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Tag:NL Central
Posted on: March 11, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 12:52 pm
 

Report: Carpenter ready to return

By Matt Snyder

After going down with a hamstring injury March 1 and suffering a slight setback earlier this week, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter has cleared his final hurdle before returning to the hill, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting.
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Carpenter, 35, threw around 60 pitches Friday morning with Cardinals hitters standing in the batter's box and said he felt good enough to return to his spot in the spring rotation -- which means he'll take the hill Wednesday against the Tigers.

The right-hander noted he wasn't happy with his command, but his hamstring was just fine.

"You're talking about a minor hamstring injury, not elbow surgery or a sore shoulder (both of which Carpenter has had)," Carpenter told the Post-Dispatch. "I've had way too many other things to concern myself with a slight hamstring. I figured that eventually it would be getting better."

The Cardinals are expecting Carpenter to take three spring starts and then get the ball on opening day March 31.

With Adam Wainwright having undergone Tommy John surgery, Carpenter is alone atop the St. Louis rotation. That's not exactly a new spot for him. He won the Cy Young in 2005 and finished in the top-3 in 2006 and 2009. Last season, Carpenter went 16-9 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He's on the downside of his great career, but certainly not finished. If he can stay healthy, a good season should be in line.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 11, 2011 11:01 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 11:51 am
 

Pepper: Wagner coach at 28; Japan quake fallout

Pepper

By Evan Brunell

These days are certainly different for Ryan Wagner, a 2003 first-round pick of the Reds. He debuted that same year at age 21 and looked as if he would deliver on his promise, but injuries and attrition caused him to struggle over the next two years before being dealt to the Nationals in a contentious deal, with Cincinnati later alleging that the Nationals then-GM Jim Bowden wasn't up-front about the injury issues of reliever Gary Majewski. 

With the Nats, Wagner was nothing more than a fungible reliever who regressed in effectiveness before undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in 2007. After two years of trying to rehab the injury, Wagner called it quits in 2009. And now, he's a 28-year-old manager, accepting a job with the Victoria Generals in the Texas Collegiate League, a college summer league.

"The college level is where I want to be," Wagner said. "I love coaching the younger boys, but it's definitely a slowdown from the big leagues.

"With the little kids, it's fun teaching the fundamentals and watching them grow. But a lot of these kids are D-I players and when you tell them something they are able to make the adjustments." (Victoria Advocate)

DEVASTATION IN JAPAN: While Americans were sleeping soundly, Japan was the victim of the worst earthquake since 1900, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. A tsunami developed that will hit Hawaii, but isn't expected to devastate the island. Other places, such as Thailand, may not be so lucky. In the midst of all this, Japan has canceled all professional baseball games for Saturday along with other major sporting events. (Yakyubaya.com)

CONCERN FOR GRANDMOTHER: There are plenty of Japanese ballplayers and media members stateside for spring training that have left many scrambling to contact friends and family. One such player is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has heard from his family and friends but has not been able to reach his grandmother. (Boston Herald)

Yankees LEGEND OK: Yogi Berra suffered a fall at Yankees spring training camp Thursday and was taken to the hospital as a precaution. The Hall of Famer is doing just fine and may even return to camp Friday. (New York Daily News)

STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES: Stephen Strasburg has had a Twitter account for several months but only recently has been tweeting with any frequency. One such tweet yesterday: "Keeping it freaking stupid with coach today!" Who knows what that means, but good to know. (Washington Post)

WILD THING: "Adaptable, even-tempered and not easily rattled" were words used to describe Charlie Sheen. Huh. Interesting. But these words are from the Sheen of three decades ago when he was a relief pitcher for Santa Monica High School. Sheen served as a "very efficient" bullpen ace, coach Jose Lopez recalls. (Los Angeles Times)

MORE Mets MESS: Everyone knows about the Wilpons' struggle to hang onto the Mets in light of the Bernie Madoff scandal, but there's an entirely different scandal being dealt with at this point. Back in November, the Mets fired team employee Charlie Samuels, who admitted to gambling on baseball and also provided mob associates with insider tips. He is also under investigation for stealing memorabilia from the Mets clubhouse and then selling them. The New York Police Department's Organized Crime and Control Bureau was at Mets camp Thursday to interview players and employees about Samuels in the hope of ferreting out more information for the case. Baseball investigators were also on hand to see if illegal gambling is being conducted by other employees and players. Investigators spoke to people with close ties to Samuels, such as  Mike Piazza and Francisco Rodriguez. (New York Daily News)

AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT GAME: Rockies manager Jim Tracy finally got Denver Nuggets basketball coach George Karl in town, with Karl assisting Tracy in managing Thursday's game. While Karl's the basketball guru, he may have had a hand in Todd Helton cracking a double, speaking to the first baseman just before the at-bat. A bit of a stretch, but whatever, it's spring training. (Denver Post)

QUESTIONING COLE: MLB Trade Rumors has a bunch of questions for college pitcher Gerrit Cole, who should be a top-five pick in the upcoming amateur draft. Cole was plucked out of high school by the Yankees, but opted to go to UCLA and doesn't regret the decision. Also in the interview: Cole's relaying of a Charlie Sheen story. (MLB Trade Rumors)

OZZIE'S IMPRESSED: Dayan Viciedo has impressed manager Ozzie Guillen the most at spring training. The Cuban defector is currently converting to right field from third base as he looks unable to field the position and first base is locked up. Viciedo was hitting .476 in spring training games but a fractured right thumb will sideline him about a month and guarantees a ticket to Triple-A, which was likely coming regardless. If he can show some semblance of plate discipline, he could be a nice bat for years to come. (Chicago Sun-Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Erik Bedard was one of the better left-handed starters in the game but missed all of 2010 and had just 30 games started combined between 2009-10. Clearly, Seattle's trade for Bedard hasn't quite worked out, but the lefty had a strong start Thursday and felt he was approaching how he felt during his 2006-07 run. That's all well and good, but the 31-year-old needs to actually pitch in a major league game multiple times before anyone gets excited. (MLB.com)

BIG SWEAT: Dennys Reyes makes himself known to Red Sox fans, as the portly left-hander appears all but a lock to snag a spot in the Red Sox bullpen as the requisite lefty. Reyes has quite an interesting story of how he dislocated his right shoulder, which forced him to begin throwing left-handed. He didn't get the shoulder treated, which is why his right shoulder has a six-inch hunch over the left and still causes him pain on certain fielding plays. (Boston Herald)

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:08 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 9:18 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/10: Slam edition

By Matt Snyder

Hitting a grand slam is pretty cool. It's really a home run where you happened to come up to bat with the bases jacked, but, then again, batting with a runner on all three bases is a whole different animal than hitting with no one on. How about doing it two days in a row?

3 UP

Alex Liddi, Mariners. Yep, Liddi hit a granny Wednesday and followed suit Thursday. The 22-year-old third baseman has only had 11 at-bats in the spring, so he's hitting a grand slam every 5.5 at-bats. That's a pretty decent pace. Maybe pull a George Costanza and leave 'em wanting more? Just sit the rest of the spring!

Randy Wells, Cubs. Considering the pretty solid job Carlos Silva is doing imploding and the fact that the Cubs are looking to fill two spots, Wells is probably safe. He threw four shutout innings Thursday, running his spring scoreless streak -- well, counting only earned runs -- to nine. He's struck out six and only allowed eight baserunners. Also notable in this game was Andrew Cashner closed the game with four strong innings, allowing just one run (a solo homer). These two look the part as the final two members of the rotation -- but Wells is a much more sure thing.

Mike Moustakas, Royals. One of the Royals' (many) prized prospects was struggling in the spring, coming in with just three hits in 17 at-bats. Thursday, however, he collected a pair of hits in two at-bats, including a game-winning 2-RBI single in the eighth.

3 DOWN

Brad Bergesen, Orioles. According to Twitter nation, the first thing Bergesen said to reporters was, "I sucked. Any other questions?" Well, not really. We will pass along the line to those who didn't get a chance to see it: 2 2/3 innings, six hits, three earned runs, two walks. He was slated to work four innings, but couldn't make it. (via Roch Kubatko Twitter )

Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals. It was his first start of the spring, so some rust could be forgiven -- even if getting knocked around the yard by the Astros is what we're forgiving him for. The line: 2 1/3 innings, five hits, three runs (two earned), three walks and a strikeout.

Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers. The strapping closer had a disaster of an outing, getting only one out while allowing three hits, four runs, a walk, a home run and a hit batsman. He took the loss. Of course, it was only one game. In fact, all three of these pitchers here should remember that. Pitchers should always have a short memory, but especially in the spring.

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 5:50 pm
 

Cubs stage Ron Santo Day at HoHoKam Park

By Matt Snyder

Being March 10, the Chicago Cubs are honoring former great Ron Santo Thursday at their spring home. Players were given special hats with a No. 10 on them, a 10 emblem -- the same logo that will worn on the sleeves of Cubs' jerseys this season, pictured left on Darwin Barney's jersey -- is painted behind home plate and there will be ceremonies prior to the exhibition game honoring Santo.

The nine-time All-Star passed away this past offseason at the age of 70. While Santo was a fan favorite during his playing days, he had grown even more beloved in recent years as a color commentator for Cubs games on the radio. He made no bones about being a complete homer for the Cubs and wore his heart on his sleeve -- notably celebrating greatly the division championships and screaming "NOOOOOOO!" if something didn't go the Cubs way (like Brant Brown's dropped fly ball in 1998).

"I never needed to hear a score when I was in Iowa," Cubs manager Mike Quade told the Chicago Tribune . "Just turn the radio on after a game and listen to three words out of Ronnie's mouth, or three groans... I wasn't sure how bad we were losing, but I knew it wasn't good. And if he and Pat (Hughes) were having fun, then we were in good shape."

Interesting to note here, Major League Baseball didn't allow the Cubs to wear the hats with a "10" on them, because there was no MLB logo on them. Don't you always love with the professional sports leagues get so concerned about little things like this with the uniforms. It's one thing if it's a regular-season game -- because the "slippery slope" theory means you open yourself up to almost anything being acceptable -- but in spring training? C'mon. Who really cares?

Regardless, the day at HoHoKam Park was one die-hard Cubs fans would surely enjoy -- even if MLB had to step in and get strict.

UPDATE: More quotes from Cubs' family members at the event (via Chicago Tribune ):

"If you look in the dictionary and saw endurance and courage, the man, No. 10, Ron Santo, was right there," former teammate Fergie Jenkins said. "That's the kind of guy he was. The example he tried to prove on the field, as an individual, as a teammate, that was something that will never, never ever be forgotten. Ronnie was a great individual, a great friend."

"Ron Santo as a player was a pain in the fanny. But as he got out of the game of baseball and we got to know him a lot better, I absolutely loved the guy, and I told him every time I talked to him on the telephone or we played golf together that I loved him, and I still love him and I miss him very much," Randy Hundley added. "But I'm also glad that he does not have to suffer anymore with the bad legs he had."

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:29 pm
 

Gallardo named Brewers' opening day starter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In what would have been an upset a couple of weeks ago, but was now a foregone conclusion, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke officially named Yovani Gallardo his opening day starter.

Yovani Gallardo"With [Zack] Greinke and Gallardo, if you look at their last three years, they're both No. 1 [pitchers]," Roenicke told reporters Thursday morning (via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). "Gallardo is also our ace."

The Brewers will follow Gallardo, 25, with Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson. The fifth starter spot is still undecided. Because of an off day in Cincinnati the day after the opener, the Brewers could have Gallardo pitch again on regular rest instead of using a fifth starter.

"We may wait and see what Yovani does in the opener," Roenicke said.

Narveson is scheduled to start the home opener on April 4 against the Braves.

While Gallardo doesn't have the name recognition of Greinke, he's a quality starter and has done plenty on his own to earn the opening day nod on his own merit. An All-Star last season, Gallardo started on opening day last season for the Brewers, going 14-7 on the season with a 3.84 ERA. He recorded 200 strikeouts in 185 innings. His xFIP (fielding independent pitching, normalized for park factors) last season was 3.42 last season. Greinke was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA last season, along with an xFIP of 3.76.

Gallardo lost his opening day assignment last season, but was matched up against Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies. Gallardo did struggle last season against the Reds, going 0-2 with a 9.22 ERA in three starts against the NL Central champs. Greinke faced the Reds once and threw a complete-game five-hitter in a  win.

Gallardo will face off against Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez in the opener at Great American Ball Park.

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:02 pm
 

Pepper: Rites of spring


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every spring we get excited and pick winners for every division, count out teams, give a couple of other teams a free ride to the World Series and then sit back and are surprised when it doesn't happen.

The thing is, in baseball and in life, things change quickly and can change drastically.

Since the start of spring training games -- a little less than two weeks -- we've seen the Cardinals and Brewers lose some of their luster in the NL Central and the Phillies go from 110 wins to a struggling offense. We've even seen Carlos Zambrano be the calm, collected, sane member of the Cubs staff.

It's a rite of spring to project and to then react and overreact to anything we see on the field in these four weeks of meaningless games. And even when meaningful games start, there's enough time for injuries to happen, players to return and players to emerge to really know what's going to happen at the end.

And that's the fun of it. We don't know. You never know.

Sure, we can all expect a Red Sox-Phillies World Series, but there's no guarantee that'll happen. But if it does, I guarantee the road there will be completely different than we all imagined. And that's why this game is so great. You just never know, even if you think you know.

FEELING 'HITTERISH': Nationals über-prospect Bryce Harper has been nearly as entertaining off the field as on it, as he coin a new term on Wednesday.

From the Washington Post:

"I feel really confident in myself. There's guys who are going to come after you. I want to hit right now. I'm feeling hitterish. I'm trying to go up there and get some hacks in. I'm not going to be here for a long time. I want to try to go up there and get my hits in."

So, what's the definition of "hitterish" Adam Kilgore asked?

"You wake up in the morning, and you're feeling hitterish, you're going to get a hit that day," Harper said. "That's what it is. If you get a hit every day, you're feeling hitterish, for sure. Wake and rake."

Harper had an RBI single in his only at-bat on Wednesday and is hitting .357 this spring (in 14 at-bats).

BELTRAN BETTER: Carlos Beltran won't play in a Grapefruit League until next week, but he does feel "a lot better" and has not been "shut down." He took batting practice and played catch on Wednesday.

The Mets are looking at Willie Harris and Scott Hairston in right field if Beltran can't go, and are also giving Lucas Duda extra work in right field to prepare him to play there if needed. (New York Daily News)

GARLAND GROUNDED: Dodgers starter Jon Garland is expected to start the season on the disabled list after leaving Wednesday's game with a  strained oblique muscle on his left side. He had an MRI on Wednesday and the team is expected to announce the results today.

The team has already lost starter Vicente Padilla for at least the first month of the season after surgery to repair a nerve below his right elbow.

The injuries mean the once-pitching rich Dodgers are down to four starters, although the team won't need a fifth starter until April 12. John Ely and Tim Redding would likely be candidates if Garland and Padilla are still sidelined. (Los Angeles Times)

GOOD ADVICE: Maybe the Dodgers could get that old guy to take the mound -- the one working with Ted Lilly on Wednesday. That guy was Sandy Koufax.

"He still loves to watch baseball, loves the art of pitching," Lilly told MLB.com. "You know he was great. But he's also smart, he's passionate about pitching, he understands and sees things. Sometimes they are little things.

"I enjoy learning about baseball and talking about it with someone like Sandy Koufax, and I enjoy talking about it with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley and Jon Garland. There are always ways to move forward, even if they are small."

ZOOM GROUNDED: Tigers manager Jim Leyland is planning his bullpen to start the season without Joel Zumaya, who has been sidelined with pain in his surgically repaired right elbow this spring.

"I don't think right now, from within camp or by trade, that you can replace a healthy Joel Zumaya -- and I emphasize a healthy  Joel Zumaya," Leyland told MLB.com. "So you have to just keep looking and try to come up with somebody, mostly from within."

The Tigers did go out and spend a lot of money on a set-up man, Joaquin Benoit, so the path leading up to closer Jose Valverde isn't barren. Ryan Perry is expected to handle seventh-inning duties, which he was expected to shoulder with Zumaya.

SALAZAR IMPROVING: Several Braves players said they feared for the worst after minor league manager Luis Salazar was hit in the face by a foul ball on Wednesday. 

"A ball hit that hard, at that short a distance, can certainly kill somebody if it hits them in the right spot," Chipper Jones told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm so glad to hear that he's conscious and breathing on his own."

Salazar was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann and was airlifted to an Orlando hospital. MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports Salazar suffered multiple facial fractures, but did not suffer any brain damage. He was able to interact with family members later Wednesday night.

D-BACKS COACH BREAKS FOOT: While not nearly as serious as Salazar's injury, the timing does take away several light-hearted remarks I could make, but Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams may miss the beginning of the regular season with a broken foot.

Williams took a line drive off the foot while throwing soft toss to his son, Jake, on Monday. He's expected to miss two-to-three weeks. (Arizona Republic)

FIRST AT FIRST: Indians catcher Carlos Santana played his first-ever professional game at first base on Wednesday.

Santana cleanly fielded all nine chances he got at first and also had a double in the Indians' 9-2 loss to the Padres.

The Indians are searching for ways to keep his bat in the lineup and keep the young catcher healthy. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

PILING ON: A New York  storage company is joining in on making jokes about the city's easiest target -- the Mets.

In an ad on the city's subways for Manhattan Mini Storage, it says, "Why leave a city that has six professional sports teams, and also the Mets?" (New York Times)

WHEN HIDEKI MET RICKY: New A's slugger Hideki Matsui has connected with team icon Rickey Henderson, whom Matsui admired growing up in Japan -- and the feeling is mutual. (MLB.com)

HIGH PRAISE: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says 19-year-old left-hander Manny Banuelos is the best pitching prospect he's ever seen.

"I like everything about him," Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com. "The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitchers, he has the ability to do that."

WHITE RETIRES: Former West Virginia and Miami Dolphins quarterback Pat White has retired from baseball.

After White was released by the Dolphins last September, White signed a minor-league contract with the Royals and played in the Fall Instructional League. On Wednesday, the team said White did not report to spring training.

The Dolphins drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft. He was also drafted by the Angels, Reds and Yankees. (Associated Press)

RISING WATER: It's been raining here in Cincinnati, but check out just how much -- this photo from Reds assistant media relations director Jamie Ramsey gives you a big-picture view of just how high the water is on the banks of the Ohio River.

He adds another picture of flood gates set up around Great American Ball Park. (Better Off Red)


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Posted on: March 9, 2011 4:20 pm
 

Pirates to wear vision-enhancing shades this year

By Matt Snyder

When a team is coming off a 57-win season and hasn't had a winning record since 1992, any possible edge over the competition is at a premium. Even some special sunglasses. Enter Maui Jim and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The glasses are said to enhance vision for sports, notably baseball. Patented technology enhances color through the glasses, so whites become even whiter, according to a press release. A baseball would stand out against a green field even more than usual when wearing the glasses due to eliminating all glare from below and behind each lens.

As the company said in the release, the sunglasses basically "squint" for the person wearing them in addition to enhancing the colors.

Of course, if these really are super-glasses of some sort, you can bet the Pirates won't be the only team wearing them in the bigs. You can't beat the system. Better scout, spend and play better -- even if the sunglasses look and feel cool.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:08 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Rogers could be Greinke replacement

By Evan Brunell

RogersDespite being slowed by shoulder tightness, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke believes Mark Rogers a candidate to replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

The right-hander has yet to pitch in a game in spring training, but that could come as soon as this weekend. Rogers was picked with the No. 5 overall pick back in 2005, has been set back by two shoulder surgeries. The first came in January 2007 when he needed his right labrum repaired in the shoulder. A year and a half later, Rogers underwent surgery again to clean up scar tissue. That caused him to miss all of 2007 and 2008, but he returned in 2009 with a sterling campaign, albeit at high-Class A.

Rogers took another step forward in 2010 as a 24-year-old, making 24 starts at Double-A with a 3.71 ERA. He also made one start in Triple-A and then was called up to the majors where he contributed 10 innings, coughing up just two earned runs and three walks against 11 strikeouts. Rogers' injury is still enough of a concern that his future is considered to be a reliever, but it's too early to make that permanent switch, as his talent is still high despite struggling with control as his 5.6 BB/9 mark in the minors last season indicates.

Related

The Brewers have virtually no depth behind the front five for the rotation, partly a casualty of all the money and players invested in Greinke and fellow newcomer Shaun Marcum. Rogers, along with Manny Parra, should be considered the front-runners to replace Greinke. Parra is a failed starter who profiles better in the bullpen, but could be asked to fill in until Greinke returns. Past that, the Brewers could ask 21-year-old Wily Peralta to fill in, but he has just eight starts in Double-A as his highest level reached.

Amaury Rivas is a better bet as the 25-year-old posted a 3.37 ERA in 25 starts for Double-A last season. Still, the choices here are lacking. Milwaukee will certainly be on the prowl for starters that become available later on in spring training, but don't expect a deal for someone like Kevin Slowey. After all, whoever the Brewers acquire will be bumped from the rotation upon Greinke's arrival. That limits the Brewers to internal options who either have options or would move to the bullpen or externally, those Milwaukee wouldn't mind parting with after only a few starts.

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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