Romero vaults into Jays rotation
Rookie avoids early demotion, impresses pitching coach
Ricky Romero, a 24-year-old rookie, has earned a spot in the starting rotation for the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Cito Gaston announced. Romero, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, had another solid outing on Sunday when he held Houston to two runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.
"He pitched himself right onto the team," Gaston told the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Romero was nearly sent to Minor League camp early in March after a bad outing, but pitching coach Brad Arnsberg helped prevent the demotion and altered Romero's pitching mechanics.
"He grabbed me aside and just told me, 'Listen, you've got some good stuff. You've got to learn how to have confidence in your stuff, because I have confidence in your stuff. Now it's all about you trusting your stuff'," Romero said. "I feel that's what I did."
Roster spot brings tears of joy to Morales: Shortly after he learned that he'd beaten out Drew Butera to earn the job as the Twins' backup catcher, Jose Morales was in tears.
"I think about it now, and I could start crying again," Morales told MLB.com. "I knew my chance was going to come. I just had to stay focused and keep playing. It paid off. I'm on cloud nine right now."
Lowe had sights set on basketball career: In a wide-ranging Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Derek Lowe, among other things, talks about how he was a four-sport star in high school and seemed to have the most promise in basketball. He had a college basketball scholarship until scouts saw him pitch in a big game against the team they actually came to see.
"I didn't want to play baseball. I signed to go to Eastern Michigan to play basketball. And I won literally two games my whole high school [baseball] career. I won one my senior year with almost a 7.00 ERA, 80-83 mph. I never got a college offer from the smallest to the biggest schools."
Scherzer chalks up another solid performance: Max Scherzer continues to pitch well after his return from shoulder inflammation. The Arizona pitcher allowed four hits and one earned run on Saturday against Cleveland while striking out three and not issuing a walk. Scherzer, who threw 61 pitches, was scheduled to go four innings but went five because of his low pitch count.
"Throwing first-pitch strikes allowed me to keep my pitch count down," Scherzer told the East Valley Tribune. "The ground balls were great, but the best thing I did today was not walk anybody."
Peña takes positive outlook into season: Carlos Peña feels physically ready for the season to start. After undergoing an unplanned abdominal surgery in January, Peña wanted to head into the season healthy and swinging the bat well. On Monday, he hit his first home run this spring.
"I'm satisfied," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "As far as the surgery, all I'm trying to do is get over the last little bit of soreness that comes from overuse and getting it stronger, so that makes me very happy.
"And, at the plate, just feeling that comfort zone and that ability to be able to trust your hands -- I'm feeling more and more comfortable every time I go out there, so that's good."
Matsuzaka increases his tempo: Daisuke Matsuzaka had a strong start for Boston on Monday, allowing only one earned run on two hits over five innings against Atlanta. He walked three and struck out two while throwing 75 pitches.
"He was very efficient with his pitches," third baseman Mike Lowell told the Boston Herald. "I think sometimes he tries to be so perfect it gets away from him a little. I think he had as good an outing as could have been hoped. I've got to think he was still feeling a little jet lag."
Rookie Fowler closes in on roster spot: With Dexter Fowler making it through another round of cuts, he is one step closer to being on the Opening Day roster for the Rockies.
"He's still here," manager Clint Hurdle told the Denver Post when asked about Fowler's status.
Gardner secures spot in Opening Day lineup: The Yankees named Brett Gardner as the team's starting center fielder. Gardner is hitting .385 with three home runs, six RBIs and five stolen bases this spring. He is a solid defender and he brings exceptional speed to the Yankees lineup.
"What happens April 6 doesn't necessarily mean that's what's going to be on June 1," manager Joe Girardi told the New York Daily News. "Players still have to perform, but right now, we think Gardy has a little bit of an edge."
Thames plans to keep on working: With it becoming more and more apparent that he will get regular at-bats this season, Marcus Thames plans to stick with the plan that got him to this point.
"And I'm going to take it and run with it," Thames told MLB.com. "I'm going to be the same guy. I'm not going to get cocky, get a big head or anything. I'm going to go out there and work my butt off with [Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon] in the cages and try to get better.
"I'm still going to be the same person. I'm not going to change. When you see me, I'm going to go about my day the same way."
Wise figures to be more aggressive at plate: Dewayne Wise won't change his approach when he's leading off for the White Sox.
"That's when I get in trouble, when I have to take a lot of pitches," Wise told MLB.com. "Early in spring, when Ozzie was trying me at the leadoff spot, I was struggling a little bit, because I was going up there taking pitches and falling behind in the count. Then, I was swinging at bad pitches and getting myself out.
"Then, Ozzie came to me and said, 'Look, just because I have you there in the leadoff spot, don't feel like you have to go up there and take five pitches every at-bat.' Don't get me wrong -- I'm not going up there to swing at everything, but he wants me to keep my aggressiveness."
Greene on a tear at the plate: Khalil Greene, who is batting .418 with just three strikeouts in 71 at-bats this spring, says he believes he's on the right track as Opening Day approaches.
"I'm not going to say I've found something or that I've figured it out, but I feel comfortable where I'm at," Greene told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've sustained an approach for the majority of the spring. It's something that I've tried to work on daily. I'm just trying to take good swings, not swing ridiculously hard, and stay in the middle of the field."
Buehrle gets seventh Opening Day start: For the seventh time in his career, Mark Buehrle will be given the ball on Opening Day. His latest first assignment will be on April 6 against Kansas City.
"It's a great honor," Buehrle told MLB.com. "When you get drafted, you never think you are going to get to the big leagues, and here you are, starting on Opening Day."
Jackson makes a return to bullpen: Despite having been a starting pitcher for most of his career, Zach Jackson has made the Indians' roster as a member of the bullpen.
"It definitely is a different mentality, a different mindset," Jackson told MLB.com. "There's no tinkering around. You've got to go right after them right out the gate and be ready to go. It was a blessing in disguise last year to get into the bullpen in Milwaukee. I know I can bounce back. I've been blessed with a rubber arm. You have to be ready every single day."
Bonifacio settles in, secures starting spot at third: The Marlins settled their infield picture by appointing Jorge Cantu as their starting first baseman and Emilio Bonifacio as their leadoff hitter and third baseman. A second baseman prior to being acquired by Florida in the offseason, Bonifacio spent all spring working on his new position.
"I feel much better there," Bonifacio told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I've been getting used to it. At the beginning, I felt uncomfortable, you could say. With guys like Cantu and Wes [Helms], they've helped a lot. ... I've always worked to be on a big league team, and it's a great opportunity to for me to do my job."
Young takes new approach to wellness: In the offseason, Dmitri Young, a diabetic, met with new Nationals conditioning coach John Philbin, and the two came up with a plan to keep Young at a proper playing weight.
"This is probably the smallest I've been since I've been a National," Young told the Washington Post. "We won't get into numbers or anything, but it's just a lifestyle change. You choose to actually do it after having a scare last year. It kind of puts things like, 'OK, you either do it or else.' I know I've said that before, but when you actually get that scare again, I'd be selfish if I didn't do it, because I have kids now. I want to see them grow up and see my grandkids, essentially."
Adenhart impresses again in final outing: In his final outing in the Cactus League, Nick Adenhart gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings and struck out five. He finished the spring with a 3-0 record, five walks and 18 strikeouts in 26 innings for the Angels.
"I feel pretty ready," Adenhart told the Los Angeles Times. "I didn't labor too much today. Later in the game, I picked up my mental concentration to overcome the fatigue.
"I feel like I'm setting the pace of the game, and that's a liberty you can take when you're holding the ball. Rhythm between pitches, tempo during my windup -- I'm keeping a good flow."
Jakubauskas takes unlikely path to possible roster spot: Chris Jakubauskas might be the most unlikely player in any camp to have a good shot at making a Major League team. A hitter in college, Jakubauskas became a pitcher and then spent more than four years in the independent leagues before catching on with Seattle. He worked two part-time jobs to make ends meet and now he is on the verge of making the Mariners as either a fifth starter or long reliever.
"I was thinking about that a couple of days ago, and I didn't want to get my mind dwelling on how this was a huge start," Jakubauskas told the Seattle Times after allowing a lone run over five innings on Tuesday in a 12-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. "Obviously, it was for me -- my last one of the spring. I wanted to keep it the same as I kept it all spring, going through the same routine and trying not to think about it. I'd be lying if I said I didn't a little bit, but I tried to get myself out of that real quick and just focus on throwing five strong innings again today."
Blum likely to get Opening Day start: As Opening Day draws closer, it appears that Geoff Blum will start at third base for the Astros. Aaron Boone, who was supposed to platoon with Blum at third this season, is out for the year after having heart surgery. And the Cubs, Houston's opponent on Monday, will start right-hander Carlos Zambrano, leaving Blum, a switch-hitter, the logical choice to start at third.
"There's an outside chance," Blum told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm not going to believe it until I see my name in my lineup or they give me the OK, but by the process of elimination..."
Hoffman to start season on DL: Coming as no surprise, the Milwaukee Brewers placed Trevor Hoffman on the disabled list with a strained right oblique. The move is retroactive to March 27, meaning Hoffman is eligible to return April 11.
"It's frustrating, knowing where we're at, a week away from starting things up," Hoffman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But looking at not having been off the mound in two weeks, it's pretty silly to rush it at [this] point."
Jackson puts in extra time: Conor Jackson is ready to get Spring Training behind him and get the season started. On Sunday, the Arizona outfielder took some swings on a back field at Tucson Electric Park against Minor League pitching and was pleased with his work.
"I felt fine," he told the Arizona Republic. "I squared up like four or five balls over there. It's there."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.