Cal Ripken is in Michael Young's corner
Hall-of-Fames says Ranger can make defensive transition
Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken, who made the move from shortstop to third base late in his career, believes Michael Young will make a successful transition to the hot corner.
"He has really good hands and has all the skills," Ripken told the Dallas Morning News. "He'll be fine. But it is an adjustment, and there are things you have to get used to."
Ripken said Young will probably have to get used to playing with a bigger glove because there is no longer that need to flip it quickly to second base when turning a double play. Young will also have to be ready to field the ball a little quicker than he has in the past.
"You have a better view of the whole play at shortstop," Ripken said. "At third, you have to break it down into catching first and worrying about the rest after that. The speed of the ball on you is different and only goes up when you play in on certain hitters."
The Mayor won't seek new term: After 12 years, Sean Casey has decided to retire, despite hitting .322 in 69 games for Boston last season.
One of the most popular players among fellow Major Leaguers, Casey earned the nickname "The Mayor" because of his penchant to talk to everyone at first base. Casey is joining the MLB Network as a studio analyst.
"It means a lot to me if I'm looked at as a good guy in the game and a pretty good player," Casey told the Boston Herald. "It's a nice combination."
Benoit could be shelved for season after surgery: The Texas Rangers could be without a second pitcher for the entire 2009 season.
Joaquin Benoit underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. Last week, Eric Hurley had the same surgery and will miss the season.
"In both cases, multiple doctors recommended rehab over surgery late last season," general manager Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News. "Unfortunately, they didn't respond to the rehab process as we'd hoped. That's a risk anytime you rehab a shoulder."
Abreu could be headed to Mariners: The Mariners are trying to re-work their budget to fit in free agent Bobby Abreu and the right fielder's agent said his client is willing to consider Seattle.
"Right from the start, he told me he had no limitations [on a prospective team]," agent Peter Greenberg told the Seattle Times. "He'll go wherever there's a fit and a fair deal. If the Mariners made the right offer, Bobby would have no problem at all going to Seattle."
Jimenez to spend next four years with Rockies: The Colorado Rockies reached agreement with Ubaldo Jimenez on a four-year deal with club options for 2013 and 2014.
"That's something that's going to make me work harder every day to try to be better," said Jimenez told the Rocky Mountain News from his home in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. "To be there for my team, because they trust me."
Chris Perez plans to build off solid rookie year: Toward the end of the 2008 season, Chris Perez became the de-facto closer in the St. Louis bullpen. During that time, he went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA, 22 walks and 42 strikeouts to go along with seven saves. Now, as Spring Training nears, he hopes to have the chance to compete for that job again.
"I learned a lot [as a rookie]," Perez told MLB.com. "Especially having to spot my fastball a little bit better. In the lower levels, if I fell behind 2-0 or 3-1, I'd be able to kind of get it by the guy. Up here, it doesn't work. I'm learning the importance of getting ahead of the hitters and being aggressive. My stuff is good enough to get them out. I just have to execute."
Kinney banking on return to health: Back in 2006, Josh Kinney was instrumental in his bullpen role for the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. He has hopes of returning to that role in 2009 with a healthy season.
"[Closing] is too far ahead for me to think about right now," Kinney told MLB.comm. "I just want to prepare myself to be ready for spring. If I'm healthy, then I know I can pitch. That's the key for me. I don't care about a role right now. It would be nice, but I think that's down the road. If it's closing, it's closing. If it's pitching the seventh, it's the seventh. I don't care. As long as I'm healthy, I'll be all right."
Heilman lands with hometown team: Having grown up a Cubs fan, newly acquired Aaron Heilman is excited about joining the Cubs after being dealt to the Windy City this week by the Seattle Mariners.
"It's a dream come true," Heilman, who was born in Logansport, Ind., about 140 miles from Wrigley Field, told MLB.com. "I always rooted for the Cubs growing up, and now to be a part of that organization, it's going to be pretty special for me."
Span no longer under the radar: Just a year or so ago, Denard Span was a virtual unknown in Minnesota. But after batting .294 with 70 runs scored in just 93 games in his rookie season, Span is now in position to compete for a starting job with the 2009 Twins.
"I remember the last couple years I was signing at the Minor League table [at TwinsFest] and when it was time to get up and leave, nobody recognized me," Span told MLB.com. "I walked around like they probably thought I was an employee who worked at the stadium. But this year I couldn't get from A to B without someone saying, 'That's Denard.'" It's really kind of unreal. It's definitely flattering to me."
Motte hopes to bring more of the same to Cardinals: Though his time in St. Louis was brief during the 2008 season, Jason Motte made a strong impression coming out of the bullpen.
He posted a 0.82 ERA to go with 16 strikeouts against just three walks last fall. With Spring Training just around the corner, Motte now hopes to compete for a late-inning job with the Cardinals-possible even as their closer.
"I came up here and just tried to do what I did down there," Motte told MLB.com. "That's what Tony and [Dave] Duncan told me. Don't go and change anything. Don't do anything different. If it worked down there [in the Minors], just keep doing it. So, I came up here and pretty much did what I did down there all year. I just tried to go right at guys, and that's about it."
Uribe to get a look from Giants: The Giants signed veteran Juan Uribe to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
"This is an opportunity for him and an opportunity for us," director of player personnel Bobby Evans told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's a good fit for both of us. He can play multiple positions and play them well, short and third in particular."
Fowler a contender for starting spot: When Spring Training begins, Dexter Fowler will make some noise in a bid for a starting job in the Rockies' outfield. Since September, he has added around 10 pounds of muscle and appears ready for his chance.
"I wouldn't count out the kid. When you have young players [like] Dexter, you never know when they are going to pop," general manager Dan O'Dowd told the Denver Post.
Springer to get another look at AL batters: The A's and veteran Steve Springer agreed to a one-year deal. This will be the first time Springer has played in the American League since 1995.
"A lot of people say they don't want to go back to the AL, but I told my wife I was tired of eating in the same restaurants all the time -- it will be nice to take another lap around the American League on my way out," Springer told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sweeney to take passion to Seattle: The Mariners signed five-time All-Star Mike Sweeney to a Minor League deal. Sweeney will get a chance to win a job in Spring Training and will fight for at-bats at both first base and DH.
"I have that mental passion and fire burning in my heart to come to camp and hopefully have an impact on the team, whether it's for six weeks of Spring Training or the whole '09 season," Sweeney told the Seattle Times.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.