Four Angels players hit at least 20 homers this season, but speedy leadoff hitter Chone Figgins probably causes more consternation for the opposition than his slugging teammates.
10/14/2009 12:53 PM ET
Chone Figgins causes stir on bases
Angels leadoff man worries Yanks in advance of ALCS
"When he gets on base and he's running around, you're worried about him," Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia told the Los Angeles Times. "We've got to go out and keep those guys off the bases."
"I know I need to get on base," Figgins said after the Angels' workout on Tuesday in Angel Stadium. "I will get on base. When I do, I'm able to do so much. I can steal, take a base on a ball in the dirt, go from first to third on a single, score from first on a ball to the gap."
A-Rod more concerned with pitching than hitting: Alex Rodriguez has supplied some big hits, but he's among the players who believe that pitching and defense matter more to the Yankees in the postseason.
"People can say whatever they want about home runs and big hits, but if you don't pitch and you don't defend, you are not going to win," Rodriguez told the New York Daily News. "The story of this has been CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. All three of them were fantastic."
Angels could turn to Kazmir at Yankee Stadium: Manager Mike Scioscia indicated the Angels may use a left-handed starter -- Scott Kazmir or Joe Saunders -- at Yankee Stadium where the first two games of the ALCS will be played.
Kazmir, acquired from the Rays in August, is familiar with the Yankees. He has a 6-5 record with a 2.67 ERA in 15 games against them, although he has not pitched in the new stadium.
"All you can do is just imagine it's just another ballpark -- you can't get overwhelmed," Kazmir told the Los Angeles Times.
"The first two innings are just to get comfortable in your surroundings and try to get through the lineup one time around and go from there," Kazmir added.
In the ALDS, the Angels started right-handed pitchers John Lackey and Jered Weaver in the first two games.
Rollins likes his role at the plate: Jimmy Rollins is back in form as the Phillies' catalyst at the top of the batting order.
"I like it," Rollins told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "You have to. On this team, everybody has to play a part, and that's my role. Sometimes, I'm real good at it. Other times, I'm not. The last couple nights, I have been able to get a spark going."
Dodgers bring lefties this time: The Dodgers are bringing more left-handed pitching in their NLCS rematch against the Phillies in an effort to help counter Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez, who combined for 110 homers and 327 RBIs during the regular season.
Starters Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw, as well as relievers George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo, hope to neutralize the Phillies' slugging trio.
"They're pretty scary," Dodgers manager Joe Torre told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't think you can have too many left-handers. ... If I had a choice of lefty-righty against that part of the order, I think you go lefty."
Kuroda gives Dodgers an added weapon: Hiroki Kuroda, who missed the NLDS with a bulging disk in his neck, pitched against Minor League batters with no setbacks and could be activated for the NLCS. He went 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA last year in the playoffs.
"That will carry a lot of weight as long as you're comfortable with the health stuff," Torre told the Los Angeles Times. "But there is no question that the ability he had last year to pitch in the postseason, and even late in the season in important games, is a factor."
Werth brought a hunch into the dugout: Jayson Werth and his Phillies teammates knew good things would happen even though they were losing in the ninth inning in Game 4 of their NLDS with the Rockies.
"I came running off the field [after the eighth inning] with the feeling that we were going to win the game," Werth told MLB.com. "When I got in the dugout, everybody was on the same page. I guess you could say everybody was calm, cool and collected."
Thome not ready to forget Chicago: Future Hall-of-Famer Jim Thome is anxious to win a World Series championship as a member of the Dodgers but didn't leave Chicago behind when he was traded in late August.
"I'll be honest, I would still love to come back," Thome told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I still care about the city. I mean, we're going to live there. Chicago's very fond in my heart. The time that I spent there, [chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] treated me great. I guess we'll deal with that when this is all over with."
Lowrie could be facing surgery again: Jed Lowrie had surgery on his left wrist in April but may need further treatment.
"It really depends on what the doctor says," Lowrie told the Boston Herald. "I don't know what the surgery would be if there were to be one, but I guess it's not out of the question."
Martinez likely set for a return to Red Sox: One of the Red Sox's easier offseason decisions will be picking up the 2010 option on Victor Martinez.
"We made a trade that should address [the catching] for the most part next year," general manager Theo Epstein told the Boston Herald. "Victor is about as good as you're going to get. We're really happy with him, on and off the field, his leadership, his offensive ability, his desire to work with the pitching staff. Ultimately it's [manager Terry Francona's] call, but we've discussed it enough to know Victor's going to catch a lot next year. We'll see what happens from there."
Bay, Red Sox unable to reach a deal: Jason Bay and the Red Sox haven't been able to agree on a contract extension ... yet.
"We've had a lot of discussion with his representative through the course of the last nine months, and most of it has been under the radar screen and underreported even after the fact, so we'll just continue that and try our best to work something out confidentially," general manger Theo Epstein told MLB.com. "He's a pro and we have a lot of respect for him and what's he's done since we acquired him. You couldn't have asked more from him since the day he put on a Red Sox uniform, and that's a good thing, too, since we traded a pretty good player for him. We want the relationship to continue, so we'll see if it does."
Gonzalez made a name for himself in playoffs: Carlos Gonzalez, acquired last offseason in the Matt Holliday deal, batted .588 for the Rockies in their NLDS against the Phillies, collecting 10 hits in 17 at-bats. He scored five runs, hit two doubles and one home run and stole two bases.
"All I know is we pitched him in, and we pitched him out, but it didn't matter," Phillies reliever Scott Eyre told the href="http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13547989?source=searchles" target="_blank">Denver Post. "You like to see talent like that come up."
Sarfate cuts back on winter ball schedule: Dennis Sarfate is returning to the Mexican Pacific League to pitch for Hermosillo, but only for a month.
"The first year I went there, I went from the big leagues to the Arizona Fall League, to winter ball, to the Caribbean Series," the Orioles pitcher told MLB.com. "I had like one day off before the season started. That kind of burned me out. But the way I'm doing it this year is I'll go straight there, I'll play for a month, and then I'll come home for two or three months to train. And I talked to my wife, and I may go back out there in January if my team makes it to the playoffs."
Ludwick's a believer after pair of productive seasons: Ryan Ludwick was almost out of baseball before his breakout season in 2008, during which he hit 37 home runs and drove in 113. The Cardinals outfielder followed that up in 2009 by smashing 22 home runs and driving in 97.
"This whole Cardinals thing, since I've been here, has been a life-changing thing for me," Ludwick told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's a good feeling. I always wanted to prove I could play at this level, and I think I've done that. I don't know if you guys are a believer, but I'm a believer."
-- Red Line Editorial