Jordan Schafer became the fourth player in Braves franchise history to hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat in the first game of the season, a 4-1 Braves win over the Phillies in Philadelphia.
04/06/2009 3:17 PM ET
Debut a blast for Jordan Schafer
Braves rookie homers in first at-bat in the Show
"That was far beyond my dreams," Schafer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The 22-year-old, recently named the Braves' starting center fielder, has impressed veteran teammates with his poise and ability throughout training camp.
"He's got every tool you could possibly want. He's going to be the next big thing," teammate Brian McCann said.
Kendall adds some pop with new stance: Jason Kendall has worked with Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum this spring on his hitting mechanics that help him drive the ball more. The work seems to have paid off as the Brewers catcher hit three home runs in Spring Training, including one in Los Angeles against the Dodgers on Friday night.
"I was too closed up," Kendall told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I had an open stance my whole career. I was cutting myself off and 'inside-outing' my swing. [Sveum] said something to me about it during the offseason. I've known him for a long time. He told me last year, 'You need to make some adjustments.' Everybody does. I had thumb surgery [after the 2001 season], and I had to compensate and lost my top hand. It changed my swing."
Janish charts Opening Day milestone: Paul Janish has made the Reds' Opening Day roster as a utility infielder.
"It was a roller coaster after [Jeff Keppinger] got traded [to Houston]. Between me and [Adam] Rosales, we knew it'd be one of us," Janish told MLB.com. "I'm excited and fired up to be here. Being on the Opening Day roster, for whatever reason, has such implication to it, so it's a good thing. It's huge, because it makes me feel like they have a lot of confidence in me, too, to start the year here."
Freese ready for hometown debut: St. Louis native David Freese will make his Major League debut in front of friends and family at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals.
"They are still pumped about it," Freese told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Going to college [at the University of South Alabama] and to the Padres, I haven't been home in the wintertime. Getting a chance to come home is just a blessing."
Freese batted .306 last season at Triple-A, hitting 26 home runs and driving in 91 runs, but, due to an injury, found himself out of the Major League camp for a while this spring. He ended up bating .386 in the Grapefruit League.
Bradley coming off hot spring: Milton Bradley batted .460 in his first spring with the Cubs.
"We really did a lot of homework, not just on the background, the health, but getting the right kind of player for what we wanted to do," Chicago general manager Jim Hendry told the Chicago Tribune. "And I think now people realize we did get the right guy. He's really an outstanding hitter from both sides of the plate.
"We really needed somebody like him in the third or fourth spot, and in Spring Training I think he showed he was a better outfielder than people thought. If he stays healthy, you're going to see a really productive player in the middle of the lineup."
Teahen settling in at second base: In Kansas City, the transformation of Mark Teahen into a second baseman is nearing completion.
"Mark has progressed very quickly," manager Trey Hillman told the Kansas City Star. "I don't think there is a comfort level from a Mark Teahen that Willie Bloomquist and Alberto Callaspo have. But it's not anything that scares me to death."
"Right now, I feel pretty comfortable out there. I feel I can make all of the plays. I just need to continue to improve," said Teahen, who batted .433 with seven home runs this spring.
Dice-K solid in final tuneup: Daisuke Matsuzaka threw four scoreless innings against the Mets at Citi Field in his last Spring Training start on Saturday.
Matsuzaka pitched in only two games for the Red Sox this spring but believes that competing for Japan in the World Baseball Classic got him prepared for the regular season.
"I already got myself game-ready once at the WBC, so when the regular season opens up, I think it will be really easy for me to get into that mindset of going into battle," he told the Boston Herald.
Pena works his way onto roster: After having an outstanding Spring Training, Ramiro Pena earned a spot on the New York Yankees' Opening Day roster as a utility infielder -- not bad for a 23-year-old player who was basically an unknown entering camp.
"When we got him, he was really skinny and his offense was a huge question mark," general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News. "He's slowly making himself into a bat, which is extremely encouraging. If that happens, then we've got a player on our hands. He'd be a legitimate frontline prospect."
Uncle Doc pushed Sheffield to return: Gary Sheffield made his uncle Dwight Gooden proud by joining the Mets after his release by the Tigers last week.
"He was pushing me off the couch to do this," Sheffield told the New York Daily News. "I was content being with my wife and my kids. They were all yelling at me, 'You still have something left. Just go out and show the world that you've got it.' He's been blowing my phone up all day today, too. He's just glad I made the move."
Millwood glad to take advice from Ryan: Kevin Millwood was happy to listen to Nolan Ryan when the Rangers president provided advice about offseason conditioning.
"It's coming from a guy who pitched until he was 45 and did it well," Millwood told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You'd be crazy not to listen.
"I think it's Nolan making a point that it's what he wants to be done. Everybody's doing it. You can tell that everything is becoming a lot easier for everybody to get things done."
Jones adds new clubhouse roles: With the departure of John Smoltz in the offseason, Chipper Jones is now the longest-tenured member of the Braves. Jones took over Smoltz's locker, a move that holds great symbolism for both Jones and the team.
"Smoltz had [the locker] since 1997, and he was the captain of our club, the guy who called all our meetings. That position falls on me now," Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I don't think he has ever been more necessary and more of a leader," Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said of the Braves third baseman.
Kemp hopes to be a mainstay at center: Matt Kemp wants to settle into center field and stop the Dodgers' revolving door at the position that has been in transition since Ken Landreaux played there for six straight seasons from 1981-86.
"I'm excited," Kemp told the Los Angeles Times of his Opening Day start. "I've worked real hard to get to this position. I'm still trying to establish myself in the big leagues."
Johnson to see how everyone else does it: Randy Johnson understands that he'll need to depend on location to make up for his lost velocity in his first year with the Giants.
"Go ask Nolan Ryan what he was throwing when he was 46 years old," Johnson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I saw him pitch his last game. No disrespect to him. We're pretty good friends. But you're 46 years old, you just don't throw that hard anymore.
"I have almost 4,500 innings. For me, it's obviously more of a challenge to get hitters out. When I'm done playing and look back, I'll say it was fun when I was throwing 98, but more of a challenge when I was throwing 91 to 93. I'm the majority now. I'm not the minority anymore."
Mathis to showcase new swing: Jeff Mathis has re-worked his swing, shifting his weight back. He hopes the adjustment will allow him to track the ball longer.
"He's like night and day from last year," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "I think he feels comfortable. ... You're seeing a guy with confidence now, and that's Step 1 for him to be the offensive player he can be."
Endy Chavez to take over as leadoff hitter: With Ichiro Suzuki opening the season on the disabled list, newly-acquired Endy Chavez becomes the Mariners' leadoff man. Chavez was one of the players acquired from the Mets in the J.J. Putz deal.
"I've been a leadoff hitter every year in winter ball," Chavez told the Seattle Times. "So, it's not like it's been a long time since I've done this. I've still put in practice my leadoff hitting [skills] over there."
Pujols gets more plaudits: Baltimore manager Dave Trembley considers Albert Pujols the game's top player.
"It's simple. I don't think there's any question," Trembley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He's the best player in the game, not only for his tools, but what he does for the team. He carries the team. He helps them win. He can turn a game around with his bat, his glove and the way he runs the bases. I don't think anybody -- anybody -- wants to face him with the game on the line."
Miles becomes answer to exhibition trivia question: For anyone who was wondering, the answer is Aaron Miles. The question? Who was the first player to bat and get a hit in the new Yankee Stadium?
"It'll be exhibition-game trivia, but it really is the first hit here," Miles told the Chicago Tribune. "It's cool to know that, and I imagine I'll be an old man saying that to somebody, and they'll say, 'Shut up.'"
-- Red Line Editorial