Tag:Brett Gardner
Posted on: July 9, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Jeter gets hit No. 3,000

Derek Jeter

By Evan Brunell


The Jeter Watch comes to an end as the longtime Yankees shortstop rifled a home run on a full count from David Price into left field for his 3,000th hit, just the second time anyone has ever hit a homer for the milestone that only 27 other players have reached. But Jeter didn't just settle for 3,000, a five-hit day propelled him to 3,003 for his career.

"Hitting a home run was the last thing I was thinking about," Jeter said. "Something I will remember for the rest of my life."

More importantly, his fifth hit was an RBI single to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning over the Rays. Mariano Rivera, who made his debut with the Yankees in the same year as Jeter, picked up his 22nd save to give the Yankees the victory on what was Jeter's day in every sense of the word.

In the third inning, Jeter fought Price to a full count in the bottom of the third with one out by looking at a fastball low for a ball, then seeing an outside strike on a breaking ball called. Another low fastball for a ball followed before he rifled a breaking pitch foul. Yet again, he passed on a low fastball for a ball then rifled two straight foul balls before driving the next pitch into the bleachers to become the first Yankee ever to reach the coveted milestone. You can see the pitch breakdown in the graphic on the right, courtesy MLB.com's GameDay, with No. 8 signifying the home run.

Watch Jeter's 3,000th hit here. 

Strike zoneOther than Jeter, only Wade Boggs of the Rays has hit a home run for his 3,000th hit, and Jeter is the 11th player to earn all 3,000 with the same club.

 "Congratulations, first of all, to Derek Jeter on joining the 3,000 hit club. It is an exclusive honor, achieved by only a select group, that not many people can call their own. It is a monumental achievement," Boggs said in a statement. "I had the opportunity to play with Derek when he was a rookie in 1996, and I had no doubts that Derek would reach this milestone. He is a very consistent player and he never deviated from his game."

As Jeter headed to first, Casey Kotchman tipped his cap upon rounding first base in a classy gesture. The Rays, who had voted not to play a split double-header today in what some felt was a gambit to avoid Jeter getting 3,000 against the team, applauded on both the field and bench -- including Jeter's former teammate in Johnny Damon -- as the Yankees spent several minutes congratulating Jeter, with Jorge Posada, a longtime close friend, embracing him with a bear hug.

 "It was tremendous," Jeter's father, Charles, told YES. "I can't describe how I was feeling. ... Very emotional for me, very happy for him."

No. 2,999 had come in the first inning, with a groundball single to lead off the game. Prior to Jeter's homer, Brett Gardner just narrowly missed a safe call at first on his own groundout, and Mark Teixeira followed Jeter with a groundball into left field. It is currently tied 1-1, as Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce hit a home run in the second.

Jeter led off the fifth with a double and singled in the sixth before recording his fifth hit in the eighth. It was his third career five-hit game and first since June 21, 2005. He became the second player to have five hits in the same game that he recorded his 3,000th career hit, joining Craig Biggio who had five hits when he joined the club in 2007.

Jeter's milestone hits
Hit Date Details Pitcher
No. 1 May 30, 1995 Single at Mariners Tim Belcher
No. 1,000 September 25, 2000 Single vs. Tigers Steve Sparks
No. 2,000 May 26, 2006 Single vs. Royals Scott Elarton
No. 2,722 September 11, 2009 Single vs. Orioles Chris Tillman
No. 3,000 July 9, 2011 Home run vs. Rays David Price

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Picking the game's best defensive players

Alcides Escobar

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The All-Star Game is supposed to showcase the game's best players, but when it comes to position players, we all know offense trumps all. The players with the best offensive numbers are headed to Phoenix next week.

Defense gets its due after the season with the Gold Gloves, but too often those are rooted in offensive numbers, as well. So, while everyone is focused on batting average, home run totals and OPS, I prefer to look at the guys getting it done on D.

Of course, one of the reasons we focus on offense is it's just easier to look at and interpret those numbers. The quantification of baseball defense is still one of the great last frontiers of statistical analysis -- there are attempts at advanced numbers measuring defense and even some very good, useful ones. But even with UZR/150, plus/minus, runs saved and range factor, it's tough to fully appreciate defense without watching a player day-in and day-out.

Even the best metrics can't tell the whole story, but they do have a start. One of the best stats for defense, UZR -- or Ultimate Zone Rating -- doesn't exactly tell  the whole story even after an entire season's worth of data. At this point, UZR gives just a snapshot. That's why I'll use UZR/150 -- UZR rate per 150 games. I also looked at John Dewan's plus/minus system and runs saved stats.

We here at Eye On Baseball watch a lot of baseball, but it's still tough to get a real good handle on all the defensive players in baseball, so I'll use my observations plus statistics, both advanced and traditional in picking the game's best fielders.

Matt WietersC: Catcher is one of the toughest positions to judge -- or at least quantify -- because it's so much different than all the other positions on the field. Catcher is easily the most demanding defensive position on the field. The likes of Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz are known as the gold standard for catcher's defense, but I'm going with a young player who has showed incredible improvement and proven to be one of the best in the game, and that's Baltimore's Matt Wieters.

Check out this play from April, it's one that's stuck with me all year, as Wieters blocks the plate from Derek Jeter.

Adrian Gonzalez1B: Defense is often taken for granted at first base because it's assumed it's not an important position and just a place to stick a slugger. Well, Boston's Adrian Gonzalez is a slugger, but he's also one of the game's best all-around players. A good first baseman -- and Gonzalez is certainly that -- makes the entire defense better. He leads the way in UZR/150 at 11.6 and has just two errors this season. 

Brandon Phillips2B: This one is tough for me, because I believe in the numbers, but I also believe in my eyes. Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist is beloved by the advanced metrics, logging a 20.4 UZR/150 and a +11 plus/minus, easily the best at second base in both categories. However, it's tough to go against the Reds' Brandon Phillips, who I've seen most days for the last four years. Phillips not only makes the spectacular plays, but he also makes the routine ones. The two-time Gold Glove winner has just two errors to Zobrist's five. Dustin Pedroia is also in the conversation, with a +4 plus/minus and an 18.5 UZR/150, but my eyes tell me it's tough to play much better at second base than Phillips. In this one, I'm going with my gut (it's bigger than my brain anyway) and picking Phillips.

Alcides EscobarSS: It's tough to imagine the difference the Royals see in defense at shortstop this season, going from one of the game's worst defenders in Yuniesky Betancourt to Alcides Escobar, who has been exceptional at short (the opposite could be said about the Brewers). Escobar has seven errors -- just two fewer than Betancourt, but his range is outstanding. He leads all shortstop with 285 assists and second with 58 double plays. As for the advanced metrics, he and Troy Tulowitzki both grade out with a 14.2 UZR/150 and Escobar edges the Rockies' shortstop in Dewan's plus/minus, +17 to +13. Tulowitzki is by far a better all-around player, but Escobar gets the nod here by the slightest of margins.

Alex Rodriguez3B: Alex Rodriguez may be the most scrutinized player of all time, so it's easy to forget just how great of a player he's been throughout his career. Unlike many, his offensive numbers seem to overshadow his defensive prowess. It seems like this season he's been completely healthy for the first time in years and it's showing up in his play at third base. Rodriguez's 21.2 UZR/150 is the best in the game at third base and he has seven fewer errors than the next guy on the list, Adrian Beltre of the Rangers.

Brett GardnerLF: This may be the easiest of all the positional picks, as Brett Gardner has played a nearly flawless left field for the Yankees this season. Gardner combines great speed with good fundamentals to become one of the best defensive players in the game. Gardner dominated the advanced stats, scoring +19 in the Dewan plus/minus system and has a 38.1 UZR/150. He has one error and four assists, as his reputation keeps runners close. Sam Fuld may make more highlights, but Gardner makes more plays.

Shane VictorinoCF: Shane Victorino has played a flawless center field this season, at least according to the official scorers around baseball. Victorino doesn't have an error this season and also has the best UZR/150 of any center fielder in the game at 24.3. Dewan's plus/minus prefers Minnesota's Denard Span, but I'm sticking with the Flying Hawaiian.

Torii HunterRF: Torii Hunter is one of the game's all-time best defensive players, but moved to a new position last season with the emergence of Peter Bourjos in center field. Hunter's gone from one of the game's great defensive center fielders to maybe its best right fielder. Hunter has a +16 in Dewan's plus/minus, while UZR/150 likes him less than Shin-Soo Choo or J.D. Drew. Add in the error-less performance this season, gets the nod. We've seen so many of his great catchers over the years, but he's been able to show off his arm in right this season, picking up eight assists so far this season.

Mark BuehrleP: White Sox starter Mark Buehrle has won the last two American League Gold Gloves as a pitcher and certainly deserves those honors. His 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame belies a very good athlete, who covers a lot of ground in front of his mound. The left-hander then makes strong, accurate throws, just as you'd expect from a pitcher.



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Posted on: June 24, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Pepper: Oswalt hints he may be done

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: Just why did Jim Riggleman ditch his job? CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss Riggleman, Ubaldo Jimenez and more. Check it out.

OSWALT END?: It's not just that Roy Oswalt is hurt -- leaving Thursday's start with the Cardinals after just two innings -- but that he may have pitched his last game ever.

Oswalt will not only likely miss his next start, he could also be done. He's already hinted at retirement and with a back injury, it may not be worth it for Oswalt to come back.

After Thursday's outing, Oswalt sounded anything but confident in his return. David Hale of the News Journal has a full transcript of Oswalt's postgame comments, and they don't sound like the comments of someone who is confident it'll be an easy road back.

Heres' the question and answer that says it all to me:

Q: Do you allow yourself to think about your career at this point?

A: I've had a pretty good one.

That sounds like someone who is content with walking away if he gets bad news soon.

We may know more Monday after his scheduled MRI.

HOT SEAT: Edwin Rodriguez didn't last a full calendar year as the Marlins manager and the Cubs' Mike Quade could follow that lead. Quade's on the hot seat (even if general manager Jim Hendry's seat should be hotter). [Chicago Tribune]

LI'L' GOOSE: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle compared closer Joel Hanrahan to Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, and after stifling a laugh, John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times takes a look at the comparison and sees some parallels.

SCOUTING DARVISH: Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was scheduled to see Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish's start on Friday. Darvish may be the top free-agent pitcher this season if he comes to the United States, as expected. The Braves and Twins reportedly had scouts at his last start, when he picked up just his second loss of the season. It was one of his worst starts of the season and he still gave up just one earned run, allowing nine hits and striking out 10 in eight innings. [YakyuBaka.com]

A'S OPEN TO DEAL: The sharks are circling in Oakland, as scouts have been checking out outfielder Josh Willingham, infielder Mark Ellis and left-handed relievers Craig Breslow and Brian Fuentes. [San Francisco Chronicle]

ANOTHER LOOK: Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter, he of the tomahawk motion, looks forward to facing teams another time so he can prove he's more than a gimmick pitcher. We'll see. [MLB.com]

NICE RIDE: The Toledo Mud Hens players are going to miss Brandon Inge, who was activated by the Tigers on Thursday. During his rehab trip with Detroit's Triple-A team, Inge sprung for a limo for several players to take them from Louisville, Ky., to Columbus, Ohio, skipping the planned bus ride. [Detroit News]

DEJA VU: A St. Louis ace 1-7 through June? (Well, now 2-7 after Thursday night's 2-7) It's been done before. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Dispatch  compares Chris Carpenter's 1-7 start to that of John Tudor's 26 years ago. 

CABRERA'S CASE POSTPONED: The hearing for Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera's DUI arrest has been postponed again and rescheduled for July 12. That's the day of the All-Star Game. Cabrera, however, isn't required to be present for this hearing, though, so he can still go to the All-Star Game. [Detroit News]

NO DECISION: Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said he'd prefer not to negotiate during the season (and that doesn't make Jim Riggleman happy), but said it's not a rule. Pittsburgh starter Paul Maholm has said he'd like to sign an extension to stay in Pittsburgh. [MLB.com]

GARDNER'S D: A cool story here from ESPNNewYork.com's Mark Simon looking at the defense of Brett Gardner by talking to scouts, players and stats folks. 

BUCCO FEVER: If you haven't noticed, the Pirates (yes, the team in Pittsburgh) are in a pennant race. Sure, it's not even July yet, but we're talking the Pirates. The folks in Pittsburgh are beginning to take notice. [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review]

LAWRIE DELAYED: Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie was all but set to be called up at the beginning of the month, but before he could get the call, he was hit by a pitch and broke his left hand. Now he's having trouble gripping the bat and may not be ready until August. [CBCSports.ca]

FIGGINS DILEMMA: If you're following the Mariners, there's plenty of positives around the team -- including a record just a game under .500. But there's one big concern, Chone Figgins. The question for the Mariners is what to do with Figgins, who has two years and $17 million left on his contract. [Seattle Times]

BROXTON'S RETURN: Even when Jonathan Broxton comes off the disabled list, he won't automatically return to closing for the Dodgers, manager Don Mattingly said. [Los Angeles Times]

RETURN OF THE SPITTER: Here's an interesting theory (that I'm pretty sure I don't buy, but still interesting to think about) from Mat Kovach of the Hardball Times -- is the rise of pitching because of the return of the spitball?

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Posted on: June 21, 2011 10:11 pm
 

Gardner won't lead off when Jeter returns

By Evan Brunell

GardnerThe Yankees originally had Brett Gardner leading off for the Yankees, but he was so awful in his first 18 games that he was booted to the ninth spot. He returned to the top once Derek Jeter hit the disabled list, but will get the boot out of the leadoff spot again once Jeter returns.

“Derek’s been our leadoff guy,” manager Joe Girardi said according to Lohud.com.

Just because he's been the leadoff hitter doesn't mean he should be. Without these first 18 games, Gardner is hitting .356/.438/.521 on the season, far better than Jeter's .260/.324/.324 line, propped up by an ability to hit left-handers. Gardner's been scorching hot as of late too, hitting .472 in his last 11 games. He's done this by moving closer to the plate, which forces him to attack pitches, whereas prior he would stay back and slap the ball the other way.

It's not just the leadoff spot Gardner has struggled to stay in, however. He's taken a seat against left-handed pitching on a regular basis to make room for Andruw Jones, despite not really deserving to take a seat.

“Obviously the ultimate goal is to be an everyday player,” Gardner said. “But I understand that obviously there’s other guys that are going to get at-bats and I understand that. That’s part of it… Maybe a little bit [frustrating] just from the aspect of, when you get on a roll you want to be in there and play every day and try and keep things going. Also, if your not getting a lot of at-bats against lefties, it’s hard to get better against them.”

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 28, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: March 28, 2011 10:38 am
 

Pepper: Learning curve for Dominicans

Dominican Republic

By Evan Brunell

Imagine being thrust in a new country where you don't know the language and are expected to perform at the top of your game in the job assigned to you. Should you fail, embarrassment awaits you back home.

Such is the life of teenaged Dominicans who make the leap to full-season ball in the United States. The Giants' Gabriel Cornier is no exception, but he's receiving a lot more assistance these days than ex-Giants manager Felipe Alou did when he went to the United States to pursue baseball. While Alou would eventually be called up in 1958, and enjoy a productive career both on and off the field, the early going was not easy.

Back then, Spanish was barely known, and Alou didn't know English at all. So when his manager told his team certain information one day, Alou pretended to understand.

"I come to the park with nothing but the clothes I was wearing, and I saw other players bring suitcases and I thought, 'What's going on here?' " Alou reminisced. "There was a bus parked outside and I see all the players get inside the bus, so I get in the bus. I had nothing.

"We went on a nine-day road trip. Nine days. I don't say anything because you don't want to sound stupid, but the guys figured it out and bought me another pair of pants and another shirt."

While Cornier has more support around him, with Spanish-speaking coaches and an English trainer on hand, even in the U.S. and received basic English training in the Dominican. However, it is still difficult for players, who are terrified of being released.

"You come over here, you leave your family there, they're putting all of their future on you making it," Alou said. :Every time their name is called, they think it's to be released. How do you tackle that? You cannot tell the kid, 'We're not going to release you' because maybe you do next week.

"If the Latinos go back home, what do they have there? Baseball is the only thing they have." (San Francisco Chronicle)

CINDERELLA STORY: Tom Wilhelmsen is 27 years old, has never pitched above Class A and was out of baseball from 2004-08 before pitching in indy ball in 2010. That leaves just 2003 and 2010 as seasons of experience with a major-league team, but the righty is one of eight candidates left for seven relief spots. (MLB.com)

LABOR PEACE: Worried that the labor negotiations for baseball could end up as contentious as the NBA and NFL negotiations? Don't worry -- an agreement could possibly be reached by season's end, and even the player's union is willing to talk about changes in revenue-sharing formulas. Even the mild hint of a work stoppage would be a shocker. (Boston Globe)

RIGHTY, LEFTY: The Yankees appear poised to move forward with a lineup that will have Brett Gardner leading off against right-handers. Derek Jeter will lead off against lefties as the team takes advantage of platoon splits. Also, coming Monday will be a majority of the final roster decisions for the Yankees. (The Journal News)

STADIUM ISSUES: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim can opt out of their stadium lease in 2016, but that's unlikely to happen given the process of building a new stadium would have to start by 2012 at the absolute latest. Angels owner Arte Moreno for his part believes the current 45-year-old stadium is viable, simply requiring structural upgrades. One potential issue is the city refusing to assist in renovations due to the team's name change that embarrassed the city. (Los Angeles Times)

PLAY THE MAN: The Diamondbacks have a power-hitting first baseman, but insist on not giving him an extended shot. Instead, Arizona will go with aging Russell Branyan and Yankees minor-leaguer Juan Miranda. That leaves Allen yet again on the outside looking in even as he brims with talent. It's time for Arizona to let Allen go to another organization to get his shot, Eric Seidman opines. (Fangraphs)

WANTED: LEFTY RELIEVER: The Mets are looking for a second left-handed reliever to help combat the potent lefty bats in the division. My suggestion? Take a look at lefty Ron Mahay, who was cut by the Dodgers Saturday. (Sports Illustrated via Twitter)

A TASTE OF CHICAGO: The Cubs have switched hot dog and pizza vendors, electing to remain with Chicago staples for each. Vienna Beef returns as the hot-dog supplier after last representing Chicago in Wrigley Field back in 1981 while D'Agostino's pizza replaces Connie's, which also lost out on acting as the White Sox's pizza provider, who will go with Nestle's DiGiorno's. The Cubs are emphasizing Chicago vendors to give fans -- of rough around 37 percent are from outside Illinois a year -- "an authentic Chicago experience." (Chicago Tribune)

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PHOTO: July 13, 2009; St. Louis, MO, USA; National League players Hanley Ramirez (second left), Albert Pujols (second left), Francisco Cordero (right), and Miguel Tejada (second right) pose with Dominican Republic minister of sports Felipe Payano during the 2009 All-Star workout day at Busch Stadium.

Posted on: March 7, 2011 12:45 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Yankees' Gardner working on bunting

Brett Gardner

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In today's Pepper, we talked about Brett Gardner maybe getting a shot at supplanting Derek Jeter as the Yankees leadoff man. It makes perfect sense, Gardner is crazy fast and gets on base at a good clip.

The one thing he may have to improve upon is bunting. In 995 plate appearances in the big leagues, he has just 10 bunt hits. You'd think with his speed, which is truly elite, he'd try to lay down more bunts. 

"The last few years, I just kinda got away from it, it's something I didn't really try to do, I guess it's something I didn't use as much as I should have," Gardner told CBSNewYork.com. "It's not something I've completely lost, it's something I'm going to continue to work at, something that will make more of a complete player and give me another weapon to use to get on base, get guys over and put the ball in the defense's hands and make them make mistakes."

Gardner had 18 bunt hits in 251 plate appearances at Double-A Trenton in 2009 in 2006, so it's not like he can't do it.

I'm not normally a big fan of the bunt as an offensive weapon, but for someone with superior speed such as Gardner, it can be a game-changer. At the very least, just the danger of him laying down a bunt could benefit the Yankees.

Gardner said he's been good at sacrifice bunts, but needs to work on bunting for hits.

"The thing for me is, I could sit out here all day and practice and do it right and do it right and do it right, but in game situation, your adrenaline is pumping and I'm always try to put the ball on the ground and run," Gardner said. "So it's a matter of staying in there a split-second longer and making sure I get the bunt down and a good bunt and then run as opposed to running out of the box and losing my angle and letting the bat head drop and fouling the ball off, which is a bad habit I've gotten in the last couple of years. I'm much better on a  regular sacrifice bunt because I take my time and I don't rush and I make sure I put the ball on the ground where I want to and for the most part I've been able to do that when I slow things down."

Gardner had seven bunt hits last season, so he is working on it. Still, he was successful on just 36.8 percent of his attempts for a base bunt hit, it's something with work he could improve upon.

The Angels' Erick Aybar and Julio Borbon of the Rangers led the big leagues last season with 18 bunt hits, while only seven more players had as many as 10 bunt hits. Texas' Elvis Andrus had 13, while Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Juan Pierre and Nyjer Morgan each had 12 bunts hits and Michael Bourn had 10. In that group, Blanco had the best percentage at 57.1 percent, while Pierre was the lowest at 21.8 percent.


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Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Pepper: Raise a glass


By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Orioles are a trendy pick to be better in 2011, and they should be. But no matter how the Orioles do on the field, things will be better this season in Baltimore because Natty Boh is back.

Before the take-over of the beer industry by the big brewing companies, regional beers were king -- be it National Bohemian (known as Natty Boh in Baltimore) in the mid-Atlantic, Hudepohl in Cincinnati or Hamm's in Minnesota.

These were different than the great microbrews of today, they were the macrobrews of yesterday. It's what you remember your grandpa dinking, whether it was an Olympia in Washington or an Old Style in Chicago. These were American, working-class beers. And they belonged with baseball, at the ballpark and at home, listening along to the local nine on the radio.

Well, one of these greats, National Bohemian, is back where it belongs, at the ballpark at Camden Yards. And for that, America and baseball are better than they were before. (Baltimore Sun)

For more fun, check out this video of old Natty Boh commercials (with an added bonus of Maryland history):

GARDNER MAY PUSH JETER FROM LEADOFF: The Yankees front office wants Brett Gardner, not Derek Jeter, leading off, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes.

Jeter has batted first or second for most of his career, but it seems natural to put the speedy Gardner atop the lineup. Gardner had a .383 on-base percentage last season, along with 47 stolen bases. He also saw an MLB-best 4.6 pitchers per plate appearance, giving him a good case to bat first for the Yankees.

HOLD 'EM OR FOLD 'EM: Boston's Mike Cameron had his name thrown around a bit this weekend after Philadelphia lost Domonic Brown to a hand injury, but with J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury roaming the outfield, is it wise for the Red Sox to get rid of any outfielder?

Although Cameron is making $7.5 million this season, that would hamper many other teams, but not the Red Sox. Cameron is also a rarity in the Red Sox clubhouse, a right-handed hitter. (Boston Globe)

HART SIDELINED: Brewers right fielder Corey Hart missed the last week after straining a muscle in his side. He was expected to miss two weeks, but after a setback during a throwing exercise on Saturday, Hart said he doesn't expect to be back in the original timeframe.

However, manager Ron Roenicke said he expects Hart to be ready for opening day. (MLB.com)

MOM KNOWS BEST: Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli said he was feeling sorry for himself after suffering a broken bone in his left foot, until his mother set him straight.

"I woke up positive and [said] 'Let's do it,'" Cervelli told the New York Daily News. "That's it. Start the work, the therapy and get better. A lot of people in the world don't have legs or arms; I'm healthy. I just have something in my foot, but it's going to be OK."

MONTERO MAY BACKUP: Cervelli's injury may have opened the door for Yankees top prospect, Jesus Montero.

Many thought the Yankees would want him to play every day and not have him break camp just to back up Russell Martin. One who doesn't buy that theory, apparently, is Brian Cashman.

"There is a lot of knowledge that a catcher has to absorb that you just won't get at Triple-A," Cashman told FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. "If it's the second week of April and he has only pinch-hit or started one game, I won't consider it a lost week. There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that he has never experienced before.

"He can watch, see how [Martin] goes through it -- pre-game, advance scouting meetings, all those things. When he gets in there in the future, he'll be fully prepared, rather than just sink or swim."

The Yankees know Montero's bat can play right away, but many question his ability to stick behind the plate.

TRADE STUNG SAUNDERS: Former first-rounder Joe Saunders said he was upset last season when the Angels traded him to Arizona.

"I was pissed off. I'm not going to lie to you," Saunders told the Orange County Register.

Saunders said it was weird heading into the visitor's clubhouse at Tempe Diablo Stadium, the Angels' spring training home.

MULLET MANIA: Travis Schlichting has the greatest mullet in baseball history, and Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan has the story.

AUTHOR-PITCHER: Rays reliever Dirk Hayhurst -- better known as the author of The Bullpen Gospels than anything he's done on the field -- said he's walked a fine line between being truthful and writing a tell-all.

Hayhurst's often hilarious characters in the book (really, it's worth checking out, a fun, quick read), are real, but he doesn't name names. He's also working on a second book and has a contract for a third, but those will also be done in his particular style, where the only specific player you get dirt on is Hayhurst himself.

The Rays seem like a perfect fit, if only for the fact that when asked about Hayhurst, manager Joe Maddon used the word "ameliorated" in his response. (St. Petersburg Times)

OLIVO CONFIDENT: Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo had a scare on Saturday when he pulled up lame with a hamstring injury and had to be helped off the field. Olivo will have an MRI today, but he told reporters on Sunday that he's confident he'll be ready for opening day. (Seattle Times)

BOOF REMAINS A MYSTERY: Even Boof Bonser doesn't know how his name came about, even though he's legally changed it. (Star-Ledger)

FORTUITOUS CUT: Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is pretty happy he cut reliever Cristhian Martinez last year when both were with the Marlins. Martinez was optioned to Triple-A at the end of spring training last season and then designated him for assignment on April 3. The Braves signed him and now he's competing for the final bullpen spot.

Martinez struck out five in two innings against the Nationals on Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

MAYBIN MAY RETURN: San Diego's Cameron Maybin may return to action today after suffering concussion symptoms when he hit his head on a post during Wednesday's practice.

Maybin, the team's newly acquired center fielder, took batting practice on Sunday and said he felt good afterwards. (MLB.com)

D-LEE STILL OUT: Derrek Lee won't make his debut with the Orioles in the Grapefruit League until Wednesday at the earliest. (Baltimore Sun)

PEAVY TO MAKE SECOND START: White Sox starter Jake Peavy said he's sore from Saturday's start, but he's good enough to start on Wednesday. (Chicago Tribune)

FIRST BASE BATTLE: Here's something you don't hear very often -- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said defensive will be a key component to the team's search for a regular first baseman.

Russell Branyan, Brandon Allen and Juan Miranda are the other leading candidates for that job. (Arizona Republic)

ZAUN TO RETIRE: Veteran catcher Gregg Zaun is set to retire after 16 seasons in the big leagues.

Zaun, 39, was in the Padres camp. He's a career .252/.344/.388 hitter, but better known for his defense, spending most of his time as a backup catcher.

His retirement gives Rob Johnson the inside track at the Padres' backup job. (Sportsnet.ca)


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Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Imagining an MLB Combine

Michael Bourn

While our Eye on Football brethren are in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine not getting to watch guys run and jump, it got me to thinking how much fun an MLB Combine might be.

Among the drills the NFL draft hopefuls do that would be applicable to baseball are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical leap and the Wonderlic Test. So who would be the best baseball players to participate? That's where the fun begins.

40-yard dash: Maybe for baseball, it'd be more fun to line the guys up and have them go 90 feet.

Favorite: Michael Bourn, Astros. A Sports Illustrated poll of players during spring training had Crawford picked as the fastest player in the majors, but the less-heralded Bourn finished second. Bourn has won two straight Gold Gloves in center, and much of it is because he can seemingly cover the entire outfield. In a division blessed with fast center fielders (Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs), Bourn covers more ground than anyone. Oh, and he's led the National League in stolen bases each of the last two seasons.

Others: Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Luis Durango, Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutchen, Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford

Adam DunnBench press: At the combine, players bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, testing not only strength, but endurance. For baseball, maybe the best test would be a home-run derby-like format, but adding the distances of balls hit.

Favorite: Adam Dunn, White Sox. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Jose Bautista had more "no-doubt" home runs than Dunn (19 to 16), but Dunn's homers averaged nearly 10 feet more, with an average "true distance" of 411.1 feet. Mark Reynolds' 32 homers averaged 415.6 feet, so he's certainly in the discussion. Dunn's been consistently hitting long home runs, so he gets the nod.

Others: Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mark Reynolds, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Stanton, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jose Bautista

Dexter FowlerVertical leap: While it's not something that you associate with baseball, it's a good test of athleticism, but is also practical at the wall as players just to rob home runs.

Favorite: Dexter Fowler, Rockies. At 6-foot-5, Fowler was recruited as a basketball player in high school, but he showed his leaping ability in an unusual place in the 2009 NLDS. In the eighth inning of Game 4, Fowler was on first when Todd Helton hit a grounder to Chase Utley. Fowler was running toward Utley and hurdled him. Utley then threw errantly to Jimmy Rollins and Fowler was safe. (You can see the play here.)

Others: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Shane Victorino, Mike Cameron, Hunter Pence

Craig BreslowWonderlic test: A 12-minute, 50-question test used for testing applicants for learning and problem-solving. Harvard's Pat McInally is the only confirmed 50 score at the combine, while another Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored either a 48 or 49 in nine minutes. So, it makes sense to look to the Ivy League for our baseball picks.

Favorite: Craig Breslow, Athletics. Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Seriously. The Sporting News called him the smartest player in sports, while the Wall Street Journal suggested he may be the smartest man in the world. Not only that, batters hit just .194/.272/.348 against him last season, with lefties hitting .181/.245/.340 against him.

Others: Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Fernando Perez, Mark DeRosa

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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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