Ruiz rises to postseason challenge
Phillies catcher continues to get big hits in big moments
Carlos Ruiz has a knack for hitting in the postseason.
The 30-year-old Panamanian catcher batted .375 with two doubles in the 2008 World Series, and now he's picked up where he left off. He batted .308 with three RBIs in the NLDS against the Rockies and got a single and a key three-run homer to help the Phillies win Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers on Thursday night.
"I'm just trying to relax," Ruiz told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I try to do that in the regular season, too, but now it's like whatever happened in the regular season is over. I put it in my mind that maybe I can help my team with my offense.
"So I just try to relax and think about one pitch at a time. That's what I try to do, and so far it's worked."
Ruiz is batting .296 with a .383 on-base average, two homers and 10 RBIs over 71 postseason at-bats for the Phillies in the last three years.
Hunter effective with football mentality: Manager Mike Scioscia believes there's a controlled type of aggressiveness with which a player like Torii Hunter can effectively play baseball. Hunter, who has a .306 average, four homers and 16 RBIs in 28 playoff games, reminds Scioscia of one of his former teammates with the Dodgers.
"You can't do some parts of this game with a football player's mentality, but the grind of the season, the grind of the playoffs, it's definitely something that can pull you through," Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "Mental toughness is important. Torii has a way to temper things when he gets into the batter's box, so he can let his swing happen.
"There wasn't anyone who played this game with more of a football player's mentality than Kirk Gibson, but when he got into the batter's box, he had a hitter's mentality that let him slow things down and put the swings on pitches he needed to."
Kemp wants to keep the power coming: Matt Kemp's two hits in Game 1 of the NLCS weren't enough for the Dodgers.
"The way we hit the ball tonight, we probably should have scored a couple of more runs than we did," Kemp told the Los Angeles Times. "We couldn't get it done today. In playoff games, we need to get those big hits. Against the Phillies, you can't just score one run and think you can beat them. They have the same type of lineup that we have. They have power throughout the lineup. You have to keep piling up runs."
Hamels sees excitement build with baby call: Cole Hamels left the Phillies' NLDS Game 2 against the Rockies early last Thursday to be with his wife, Heidi, who had gone into labor.
"When I'm on the field, I'm all about baseball," Hamels told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Then ... after I was done, getting that call, the excitement level starts up. But still, I think you're just more nervous about the situation. You don't know what's going on."
Girardi expects Damon to thrive: Manager Joe Girardi figures the postseason is as good a time as any for Johnny Damon to emerge from his slump.
"I feel good about Johnny this time of year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Newsday after the Yankees worked out on Wednesday, "because Johnny has played before at this time of year at a very high level."
Phillies hope to get six innings from Pedro Martinez: Pedro Martinez, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 30, was selected to pitch NLCS Game 2 for the Phillies.
"He did enough work that I'm confident sending him out," manager Charlie Manuel told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think he is capable of throwing anywhere from 75-90 pitches, maybe 95, maybe even 100. But I think that gets us into the sixth inning or the seventh, and I think that's where we're at. With our pitching and everything, that would work -- he threw a simulated game yesterday, and, what I saw, I liked his stuff."
Martinez began his Major League career with Los Angeles and has fond memories of his time with the Dodgers.
"It's going to be special" pitching again at Chavez Ravine, Martinez told the Los Angeles Times. "I hope this is not the last [game] that I pitch here, but, if it is, it would be a great joy to actually do it in the same place I started."
Saunders prepared to throw strikes: Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced that lefty Joe Saunders, who went 16-7 this season, will start in Game 2.
"You have to throw strikes, get ahead of those guys and put them on the defensive, or they're going to hurt you," Saunders told the Los Angeles Times.
"We think we're one of the best teams in baseball, and they're obviously one of the best teams in baseball," Saunders said. "It's going to be a great matchup with a lot of intense moments. It's going to be a lot of fun -- good times."
Veal honing game in Arizona: As a Rule 5 Draft selection, Donnie Veal spent the 2009 regular season in the Pirates bullpen but rarely pitched, so he's in the Arizona Fall League preparing as a starting pitcher.
"It's been a long year," Veal told MLB.com. "[There was] a lot of sitting and learning, but I think it has been worth it just to soak up as much information as possible and just learn about how to go about being a big leaguer every day. It's frustrating at first, but, looking back on it, I get it now."
Guillen eyes full-time role: Versatile Carlos Guillen would like to have a more settled role than he's had in recent seasons with the Tigers.
"I've been doing a lot of moves for the last two years, trying to make this team better," Guillen told MLB.com. "But I would like to be an everyday player. I would not like to be a part-time player."
DeJesus glad to make life better for others: David DeJesus is taking the field on Sunday at the 2009 Kansas City Ability Day in suburban Grandview, Mo. The Royals left fielder also participated in the free event last year.
"They were playing softball, and I was the pitcher, and they liked seeing if they could hit against me," DeJesus told MLB.com. "It was fun, seeing the smiles on their faces and just having them run around and having a good time. I think that's the most important thing. Maybe their dream was to be a baseball player and now they're playing against me and getting hits off a professional baseball player, so that's just one of those things in their lives that they can say they've done."
Kouzmanoff feted for hot corner prowess: Kevin Kouzmanoff, the first third baseman ever with more than 300 chances to commit only three errors, gave his black glove to the Hall of Fame this week for display in Cooperstown. Kouzmanoff is wary of getting a reputation as a defensive third baseman, though.
"I didn't want to be known that way," Kouzmanoff told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I have really worked hard on my defense. Third is a reaction position. The quicker you react, the more plays you make."
From July 5 to the end of the season, he hit .288 with 20 doubles, eight home runs and 48 RBIs in 62 games.
"I think the power is there, I think the bat speed is there," Kouzmanoff said. "I think I can be a 25-[homer], 100-[RBI] player."
Harrison looks to get healthy in Arizona: Rangers prospect Matt Harrison, who underwent surgery in August to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, will begin his comeback in the Arizona Fall League.
"The goal of having him out there is twofold," general manager Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "First, so he can pick up some of the innings he missed this year, and, second and most importantly, so he goes home healthy and confident that there are no lingering issues health-wise. Right now, he's still rehabbing and getting ready to pitch. He likely won't get in a game right away."
Thoracic outlet syndrome causes neck and shoulder pain, a weak grip and numbness in the fingers.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.