Franklin claims job as Cards closer
Right-hander has stranglehold on role after hot start
With seven saves in seven chances and a 0.00 ERA, Ryan Franklin is taking control of the ninth inning for the Cardinals.
"It's something I know I can do. It's just a matter if they thought I was the best fit for the role," Franklin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I'm not making a big deal about it. I'm one of eight relievers here. I'm just the guy who pitches the ninth inning. I'm fine with the role. I was fine when my role was the eighth inning."
Franklin says he does his best to keep his emotions in check when called on to close out games.
"I don't like getting excited," he said. "The role has so much impact on the result of the game. I don't think you can get too excited when things go well. It's better to play it cool, play it even keel."
Crawford steals spot in record book: Carl Crawford blazed his way into the record books on Sunday afternoon by swiping six bases against the Boston Red Sox.
The Tampa Bay left fielder tied the modern-day Major League Baseball record, joining four other players. It was the first time a player in the American League stole six bases in a game since Eddie Collins in 1912.
"I didn't know it was a record," Crawford told the St. Petersburg Times. "I was just running. I wish I knew. I would have gone for seven."
Kazmir spends time with prep star: Patrick Schuster, who threw four straight no-hitters in April for Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla., got to throw out the first pitch on Sunday before the Rays played Boston in St. Petersburg.
He also spent some time signing autographs in the Rays bullpen alongside Scott Kazmir.
Kazmir threw four straight no-hitters in Houston at Cypress Falls High School and then had to decide to go to college or turn pro. Schuster has the same decision coming up. He will either go to the University of Florida or sign with a team after the June draft.
"The first thing I asked him was, 'Did you regret not going to college?' He said in some ways, yes, in some ways, no," Schuster told the St. Petersburg Times of Kazmir, the 15th overall pick in the 2002 Draft out of high school.
Francoeur back to his old ways vs. lefties: Jeff Francoeur's revamped swing has led to improvement versus lefty pitchers. In 2008, Francoeur batted just .210 in 176 at-bats versus southpaws. This season he has 12 hits in his first 31 at-bats versus left-handers for a .387 average.
"The frustrating thing was, when I first came up I raked against lefties," Francoeur, who hit .317 with 23 homers in 442 at-bats against lefties from 2005-07, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Then, suddenly, I lost it. I think I was trying to pull them so much, instead of staying up the middle and going the other way.
"When we face [lefties], I want to get back to being able to do damage, do like [Friday] and help this team win."
Manny used to play on site of new Yankee Stadium: Manny Ramirez, who grew up in Washington Heights, which is directly across the Harlem River from Yankee Stadium, recalls playing in the park grounds that were used to build the team's new ballpark.
"I used to run there when I was about 14," Ramirez told the Los Angeles Times. "It also had a little [baseball] field, and I used to go over there and practice.
"I had a bunch of friends, and ... we used to run and go hit after that," he said. "It's weird now when I look at the new stadium and think, 'Wow, I used to run there.'"
Morales sees surge in batting average: In his last nine games, Kendry Morales is batting .343 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. The Angels first baseman has his average up to .280 for the season.
"When a guy finally gets an opportunity to play every day, the adjustments start to click in," manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "He's learning the league, understanding pitchers.
"He's had some rough games mixed in with some terrific games, but all in all, he looks pretty comfortable in the [batter's] box. He still has a lot of upside, but right now he's doing a great job."
Lilly enjoys comforts of home: Apparently Ted Lilly really likes to pitch at home, as is evidenced by opposing hitters batting just .151 (11-for-73) against him this season at Wrigley Field.
"I love pitching here," Lilly, who struck out 10 without a walk over eight innings in Saturday's 6-1 win over Florida, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "There's so much energy to feed off of here.
"Today was nice working with [catcher] Geo [Soto]. He's caught me quite a bit, and he has a feel for me. It's nice when I'm giving him something to work with, too."
Votto not getting content despite hot start: Joey Votto, who through Sunday is batting .363 with three home runs and 22 RBIs, doesn't want anyone to think he's a perfectionist. It's just that he's always looking to improve.
"Don't get me wrong -- I'm very happy with my start," Votto told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I know I'm only in my second year, but I do know what it takes to be a successful player in the long haul. I don't feel I'm doing it right. Because I have so few at-bats, I can go from hitting like I am right now to struggling or not performing well. That's just how this game works.
"So I'm trying to improve on the things I feel like will last ... I feel like players should be responsible for themselves and challenge themselves on a daily basis to be a better player."
Crede welcomes early arrival: Joe Crede planned to spend Thursday's day off with his daughters in his Missouri home. Instead, the Twins third baseman welcomed his new son, Jace Taylor Crede, into the world.
"At about 6 o'clock, [my wife, Lisa,] started to have contractions on a pretty regular basis," Crede told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We called the hospital, and they said, 'Just come in, we'll check it out.' All of a sudden, she's having the baby at 3:30 in the morning."
Even though Jace was not due until June, all is well, and Crede rejoined the Twins over the weekend.
Podsednik glad to return to Windy City: Scott Podsednik, best known in Chicago for his walk-off home run in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, has returned to the White Sox.
"It's really crazy, for lack of a better term, but it's good to see the guys," Podsednik told MLB.com. "You create a strong bond with the guys you won a World Series with, and it will be fun to get back to the city. I've always loved Chicago. We got a good feel for the city, my wife and I did, and it's good to be back."
Long rain delay gives Oswalt another start: The Astros will juggle their starting rotation in order to start Roy Oswalt on Tuesday against the Nationals. Oswalt started Saturday against Atlanta but threw only 17 pitches in one inning due to a rain delay after one and half innings of play.
Brian Moehler, who was scheduled to come off the disabled list and start on Tuesday, will now be activated before Monday's game and start. Monday's originally scheduled starter, Russ Ortiz, pitched in relief on Sunday.
"He's fine," manager Cecil Cooper told the Houston Chronicle of Oswalt. "[The rain delay] was just too long to go back out there. I mean, it's just way too long. When you get into the 20-30-minute range, that's way too long enough. We just didn't want to risk it."
Richmond pitching like an ace: Scott Richmond, a tall, 29-year-old right-hander from Vancouver, has helped rescue the Blue Jays rotation from injuries. He improved to 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA after throwing seven strong innings on Sunday against Baltimore.
"He's stepped it up," Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas told the Toronto Globe and Mail of Richmond. "He was battling for a No. 5 job coming out of Spring Training. Every single time he goes out there now, he improves.
"He's not satisfied with being that No. 5 guy. Right now he's our No. 2 guy, not because everybody is hurt, but because that's how he's pitching."
Wandy Rodriguez getting a boost from Pudge: Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson credits catcher Ivan Rodriguez for Wandy Rodriguez's early success.
The left-hander allowed three earned runs in five innings without being part of the decision on Sunday against Atlanta, but he has a 2-2 record and a 2.19 ERA. Rodriguez is in perhaps the best stretch of his five-year career.
"Pudge has been great for Wandy," pitching coach Dewey Robinson told the Houston Chronicle. "The way they work together has been outstanding since Day 1 of Spring Training."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.