Jay Bruce is committed to staying involved in the Cincinnati community.

"I came from pretty humble beginnings, but I never did without," Bruce told MLB.com. "My parents always made sure that I had what I needed. I consider myself to know the value of a dollar. Money is something that can go away. It's also something that really opens some doors and lets you do some special things."

Hamilton agrees to two-year deal with Rangers: Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year deal on Thursday. Hamilton, the reigning American League MVP, said he and the team can now take their time and discuss a possible long-term deal.

"I want to be a part of this organization, not only for the next two years but for a long time to come," Hamilton told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You want to have things behind you, as far as the business standpoint, before you start playing again because the main focus is playing and performing on the field."

Hamilton hit .359 last year with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs despite missing most of the month of September with a rib injury.

Wainwright sets the bar high: Despite having finished second in the National League Cy Young Award vote each of the past two seasons, Adam Wainwright sees room for improvement.

"If there's a way to get better, I'm going to do it, even if that's what it means," Wainwright told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "When you talk about the top couple starters in the game, I'm still not in the conversation. Every pitcher going into Spring Training is trying to be the best pitcher in the league. Or he should be. That's the mindset. If you're in the conversation as the top two or three starters in Major League Baseball, then you're doing your thing. But I've yet to get there in most people's minds.

"You think Roy Halladay. You think Felix Hernandez," Wainwright continued. "I want to be one of those guys."

Dog days part of daily life for Buehrle: Dog lover Mark Buehrle and his wife, Jamie, consider their pets Diesel, Drake and Duke part of their family.

"Dogs are like your kids," Mark told MLB.com. "You cuddle with them when they are going to bed, and I think they are kind of like humans.

"I'm not a big cat guy, and I'm sure there are cat lovers out there. It's something about dogs. They connect to you and they bond with you. It's your buddy."

Valencia knows results will keep him starting: Danny Valencia understands the distinction between being projected as the Twins' starting third baseman and being the starting third baseman.

"It feels nice -- don't get me wrong, it is flattering," Valencia told MLB.com. "At the same time, you can't get complacent in this game. You have to go out and you have to perform. I'm going to go do that. I'm going to go play hard. It's nice to hear, but at the same time, it's the results that keep you on the field."

Pena brings positive approach to Cubs: Carlos Pena believes he can make a difference for the Cubs.

"I bring my energy, my belief, my faith in myself and my team," Pena told MLB.com. "Hopefully, that can help our team a little bit and propel it forward a little more. The more guys we have believing, the better and stronger the ball club we'll be. We're obviously very talented and very capable."

Cervelli ready to make his mark behind the plate: Francisco Cervelli doesn't consider himself a backup catcher despite playing in that role with the Yankees.

"I don't like to be comfortable, I always want to learn, learn, learn," he told the New York Daily News. "I want to be one day a starting catcher or [win] a Gold Glove, something like a Molina brother. That's my dream."

Strasburg makes first soft toss: Stephen Strasburg made his first soft toss as part of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, according to Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty.

"He told me that he tossed a ball, that he was really excited," McCatty told the The Washington Post. "I just kind of laughed. He was so excited to be able to toss a ball. I'm not sure what the process is, because it can vary. But I know he tossed a ball. It was a very short distance. He was very happy."

Westbrook eager to start spring routine: Jake Westbrook is looking forward to his first Spring Training in Jupiter.

"It's going to be new coming into Spring Training, even though I had those few months with [the Cardinals] here already," Westbrook told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Spring is always new. I've got to learn my way around, figure out some of the things they do, the schedule. But getting into [it], getting here and getting the work, that's what's exciting."

-- Red Line Editorial