04/04/2008 3:12 PM ET
Johnny on the spot
Cueto shines in Reds debut
Rookie Johnny Cueto showed the electric stuff of a 22-year-old and the command of a veteran in his first Major League start for the Reds.
"I was very confident," Cueto told MLB.com through interpreter and mentor Mario Soto. "I was thinking of throwing seven shutout innings. That's what I had in mind."
Cueto, a Dominican-born right-hander, retired the first 15 batters he faced, struck out 10 and allowed just one hit in seven innings. The Reds won, 3-2, over the Diamondbacks.
"The fact he had no walks, that was most impressive," Baker said. "I'm excited to hear the guys on the bench talking. They're saying they haven't seen this in a long time. I don't think they've ever seen it."
Davis takes mound after being dealt cancer news: Doug Davis toed the rubber Thursday for the Arizona Diamondbacks for his first start of season. Thursday's start came six days after the left-hander was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The fact Davis, who struggled in his outing, was even on the mound left a strong impression with his teammates.
"He's strong, man. Strong," Orlando Hudson told The East Valley Tribune.
Davis will make one more start before undergoing surgery to remove the thyroid on April 10. He is expected to need four to six weeks to recover from the procedure.
"I'm still trying to get past the fact that he has what he has, let alone that he is going to go out and pitch with it," manager Bob Melvin said. "He tries to downplay it and keep everything as normal as he can. We feel it. We know what he is going through and has to go through."
Ankiel starts where he left off: Rick Ankiel is off to a rather good start thus far in 2008, with a home run, a couple of RBIs, some stellar defense in center field and a batting average of .364.
"It's impressive to watch," right fielder Skip Schumaker, Ankiel's teammate at Class AAA Memphis for much of last season, told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Last year you wondered, 'Is he really going to do it?' This year there's no question with anybody in this clubhouse."
Byrd plans to overcome "late" start in debut: Paul Byrd is set to make his season debut when Cleveland visits Oakland on Friday night. With the team leaving Cleveland for the West Coast, Byrd says the time change can make things interesting.
"I'm used to pitching at 1 in the afternoon, now I'm pitching at 10 p.m.," he told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "The time zones are just part of it. I'm just glad it's not like last year where we had to play games in Milwaukee.
"I'm just excited. You can pitch all the innings you want in Spring Training. It's not the same. I'm 37 and I still have to calm myself down in the regular season."
Work with Shelby paying off for Jones: Adam Jones is getting better and better at playing the field, thanks in large part to his work with first base coach John Shelby, who spends a lot of time working with the Orioles' outfielders.
"I had never seen him play before, so there wasn't really one specific thing that I was looking at. I was just watching him overall, seeing what he did well, what he didn't do well," Shelby told The Baltimore Sun. "Like I told all those guys, I would be observing them, and if I didn't think there was anything to give any input on, I wouldn't. I would tell them to keep doing what they were doing."
Workouts leave Kazmir happy with arm: For the second time, Scott Kazmir had a strong bullpen session earlier this week at the team's Minor League complex. Kazmir, sidelined since suffering an elbow strain on Feb. 26, threw 35 fastballs and mixed in 10 changeups during his 13-minute stint on the mound.
"It just feels great," Kazmir told The St. Petersburg Times. "Arm feels live, feels like I'm getting good extension on the ball, and my mechanics are good. So I'm happy where I'm at."
Breathing difficulties send Conor to hospital: Conor Jackson was taken to the hospital Wednesday for chest X-rays after feeling a shortness of breath during Wednesday's game against Cincinnati. Jackson learned he could be suffering from a viral infection, though he could have pneumonia. He was prescribed antibiotics.
"It was just a precaution," Jackson told The East Valley Tribune. "I've been having trouble breathing for the last couple of days. I just don't want to come out of the lineup."
Jackson, who was not in the starting lineup Thursday, was 0-for-2 Wednesday and had trouble breathing while running for a high popup down the foul line in the fourth inning.
Pitcher Resop plays in outfield: For the first time in Major League Baseball since 1990, a manager used a pitcher in the outfield in order to keep him in the game and use him for a future batter. Righty Chris Resop was in the game for the Braves when lefty Adam LaRoche came to the plate for the Pirates. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox moved Resop to left field and inserted lefty Royce Ring into the game to face LaRoche. After Ring fanned LaRoche, Resop came back to the mound to face righty Xavier Nady, who ended up hitting an RBI single.
"Resop was an outfielder [at the beginning of his Minor League career], so it was no big deal," Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The pitcher-outfield-pitcher maneuver happened in the 10th inning. Cox wanted to keep Resop in case the game went further into extra innings. Resop ended up with the loss.
Infield's full, so Lopez makes outfield debut: The Nationals had three established infielders vying for the two middle infield spots, and Felipe Lopez was the odd man out.
Manager Manny Acta solved his dilemma by having Lopez work out in the outfield. Lopez played his first game in the Majors in left field Thursday and looked very comfortable in the outfield.
"His attitude was amazing," Acta told The Washington Post. "He said: 'I'll pitch if you want. I can pitch [as well as] any of those guys in there.'"
Info is better late than never for Taschner: Lefty Jack Taschner has moved from the left to the right side of the pitching rubber to get a better angle on his pitches to lefty batters. The move was suggested by pitching coach Dave Righetti, and Taschner discussed the move with Giants special assistant J.T. Snow, a former lefty batter.
"I was telling J.T. I felt a lot better pitching to left-handers," Taschner told The San Francisco Chronicle. "J.T. said, 'As as matter of fact, yeah, when a left-hander stood on the left side of the rubber, I knew he couldn't throw one in.' I said, 'Man, that's valuable information.' I played with J.T. He couldn't have told me that three years ago?"
Santana puts road woes behind him: Last season, Ervin Santana had one of the biggest home/road splits in the Major Leagues. He pitched great at home, where he was 6-4 with a 3.27 ERA. But on the road, he was just 1-10 with an 8.38 ERA, which earned him a demotion to Triple-A. So it was a huge relief for both Santana and the Angels when he opened the 2008 season with a road win over the Twins.
"His whole demeanor and mound presence were awesome," catcher Mike Napoli told The Los Angeles Times. "It gave me confidence I could put down any pitch, and he'd hit his spot."
Santana allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. Just as importantly he showed a willingness to pitch inside and back hitters off the plate.
"If you're not aggressive, the hitter is going to take advantage of you," said Santana, who struck out three and walked two. "I was trying to start hard and finish hard, no matter what."
Casilla shoots to the top for A's: Previously, Santiago Casilla was best known for being the pitcher who made it to the Majors under another person's name, as he used Jairo Garcia's birth certificate. But so far this season, he has been the A's best pitcher.
"He had a real good fastball and slider, and he was efficient, too," A's manager Bob Geren told The San Francisco Chronicle following his latest outing on Tuesday. "I was going to him for one inning, but it was so quick, it gave me the option to put him back out there."
Crawford hopes for extended stay with Rays: With many other Tampa Bay players being signed to long-term deals, Carl Crawford says he "couldn't imagine" playing anywhere else. The only problem right now is he isn't sure when or if there will be talks about a contract extension with the Rays anytime soon.
"Most definitely, I would like to stay here with the Rays," he told The St. Petersburg Times. "This is the only organization I know. I don't know nothing different. It would be nice. I'd hate to leave right when the getting is good. You've been around for all the bad stuff, you want to be around for the good part, too. And it looks like the good part is coming ahead."
Rookie Nix draws game-winning walk: Jayson Nix is only a rookie, but he showed some veteran poise during the Colorado Rockies' season opener Tuesday night in St. Louis. The second baseman drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning to drive in the winning run as the Rockies earned a 2-1 win.
"He showed good discipline," manager Clint Hurdle told The Rocky Mountain News. "He watched the two guys in front of him. [Left-handed reliever Randy] Flores was mixing things up, challenging our plate discipline."
Blalock latest to battle sickness: The entire Texas Rangers infield is suffering from the effects of the flu, forcing manager Ron Washington to make adjustments during the middle of the game. While the four infielders were all starting to feel better on Wednesday, third baseman Hank Blalock had to leave Tuesday night's game early.
After Blalock hit his second double of the game, Washington replaced him with Ramon Vazquez in the eighth inning.
"He ran out of gas," Washington told The Fort Worth Star Telegram. "He didn't want to come out, but it was better to send Vazquez out there than to send Hank out there and have to get him out of there on a stretcher because he was exhausted."
Reyes impressive in relief role: Anthony Reyes -- primarily a starter throughout his young career -- finds himself working out of the Cardinals' bullpen this season. On Thursday, Reyes came into the game against Colorado in the eighth inning to face the top of the order -- including Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton.
With the Cardinals up 3-0 Reyes managed to strike out the side, and in doing so, impressed manager Tony LaRussa.
"It was a beautiful thing to see," La Russa told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You kept saying, 'Wow.' Three times. And we didn't do him too many favors. Eighth inning of a close game and he has to face the top of the lineup."
-- Red Line Editorial