to meet as many people as I can. Because each person is special. I appreciate it more than I used to. Without the Korean people to support me, I know I would feel lonely and sick."
Billingsley makes strong rebound from injury: In his first start since injuring his hamstring 11 days ago, Chad Billingsley excelled on the mound and at the plate in the Dodgers' 7-3 victory over the Cardinals. Billingsley allowed two runs in six innings and retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced.
"The win was important obviously, but for him to go out without any problems, that was huge," manager Joe Torre told the Los Angeles Times.
Hoffman not concerned with lack of action: Entering Milwaukee's series against Pittsburgh, Trevor Hoffman had only pitched twice in nine games, but the veteran right-hander isn't concerned about the lack of recent work.
"Some guys don't feel comfortable getting plenty of days off," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "With the routine I go through, I actually feel stronger. I've never really needed actual work in a game to stay sharp.
"[Lack of work] is more of a mental thing you have to get over. It's a creature-of-habit thing, and it's hard to break that cycle [of pitching]. What it really comes down to is trusting my stuff, knowing I can stay sharp."
Garko puts on Superman's cape: Newly acquired Ryan Garko drove in four runs in the Giants' 8-5 win over the Reds on Tuesday. The four RBIs matched the total Garko drove in during his first 17 games with the team.
"Anytime you put a new uniform on, you try to be Superman," Garko told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're all human. Sometimes you have to take a couple of steps back and relax. No reasons for excuses now. We've got to win every game we can."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.