Growing up in Atlanta, Dexter Fowler watched Andruw Jones patrol center field for the Braves. This offseason, the Rockies center fielder spent his time working out with Jones.
"Andruw has become a mentor for me," Fowler told the Denver Post. "It worked out well for both of us. His main advice was stay healthy and play as many games as you can."
Fowler played in 139 games including the playoffs last season, but that was on top of playing nearly every game during Spring Training and making all of the bus trips. Fowler looks good at the plate, where he is putting to use the change in his swing that hitting coach Don Baylor started to implement last spring.
"He's so much more comfortable now. You can see that in his confidence," Baylor said of Fowler. "He's made some important adjustments."
Kershaw enjoys plane ride with Koufax: Dodgers manager Joe Torre's Safe at Home Foundation raised $700,000 over the weekend thanks to an onstage conversation that included Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. Another member of the panel was Clayton Kershaw, who enjoyed the time he got to spend with the Dodgers legend on the flight from Los Angeles back to Spring Training in Arizona.
"It was pretty awesome," Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times. "To sit there and talk to him for an hour was unbelievable. I learned more on that one plane trip than I have in a long time."
One thing that amazed Kershaw was the size of Koufax's fingers. "At least an inch or so," replied Kershaw when asked how much longer they are than his.
Danks takes new approach with roster spot in hand: John Danks has always had to earn his stripes in the spring, but because he knows he's got a spot in the White Sox's starting rotation this year, he's gone about his preparation differently.
"[Mark] Buehrle and I were talking about it, in that I usually come [into camp] in midseason form," Danks told MLB.com. "This year, I'm feeling good but not in midseason form.
"I'll use these weeks to hone in on being ready for Opening Day. It is a difference for me in that I don't have to make the team, where I have had to do that the last few years. So, I'm ready to go."
Pujols defers nickname to Musial out of respect: In St. Louis -- and all through the baseball world -- there is only one player known as "The Man," and Albert Pujols prefers to keep it that way. Referred to by many as "El Hombre," Pujols has asked before and is asking again for another nickname.
"I don't want to be called that," Pujols told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "There is one man that gets that respect, and that's Stan Musial. He's the Man. He's the Man in St. Louis. And I know 'El Hombre' means 'The Man' in Spanish. But Stan is The Man. You can call me whatever else you want, but just don't call me El Hombre."
Butler ready to shed 'secret' label: Billy Butler has remained relatively anonymous thus far in his career, this despite a .300 batting average and 73 extra-base hits last year. But with the 2010 season set to start in just a few weeks, Butler hopes to garner a bit more attention this year.
"Obviously, last year I was still young and I hadn't yet had a tremendous breakout season," Butler told MLB.com. "I'll be more disappointed if I'm still called a secret after this season.
"I feel like last year I didn't really have anything to build on. I figure if I have another season like that, I'll be someone who should've already been noticed. So I'll be more disappointed if I have the 'secret' label after this year."
Majewski would welcome hometown appearance: Gary Majewski grew up in Houston and was a standout pitcher at St. Pius X, leading the Panthers to a state title in 1998. Now, Majewski is hoping to get a chance to pitch for the hometown Astros at some point this season.
Majewski has not pitched in the Majors since 2008. Last season he played in Triple-A for the Philadelphia affiliate.
"Just to be able to pitch at home in a comfortable atmosphere would be awesome," Majewski told the Houston Chronicle.
McGowan faces hitters in important step: Dustin McGowan last pitched in a game on July 8, 2008. The Toronto pitcher took a step toward reclaiming a spot in the starting rotation when he threw off the mound over the weekend and faced live hitters for the first time.
"To tell you the truth, I was a little nervous," he told the Toronto Sun. "I didn't know what to expect. I was just trying to get a feel for pitching again. With a batter in there, there's just a little more adrenalin flowing. It's fun again."
Lowe gets Opening Day nod for Braves: Braves manager Bobby Cox announced that Derek Lowe will be the team's Opening Day starter.
"He was our winningest pitcher," Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the decision to start the 36-year-old right-hander. "Last year against Philadelphia [on Opening Day], he pitched eight shutout innings and gave up two hits. And he's a veteran."
Haren wants to be consistent until the end: Dan Haren is one of the top pitchers in the National League. This season, he's aiming to maintain consistency for the entire season.
"It's the ability to bounce back after a rough one," he told the Arizona Republic. "Some of it can be mental more than physical because my stuff is there at the end of the year. It's not my stuff diminishing.
"You get hit around one or two times in the big leagues; it's not easy to get out there again. You lose a little bit of that confidence. I've been better at dealing with that as I've gotten older, and, hopefully, I can be even better with that this year."
Reyes shakes injuries that slowed him in 2009: Jose Reyes is showing none of the problems that limited him to only 36 games last season at shortstop for the Mets. He has been running in camp and says he is feeling great.
"It was no big deal," Reyes told the New York Daily News. "But it's kind of different when you run the bases. It felt good. It's better than I expected. I expected to be careful. I was running with no problem. Everything -- a straight single, a base hit to right field, double, score from second and a sacrifice fly."
Cabrera bringing confidence to camp: Last year at this time, Everth Cabrera was in San Diego's camp as a Rule 5 acquisition from the Rockies. Cabrera, who hit .255 with a .342 on-base percentage and 25 steals, quickly proved he belonged in the Majors.
"I watched and learned and tried hard at all times to show them I could play shortstop," Cabrera, who had primarily played second base in the Rockies system in 2008, told the San Diego Union-Tribune with first base coach Rick Renteria serving as his interpreter. "I had confidence."
Padres manager Bud Black also saw the confidence.
"I saw the passion of his play, the aggressive nature of his game," Black said. "To me, that equates to confidence."
Capps trying to overcome his father's passing: Matt Capps is going through his first Spring Training without the guidance of his dad, who died in October.
"He's the smartest man I've ever come across," Matt Capps told the Washington Post about his dad. "He had very little schooling, just two years of community college, but he could break things down and dissect things and bring up points you hadn't thought about. You'd kind of look at him cross-eyed, but, lo and behold, they'd come true. He saw things that no one else could. And he would tell you what you didn't want to hear but that you needed to hear."
"I know he'll miss waiting on that phone call," said Matt's younger brother, Chris. "Even though he didn't always need our dad to tell him what he did wrong -- most of the time, he already knew it -- it's still going to be hard for him. But I think it's also going to provide another motivation for him."
Jones feeling right at home with Twins: Jacque Jones was with the Twins from 1999-2005, and now that he's back in Spring Training with the club, he says he feels like he was never gone.
"It's really like I never left," Jones told MLB.com. "Everything is the same. Things are run the same. It's the same people here. It feels awesome."
Lopez could make switch to third: The Mariners are discussing a plan which would have Jose Lopez move to third base from second and have free-agent signee Chone Figgins become the team's new second baseman. Lopez has appeared in just five games at third base in his Major League career. Figgins has played 113 games at second base but has played there sparingly since logging 42 games at the position in 2005.
"You're looking at, probably, the middle of the games," manager Don Wakamatsu told the Seattle Times about when a final decision on the potential move needs to be made. "I don't have an exact date, but you want to be able to see him a little bit. But you've got to look at the back end of that, obviously, if we had to go the other way."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.