Jeff Francoeur had two homers and a career-high seven RBIs in the Braves' 10-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday. More importantly, the big game helped him make amends with John Smoltz.
04/14/2008 11:58 AM ET
Francoeur chalks up seven RBIs
Braves outfielder finally lends Smoltz some support
"He rode me hard last year -- the fact that I never gave him any run support when he was pitching," Francoeur told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I think I was 0-for-4 every game, so I told him I'd come out and help him a little bit this year. I didn't expect that."
Francoeur could not recall any other time when he had seven RBIs in one game.
"Maybe in T-ball," Francoeur said. "It was nice. It was one of those games you don't have too often."
Cliff Lee warms up to dropping temps: On Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, the game-time temperature was just 38 degrees and dropped more as the game went on and the rain and snow began to fall. But Cliff Lee was oblivious, giving up one run, two hits and no walks, while striking out eight over eight innings in the Indians' 7-1 win over the A's. Lee is now 2-0 on the year with an ERA of 0.61.
"I didn't even feel the cold," Lee told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I'm moving around on every pitch. It's not like I'm standing out there playing shortstop or center field."
Bowker makes Giants history with bat: This is the 50th anniversary of the Giants' arrival in San Francisco, and the list of sluggers who have worn Giants colors during that time have included Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Matt Williams and Will Clark.
But rookie John Bowker accomplished a first in San Francisco lore when he homered in his first two games for the team. Bowker, an early callup from Triple-A, has been a pleasant surprise for his teammates.
"The kid is hotter than a flapjack," reliever Tyler Walker told The San Francisco Chronicle.
"It's kind of like he hasn't missed a beat," Tim Lincecum said. "He's hitting off these pitchers like it's nothing. He's seeing the ball well and putting good swings on pitches. Hopefully, he'll keep it going."
Newhan replaces Wigginton: The Houston Astros recalled utilityman David Newhan from Triple-A Round Rock Friday when the club placed third baseman Ty Wigginton on the 15-day disabled list. Newhan joined the team in time for Saturday's game against Florida and appeared as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning.
"I'm ecstatic to be here," Newhan told The Houston Chronicle. "I try to take advantage of any opportunity I can get and will try to show them what I can do to help the team win."
Bad shoulder lands Guardado on DL: Eddie Guardado has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an irritation with his left shoulder. Guardado has acknowledged that the rotator cuff in his left shoulder has been diagnosed to have a complete tear, but he said that occurred four years ago. He's been pitching with the tear since.
"It's frustrating because I was right where I wanted to be," Guardado told The Dallas Morning News. "It's frustrating, but I'll be fine. I just don't want to go out there and do something stupid."
Gallardo inching closer to a return: Milwaukee right-hander Yovani Gallardo will make his third Minor League rehabilitation start Monday for Triple-A Nashville against Iowa. Gallardo could have been activated from the disabled list this weekend if the Brewers would have run into weather problems in New York while playing the Mets. But the weather held up, sending Gallardo to Nashville, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Gallardo has been out since the start of the Spring Training after having arthroscopic knee surgery. He is expected to rejoin the Brewers this weekend in Cincinnati and could be the starting pitcher on Saturday night if he is kept on five days of rest, or he could be activated for a start on Monday night. Gallardo said the knee has not bothered him and that his arm feels good.
Strained quad keeps Jeter out a week: Derek Jeter was out of the lineup once again for the New York Yankees on Saturday and Sunday due to a strained left quadriceps. Jeter was able to stretch with the team and take batting practice as well as field some ground balls. Manager Joe Girardi, however, doesn't want to rush Jeter back to into the lineup too soon.
"You just take it day-by-day, see how he's progressing. We'll try to increase activity and see if it's grabbing. To me, if it's grabbing at all, you can't put him back out there, because you can't afford for it to get any worse," Girardi told The New York Daily News. "You have to make sure, because players, especially a guy like Derek -- they're so used to playing hurt that sometimes they don't understand that it can become more if you rush it.
"He's bored to death and he's dying to get back out there, so you have to listen to what he tells you but also have to look at the history of Derek always being willing to play hurt."
Mets lose Reyes with sore hamstring: The New York Mets were without Jose Reyes in the lineup this weekend due to a mild left hamstring strain. Reyes has been bothered by hamstring injuries in the past, but this does not appear to be serious as he is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday. Reyes felt a twinge in the hamstring on Friday but played five innings against the Brewers before leaving the game.
"It's not that bad," Reyes told Newsday. "I still feel it. It's sore. Let's see how it's going to respond in the next couple of days."
Soriano getting more comfortable: Alfonso Soriano admits that he's not yet fully recovered from a torn right quadriceps he suffered eight months ago, but acknowledges that he is finally comfortable running the bases.
"That means a lot to me because I can use my game now," Soriano told The Chicago Sun-Times. "I feel more comfortable [mentally]. It doesn't matter if my legs are comfortable if I'm not comfortable up here [in the head]."
Blake settling in with Indians: For Casey Blake, it's been a long road to the Major Leagues. A one-time high-level prospect, Blake has spent the majority of his career in the Minor Leagues with only short stints with the big club -- until finally sticking with the Indians.
"I guess I was just going to keep playing and persevere," Blake told The Akron Beacon Journal. "I knew if I worked hard and gave it every opportunity and didn't make it, I could live with that. And I was successful in other things, so I couldn't stand not getting to the highest level."
Albers to take advantage of spot start: Matt Albers, who has been in the Orioles' bullpen, wants to take advantage of his spot start on Monday.
"I'm just going to try to focus on going after hitters on Toronto," Albers, who hasn't given up a run in three relief appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings, told The Baltimore Sun. "I'm going to try not to look at the big picture. Obviously, I want to do well. It's probably just a spot start and I'll be back in the bullpen. It's kind of no pressure in that sense."
Votto adjusting to pinch-hitting role: For Cincinnati's Joey Votto, starting life as a pinch hitter -- as opposed to playing every day -- has been an adjustment.
"Absolutely," Votto told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's been challenging. It's something I'm not used to. But I'm trying to make the best of the situation."
So for Votto, every day is another day during which he can learn a little more about coming off the bench.
"I'm trying to get ready for any situation," he said, "having myself prepared for pinch hitting, getting my swing ready, watching a lot of video beforehand, making sure I know the pitcher I'm going to face.
"A couple situations in Milwaukee late in the game, I was ready to hit. I knew who I was facing. I'm doing the best I can. I had a couple of good at-bats. You don't always get the best results."
Jorge Cantu gets boost from offseason training: This year, Jorge Cantu is trying to get back on track and he credits his offseason training regimen for his strong start. Cantu worked out up to five times each week with Dennis Fay, who runs the Texas Sports Medicine Center.
"He was in decent shape, but he lost some of his explosive movements, so we regained some of those movements, got some muscle memory going," Fay told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Once he got that base as far as strength and explosion, he was able to put it into his baseball performance."
Cantu did a wide range of exercises, from underwater aerobics to yoga to shoulder strengthening. Fay got to see some of the results when Cantu homered off Roy Oswalt in a game in Houston Saturday.
Figgins a surprise leader in walks: The Angels are known as a team full of aggressive hitters. Therefore it was a bit of a surprise when the Angels' Chone Figgins entered the weekend leading the American League with a .531 on-base percentage, thanks in part to 11 walks.
"I'm not trying to lead the league in walks," Figgins told The Los Angeles Times. "It's a little bit of a fluke, but as to why -- you're asking the wrong person. I'm not throwing the pitches. I'm just being more patient and aggressive at the same time. You pick your spots."
Putz gaining confidence with rehab: J.J. Putz continued his comeback from an injured rib cage by throwing for 20 minutes on Saturday. Included in the session were 20 pitches on flat ground and long tossing from 180 feet.
"There's only one way to find out how you really feel, and that's just to let it go," the Mariners' closer told The Seattle Times. "After you let it go a couple of times and there's nothing there, you gain confidence with it in every throw."
Wright battles finger injury: The Houston Astros were short one reliever Saturday night as left-hander Wesley Wright was unavailable to pitch due to a strain on the middle finger of his left hand.
"I don't think it's anything serious," Wright told The Houston Chronicle. "I'm not too worried about it right now until I hear something a little differently."
Wright said he started to feel some discomfort in the finger on Wednesday yet still pitched on Friday. He is not sure how he strained the finger, but he says it may have been due to squeezing the ball too tight.
"It's my first time in the big leagues, and I don't want to say anything about injuries," he said. "It was a situation where I should have said something about it, but last night it flared up worse then before."
-- Red Line Editorial