Fowler playing pivotal role in center
Rockies expect big things from outfielder on offense
The Rockies like what Dexter Fowler brings defensively and will start him in center field this season. But the team also expects him to be a big contributor on offense.
"I am ready for the challenge. We can cause havoc if I am getting on base," Fowler told the Denver Post.
"He's the missing link, in my opinion," teammate Jason Giambi said. "He can help in a lot of ways."
Wallace putting in work to take over at first base: Acquired last season in a trade with Toronto, Brett Wallace is competing for the starting job at first base in Houston.
"I'm pretty comfortable with most aspects of the game," Wallace told the Houston Chronicle. "I've worked really hard to get back to my approach at the plate, to get back to where I thought I was throughout my Minor League career and feel like I should be.
"And also defensively, I did a lot of work this offseason, and I'm really comfortable at first and feel like I've made the full transition from third."
Morrow looking to take the next step: Brandon Morrow is working hard to make sure he can replicate the success he had, pitching two perfect innings in Friday's intrasquad game.
"Fastball location is No. 1 for me right now, really just [finding] that game I was in toward the end of last season, and that's what I felt like today," Morrow told the Toronto Star after the game.
"We told him when he came over here he was going to be a starting pitcher -- period," Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton said. "That made his learning curve shorter. Now, his game is a chess game, learning to attack opponents. ... We're not coming into spring worrying about making pitches and arm slots, and that's the next step to becoming a top Major League pitcher."
Rodrigo Lopez battling for fifth starting spot: Rodrigo Lopez opened Grapefruit League play with two scoreless innings as he battles for the final spot in the Braves' rotation. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has promised that there will be an open competition for the fifth starter's job.
"Yeah, that's what I've been told," Lopez said of the open competition. "I'm just trying to work on my thing and regardless of what happens, try to have a good season.
"I threw one breaking ball, but [otherwise] just mixed fastball and few changeups," Lopez told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of his Sunday outing. "I feel pretty good. I have a good feeling about it, and I'm just going to continue to work."
McGehee reliable with runners on base: Casey McGehee has established himself at third base for the Brewers. He started the 2009 season as a utility player, but hit his way into the starting lineup and finished the year hitting .301 with 16 home runs and 66 RBIs. Last year, hitting fifth in the lineup, McGehee led the team in RBIs with 104 and hit 23 home runs.
"For two years, he's probably been as good as anybody in baseball at getting guys in without hitting 35 homers," hitting coach Dale Sveum told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "His batting average with runners in scoring position has been amazing the last two years. And with the top of our lineup, that's a lot of people getting on base in front of him."
Chamberlain off to fast start: Joba Chamberlain is off to a good start this spring, throwing a perfect inning in Saturday's exhibition game against Philadelphia. Chamberlain was throwing so well he hit 94 mph with his fastball.
"It was good to face somebody in a different uniform," Chamberlain told the New York Daily News. "I had some good nerves today, which was exciting for me. It was nice to have that; you miss that feeling, that competitive edge."
Chamberlain said his delivery is ahead of where it was at this point last season and said an adjustment of moving his hands from his chest to his belt when he starts his delivery is paying off.
Ellsbury glad to be back in action: Jacoby Ellsbury started in center field and hit leadoff for the Red Sox when they defeated Northeastern, 13-2, in an exhibition win Saturday. For Ellsbury, it was a chance to return to the field after a 2010 season that was mostly lost due to injury.
"It's fun going out there and playing," Ellsbury told the Boston Herald. "I've been doing this my whole life -- playing baseball -- and it was nice to go out there and feel normal. Right now, I'm playing on instincts. I'm not going out there thinking about anything. That's where you want to be."
Stubbs in contention for leadoff spot: Drew Stubbs could be the leadoff batter for the Reds. Whether he is slotted first in the order, though, isn't of much concern to him.
"Ultimately, the leadoff spot is just hitting first to start the game. After that, it's just another spot in the lineup," Stubbs told MLB.com. "The things you're asked to do are slightly different than in the middle of the order, obviously. Early in the game, especially, you need to work the count, see what the pitcher has to offer and get on base. I try to carry the same approach throughout the course of the game each time."
Coke adapting to new role as starter: As he makes the adjustment from reliever to starter, Detroit's Phil Coke knows he's going to have to adapt.
"Everybody's asking me, 'How are you going to handle it? You don't get to sprint in from the bullpen. You don't get that adrenaline,'" Coke told MLB.com. "OK, well, my job is to adjust from that pure adrenaline and going out there and being that fiery, crazy dude to now [being] out there and still have that fire, but it can't turned up full blast because I'll run out of fuel. I've got to keep it in reserve a little bit and add when I need to.
"Sometimes you have to dial it up depending on the situation. Sometimes it gets turned up, whether you want it to or not."
Feliz impresses with fundamentals: Kansas City manager Ned Yost says he believes Pedro Feliz brings a lot to the table that can help his young team.
"I have been so impressed with his professionalism, in terms of what he's done to this point," Yost told MLB.com. "Everything that he's done is fundamentally sound. Everything he does is fundamentally correct. He doesn't take a groundball off, he doesn't take a throw off, he doesn't take a BP swing off. Everything he does, he does like a true professional -- like the way it's supposed to be done. He's very disciplined, and you can see why he's been around as long as he has."
Boggs OK with bullpen role: Mitchell Boggs knows he's not going to be groomed to be a starting pitcher anytime soon, but says he's content doing whatever Cardinals manager Tony La Russa or pitching coach Dave Duncan ask of him.
"I know that I have the opportunity to have a role on this team," Boggs told MLB.com. "I take that very seriously. I'm blessed to have that opportunity. So whatever 'Dunc' and Tony, however they feel I will help this team the best, that's what I'll do. And I think they think I can help this team out of the bullpen. So that's where I'll go, and I won't ask any questions."
Cashner hopes to follow Howry's lead: While getting to know now-retired pitcher Bob Howry during the Cubs' 2010 season, Andrew Cashner learned a lot about the game -- both on and off the field.
"He took us fishing when we were in Colorado," Cashner told MLB.com. "Just hanging around him, he doesn't really say much, but he comes in and gets his work done. The guy pitched for 10-plus years with just a fastball. That's how much movement he had on his ball.
"He worked hard, and I just tried to listen and watch and see what he does. He's been in the game long enough to stay in it. He had a lot of advice and a lot of wise words, and he was a good friend."
Aaron Rowand targets outfield spot: With the center field job up for grabs in San Francisco, Aaron Rowand plans to use extensive offseason training to help him secure the spot.
"I'm taking this approach: This offseason, I trained my [butt] off to be in the best shape I could," Rowand told the San Jose Mercury News. "I made the adjustments I felt I needed to make. My focus isn't on, 'Will I start or not?' It's on preparing. I won't get caught up in the whole issue."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.