Inglett thankful for Counsell's guidance
Newest Astro sought pinch-hitting advice from veteran
Joe Inglett, Houston's newest infielder, wasted little time getting into the lineup. Inglett played against the Phillies on Monday in the team's final game in Florida. He was traded to the Astros by Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"It's been a roller coaster ride," Inglett told the Houston Chronicle. "This offseason was a roller coaster ride. It's for the better. It's an opportunity, and that's all you can ask for."
Last year with Milwaukee, Inglett had 20 pinch hits to lead the National League. He said he became comfortable as a pinch-hitter by learning the trade from a veteran teammate.
"It was my first time ever being in that situation, and it was nice to have a guy named Craig Counsell in my corner," Inglett said. "I pretty much shadowed him, and he taught me how to be a pro and how to be a threat off the bench."
Freeman's bat gives Braves added threat: Rookie Freddie Freeman's presence at first base gives the Braves an additional threat in the batting order. Freeman's strength is his ability to hit the ball to all fields.
"I think his approach is what sets him apart from a lot of other guys," general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's a guy that will take what the pitcher gives him. If he gives him a ball to pull, he'll pull it. He'll also drive a ball up the left-center-field gap or down the left-field corner. Those are the guys that are the most dangerous as hitters and have the best chance to be successful at a young age."
"I think we've seen that this spring; he's sprayed balls all over the place and he's starting to get a feel for when to turn on balls," Wren said. "That's always the last thing to come, and that's not something we're going to rush."
Vazquez sees velocity return to fastball: Javier Vazquez is back in the National League with the Marlins, and his fastball regularly was in the 90-91 mph range during Spring Training.
"He knows how to pitch and he shows command of all his pitches," manager Edwin Rodriguez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "That's good enough."
Added Vazquez, "The last few starts I thought the life of my fastball was there. I haven't really asked anybody what my velocity is. I'm not worried about that. I'm just worried about location and the life of my pitches. Right now, I see my pitches have pretty good life."
Kazmir shows his best stuff at the end: In his final Cactus League outing, Scott Kazmir allowed one run in 4 1/3 innings in his best outing of the spring.
"I felt good, it was a good tuneup," Kazmir told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm just trying to stay focused, trying to get better every time out there."
"For his own confidence, it's never going to hurt to pitch like that," manager Mike Scioscia said. "The way he pitched tonight, we feel he can do that every time he takes the ball."
Wilhelmsen works his way back to Opening Day roster spot: Tom Wilhelmsen has made the Mariners' Opening Day roster. He was signed last year after being out of organized ball for six years. He had worked as a bartender and then traveled around the U.S. and Europe before getting the desire to return to baseball.
"He was always a talented kid," general manager Jack Zduriencik told the Seattle Times. "You look back at the first year he competed, in the Midwest League, he was an All-Star way back when. It is kind of remarkable, with the length of time he's been off, to accomplish what he has accomplished."
Fukudome keeping Japan in his thoughts: Kosuke Fukudome knows he can only do so much to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But he hopes to bring his countrymen some happiness by way of his performance on the field.
"There are only a few things I can do from here," he told the Chicago Tribune through his interpreter. "There's not much. The only thing I can do is to just try to play the best I can to give them some good news from the United States -- that I'm doing well."
Opening Day roster spot a dream come true for Pearce: For the first time in his career, Steve Pearce will be spending Opening Day on a Major League roster.
"That's awesome," Pearce told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I've been fighting for this spot ever since 2008. Three years later, it means the world to me. It's everything I've wanted."
Galarraga brings winning mentality to rotation: The Arizona Diamondbacks will go with Armando Galarraga as the team's fifth starter. Manager Kirk Gibson made the announcement Monday.
Galarraga, acquired from Detroit during the offseason, was happy with the news.
"I feel good about it," he told the The Arizona Republic of making the rotation. "It's the first step. Now, it's about winning. That's all I want to do. I don't like to lose. Before, my mentality was to be in the rotation. Now, the goal is to just win games. That's it."
Beltran shows he's ready for Opening Day: Carlos Beltran made his strongest statement yet about being ready for Opening Day by collecting a hit and making a sliding catch in right field on Tuesday against Washington.
"I feel good," Beltran told the New York Post. "I feel like I had good at-bats and was able to see a lot of pitches."
"I thought he looked great, and it was tremendous seeing him back in the lineup," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It makes a huge difference in our lineup with him hitting fourth."
Burnett plays his way into the mix as closer: Sean Burnett had such a strong Grapefruit League season that he forced his way into the picture as closer for the Nationals.
"Whether you have a 10.00 ERA or a 0.00 ERA right now, it really doesn't matter," Burnett told the Washington Post. "But it's a little more confidence going in knowing you're throwing the ball well. I feel like I have pretty good feel for my pitches and things are working well. Hopefully, it stays like that."
"I haven't heard one word from anybody yet," Burnett said. "I'll just be ready for the phone to ring in the fifth or sixth. They'll call us, and when the phone rings, we'll go try to get outs. Maybe it's better that way. I'm sure after several games, we'll figure out what roles we're going with. For right now, Thursday will be a surprise to all of us."
Granderson could be in Opening Day lineup: Curtis Granderson is still holding out hope of being in the Yankees' starting lineup on Opening Day. Granderson appeared in a Minor League exhibition game and felt good afterward.
"Everything feels good," Granderson told the New York Post ahead of Tuesday's outing. "There have been no setbacks, I continue to move forward."
Granderson suffered a right oblique muscle strain on March 22 while taking batting practice. Before the injury, he was batting .385 (15-for-39) with three homers and seven RBIs.
Barney might be seen turning flips: If Darwin Barney is going to channel his inner-Ozzie Smith and do a back flip at Wrigley Field this season -- as he has done in Spring Training -- it won't be his decision.
"Carlos Zambrano told me I had to do it when we get to Chicago," Barney told the Chicago Tribune. "But I think you kind of have to have a couple of Gold Gloves to do that on the field. If they force me to do it, there's not much I can do. Hopefully, they don't."
Season veteran Rollins unchanged through the years: Now 32, married and one of the veterans of the league, Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins says time has flown by, and he certainly doesn't feel like he's been around for 10 years.
"Nope," Rollins told the Philadelphia Daily News. "It went by fast. People say it goes by fast, but it went by fast. And it's still going to go by faster. As I've gotten older, it seems like the years get shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter.
"It was the same. I used to get on their nerves. But when you prove that you can play, they start understanding your personality a lot better. At least they give you a chance to show who you are, on the field, off the field. And I'm still here. I haven't changed. I probably don't talk as much as I used to, you know?"
Adcock making strides with Royals: After being selected by Kansas City from Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 Draft, Nathan Adcock will be with the Royals on Opening Day.
"We think there's something in him," Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com. "He's very poised, he's very confident, he has things together for a young guy. We're very pleased with the way he's handled himself. He makes the ball move naturally; that's a great sign of future success as a pitcher. He keeps the ball. Maybe he's a starter of the future. We'll see."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.