Is Emil Brown having a breakout year at the age of 33?
He's second in the American League with 28 RBIs and has found a home batting fifth for the second-place Oakland A's. It's been a refreshing change for Brown, who started his career with Pittsburgh and spent the last three seasons in Kansas City playing the corner outfield for a struggling club.
"It was tough there because things were never going good for us for any length of time," Brown told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Last year, nobody really did much, and the year before Mark Teahen went pretty good for a while and then he got hurt. The year before, [current teammate Mike] Sweeney got hurt, and there just weren't a lot of opportunities for anyone to drive in runs."
Brown may be a classic late bloomer. He didn't grow up playing baseball and he didn't play on his high school team until his junior season.
"I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, in a neighborhood they call 'The Wild Hundreds,'" Brown said. "If you looked at it from the outside, you wouldn't think it would be too bad, but there was a lot of violence and stuff there. If someone asked you where you lived and you said, 'On 103rd,' they'd say, 'Oh, you're one of those 103rd dudes.' It was easy to stereotype people that way, even if you were staying clear of all that."
Pujols pulls one out of movie script: Already attempting a steal, Albert Pujols never broke stride and scored from second on a slow ground ball to the second-base side by Rick Ankiel.
The character Willie Mays Hayes did it in the movie Major League, but you rarely see it happen in the non-fictionalized big leagues.
Regardless, the daring baserunning by Pujols gave the Cardinals a 6-5 lead they wouldn't relinquish in Tuesday night's game.
"You need to take that chance," Pujols told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You need to be aggressive playing the game, and that's what I did. We battled and we played hard. We didn't give up on the game."
Pujols has reached base safely in all 34 of the Cardinals' games this season.
Davis eyes return after cancer diagnosis: Doug Davis threw 65 pitches during a simulated game on Monday, keeping him on track to return to the Diamondbacks' starting rotation for the May 20-22 series at Florida.
Davis, who is recovering from surgery for thyroid cancer, said he is making sure he doesn't rush back.
"The worst thing that could happen would be to get hurt and all of a sudden you [reporters] are on Bo-Mel [manager Bob Melvin] and [general manager] Josh Byrnes: 'Why did you bring him back so quick?' " Davis told The Arizona Republic. "I want to make sure everyone is happy with the day I come back. I work for these guys. I just do what I'm told."
Crabbe to make long-awaited debut at Turner Field: Rookie second baseman Callix Crabbe, who was born on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and moved to the Atlanta suburbs when he was 15, is getting an opportunity to fulfill a boyhood dream of playing at Turner Field as the Padres visit the Braves this week.
"There were plenty of times when I would leave from my home in Georgia each year to go to Spring Training, and I would drive by Turner Field," Crabbe told Padres.com. "I would tell my friends or my girlfriend that I was going to play there someday."
Crabbe left the Virgin Islands to live with his sister in the Atlanta suburb of Stone Mountain in order to better pursue his dream of becoming a Major League player. While in high school, Crabbe played for East Cobb with current Major League players Micah Owings of Arizona and Brian McCann of Atlanta. In fact, Crabbe is a large reason why McCann is now a catcher for the Braves.
"He's the reason I moved from second base to catcher," said McCann, an All-Star in 2006 and 2007. "When a guy like that comes around, it's not too hard to realize it's time to change positions."
Silence ends as DeWitt smacks inside-the-park blast: Rookie Blake DeWitt hit his first Major League home run Monday night and got the silent treatment from his teammates, a time-honored tradition. But when he hit an inside-the-park home run on Tuesday, the rest of the Dodgers mobbed him.
DeWitt called it his first home run not to travel over the fence since tee ball, but since it turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead, DeWitt preferred it to the traditional homer he hit the day before.
"To be in a game like that, where we were down, it was bigger," DeWitt told the Los Angeles Times.
Delgado getting into a batting groove: After a slow first month of the season, Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado is finding his rhythm at the plate, hitting .318 with three home runs in the six games prior to Tuesday night's loss to the Dodgers. Manager Willie Randolph is happy to see Delgado swinging the bat well, but he worries that the left-handed hitter may try too hard to hit home runs.
"I don't want him to get into a power stroke," Randolph told Mets.com. "I don't think that's conducive to what we need to do. If he's trying to go deep, then that's not going to be good."
Rasner's outing impressive after callup: Last season, Darrell Rasner suffered a broken finger, cutting short his Major League season. This year, Rasner was one of the final cuts during Spring Training, forcing Rasner to begin the year in Triple-A. But the right-hander got a chance to show he can perform well in the Majors by leading the New York Yankees to an 8-2 win over Seattle on Sunday. In six innings, Rasner allowed five hits and no walks. Rasner earned the promotion after going 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"He had a shot," manager Joe Girardi told Newsday. "We didn't see the real Darrell Rasner in Spring Training. I mean, he threw OK, but he wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in Scranton and here [yesterday]."
Hamilton's streak ends at 32 games: For the first 32 games of the season, there was one constant for the Texas Rangers -- Josh Hamilton in the starting lineup. That finally changed Monday against Seattle when manager Ron Washington gave Hamilton the night off. The 32-game streak was nearly twice as long as his streak of consecutive games played last season with Cincinnati. His longest streak with the Reds was 19 games.
"This is more of a mental day off than a physical day off," Hamilton told The Dallas Morning News. "You can always use a day."
Duran making strong impression at the plate: With second baseman Ian Kinsler slowed by a hamstring injury, rookie German Duran has been getting playing time, and in the process, he is opening up a lot of eyes. In the last six games for the Rangers, Duran was hitting .352 entering Tuesday night's contest.
"I don't think the kid ever lacked confidence," Texas manager Ron Washington told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The more he gets out there, the better he's looked and the more comfortable he's looked."
Schilling takes big step in comeback: For the first time since January, Curt Schilling said he is ready to throw again. Schilling, who has been sidelined due to a biceps/shoulder injury, planned to make 25 throws from 60 feet on flat ground Monday.
"There's a Christmas Day feeling to it," Schilling told the Boston Herald. "Considering where I was four months ago and what the options were, I guess if I was climbing a mountain this would be getting to the base of the mountain."
Buchholz earns first career save: When Taylor Buchholz walked off the mound Sunday after throwing 1 1/3 hitless innings, he didn't know he had just recorded his first career save. Manager Clint Hurdle inserted Buchholz into the game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. Buchholz recorded the final out and then pitched the ninth after the Rockies scored in the bottom of the eighth to take a 7-2 lead. Buchholz has been outstanding for the Rockies in relief this season. He has allowed only nine hits in 17 2/3 innings to go with a 1.53 ERA entering Tuesday's play.
"I'm confident enough that I can go out and do that," Buchholz told the The Denver Post.
Mientkiewicz a key addition for Pirates: Coming into Spring Training, nobody was quite sure if there was a spot for veteran Doug Mientkiewicz on the Pittsburgh Pirates. But just one week into May, Mientkiewicz has solidified himself as one of the key players on the Pirates' bench.
"If you'd have told me that in December, I'd have probably said you were crazy," Mientkiewicz told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "But it's kind of like rewarding myself and training like I was an everyday player with no setbacks and no rehab to worry about."
Kennedy puts 'off year' in rearview: Adam Kennedy suffered through a season he'd like to forget in 2007, struggling to stay above .210 all year and ending the year with knee surgery. But in 2008, Kennedy has looked more like the career .275 hitter that he is, carrying an average of .325 into Wednesday's game at Colorado.
"He's just playing like what he established in his career, and we're benefiting from it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told MLB.com. "For seven years, he had a .275 lifetime average. He's a guy who's been a good, tough out in the big leagues for a lot of years on contending teams, so he just had an off year."
Inge's latest role finds him catching: Brandon Inge, who broke into the Major Leagues as a catcher and moved on to third base, is beginning to adjust to catching again as part of his utility role this season.
"I had to get over the hump," Inge told The Detroit News. "I'm feeling comfortable catching."
Jurrjens calmly picks up third straight win: While the rest of the Braves pitching staff has had its share of injury problems, Jair Jurrjens keeps rolling along. He allowed one run in seven innings to pick up his third straight win as Atlanta downed San Diego, 5-3, on Tuesday night to pick up the team's fourth consecutive win. Jurrjens has a 2.84 ERA in seven starts for the Braves.
"Nothing rattles J.J.," manager Bobby Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "For a first full year in the big leagues, he has great mound presence and carries himself extremely well, on and off the field."
Olsen pitches into ninth for victory: The Marlins have yet to have a complete game this season, but Scott Olsen gave it his best shot on Tuesday night. The lefty went 8 2/3 innings before being lifted after 121 pitches with the bases loaded versus the Milwaukee Brewers. Closer Kevin Gregg came in to preserve the win, which gave Olsen a 4-1 mark on the year with a 2.22 ERA.
"You have to make the decision for 25 guys," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "He's going to feel good we gave him an opportunity to finish the game."
Guerrero puts together two-hit game: Vladimir Guerrero broke out of a 10-game slump with a two-hit game Tuesday against the Royals. Guerrero doubled, tripled, walked and scored two runs in the Angels' 5-3 win.
"He's been searching," manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "It's just going to be a matter of time before he feels comfortable in the box and starts swinging the bat the way he can. He went a long way toward getting there tonight. He had good at-bats tonight."
Parisi effective in debut: Mike Parisi made his Major League debut on Monday night in Colorado, working two scoreless innings in the Cardinals' 6-5 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
"My heart started going a little bit, and I just had to tell myself to relax," Parisi told MLB.com. "I got a little bit jacked up, but I recovered and tried to just step back and make some pitches and get out of it. I put up a zero, and we got a win -- it was great."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.