Gerardo Parra doesn't hide the fact that he wants to be Arizona's starting left fielder, or at least receive a lot of playing time there. He's hitting .378 (14-for-37) this spring and has shown his arm strength.
"My mentality is to play hard and prepare myself," he told the The Arizona Republic. "I want to play every day and to win."
Parra worked out nearly every day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the offseason, often with Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez.
"When you see these guys, like Manny Ramirez has 18 years in the big leagues, you think, 'If this guy is working this hard, I should be working hard, too,'" Parra said. "The guy is unbelievable."
The biggest difference manager Kirk Gibson sees in Parra from last season is his strength.
"He's way stronger," Gibson said. "He's more athletic. He has way better balance. You guys have watched his arm over the years. Who knew where it was going? His throws are outstanding. He's hitting everybody. That's nice. That's what we're looking for. He's understanding the game. He's out working every day. You see him bunt in the games. He's going to be a good weapon for us."
Lowe gets Opening Day nod again: The Braves announced that Derek Lowe will be their starter on Opening Day. It's the third time in three years as a member of the Braves that Lowe gets the honor.
"Especially the longer you play, even to be considered, even have a chance to do it is an honor on a very competitive team," the 37-year-old Lowe told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "So it's something that you always look forward to."
"You go back to when you were a kid," Lowe said. "Your parents asked you, 'Did you play?' and 'Did you win?' And that's it. It's not what your WHIP was. I've never won an ERA title. I've never won any individual award, but I've prided myself on pitching, winning and pitching good in the playoffs."
Carroll keeping himself prepared for anything: When the Dodgers added veteran utility man Jamey Carroll for the 2010 season, few thought he would play such a big role for the team. But Carroll ended up playing in 133 games and led the Dodgers with a .379 on-base percentage. This season should be more of the same for Carroll, who expects to see time in both the infield and outfield.
"With my job, I never know what it's going to entail, so I wouldn't know how to approach it any differently," Carroll told the Los Angeles Times. "I can't predict if I'm going to play 162 games or 50 games, because you never know what happens."
"I don't feel like I'm 37, I don't feel like I play like I'm 37," Carroll said. "So I just keep plugging away until something happens where I can't do it."
Belt trying to force his way into roster spot: In his first year in the Minors, Brandon Belt hit .352 with 23 home runs and ended his season in Triple-A. Belt has continued his hot hitting this spring and could force his way onto the Giants' Opening Day roster.
Belt "certainly got everybody talking inside and outside the organization as a guy who looks like he could be ready," general manager Brian Sabean told the San Jose Mercury News.
"Only thing I can think of is that'd be awesome, but you know, that's something I can't control," Belt said when asked about Sabean's comments. "They get paid a lot of money to make those decisions.
"If they decide I'm ready, they decide I'm ready. If not, I think they're going to do what's best for me."
Pineda making progress in bid for roster spot: Michael Pineda has emerged as the leading candidate for the Mariners' final rotation spot. The prospect has one of the top fastballs in the Minor Leagues, but it will be the development of his off-speed pitches that determines if he makes the Opening Day roster.
"You just look at the swings," manager Eric Wedge told the Seattle Times. "You look at the reaction of hitters. Hitters can always tell you so much. You look at whether they're taking a pitch, or whether they're swinging, or maybe just a little reaction up there. I think we saw all that."
"The way he was using his secondary stuff, it was as good as we've seen it all spring," Wedge said.
Pujols anxious to put quick hands to use: Albert Pujols isn't concerned about being ready for the season.
"I feel too good. I feel like my hands are like lightning. They're so quick right now that I can't even control them. I just need to pace myself and let the ball go deep," Pujols told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I'm not waiting on the ball. I've never hit so many ground balls to third base."
LeCure finds success in switching to starter: As Sam LeCure works on his transformation from reliever to starter for the Reds, he says things are going just fine.
"I worked hard this offseason," LeCure told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The results have shown up so far. My body feels good. My job was to make their job harder -- to figure out who they're going to take. I'm doing the best I can."
Tabata ready to bat leadoff -- and elsewhere: Jose Tabata spent a lot of time as the leadoff batter for Pittsburgh in 2010. He says he's happy to fill that spot -- or any spot -- for the team in 2011.
"I feel comfortable leading off, but I will do whatever they want," Tabata told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If they say lead off, I'll be there. If they say bat second or third, I want to do whatever I can to help my team."
Moreland putting in work in right field: Mitch Moreland is scheduled to be the starting first baseman for the Texas Rangers. But on Wednesday he got his first start of the spring in right field. He started there four times last season.
"I feel like with any position, the more you play it the more comfortable you're going to be," Moreland told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I've played right a good bit in my career so far. I feel like I'll be comfortable out there. Seeing the ball a little bit out there is going to help me, but I feel like I'm comfortable enough; I'll be fine."
Lester received news of Opening Day start via text: Boston manager Terry Francona named Jon Lester the Opening Day starter. Lester has known he would be the starter since this offseason, when Francona asked him if he wanted to take the ball.
"Obviously, it's a big honor," Lester told the Boston Globe. "Growing up, it's what you want to be. Like I said in the past, Opening Day is nice, but the playoffs are more important."
Lester learned of Francona's idea from a text message that read, "How would you feel about starting Opening Day?"
"I wrote back, 'Sure,'" Lester said. "It was short and sweet, and I think I was at a deer stand when he texted."
Pearce ready to put versatility to use: Steve Pearce is a natural first baseman, but says if the Pirates need him to play some third base this season -- as he has done this spring -- that he can make the adjustment without any difficulty.
"It's been an easy transition because I played it in college," Pearce told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I'm comfortable over there. I just have to get my reps so it becomes a little bit easier getting reads on hops and stuff like that and get back in form."
Towles having a hot spring: J.R. Towles has stepped up at the plate for the Astros this spring, going 9-for-24 for a .375 batting average with two doubles and two home runs.
"Right now, I'm just keeping it simple, just seeing the ball and hitting the ball, and I feel like it's right where it needs to be right now," Towles told the Houston Chronicle.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.