Zobrist's latest position first base
Versatile Ray has starter everywhere but pitcher, catcher
Ben Zobrist hasn't caught or pitched for the Rays this year, but he's now started a game at every other position.
Manager Joe Maddon wanted to give Carl Crawford a day off and get the bats of Gabe Kapler and Akinori Iwamura into the lineup on Monday, so Zobrist got his first start at first base.
"It's really not to see what Ben looks like [at first base]," Maddon told the Tampa Tribune. "It's just I wanted to get different people in the lineup."
Zobrist has 88 starts at second base, 36 in right field, six at shortstop, five in center field and one each at third base, left field, first base and DH.
Roberts joins elite company with walk: Brian Roberts became the first player since 1900 to have 25 steals, 50 doubles, 70 walks and 100 runs scored in three different seasons (2004, '08-09). The other four players to reached those heights even once are seven-time All-Star Craig Biggio (1999), two-time All-Star Bobby Abreu (2002) and Hall of Famers Tris Speaker (1912) and Kiki Cuyler (1930).
"When I'm all done, maybe, and my career is over, I can be really thankful to have the opportunity to play this game and even be in that sort of category," Roberts told MLB.com. "This organization has been great with me. They've stuck with me through the bad times early on in my career and continued to give me a chance, and it's just been a blessing to play every day and have that opportunity."
Jones closing in on historic homer: Chipper Jones needs two home runs in the final five games of the season to become the first player in Major League history to open his career with 15 straight 20-homer seasons.
"He's swinging really well right now, and he's catching everything at third, running the bases well," manager Bobby Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's gotten energized here, I think, with the run that we're on. And it's lifted him up a little bit to where he normally is at the plate."
Hill finds success batting second: Toronto manager Cito Gaston says he may use Aaron Hill at the No. 3 spot next season with Adam Lind hitting fourth. Hill has 36 homers and 105 RBIs batting primarily in the No. 2 spot.
"It's something that's come up. I'm comfortable at the top of the lineup, but [hitting third] is one of those things where you have to earn your stripes," Hill told the Toronto Star. "I could definitely see myself being a No. 3 hitter, but if it's not broke, don't fix it. No. 2 definitely worked out for me pretty well this year."
Weeks plans to be back at second base: Second baseman Rickie Weeks, who made offensive and defensive progress under the tutelage of Willie Randolph early this season before getting hurt, put to rest rumors that he would switch to center field next season.
"I would never go out there," Weeks told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I've talked to [general manager] Doug [Melvin] about it, and it's squashed, and that's all that matters."
Francouer looks to bright future with Mets: New York seems like a good fit for Jeff Francouer, who is hitting .309 with 19 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 70 games since his trade to the Mets. And those stats have been compiled with a torn ligament in his left thumb that will require surgery in the offseason.
"I don't think a lot of people went through what I went through as far as being from Atlanta," Francouer told the Newsday. "Everything for 2½ years was great, and then it just kind of ended. I know people will say, you can't be having fun now, but I see the big picture. I see what we can do next year and the following years here."
Byrd hopes to stay with Rangers: Marlon Byrd was named the American League Player of the Week after hitting .320 with three home runs and 11 RBIs last week.
Byrd, a pending free agent who is hitting .280 with 20 home runs and 89 RBIs, has made no secret of his desire to return to Texas next year.
"I'm sitting here waiting," Byrd told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "They know I want to come back. This is my first choice."
Lowell's hip gets a boost with shot: Mike Lowell did not play on Tuesday night and could be out of the Boston lineup until Friday after getting a shot in his surgically repaired right hip.
Lowell, who was given a dose of cortisone and Synvisc, a lubricant, and had 13 CCs of fluid drained from the hip, believes the treatment will allow him to play more comfortably during the postseason.
"I don't think this was a necessity, but why not do something that's not going to hurt me and will make me feel better?" Lowell told the Boston Herald.
Danks closing in on 200 innings: John Danks pitched the first complete game of his career in the White Sox' 6-1 victory over the Indians. In winning his 13th game of the year -- a career high -- Danks allowed just three hits while reaching 195 1/3 innings pitched on the year.
"I've set a goal -- 200 innings every year," Danks told MLB.com. "I'm getting close, so I'm going out there and trying to pitch an efficient inning, trying to keep us in the game.
"To go out there and get deep in the game, it feels good. I'm going to go out there and throw one more time against Detroit and hopefully it means something. Hopefully, the race isn't determined yet, and it means something."
Cabrera is always in the mix: Asdrubal Cabrera, just 23 years old, became a steady performer for the Indians this season.
"He's just had a very consistent year," manager Eric Wedge told MLB.com. "He's done a great job transitioning to shortstop effectively, and he's been very consistent for us at the top of the order."
Pujols not a fan of taking days off: Albert Pujols doesn't want any time off heading into the postseason.
"Right now, I don't feel good at the plate," Pujols told MLB.com. "So I'm going to [get] ready to go [for the playoffs]. I know what I need to do to get myself ready. If I play the next -- how many games have we got left? -- if I play them all, I'll take that. Because we've gotten plenty of days off. I don't like the days off. I feel like after days off I lose being comfortable at the plate."
Wells still ready to put in the work: Randy Wells already has 11 wins this season, and Cubs manager Lou Piniella recently said that whatever he might accomplish in his final start of the season would be "a bonus." Wells, though, isn't satisfied with that.
"I don't believe that at all, no. I hate that," Wells told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm not here as a sideshow or a fill-in. I want to stay here. I want to be part of the rotation next year. And I hate that.
"I'm here to pitch, and I'm here to pitch for a long time. And I don't like losing. I hate losing. I hate walks. I hate cheap base hits when you could have prevented them. All that is stuff for me to build off of and learn from and try to be even better next year."
Arroyo gains mental edge for success: Bronson Arroyo, who is scheduled to pitch against the Cardinals on Wednesday, already has 14 wins this year and an ERA under 4.00.
"I always think of myself as someone who will keep pecking at it until, eventually, I'll find a way to win," Arroyo told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I think it's a combination of my changeup being a lot better than it's been my whole career, and the longer I get to see hitters, the more I get to see them, the more often I can win the mental game, the chess match. I see these guys year in and year out.
"It's hard to explain, but the longer I'm in the game, the more I feel like I've got my feet planted on the ground, I can pick apart the little nuances of the game."
Cantu comes through again: Jorge Cantu showed again that he won't let opposing teams off the hook if they decide to intentionally walk Hanley Ramirez.
Cantu got the game-winning RBI in the Marlins' 5-4 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night. It was the 11th time this season Ramirez has been walked ahead of Cantu, who is now 4-for-10 with seven RBIs in those situations.
"They were trying to get the double-play," Cantu told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Runner on third, less than two outs -- as a hitter, you cannot leave that guy there."
The RBI was the 95th of the year for Cantu, making him just the third player in franchise history to drive in 95 in consecutive seasons. Jeff Conine (1995-96) and Miguel Cabrera (2004-07) are the others.
Santana finishes on a high note: Ervin Santana's seven-hit shutout over the Rangers on Monday night to clinch the AL West title was a work of perseverance.
"It hasn't been a very good season," Santana told the Los Angeles Times. "I was on the disabled list. I wasn't pitching very well, but I came back and did my job.
"The most important thing is I finished like I wanted to -- a complete game against the team that was closest to us," Santana continued. "We couldn't celebrate because that team was fighting hard."
Towles to see boost in playing time: Astros interim manager Dave Clark said J.R. Towles will likely start at least three more times on the team's final road trip.
"More so than anything it could possibly be a confidence thing with him," Clark told the Houston Chronicle of Towles. "You look back ,and you can even go back to this year at Triple-A. He was hurt a little bit and he didn't get a whole lot of at-bats at Triple-A and the fact that we're getting him here and he's not playing on an everyday basis. He's going to be given an opportunity to be our guy. That's what I believe in. That's what I'm going on."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.