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Tag:AL East
Posted on: March 5, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Getting to know the Orioles

By Matt Snyder

TEAM MVP

Though his power has decreased over each of the past two seasons, Nick Markakis is still the most valuable player on the Orioles. While Adam Jones fought through growing pains and Brian Roberts battled health issues, the constant in the lineup has been Markakis. From 2007-2010, the anchor of the Orioles has had an .837 OPS. And remember, he's only 27. It's very possible the power returns and he hits close to 25 home runs again. With Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds and Derrek Lee around, he actually has some veteran protection in the middle of the order, too.

PLAYER ORACLE - Frank Robinson to Adam Jones

Frank Robinson played with Dennis Eckersley for the 1976 Cleveland Indians

Dennis Eckersley played with Jamie Moyer for the 1986 Chicago Cubs

Jamie Moyer played with Adam Jones for the 2006 Seattle Mariners

POP CULTURE

When Cal Ripken, Jr. ended his consecutive games streak at 2,632, the Energizer Bunny called him a quitter. Later, when Ripken was named the inaugural member of Energizer's Keep Going Hall of Fame, he ended his feud with the bunny. (And, yes, this is fictional to those who may be a bit slow).



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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 4, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 10:02 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/4: The return of Peavy

Peavy
By Evan Brunell

It feels like the days are dragging now that spring training games are started. Craving relevance, it's important to take the performances of players -- especially day-to-day ones -- this early into spring training with a grain of salt. That said, there's still plenty news of note...

3 UP

1. SP Jake Peavy, CHW: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Scott Miller has more on Peavy, but here's the gist: the White Sox starter pitched in a game for the first time since injuring his shoulder in July. While the road to pitching in the regular season is still long, the fact Peavy made it through a game and had no issues during and after the game is a milestone.

2. SP Bartolo Colon, NYY: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Who saw this coming from Colon? He flat out dominated the Red Sox and turned enough heads that one has to wonder if Colon really might claim that No. 5 spot. It's way, way too early to proclaim Colon the front-runner, but Colon was an afterthought before this start. No longer.

3. LF Nolan Reimold, BAL: 3 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR. Reimold is battling for a spot on Baltimore's bench and is doing everything he can to avoid a demotion. Unfortunately, his inability to play center puts him behind the eight-ball. It's possible the O's could deal Reimold at the end of spring training, but that's hard to imagine given Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero are temporary. Baltimore needs to keep its depth and young players, even if that means more seasoning down on the farm.

3 DOWN

1. SP Ryan Rowland-Smith, HOU: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Not good for "Hyphen," who is battling for the No. 5 spot in the Astros rotation. He has no shortage of challengers, including Nelson Figueroa, Aneury Rodriguez and Jordan Lyles, plus a few others. If he fails in his quest, he will be shuttled off to the bullpen.

2. RP Juan Gutierrez, ARI: 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. Gutierrez gave up 13 home runs last season but somehow managed to save 15 games with a 5.08 ERA. That won't repeat itself this season, and if the 27-year-old wants to be an important part of the bullpen, he can't have outings like this with plenty of competition around him.

3. CF Dexter Fowler, COL: 4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI, 1 K. Now with the center field job his free and clear, Fowler needs to take another step forward this year after two years of over 500 plate appearances. Fowler was good enough those seasons, but he needs to take the next step forward if he wants to be considered an integral piece of the club. A .182 average to start spring training isn't helping.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Cervelli injured; Could Montero step in?

MonteroBy Evan Brunell

The catching situation in New York just took an interesting turn as Francisco Cervelli suffered a broken foot that will knock him out for six to eight weeks, as the New York Times reports.

Cervelli, who served as backup catcher last season but played enough to garner 317 plate appearances, was slated to back up Russell Martin but now the door may have opened for Jesus Montero (pictured).

Montero, a hot-hitting prospect who ranked No. 4 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects, is now the immediate favorite to open the year backing up Martin. While the gig would likely only last a month, the 21-year-old may be better off playing full-time down on the farm. That said, New York might want to use this chance to evaluate his oft-maligned defense at the major league level, the better to determine Montero's future moving forward.

One thing's certain: the team won't be considering Jorge Posada as a backup. The longtime Yankees catcher is moving to the DH spot permanently. That leaves Montero fighting with journeyman backup catcher Gustavo Molina. The 29-year-old has seen 45 total PA in the majors split between the White Sox, Orioles, Mets and Red Sox but has yet to lock down a permanent backup gig. Molina appears to be that catcher that is good enough to play in Triple-A as insurance for most teams, but never good enough to lock down a full-time job. Hey, there are worse things for a person to be.

It's in this role that Molina may actually stand the best chance of beating Montero out. Molina is a capable stopgap for a month while Cervelli heals and is unlikely to be claimed on waivers once it is time for him to exit stage left. That would allow Montero to return to Triple-A and avoid a potential liability behind the plate if his defense is as bad as believed.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 9:22 pm
 

Yankees players help Red Sox coach in need

JohnsonBy Evan Brunell

The year 2010 was supposed to be a great year for Ron Johnson.

After years heaped upon years managing through the minor leagues, Ron Johnson finally reached the bigs when he was named first-base coach for the Red Sox after being promoted from managing Boston's Triple-A affiliate.

Except, in August, Johnson received news that no one ever does -- his 11-year-old daughter had been in a car accident and lost her leg. Bridget was riding a horse along a road when a car came around the corner too fast and collided with the horse. The horse had to be put down and Bridget lost a leg that her body later rejected when it was reattached. Now, she makes use of a prosthetic leg.

Johnson had to struggle with mounting medical bills for surgery, getting the prosthetic leg and rehabilitation. The Red Sox organization and players chipped in with generous checks, but the medical bills were still overwhelming.

And in stepped Boston's century-old rival team in the Yankees to save the day. Hitting coach Kevin Long, who played under Johnson in the mid-1990s and got his first coaching job due to Johnson's recommendation and perseverance, gathered the team for a meeting one day in September to outline the tragic story and ask for help.

"Our friendship is deep. It goes way, way back," Long explained to the Wall Street Journal. "Friends aren't just there for the good times, they're there when things go backwards on you. Anything I could help him with, I wanted to do."

The players, touched, opened up their own wallets and while none will reveal how much they contributed, it is said they were just as generous as Red Sox players in writing checks.

"He came to us, and you could hear it in K-Long's voice how important it was to him," pitcher A.J. Burnett said. "You just wanted to help in any way you can. We're a huge family here. Whether you're a Yankee or anybody else, we're all in it together.''

Now, some Yankees keep up with Bridget's prospects through Long, and when the two teams meet Friday for the first time this spring, you can bet Johnson will cross the line to personally thank the Yankee players who fished out their wallets and handed money over to Johnson.

"When we play the Yankees, and you see me going up and thanking some guys, don't think I'm just going over to [chat] with them," Johnson said, laughing.

It just goes to show you that while tempers may flare in between the foul lines (or in the Cubs' case, in the home dugout) and it can be fun to root against your team's bitter rivals, it's far more rewarding to watch these rival teams come together and make a positive difference in someone's life.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/3: Jones returns to third base

Jones

By Evan Brunell

3 UP

1. 3B Chipper Jones, ATL: 2 AB, 1 R, 1 H. For the first time since tearing his ACL, Chipper Jones played first base in a game Thursday, and things turned out just fine. Jones has made a rapid return from surgery and is trying to get used to playing the field again. He fielded a grounder flawlessly and also caught a popup in his four innings of work.

2. SP Brett Cecil, TOR: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Quite an impressive game for Cecil, even if it is spring training. The youngster is gearing up for his first full season in the majors and is excited to see manager John Farrell allowing him to throw 60 pitches. "The way I see it, [60 pitches] is just a glimpse of the future of how [Farrell] is going to let us pitchers go deeper into the game," Cecil told the AP. Even though we got a little bit of a high pitch count, I'm extremely happy."

3. SP Neftali Feliz, TEX: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not a bad start for Feliz, who is attempting to convert from closing to starting. The AL Rookie of the Year churned out 36 pitches but is still working on feeling out how much effort to expend with each pitch to ensure he can go deep in games. "I need to find my pace so I can go longer," Feliz said via a translator according to the AP. "I don't know how hard to go so that I can go longer."

3 DOWN

1. SP Randy Wolf, MIL: 1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Yuck. Not a pretty start for Wolf, but it's still very early and he's likely still rounding into game shape. He's no longer being looked at to top the rotation with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum along with the ascension of Yovani Gallardo, but the Brew Crew still needs a strong season from the lefty in the quest for the division title.

2. SP Troy Tulowitzki, COL: 2 AB, 0 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 K. Tulowitzki was forced to leave the game after whiffing on an awkward swing to end the fourth inning. He was later diagnosed with a bruised right heel, but any injury -- no matter how slight -- to the Rockies' new multi-millionaire and face of the franchise is nothing to feel good about.

3. RF Elijah Dukes, FAIL: Hit pregnant ex-girlfriend. OK, so it was a bit humorous earlier this offseason when word surfaced that Dukes had "retired" from baseball and was intent on a new career as a rapper named Fly Eli. But will Dukes ever learn? He's fathered multiple children by multiple mothers, has a history of violence and threw away a career in the majors. Has he learned? Nope. Will he ever learn? Doesn't look like it. Unfortunately, it may be time to write Dukes off as a redeeming member of society.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 4:40 pm
 

Big Papi clears mind of off-field issues

OrtizBy Evan Brunell

David Ortiz believes that clearing his mind will go a long way towards helping him produce at the plate.

"I haven't felt like this for a while," Ortiz told WEEI.com of how well he has been feeling, which he believes is a major part of his fast start in spring training with a 5 for 8 beginning. "There were a lot of things that I had to correct, and I did in the offseason."

Ortiz said what he had to correct was not related to baseball, but was important in the sense that "when you're playing baseball you can't be thinking about some other things. Baseball is a very complicated business so you have to make sure your mind is clear so you can think about what you're doing."

Ortiz wouldn't clarify what he needed to fix, but said he feels people don't realize players have lives outside of baseball. "That life needs to be taken care of. You have family, you have kids, you have friends. A lot of stuff. In a situation like ours sometimes you don't pay attention to little things and they accumulate slowly. ... You've been accumulating things for years and then next thing you know you've got all that on top of you. Then people look at you and it seems you have a big old monkey on your back. Not anymore."

This is certainly true of Ortiz's recent years in Boston, where the usually gregarious slugger has seemed to withdraw in his shell over the last two years. Certainly, a big part of it has to do with how Ortiz struggled with criticism after getting off to slow starts each of the past two years. But perhaps a big amount had to do with off-the-field stuff, and Big Papi can already notice a difference.

"I can enjoy baseball now. What a difference," he said. "I don't even have my cell phone with me. That's your No. 1 enemy, your cell phone."

For all the improvement Ortiz seems to have made in this area, his personal life isn't entirely cleared of conflicts. He is headed to court after locking horns with hip-hop singer Jay-Z on a naming issue as the New York Post reports. Ortiz has a nightclub in the Dominican Republic named Forty Forty, and Jay-Z has taken umbrage to that, believing it a ripoff of his own 40/40 Club

The two sides met for three hours Monday but could not come to an agreement as Ortiz's business manager, Mark Walker, said Jay-Z wants "way too much" compensation. Ortiz had previously indicated a willingness to change the name or settle the dispute.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Pepper: Perez's last chance?

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans
Oliver Perez

For most established big leaguers, it's beyond idiotic to put much stock in many spring training results -- nobody's a star or scrub based solely on a game in the first week of March -- but Oliver Perez isn't the typical case.

The Mets pitcher has been hanging on to his roster spot by a three-year, $36-million thread for a while. In the last year of his ridiculous contract, the left-hander may be released if he "does not show significant improvement over Sunday's two-inning, four-run disappointment" today against the Cardinals, the New York Daily News' Andy Martino writes, citing two "major league sources familiar with the Mets' thinking."

Sunday, Perez was throwing an 84 mph fastball and struggled with his command. He was initially slated as a reliever for today's game, but he will instead start.

Manager Terry Collins said, "I'm quite sure he'll have another try after [Thursday]." But Martino says that may not be the case.

Since signing his big deal (any guess who his agent is?), Perez has gone 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA in 31 games. He made 14 starts in 2009 and seven last season before being put in the bullpen. He didn't pitch at all in June, and pitched just two games in August -- on the first day of the month and the next-to-last day of the month, and just one day in September.

There was talk the Mets would release him after the season, but they gave him one last try -- and that very last try could come today.

SPEAKING OF ALBATROSS CONTRACTS: Bruce Bochy told reporters Wednesday that Barry Zito's spot in the Giants' rotation is secure, despite a San Francisco Chronicle column citing a "source close to the team" as saying his job isn't safe.

General manager Brian Sabean also denied the story was a plant.

"Absolutely, unequivocally not," Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "We have too much respect for players, and more so, I have a great relationship with Barry Zito. If things had gotten to that point, I would have talked to him directly, firsthand."

Zito walked five of the 13 batters he faced in his spring opener on Monday.

A.J. Burnett DOESN'T SUCK? So says, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

In fact, Rosenthal points out the much-maligned Yankees' career numbers are pretty darn close to those of Boston's Josh Beckett, another former Marlin. The numbers Rosenthal uses are indeed close -- Burnett is 110-100 with a 3.99 ERA and an opponents' OPS of .701 in his career, while Beckett is 112-74, with a 3.96 ERA and .708 opponents' OPS.

The secret for Burnett to be successful, Rosenthal writes, is for Burnett to believe he can be successful. The Yankees certainly hope that's true.

WHO ISN'T? Speaking of disappointing Red Sox pitchers… John Lackey is "just tired" of talking about his 2010 season, he tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.

If I got $18 million to put up a 4.40 ERA. In his first season since coming over from the Angels, Lackey made 33 starts and put up a 14-11 record.

IT'S THE MONEY, STUPID: It's going to be difficult for either Dustin Ackley or Michael Pineda break camp with the Mariners, even if they earn a spot in spring, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes, because of the possible Super 2 status.

The Mariners may have to guess when to bring up their talented rookies in hope of not allowing them to reach arbitration eligibility early. To be safe, now most teams wait until June to bring up a heralded prospect. Remember Buster Posey? He was called up to stay last year on May 29.

Recently teams have guessed on when the Super 2 cutoff date would occur and lost on Tim Lincecum (2007) and Jay Bruce (2008) falling before the cutoff date. Teams worried about payroll, like the Mariners, are unlikely to take a gamble.

Ramon HernandezCITIZEN CATCHER: Congratulations to Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez, who took a couple of days off from Cincinnati's camp to go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to take his United State citizenship test. Hernandez passed the test on Tuesday and will be sworn in at a later date.

"I already live here and I have my life here," Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "My kids are U.S. citizens and my wife is a U.S. citizen. I'm the only one left. I feel like I've got to do it because I live here."

Hernandez celebrated with a double against the White Sox on Wednesday.

A PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: A physicist writes an article on Baseball Prospectus stating that if the Diamondbacks used a humidor at Chase Field, they'd see a 37 percent drop in home runs. (Hat tip to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic)

THOSE AREN'T PILLOWS: The Planes, Trains and Automobiles worthy story of Mike Napoli's journey from the Angels to the Blue Jays to the Rangers from the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett

SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN THE METS: A group that includes Rays minority owner Randy Frankel and Entourage creator Doug Ellin, is interested in buying a share of the Mets, the New York Times reports.

Frankel would have to sell his share of the Rays, if approved.

THE DOCTOR IS AN IN-PATIENT: While the NFL seems to have someone on every Dancing With the Stars incarnation, MLB will be represented on Celebrity Rehab by former Mets ace Dwight Gooden.

Gooden, 46, will join Lindsay Lohan's dad and the kid from Baywatch on Dr. Drew's show, TMZ.com reports.

MMMM… GRAVY: A flow chart telling you which Major League Baseball team you should root for.

ANIMAL STYLE: For those non-Californians heading out to spring training in Arizona, here's a little help when it comes to the culinary hotspot that is In-N-Out. You've heard of the secret menu? Here's a look at every "secret" item on the menu.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com