Tony Peña is the kind of pitcher who doesn't attract much attention but whose performance is invaluable to his team.
03/20/2008 12:45 PM ET
Peña is key to D-backs' pen
Melvin leaning on flame-throwing righty to anchor pen
Last season, the reliever made a team-high 75 appearances and led the Diamndbacks' bullpen with 85 1/3 innings. Manager Bob Melvin knew he could count on Peña, especially when he needed a pitcher to escape a troubling situation.
"He was the one we relied on to get us out of jams," Melvin told The Arizona Republic. "He had a lot of weapons for that role. The outcome of the game can be decided in the seventh inning a lot of times, based on the volume of traffic out there on the bases."
Peña features a fastball in the mid-90s, a power slider as well as good movement on a two-seam fastball.
"He's got a subtle sinker that plays off his four-seam fastball that he can use at times when he needs a ground ball," Melvin said. "He can strike you out with his slider. He can strike you out with his fastball. He's also got a better understanding of what the task is every time out. When guys are on, he's very aware of what he needs from hitter to hitter."
As a starter or reliever, Moseley ready and willing: Versatile Dustin Moseley will gladly take on either a starting or bullpen role for the Angels.
The trouble is, the Angels need him in both spots right now, with injuries keeping starter John Lackey and reliever Chris Bootcheck on the shelf.
"That's a tough one, man," Moseley told The Los Angeles Times. "With [rookie Nick] Adenhart throwing the ball like he has -- that's going to be their decision. From a team perspective, this early in the year, with Bootcheck down and me in the rotation, not really having a long man -- we'll see. I'm just doing what they ask of me."
De Los Santos makes camp debut with A's: One of the Minor League pitchers acquired in the Nick Swisher deal, Fautino De Los Santos made his first appearance in Major League camp with the A's on Tuesday, and he turned heads with a 97-mph fastball.
"You could see all the potential," manager Bob Geren told The San Francisco Chronicle. "It's just a matter of controlling the tempo."
Clement making strides defensively: Hitting is considered Mariners prospect Jeff Clement's biggest strength. But this spring the catcher is earning rave reviews for his defense while batting just .158.
"He calls a real good game now," manager John McLaren told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "He's spent a lot of time with [catching guru] Roger Hansen. There was a time when Jeff was way behind [Rob] Johnson defensively. And this is no knock on Johnson, but Jeff's made up a lot of ground in that area."
Broken fingernail gives Burnett benefits: Unable to use his curveball as much until a broken fingernail heals, A.J. Burnett has had the opportunity to work more on commanding his fastball as well as his slider and changeup.
"I'm trying to turn into a pitcher," Burnett told The Toronto Star. "As much as I don't want to, I'm trying. It's just hard, because I'm used to just raring back and throwing and throwing the hook and that's all I've really dealt with. I'm really working on sinking to both sides and the changeup that I plan on using."
Weeks sidelined with swollen hand: Rickie Weeks will miss a few days of action due to a swollen right hand. The break in action may be good for Weeks, who has struggled this spring with a .125 batting average and 20 strikeouts in 40 at-bats.
Manager Ned Yost isn't worried about Weeks' play, but the days off could be helpful.
"I don't think he's pressing," Yost told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He just needs to slow down a little bit. Rickie is like a racecar engine. Every once in a while, the throttle gets stuck in high speed, with the engine revving. That's where Rickie is right now. Rickie just needs to take a step back and slow down."
Is 'La Vida Loca' on deck for Valentin?: Jose Valentin will receive an anti-inflammatory injection in hopes of relieving the pressure created by the C-5 and C-6 discs in his neck.
If surgery is ultimately required, however, Valentin said he would rather retire than have the procedure.
"I'm 38," he told Newsday. "If I knew I would have 10 more years, I'd take the surgery. But now, just give a chance to a young kid, give him a chance to make some money. My career has been good enough. I'll go to Plan B -- coach, be with my family, live 'La Vida Loca.' have fun."
Dice-K ready to win one for newborn son: Daisuke Matsuzaka's season-opening pitching assignment in Tokyo against the A's will be inspired by his newborn son.
"If I could pitch well for him," Matsuzaka told The Boston Herald, "that would be great."
Chamberlain likely slated for bullpen duty: Joba Chamberlain will likely start the season in the bullpen for the Yankees and not in the starting rotation. As of now, it looks as if Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy will make up the starting rotation.
"We're still preparing him as a starter, but eventually, you have to narrow it down to five and you have to put the best arms in the bullpen," manager Joe Girardi told The New York Daily News. "You have to make some decisions. It will be fairly soon. You have to give them enough time to get ready."
Thome continues hard-working approach: Despite his accomplishments, Jim Thome doesn't take anything for granted.
"I'm a big believer that just because you've done something in the past, don't think it's automatically going to fall into place," Thome told The Chicago Tribune. "You've got to continue to work and put the effort and time in. If you do that, you'll be rewarded. It's not just me. We've got guys who work hard, and that will reward our club."
More at-bats important to Ankiel: Rick Ankiel, who is on track to be the starting center fielder for the Cardinals this season, is progressing as a hitter.
"I'm doing pretty well, but I'm still eager to get more at-bats," he told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The more you get, the better your timing becomes. It's part of it."
Hampton clears another hurdle: Mike Hampton had his longest outing in nearly two-and-a-half seasons when he went 4 1/3 innings in the Braves' loss to the Cardinals on Monday. Hampton allowed two hits, one run, three walks and had three strikeouts in the outing.
"I feel good with everything -- pitches, body, results," Hampton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's the biggest hurdle I've jumped over yet -- pitching into the fifth inning."
Capuano leaves game with sore elbow: Chris Capuano left his latest spring start in the fourth inning with elbow soreness. The severity of the problem won't be known for a few days.
"When you feel pain, [competing for a job] is the last thing on your mind," Capuano told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Obviously, it hurts your chances when you're trying to compete against healthy guys."
Church celebrates son's birth with big day: Ryan Church suffered a concussion several weeks ago and more recently welcomed his first child, Mason Alexander, into the world.
With those events behind him, Church can concentrate on getting ready for the regular season. After three days away for paternity leave, Church was back on the field Monday and had four at-bats against the Nationals, his former team.
"I just tried to bottle up all the energy, especially the first day back you're against your old team," Church told The New York Daily News. "It's just good to put the uniform back on, get back out there."
Floyd feeling better than ever: Gavin Floyd, who is projected to be the fifth starter for the White Sox this season, is feeling better than his numbers indicate.
"It's definitely now," Floyd told The Chicago Sun-Times, when asked about the last time in his career he felt this confident. "It didn't really show out there, but nobody else except myself knows exactly how good I feel, how natural I feel. It took me a while to get back to that, especially because I felt like I was pitching in [another body] for a couple of years. Mechanically, I wasn't right, and I've finally put it all together."
-- Red Line Editorial