Ryan Zimmerman thinking Gold Glove
Nationals third baseman "a shortstop," according to Acta
Ryan Zimmerman, known as one of the best fielders in the game, hopes he will play well enough and play enough games in 2009 to merit consideration for his first Gold Glove Award.
"I take a lot of pride in my defense, and you want to be the best at everything you do," Zimmerman told the Washington Post. "And if you're the best, you're going to win the Gold Glove most of the time. I know hitting gets involved, but if you're head over heels better, you'll win. And that's my goal. I want to be way better than everybody else."
His manager, Manny Acta, is already convinced: "He's a shortstop playing third base," Acta said. "He's got the best agility out of all those guys. He comes in on balls incredibly well. Maybe I'm biased, but I'm the one who gets to see him every single day, and I won't hesitate to say that he's the best third baseman defensively."
Say hey! Rowand gets some great advice: Aaron Rowand, the Giants current center fielder, recently got to talk shop with Willie Mays. He eagerly took tips from the Giants' legend.
"There's no doubt he is the greatest center fielder of all time," Rowand told the San Francisco Chronicle. "To have a chance to sit down and talk to him, first, it's getting over the intimidation factor. He's an imposing figure. He's one of the greatest of all time of anybody who's ever laced up a pair of cleats.
"Talking to him about playing center field, talking to him about playing balls off the wall, grips, stuff like that, you're not going to find a better source of information on this planet than the man who did it the best."
Sampson happy with pain-free debut: Chris Sampson, who had right elbow surgery on Oct. 1, allowed one hit and had one strikeout in a 13-pitch outing on Saturday against the Yankees, his first since the surgery.
"It was good to be back," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I can prove to the organization and myself that I can let it go and all that's behind me now. I was pain-free, and that's the most important thing."
Bill Hall shows torn calf has healed: Bill Hall was able to get into a spring game for the first time since suffering a partially torn left calf days before the start of camp.
Facing the Dodgers, Hall went 1-for-3 and stole second base, showing there was no lingering effect from the injury.
"I felt good," Hall told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I have no restrictions as long as I'm feeling good. I'm full-go. Any time you hit the ball hard two out of three times, you have to be satisfied with that. I stole a base, so I'm feeling pretty good."
Burnett shows his efficiency: A.J. Burnett pitched four perfect innings in a split-squad game against the Astros on Saturday. Thirty-two of his 40 pitches were strikes against the 12 Houston hitters he faced.
Burnett then proceeded to the bullpen to throw 10 more pitches from the stretch since he hadn't allowed a baserunner in the game.
"I felt pretty good out there," Burnett told the New York Daily News. "Any time you can establish the strike zone and pitch ahead, it makes for a better day."
O'Day jockeying for a roster spot with Mets: Selected in the Rule V draft during the winter by the Mets, Darren O'Day, a side-arm reliever, believes he can stick with New York this season. If he doesn't make the Opening Day roster and stay with the Mets the entire season, he will have to be offered back to the Angels.
"I feel like this is my team now. I guess they'll have to make a decision in a few weeks, but I certainly hope I stay here," O'Day, who surrendered his second run in seven spring innings as the Mets beat the Tigers, 9-3, on Friday, told the New York Daily News.
Pedroia gets good news on injury: The Boston Red Sox got some good news when it was determined that reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia has a strained abdominal muscle and not an oblique injury.
Pedroia was competing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic but had to withdraw from the tournament due to the injury.
"The good news is it's not an oblique," manager Terry Francona told the Boston Herald. "That originally had us scared so we're relieved about that."
Greene wants to be known for being genuine: Khalil Greene knows that being a Major League Baseball player is something special, and he also knows the importance of being a good citizen and teammate.
"I look at [being a Major League Baseball player] as something that drives me to be a better person," Greene told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I want to do things the right way. That's why I want these interactions to be good interactions. I don't want to be fake about it. I want to be genuine to everybody, and I really strive for that to be the definition of me when I'm done playing. That's who I want to be ... a genuine individual."
Slowey off to strong start: Kevin Slowey has been solid so far this spring, working 9 1/3 innings while striking out 10 and posting an ERA of just 1.93.
"I think everything is coming around," Slowey told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I don't think I'm ready to start the season tomorrow. There are other things I need to work on."
Cruz hopes to relive his dream of a year ago: Last summer, Luis Cruz went from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis before joining Pittsburgh, where he batted .325 over 22 games in September.
"It was one of the best times of my life, my dream come true," Cruz told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with a smile. "All those players I got to see on TV ... I'm out there playing against Manny Ramirez!"
Burnett's fish tale gains new life: Sean Burnett recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about his biggest career highlight, and narrowed it down to his first hit or his first win.
"For me, it's probably my first win. But for my friends' and family's sake -- and hearing crap from my brother all the time -- probably the hit," he said. "It got them to shut up. It took me 26 at-bats to get it. It was a rocket; let's not kid ourselves there. It was crushed. It was all I had. I still have the ball. And every time my brother sees it, he reminds me how many at-bats it took me to get it. But when I tell my kids about it, it's going to be that it came in one of my first at-bats in the big leagues. I'll leave out the '04 season, so it'll be in my third at-bat."
Fontenot ready to settle in at second: Manager Lou Piniella has indicated that Mike Fontenot is going to be the Cubs' second baseman.
"I'm out here to just get on the field as much as possible, but with [Lou] saying that, it makes you feel good," Fontenot told the Chicago Tribune. "But you have to keep coming out here every day and putting up numbers. You know how Lou is: He's going to play the hot hand."
Wieters impressive out of the gates: In 2008, Matt Wieters batted .355 with 27 home runs between Class A and Double-A, a season that has him in position to make the Baltimore roster this spring.
"You can take the best player to ever play the game, and you couldn't have expected him to come out of the chute this well," Orioles Minor League director David Stockstill told the Baltimore Sun. "No matter how much we expected out of Matt Wieters, he surpassed everything."
Kotchman draws rave reviews with defense: Braves infield coach Glenn Hubbard compared Casey Kotchman's defense at first base to that of Mark Teixeira -- a high compliment.
"Teix might have a little more movement," infield coach Glenn Hubbard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But Kotch looks very similar. He's solid."
"I think you have to put him in that class," manager Bobby Cox said. "He's real good. And he's swinging the bat, too."
Johnson putting up plenty of zeroes: Josh Johnson opened the Spring with nine scoreless innings before giving up his first run Friday against the Braves during a three-inning appearance.
"Every time he throws, we talk about a good outing, and those are fun things to talk about," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Dodgers plan to get defensive with Furcal, Hudson:The Dodgers are excited about the defensive abilities of their double-play combo -- Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson. They've been working together on timing.
"Mr. [Joe] Torre keeps us on the same schedule," Hudson told the Los Angeles Times. "So when [Furcal] plays, I play, and we can go into the season with that same momentum. We're pretty much already clicking together."
Tejada would play third if asked: If the Astros ever need Miguel Tejada to play third base this season, they won't get resistance from their shortstop. Tejada said he would move to third if asked after playing the position for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
"Wherever they want me, I'll be there 100 percent," Tejada told the Houston Chronicle. "If they want me to move to third, I'll do it. I just want to be here. I'm a free agent after this year, and the No. 1 thing for me is that I want to be here."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.