Brad Penny is making the most of having future Hall of Famer John Smoltz on the same pitching staff with their new team, the Red Sox.

"It's awesome," Penny told the Boston Herald. "You're talking about a Hall of Fame pitcher taking time out of his day to come help me. He's a great teammate with a lot to offer. I think everyone should be asking him questions. This is my 10th year, and I've still got a lot to learn. Who better to learn it from than John Smoltz?"

Smoltz and Penny have focused on Penny's split-fingered fastball. Penny believes the pitch could be a more effective weapon and wants Smoltz's advice.

"The splitty is going to be the pitch that comes last and that's what I wanted to have him look at," Penny said. "It's good enough to get by, but I want it to be better. He's thrown the splitty for a while now, so if you're going to listen to anyone, it's John Smoltz."

Mather, Schumaker getting looks in infield: Skip Schumaker and Joe Mather are working out at second and third, respectively, as the Cardinals try to fill infield holes.

Mather is being considered as a fill-in until Troy Glaus returns to the active roster, which is expected sometime in May.

"... We kind of look at each other and go, 'Well, we were a little farther apart than this last year,'" Mather told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think [Schumaker] is having a good time. He's working his butt off. I think moving to second is a little tougher than going to third."

Trevor Hoffman thanks fans in San Diego: Trevor Hoffman took out a full-page ad in Sunday's San Diego Union-Tribune to say thank you for all the support he received during his career there, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Hoffman began his message by saying, "As I sat down and put pen to paper thinking about the best way to express my gratitude to the many people who have had a profound effect on my time here in San Diego, a recurring theme kept coming up: just say THANKS!!"

Conor Jackson wants breakout season: Conor Jackson wants to have a breakout year.

"I hope so. I don't feel like I've had my big year yet," Jackson, who hit a career-high .300 last season with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 75 RBIs in 2008, told the Arizona Republic.

Brandon Webb sees foundation thrive: Brandon Webb's K Foundation, which has a mission to improve the lives of critically ill children throughout Arizona by providing daily support and life-changing experiences, has raised nearly $350,000 since its inception in 2004. The money has been used to assist more than 150,000 children.

"That's one of the things I am most proud of in my career," Webb told the Arizona Republic. "We go into the hospitals, put up some lockers and fill them with computer games, toys and other things that keep their minds off why they are really there."

Putz makes noise in live BP: It sounds like J.J. Putz is getting off to a good start with the Mets.

"I heard about Putz," manager Jerry Manuel told Newsday. "I didn't see him throw. I heard about it. I heard the mitt way over there. I was on field whatever, and he was way over there. I said, 'Who was that?' And they said, 'Putz.' I think I was in the stadium when he was sounding off."

Michael Young gets a turn to hit cleanup: Michael Young batted cleanup in an intrasquad game, but he'll be in the No. 2 slot when the regular season rolls around.

"That's my intention," manager Ron Washington told the Dallas Morning News. "[Third base coach] Dave Anderson has him hitting cleanup. I don't plan on doing that. I'm not putting anything into where these guys are batting right now."

Isringhausen has positive bullpen session: Jason Isringhausen threw approximately 35 pitches for the Rays and appeared to be recovered from September surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.

"After so many years of doing it, you're kind of used to people behind there watching," Isringhausen told the Tampa Tribune. "The first few were a little hectic, but after that it started feeling normal again."

Posada comfortable after throwing session: Jorge Posada made close to 100 throws this past weekend, including some at a distance of 220 feet and another 10 or so from home to second base.

After the throwing session, Posada said his shoulder felt fine.

"I feel good today," Posada told the New York Daily News on Monday. "There's no pain, so every day I'm able to bounce back from all that throwing, I'm progressing. We still haven't even started games yet, so I'm really happy with it."

Posada said he expects to be completely ready for Opening Day and be behind the plate.

Wellemeyer plans to add to last year's success: In 2008, Todd Wellemeyer won 13 games, posted a 3.71 ERA and had a team-high 134 strikeouts in 32 starts for the Cardinals. He also chalked up a career-high 191 2/3 innings and thinks he has even more to offer this year at age 30.

"A lot of things I've done have been late-blooming," Wellemeyer told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Physically, a late bloomer; baseball, a late bloomer. This might have something to do with I'm just coming into myself right now. ... And, I think I'm capable of being a lot better than I was last year."

Crede gets plaudits from Buehrle: Mark Buehrle will miss having Joe Crede at third base this season.

"One of the greatest third basemen of all time, if you ask me," Buehrle told the Chicago Sun-Times. "What he did -- when he wasn't over there, there were balls he got to that you expect to be caught, and you turn around and they weren't caught."

Meche hopes for another Opening Day start: Gil Meche would like to be the Royals' Opening Day starter again.

"When I got here [in 2007]," Meche told the Kansas City Star, "I said, `It really doesn't matter to me if I'm the ace or the fifth guy. We're all going to pitch.' The way I look at pitching is as a starter, whenever you go out and pitch, you have to feel you're the ace of the team. That's just the mind-set you should have when you pitch."

But he wants to have the ball to start the season, right?

"Yeah, I do," he said. "It's been fun the last two years."

Erstad catches bad hop on cheekbone: Darin Erstad has a small fracture on his right cheekbone after getting hit by a ball. Astros general manager Ed Wade said Erstad is not expected to miss any significant playing time.

Erstad suffered the injury when he missed a sinking line drive while fielding balls off a machine on Sunday. Erstad didn't see the trainer on Sunday and took part in drills Monday, but after experiencing swelling after blowing his nose, he had the injury checked out.

"A ball kicked funny off the grass and caught me in the cheek bone," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I guess it's precautionary more than anything. ... It was just a line drive and I went to catch it. Well, I missed it."

Vernon Wells sidelined with injury: Vernon Wells strained his left hamstring while doing baserunning drills and is expected to be out two to four weeks.

"At least it doesn't hurt as much as it did last time," Wells told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "It's frustrating, to do all the stuff I did in the offseason and then have this happen. They said it might be scar tissue, that no matter what you do to stay in shape once you've had an injury like this, there's a greater chance of something more severe happening, like having it pop."

Outman out to secure fifth starting spot: Josh Outman comes to Spring Training hoping to become the A's fifth starter.

"I want my command to settle in right away," Outman told the San Francisco Chronicle. "[Manager] Bob Geren said what they're looking for the pitchers to do is throw strikes, and that's what I want to do."

Batista agreeable to increasing his pace: New Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu wants his pitchers to work quickly. Miguel Batista is on board with speeding up the tempo of the game.

"The longer you take to throw the ball, the more slack there is in the game," Batista told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Your teammates get back on their heels, nobody's ready for the play because you're taking too long. But when everything is flowing, it's easy. When things are going right, don't give [the hitters] time to recover. Keep them down."

Garret Anderson brings plenty of hits to Braves: The Braves finally added the hitter they were looking for this season when they agreed to terms with veteran Garret Anderson.

"You look at the number of hits he's accumulated over his career," Casey Kotchman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of his former Angels teammate Anderson, who has 2,368 hits. "That puts him in pretty good company among hitters. You have over 2,300 hits, you know what you're doing."

Ausmus able to play close to home with Dodgers: Brad Ausmus thought about retiring after the 2008 season, but decided he would play if either the Dodgers or Padres were interested in him.

A resident of DelMar, Calif., Ausmus wanted to play close to home. The Dodgers eventually showed interest and signed the 40-year-old Ausmus to be their back-up catcher.

"I felt like I would like to play again," Ausmus told the Los Angeles Daily News. "But I wasn't going to travel thousands of miles away from home just to extend my ... career. I also didn't want to be one of those guys who retired and then didn't retire. I didn't want to close the door on anything. So I kind of limited my options."

-- Red Line Editorial