Determined to enter Spring Training well-prepared, Cole Hamels strengthened his arm with a long-toss program throughout the offseason.

"He's far beyond where he's ever been in Spring Training," Phillies pitching coach Rick Dubee told the Philadelphia Daily News. "And he deserves a lot of credit for that. Because he was faced with a challenge. You need to start throwing. You need to get yourself ready. You need to be able to come to Spring Training where some work can be done. Being the perfectionist that he is, he took it to heart, and he did the work that he had to do. So he's in a much better position right now. ... He went home and did what he had to do."

Hamels also wants to make some adjustments on his mental approach this season.

Rivera not slowing down at age 40: When you're in the kind of condition Mariano Rivera keeps himself, age doesn't matter.

"It all depends how you feel," the still-dominant Rivera told MLB.com. "I feel good. I feel strong, anxious, happy [and] ready to go."

Rivera says he can pitch for several more seasons but will know when it's time to walk away.

"One day, that will happen," Rivera said. "That day, I will go. And baseball will not stop because I'm not playing anymore. Baseball will continue. It happens like that in life. People come, people go."

Freese grew up cheering for hometown Cardinals: St. Louis native David Freese says playing for the same team he grew up rooting for is special.

"When I was like 8 or 9, I got a Bob Gibson autographed plaque," Freese told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. "I was No. 45 for a couple of years after that while I was a pitcher. I loved hearing stories about him. I wish I could have seen him play, but I was fortunate enough to see Ozzie Smith and Jose Oquendo and those guys play."

Zambrano plans to stay in control with pitches: Carlos Zambrano is removing the cut fastball from his repertoire.

"It's good to have that pitch, but it wasn't the pitch that made me successful," Zambrano told the Chicago Tribune. "The sinker was what made me good earlier in my career. I want to stay with the sinker. No more cutter. Just sinker, slider, split and high fastball."

Lackey getting comfortable with Red Sox: John Lackey is getting used to his new team and city.

"I went back to Boston a couple of times this offseason, and I've pretty much got acclimated with Boston and talking to guys," Lackey told MLB.com. "They're making it real easy. It's been easy to fit in."

Bergesen's return only weeks away: After injuring his shoulder in December, Brad Bergesen believes he'll be ready to go for the Orioles in a couple of weeks.

"Every time I throw, there's change," Bergesen told the Baltimore Sun. "The progression has gone great. [Assistant athletic trainer] Brian Ebel and I have spent so much time together. I feel like he's worked a miracle with me."

Chavez to get a look in Rangers outfield: The Texas Rangers added outfield depth after signing Endy Chavez to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Chavez, however, will definitely not be on the Opening Day roster due to his continued recovery from major knee surgery. He is expected to be an option later in the season for the Rangers.

"When he was right, we liked his ability to play all three outfield spots," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told MLB.com. "He's got a reputation for being a great teammate and a hard worker. He can also handle the bat. We felt he was a good guy to bring in."

Chavez appeared in 54 games for Seattle last year before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on June 19. He had surgery in July, and, though a full recovery often takes a year, the Rangers believe Chavez is ahead of schedule.

Jurrjens gets good news from MRI: An MRI test result revealed that Jair Jurrjens has mild inflammation but no structural damage in his shoulder.

"I was a little worried until I got the MRI results," Jurrjens told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "When the trainer said, 'You need to fly to Atlanta for an MRI,' that's scary."

"We expected the tests to be normal, and we were not concerned," general manager Frank Wren said. "We always try to err on the side of caution when treating our players and use these types of tests to pinpoint the diagnosis to give them the specific treatment necessary."

Detwiler out until May after hip surgery: Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiler underwent hip surgery this week and is expected to be out until May.

Detwiler had been considered a candidate for the starting rotation this year after his strong performance in the Majors in September, when he had a 1.90 ERA over 23 2/3 innings. Now doctors say Detwiler should resume throwing in about six weeks.

"It was something the team, Ross and I felt should be addressed," Detwiler's agent, Jeff Berry, told the Washington Post. "Hopefully [the surgery] has taken care of it, and he'll be back on the mound as quickly as he can."

Shields ready for action: Scot Shields, limited to 20 appearances with the Angels in 2009 due to a knee injury, has proclaimed himself ready to go. The club plans to take a cautious approach with their key setup reliever.

"We'll hold him back from throwing on the mound until he really needs to," manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Times. "We want his leg to get into a routine before we test it, but all indications are that he feels great. There's nothing that says he won't be ready for the season."

Cordero's weight loss a return to old form: Chad Cordero used a combination of Weight Watchers and a personal trainer to lose 26 pounds in the offseason. He's back to his college playing weight at Cal State Fullerton as he tries to make it back with the Mariners.

"Hopefully, it will help out my arm," Cordero told the Seattle Times of losing all the weight and building leg strength. "Now, I won't have to use my shoulder to do all the work."

Hawksworth ready to take next step: In his blog for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Blake Hawksworth indicated that a year of added experience should make a big difference for him.

"I am more comfortable this year, but I am also a little wary of being too comfortable. Knowing that I can pitch at the big league level obviously adds to my confidence," he wrote. "I am just excited to get back to work. I am ready to watch guys and just grow as a pitcher and continue to get better. That's what it is all about."

Gonzalez sees youthful influx: Now with the Orioles, Mike Gonzalez says that the biggest change between this season and others is the age of many of his teammates.

"As far as being nervous, it's like going from one big family to the next, except I'm going to have a lot more younger brothers than I'm used to," Gonzalez told the Baltimore Sun.

No first-base plans for Victor Martinez: The Red Sox plan to use Victor Martinez primarily behind the plate this season.

"My whole career has been as a catcher," Martinez told MLB.com. "Because I played a few games at first base, that doesn't mean I'm considered a first baseman. They told me I was going to be the everyday guy, but I took it like I've taken it with the Indians. I always prepare myself to play every day. That's the only thing I can control. I can't control anything after that."

-- Red Line Editorial