Kids got the best of the deal in Geoff Jenkins' first poker tournament.
01/31/2008 2:30 PM ET
Kids win in Jenkins' poker tournament
The Geoff Jenkins Celebrity Poker Tournament went late into the night on Sunday at the Jackrabbit Lounge in Phoenix, raising nearly $40,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Among the 42 celebrity guests were fellow players Aaron Boone (Nationals), Chris Capuano (Brewers), Bill Hall (Brewers), J.J. Hardy (Brewers), Paul Konerko (White Sox), Russell Martin (Dodgers), Brian Roberts (Orioles), Ryan Garko (Indians) and Randy Flores (Cardinals).
"As athletes we have a chance to do some good," Jenkins told phillies.com "Why not do it with something everyone enjoys doing anyway? It was easy rounding up guys to participate.
"We've got 42 athletes and 19 sponsors," Jenkins said. "The guys each bought in for $1,000, and the sponsors chipped in $5,000 to set up each table."
Jenkins' former Milwaukee teammate Bill Hall was seen giving beginner poker lessons to Denver Broncos receiver Javon Walker, a novice in cards.
In addition to the Jackrabbit Lounge, the tournament's sponsors were the Major League Baseball Players Trust, Marquis Jet, All Bases Covered Sports Management and Desert Sky Development.
Poker tournaments are becoming almost as popular as golf when it comes to players' charity events.
Royce Clayton's Poker Celebrity Bowl will be held Feb. 1-3 at the nearby Harrah's AK-Chin Casino Ballroom. Jenkins will be there, along with new teammates Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, among others.
Fires provide perspective for Nagy: Compared to fleeing a wildfire, dealing with trade rumors is nothing for Xavier Nady.
Nady and his wife, Meredith, were forced to evacuate their home in the San Diego suburb of Poway when wild fires engulfed the area in October.
"I didn't know what to grab," Nady told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It's really a different feeling, when you're packing up and know there is a chance you could come back and it's all gone."
So Nady grabbed the essentials ... wedding pictures, baby pictures, clothes -- and several outfielder's mitts.
"My wife wasn't too happy about that," Nady said, grinning. "But, hey, they were new gloves. What was I supposed to do?"
The Nadys were relieved to return and find the fires had stopped miles from their home.
"We were lucky. There were a lot of people who lost their homes," he said. "It really gives you a sense of perspective."
And as for those trade rumors?
"I don't think too much about it," said Nady. "I'm happy in Pittsburgh. I'm not looking to leave. There's nothing I can do about it, anyway. If it happens, you just deal with it."
Shoppach ready for starting role: Kelly Shoppach only had 161 at-bats last season, but his impact during that limited playing time has improved the demand for his services, judging by the trade rumors.
"It's always nice when other people want you," Shoppach told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "They're just rumors. I haven't spoken with anyone. But anytime someone thinks highly of you, it's a pretty cool deal."
Shoppach drove in 30 runs while picking up 42 hits -- 20 for extra bases -- in 2007.
"I think I played OK and did OK in a backup role," Shoppach said. "But like I've always said, I think I can play every day. ... If the time or situation comes where I'm asked to play every day, I'll be ready."
To keep things somewhat regular for him, the Indians used Shoppach behind the plate in each of pitcher Paul Byrd's 31 starts.
Joel Skinner, who coaches the Indians' catching corps, believes Shoppach will be starting at some point -- for someone.
"We look at him that way," he said. "We look at him as a guy who could be that kind of player. Right now he's doing what the team needs him to do."
Helms working to get his groove back: Wes Helms believes his play will improve in his second season with the Phillies.
"I definitely didn't have the year I wanted to last season, but even the best of the best have off seasons. I think this year is going to be completely different," Helms told the Philadelphia Daily News. "My expectations are high. Last year was a matter of getting my feet wet in a new city, learning what it was like. This year should be a lot more comfortable for me."
Add to that the pressure of finding his power stroke -- he didn't hit his first round-tripper until June 13 in his 152nd at-bat of the year.
"After I didn't hit a home run for a while, I started to press," he said. "Nobody really said anything to me, but I was trying to hit a home run, and I think I hurt myself by doing that. I think that threw my whole year off. I got away from my swing, the one I'd had in Florida. I started trying to juice the ball and everything got out of whack. People probably said, 'Hey, why did they sign this guy?'"
This season, though, Helms believes will be a different story.
"I'm really looking forward to this season. I'm really positive about this season and I want to be a big part of it," he said. "I definitely know the power is there. There will be more home runs. Sometimes you just lose your groove. I've worked hard this winter to do what I have to do to get it back."
Chamberlain likely to begin out of the bullpen: The Yankees are reportedly considering using Joba Chamberlain out of the bullpen in the early part of the season to keep his inning count down as he adjusts to the lengthier Major League season.
"We're going to have a plan going into Spring Training," new Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland told Newsday. "There already (have been) ideas tossed around. I think we have a pretty good handle on what we're going to do going into it."
Estrada, slowed by injuries last season, signs with Nationals: The Nationals are reportedly close to a deal with free agent catcher Johnny Estrada on a one-year contract.
"It's not done," agent David Schwartz told the Washington Post. "I'll be happy to talk at great length when and if something happens."
Estrada hit .280 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs but was slowed last year by a torn meniscus and a bone spur in his right elbow, both of which contributed to him throwing out just 11 of 84 runners attempting to steal.
"He was in pain constantly," Schwartz said. "It affected both his throwing and his hitting. I would expect both would improve in 2008. One of the things Johnny took a lot of flak for after the season (was) his caught-stealing numbers. But he was a trooper during the season and kept the injury to himself."
Indians will still play to Hafner's strengths: Travis Hafner's numbers were down a bit in 2007, but Cleveland hitting coach Derek Shelton isn't concerned about the young slugger.
"It gets to the point where we didn't see him take any bad swings," Shelton told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Our expectations were every single swing he's taking is going to be a good one. Not every person is going to take a good swing or have a good at-bat all the time.
"We got a little spoiled with the fact he was so good. I don't think it's anything to worry about. He had a lot of good swings last year. He had a lot of big hits. That's what we have to focus on."
Opposing clubs also employed an infield shift more often when he came to bat in 2007.
"We've never talked about the shift," said Shelton. "It's an uncontrollable [factor] for us. What they do, how they play their defense, we can't control that. We never discussed it.
"We aren't going to take away from Haf's strengths. We're not going to have him concentrate on hitting balls down the third-base line."
Moehler, Newhan agree to one-year deals: The Houston Astros signed two veteran players to Minor League contracts. Pitcher Brian Moehler, who pitched for the Astros last season, and infielder/outfielder David Newhan signed Minor League contracts on Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Moehle was 1-4 and earned his first Major League save last year for the Astros. He is 64-83 with a 4.75 ERA for his career, which covers 10 years and 252 games. Moehler earned a spot on the Houston roster last season after being a non-roster invitee in Spring Training.
Newhan hit .203 with one home run and six RBIs last season for the Mets while stealing two bases. At Triple-A New Orleans, he hit .347 with seven home runs, 30 RBIs and seven steals.
-- Red Line Editorial