Tag:Joe Saunders
Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am
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Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:

 

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 

 

2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 

 

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.

 

4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.



6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.

 

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.

 

8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

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Posted on: September 23, 2011 4:52 pm
 

On Deck: Braves face Strasburg

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Stephen StrasburgBraves' tall task: Stephen Strasburg gets to pitch in a pennant race -- well, sort of. The Braves are trying to hold on to their two-game lead in the National League wild card race, but St. Louis' loss on Thursday gave Atlanta a little breathing room. With six games remaining, the Braves have a 75 percent shot of hanging on to the wild card, according to Coolstandings.com. It can't be too good to see Strasburg on the hill in such an important game. Strasburg hasn't recorded a victory since returning from Tommy John surgery, but that's through no fault of his own. In three starts, the right-hander has allowed two runs on nine hits in 14 innings, while striking out 11 batters and walking none. Atlanta beat Strasburg last season, getting to him for six hits and four runs (three earned) in 6 1/3 innings. At that point, it was the most any team had scored against Strasburg. Tim Hudson, 15-10 with a 3.19 ERA, starts for Atlanta. Braves at Nationals, 7:05 p.m ET

Back home: Not only does it rhyme, but the Jays-Rays matchup has quite a bit on the line. For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Rays are back home. Tampa went 5-6 on their 11-game road trip to Baltimore, Boston and New York. Tampa Bay is slightly better at home (42-33, .560 winning percentage) than on the road (44-37, .543 winning percentage) and have won seven of their last eight games at Tropicana Field. David Price takes the mound for Tampa Bay after leaving his last start when he was hit in the chest by a ball. Toronto right-hander Brandon Morrow is coming off an eight-inning scoreless performance against the Yankees, getting his first win since Aug. 17. Blue Jays at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET

Last chance: With a win on Friday, the Diamondbacks will clinch the National League West, but the game may be more important to the Giants. San Francisco probably needs to not only win the rest of its six remaining games, but also get some help along the way for a shot at the National League wild card. A loss tonight and the Giants not only are realistically out of the wild card race, but they're also mathematically out of the NL West race. Matt Cain is 4-1 with a 3.97 ERA in five starts against Arizona this season and 2-0 with a 4.26 ERA at Chase Field. Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders was one out away from a shutout in his last start, Sunday in San Diego, and has won his last three starts. His last loss was to the Giants, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits in 5 1/3 innings on Sept. 2. Giants at Diamondbacks, 9:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 4:41 pm
 

On Deck: Verlander chases 21, 'Zona 10 straight

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


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DiamondbacksGiantsGone streaking: Arizona will chase its 10th straight victory Friday night as a series with the Giants open. San Francisco is flagging, six games behind the DBacks and with a tall task at hand. Matt Cain will get the ball with a 2.87 ERA and the task of opening the weekend series with a statement, while Joe Saunders will be the man to go for 'Zona, who has a 3.69 ERA. San Francisco cut ties with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada on Thursday and are recalling a smattering of players to help for the stretch drive, which will be moot if they can't come away with a series win or sweep. To win though, the Giants have to start scoring some runs. Diamondbacks vs. Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET

VerlanderVerlander time: Justin Verlander is appointment-viewing these days. The Tigers ace will take his blazing fastball up against the White Sox, who are 5 1/2 games behind division-leading Detroit. Friday is the first of seven remaining meetings both teams have, and Chicago needs to do well to stay in the race. "I feel like we have to win the series to be really optimistic for the rest of the year," Brent Lillibridge told the Associated Press. "We're ready. We've been playing good baseball." So has Verlander, whose won his last nine games and will tote a 20-5 record and slim 2.39 ERA up against John Danks, a lefty with a 3.63 ERA on the year. White Sox vs. Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET

CuetoCarpenterBattle for second: The streaking Cardinals are winners of their last four, which has pulled them to 7 1/2 games, which is still a tough task.  The Reds, meanwhile, are on a skid having lost four straight to fall to 13 1/2 back. Cincinnati has a pretty good pitcher toeing the mound Friday night in an attempt to finish the year strong and in second place with MLB ERA leader Johnny Cueto going up against Chris Carpenter. Cueto, owner of a 2.05 mark, is coming off a game where he recorded a career-high 11 whiffs, but Carpenter is on a roll himself and has defeated the Reds the last two times out. Reds vs. Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

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Posted on: August 27, 2011 10:57 am
Edited on: August 27, 2011 11:55 am
 

On Deck: Verlander going for 20

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


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Justin VerlanderGoing for 20: Of all the things Justin Verlander has done in his career, he's never won 20 games in a season. He can reach that mark today with a victory over the Twins at Target Field. Since the 28-year-old's first full season in 2006, he's won at least 17 games in five of his six seasons, including 19 in 2009. In his lone season without 17 wins, he had 17 losses in 2008. In addition to a big-league leading 19 wins this season, he's also leading the majors in starts (28), innings pitched (209 2/3), strikeouts (212), WHIP (0.878) and hits per 9 innings (6) -- in short, he's pretty good. Tigers at Twins, 4:10 p.m. ET

Boom or bust: Remember last week when the Diamondbacks had lost six straight games? Since breaking that streak on Tuesday, Arizona hasn't lost, winning their next four games. The two streaks haven't really changed their place in the standings. After beating the Phillies on Aug. 16 (the last of a seven-game winning streak), the Diamondbacks led the NL West by 3 1/2 games. They then lost six in a row and now after winning four in a row, Arizona is still 3 games up on the Giants. Arizona starter Joe Saunders has lost his last three decisions and has a 7.00 ERA in his last three starts, but is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Padres this season. Aaron Harang starts for the Padres, going for his 13th win of the season. While conventional wisdom has been that Harang has benefitted from his new spacious home at Petco Park, he's 6-0 on the road (although, his ERA is more than a run higher away from Petco, where he's 6-3). Padres at Diamondbacks, 8:10 p.m.

Giants rookie takes the hill: Astros starter Brett Myers will be make the 244th start of his career today against the Giants, while San Francisco's Eric Surkamp will be making his first. The left-handed Surkamp, 24, is 10-4 with a 2.02 ERA for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. The North Carolina State product doesn't overpower anyone, but has a big, breaking curveball that is used as a strikeout pitch. In his last start, Surkamp allowed just two hits and struck out four in eight shutout innings. With Zack Wheeler traded to New York for Carlos Beltran, Surkamp is the team's top prospect and San Francisco hopes he can stabilize the fifth spot in the rotation, filling in for the injured Jonathan Sanchez, the ineffective Dan Runzler and the injured and ineffective Barry Zito. Astros at Giants, 9:05 p.m.


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Posted on: August 22, 2011 5:26 pm
 

On Deck: Playoff preview in Texas

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


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Playoff preview: If the playoffs started now, the Red Sox and Rangers would play each other in the first round of the playoffs. Boston, a half-game behind the Yankees in the AL East, could move into a tie for first with the idle Yankees with a victory -- the loser of the division will likely face the Rangers in October. Left-hander Erik Bedard hasn't won as a member of the Red Sox yet, but has pitched well in his three starts, allowing no more than three earned runs in any of the three and allowing just one earned run in six innings in a loss to the Rays last week. Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 appearances (four starts) against the Red Sox in his career. Red Sox at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET

Justin VerlanderC.J. WilsonPremier matchup: The Tigers' Justin Verlander has a chance to exceed his 2010 win total before September as he goes for No. 19 on Monday. Last year he won 18 games and he matched that with a victory over the Twins on Tuesday. Verlander has won six consecutive starts sincee his last defeat, July 15 against the White Sox. Detroit enters the game with its largest lead of the season in the AL Central at 4 1/2 games over the Indians. While Verlander hasn't lost since last month, Rays starter Jeff Niemann hasn't lost since May 4, going 7-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his last 10 starts and 4-0  with a 1.81 ERA in six starts since the All-Star Break. Tigers at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET

Snakes slide: The Diamondbacks have lost five games in a row, but still lead the NL West by one-and-a-half games over the San Francisco Giants. Arizona's slide comes while the Giants are struggling as well, going 4-6 in their last 10 and 7-13 in their last 20 and have serious injury concerns. Arizona is six games into a 10-game road trip, winning just one. Left-hander Joe Saunders beat Washington on June 4, throwing seven shutout innings with five strikeouts and is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in three career starts against the Nations. Washington's Ross Detwiller has only faced the Diamondbacks once, allowing seven runs (four earned) and nine hits in just four-plus innings last August. Diamondbacks at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Beat Down: Nick Piecoro on the Diamondbacks



By C. Trent Rosecrans

If newspapers still existed and you opened one up this morning, you'd open up the sports section and see that the Arizona Diamondbacks were in first place in the National League West. It's one of those things that nobody really expected to see on Aug. 12, but there it is. I sure didn't expect it, and wasn't sure I knew exactly how it happened. So, I figured I could research the whole thing and write something about it, or I could go to someone who has been there the entire season, so I e-mailed my buddy Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Piecoro is in his fifth season covering the Diamondbacks. I first met him in the press box at Chase Field in 2007 when he was surfing my iTunes library from his computer and sought me out to talk music. Since then, we've had numerous pizzas and beers together, talking baseball and, more often, music. So when I thought about the Diamondbacks, I quickly thought of Nick. And then I thought this might be a good weekly feature looking at some of the teams around MLB from the people who see them the most and know them the best. So, for the first installment of the Beat Down, here's Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

Eye On Baseball:  So, really, first-place Diamondbacks? Really? Give me the short version of how this happened...

Nick Piecoro: I know, right? Well, there are a bunch of reasons. I’ll start with the emergence of Justin Upton, who has turned into a force in the middle of the lineup, a threat to do damage every time he’s up. They lead the league in home runs, so there’s a real element of a quick-strike offense. And if you look at their Baseball-Reference page, pretty much everyone in the lineup is at least close to a 100 OPS+, meaning there are no black holes in the lineup.

Then there’s the pitching staff. Ian Kennedy has pitched like a No. 1, and Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter (he of tomahawk-throwing fame) have slotted in well behind him. In the bullpen, they no longer cough up leads every night, and that’s thanks mainly to Kevin Towers acquisitions David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.

EOB: Did you see this coming? I sure didn't. I will say, our senior writers -- Scott Miller and Danny Knobler -- did say the D-Backs would be interesting this year, but I don't think any of us expected this.

NP: No way, not me. In spring training, they were a disaster. Part of the reason they’ve been able to turn it around is because they were quick to act to make changes with guys who weren’t getting the job done, and the list is long: Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Russell Branyan, Melvin Mora, Aaron Heilman, Juan Miranda, Zach Duke. Some got more rope than others, but the point is, anyone making predictions before the season was looking at a completely different roster than what they have now. Heck, Ryan Roberts, who has 15 home runs, wouldn’t have made the team in spring training if not for Geoff Blum’s injury.

EOB: How much of this is Kirk Gibson? Is the attitude he brought real? Has it actually changed things?

NP: You have to give him credit, certainly. You hear people talk about a manager’s personality rubbing off on his team, it’s hard not to see some of that with this group of guys, particularly when it comes to their penchant for comebacks and the whole never-say-die stuff. They’re a hard-nosed bunch and that’s exactly the kind of player Gibson was and manager he is. Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of a manager’s impact; I mean, all the stuff above explains their status as contenders well enough in my mind. (That and the fact the NL West and the NL as a whole is mostly devoid of good teams.) A friend likes to say that players win games, managers lose them and umpires ruin them. Well, if that’s the case, Gibson is doing an excellent job of not losing them.

EOB: Is Justin Upton your MVP?

NP:  Maybe not yet. But he could be.

EOB: I'm guessing he's not on the trade market this winter...

NP: Uh, no. I’m not sure I understand why he was out there last winter.

EOB: Are they set up for the long haul?

NP:  You would think so, yeah. They have literally no bad contracts -- not a one -- and they have a bunch of guys coming in the system, namely a few potential frontline-type starting pitchers in Jarrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer. They’ll have a few decisions to make in the next couple offseasons with core guys like Kelly Johnson, Stephen Drew and Miguel Montero set to become free agents, but they’re in great position to retain who they want to retain and even should have money to spend to plug whatever holes might exist.

EOB: Finally, you're perhaps the hippest beat writer in the loop, what are you listening to right now?

NP: Heh. Is that like saying someone’s the MVP of the Pacific Coast League? I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Handsome Furs album (link to "Serve the People" with a note that the album art has a nekkid lady). And -- how’s this for timing? -- I’m actually going tonight to see Cut Copy, an awesome band from Australia that have this catchy 80s-dance-pop thing going on (link here to "Far Away"). I’ve also been really into the new ones from Cults, Destroyer, Foster the People and others I can’t think of right now.

Thanks to Nick and you can check out his blog here and on Twitter @NickPiecoro.

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:19 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Cueto takes MLB lead in ERA

Cueto

By Evan Brunell


UpJohnny Cueto, Reds: Cueto spun a gem on Sunday, finally qualifying for MLB leaderboards. Now that he's qualified, he boasts baseball's lowest ERA at at a scant 1.74, going the distance for a complete-game shutout, allowing three hits and one walk, while striking out six. People have been waiting for a breakout for Cueto for years, and while he's putting together the best season of his career, he's also been inordinately lucky, limiting home runs and allowing just 23 percent of batted balls to fall in for hits, compared to the league average of 29 percent. Not that his fantasy owners (me) are complaining.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Ibanez is an incredibly streaky hitter, being a valued member of the Philadelphia lineup in both May and July, but an albatross in the other two months. That doesn't bode well for August, does it? Anyways, Ibanez blasted two home runs against the Pirates, the latter blow tying the game in the bottom eighth before Philly walked off in the 10th. His four RBI were 2/3s of Philadelphia's total, and boosted his overall line to .247/.293/.434 which tells you how anemic he was in April and June.

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks: Saunders is on fire, throwing 7 2/3 innings of a victory to even his record up at 8-8. He allowed just two runs, walking none and striking out three. This is part of a larger pattern for Saunders, who was roundly criticized upon his trade to Arizona last season for Dan Haren. Saunders has found the senior circuit to his liking, posting a 3.56 ERA despite pitching in a hitter's park and has pitched 16 2/3 innings of a possible 18 in his last two starts. In July, Saunders didn't allow more than three earned runs in his six starts, a big reason why Arizona has stayed in playoff contention.

Honorable mention: Justin Verlander came oh-so-close to his second no-hitter of the season, not his first flirtation with that honor. Instead, he ended up holding on for the win in what turned into a crazy game.



DownTommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson didn't exactly get hit hard, but he give up three runs in six innings. Good enough for a quality start, but despite striking out seven, he also walked three. The start means Hanson has given up 18 runs in his last 23 1/3 innings, comprised of four starts. For comparison, prior to July, the most runs Hanson had ever given up in one month alone, never mind four starts, was 10, accomplished twice in April and May before dropping to six earned in June over four starts. So that should illustrate both how good Hanson has been and the rough stretch he's entered, which has spiked his ERA to 3.13.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Westbrook took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but coughed up a walk to Koyie Hill -- the No. 8 hitter -- with one out in the sixth. The wheels came off after that, and when it was all said and done, Westbrook had given up three hits, three walks and struck out three in six innings, allowing four earned runs. Every single one of those hits, walks and runs came in the sixth. That's one way to blow up a no-no.

Trade deadline losers: The Dodgers, Orioles and Cubs were colossal losers at the trade deadline. The Dodgers traded away a potential high-impact bat for three organizational guys. The Orioles' entire season is officially a loss, and the Cubs incomprehensibly stood pat. Read more here, as well as who won the trade deadline.

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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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