In addition to delivering game-winning hits and game-saving catches, Chase Utley is headlining a program to provide baseball gloves to inner-city kids in Philadelphia.
05/30/2008 1:18 PM ET
Chase Utley delivers off the field, too
All-Star second baseman gives gloves to Philly kids
"I believe baseball is the best sport there is," Utley told MLB.com. "Some of these kids are a little less fortunate and don't have the opportunities that others have. But now, with this program, it allows them to have that opportunity."
Utley's glove giveaway, with the assistance of Citizen's Bank, is for kids in the 12-and-under Phillies' Rookie League, which is part of the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) program.
"It really is a great program," Utley said. "It allows these kids, who don't have the opportunities that other people have, to actually play baseball, to have a glove. Obviously, you need a glove to play. It makes the game of baseball grow a little bit."
Kershaw gets a hand from Sweeney: Pinch-hitter extraordinaire Mark Sweeney has Clayton Kershaw's number, so he gladly handed it over to the Dodgers' latest pitching phenom.
Kershaw made his Major League debut wearing No. 54 but he's always liked No. 22, because he was a Will Clark fan while growing up. So Sweeney grabbed No. 21 when Esteban Loaiza was designated for assignment and handed No. 22 to the rookie.
"I used to like to play first base," Kershaw told the Los Angeles Times.
Sweeney sensed it was more important to the franchise to have Kershaw wear his favorite number.
"Kershaw is going to be in this uniform for a long, long time. It's something important to do from an organizational standpoint," he said.
Millar pokes 150th career home run: Kevin Millar didn't realize that he'd hit his 150th career home run until reliever Lance Cormier pointed it out to him.
"I knew this year I probably had a chance to hit 150," Millar, who gave the ball to his father, told The Baltimore Sun. "For an undrafted guy, to think you'd have 150 home runs in the big leagues -- that's awesome. That tells you I've had some at-bats up here and have had a chance."
Scutaro plays his way into lineup: Marco Scutaro has earned his keep with the Blue Jays. Manager John Gibbons says the Venezuelan middle infielder will remain with the club when David Eckstein returns from the disabled list.
"We'll keep Scoot working somehow," Gibbons told Bluejays.com. "He's played so good, you know?"
Over the last three weeks, Scutaro has provided a solid glove in the field and a hot bat at the plate.
Bell getting into a groove on the mound: Heath Bell is recovering nicely from a difficult Spring Training.
The Padres reliever told the The San Diego Union-Tribune that "a lot of different things happened. I had a few knots in my triceps early in Spring Training -- got sick, we went to China, had some things with my mechanics."
Bell's fastball and slider have been sharp, allowing Bell to post a 1.62 ERA since April 23. Manager Bud Black has used Bell, normally an eighth-inning specialist, to get some key outs in the seventh inning, too.
"I really liked coming in in a situation where the game was on the line," he said.
Wainwright stays perfect against Astros: Adam Wainwright was once again dominant against the Astros on Wednesday night, working eight innings in the Cardinals' 6-1 victory. He tied a career high with eight strikeouts while allowing just three hits, one walk and one run to improve to 2-0 against Houston this year and 4-0 in his career.
"I think there are certain teams you get kind of geared up for, and mentally you lock it in better. It's kind of a fault for me that I don't really mentally lock it in like that against everybody," Wainwright told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "But it's important that I pitch well against them, because I probably have faced them as many times as anybody else I've pitched against. They're a good lineup."
Chipper Jones back to making a splash: Chipper Jones, baseball's hottest hitter, leads NL All-Star voting at third base. A five-time All-Star between 1996 and 2001, Jones would be starting for the third time if he remains atop the fan balloting.
"Honestly, it's a shame that I've got to go out and hit .400 for two months to make an All-Star team," Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's kind of depressing to me because I've had -- to me -- what I think are some pretty good first halves, what I think is a pretty good career, and I haven't made an All-Star team since '01. But I'll take it -- got to make a splash to get people's attention, got to make a splash."
Holliday maps out mid-June return: Out with a strained left hamstring, Matt Holliday is on schedule to return to the lineup on June 10. He injured himself running to first base on Saturday against the Mets and landed on the 15-day disabled list the next day. He was able to exercise and swing the bat on Tuesday.
"By the time we play the Giants, I should be ready," Holliday told The Denver Post. "That's the way I have plotted it out."
Millwood to end the boredom with return to mound: Kevin Millwood, out since May 10 with a strained right groin, was penciled in for a return to the Rangers' rotation on Friday following a solid bullpen session on Tuesday.
"It was good," Millwood told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of his session. "I was in my regular routine. I've been bored not playing. I'm ready to go."
Bursitis lands Kennedy on DL: Ian Kennedy won't be allowed to throw for at least two weeks after tests showed that he has bursitis below his right shoulder blade in addition to a strained right lat muscle. The bursitis is the same injury that sidelined him at the end of last season.
"Whenever you have a repeat injury, you talk about exactly what you're doing and talk about everything," manager Joe Girardi told the New York Daily News. "It could just be a spot with a little weakness, and you have to work on it. It could be a lot of things."
Cedeno fitting into role nicely: Ronny Cedeno knows his role on the Cubs -- he is the backup to both Ryan Theriot and Mark DeRosa. And in such a role, it's important for both him and the team that he keeps himself ready. As of Thursday night, he's batting .321 on the year.
"He's settling in," manager Lou Piniella told MLB.com. "He's doing a very professional job. He's been giving us good at-bats and some good play with the glove. We're pleased."
Crooked hat and all, Hinshaw mowing 'em down: The Giants drafted Alex Hinshaw in 2000 and 2002 without any luck and finally signed him after drafting him again in 2004. Now the club's persistence is paying off.
Hinshaw started the season as the closer at Triple-A Fresno. Since being called up to San Francisco, Hinshaw has retired 13 of the 14 batters he's faced, striking out eight of them.
"We really like his makeup," pitching coach Dave Righetti told the San Francisco Chronicle. "When he didn't get a real long look in Spring Training, he kept his mouth shut, soaked up the atmosphere, appreciated the moment. He was a starter off-and-on in the minors, and he really knows how to handle himself out there. He's definitely got the stuff."
Vidro appreciative of Marineros' gesture: The Mariners have celebrated the impact of Latinos in Major League Baseball in recent seasons. This year, they are going to take it one step further, wearing jerseys with "Marineros" on the front, the Spanish word for Mariners, for their game on Saturday versus the Tigers.
"It is pretty cool," designated hitter Jose Vidro told The Seattle Times. "You see a lot of players coming up and keep coming from Latin America. They're putting our names on top and putting the game on top.
"It shows appreciation that [the Mariners] understand the things that we have to overcome to be here."
Guthrie enjoys the fight, even without W's: Despite pitching well (2.21 ERA) without a victory in his last three outings, Jeremy Guthrie is having a good time on the mound.
"You enjoy the opportunity to be in a scuffle, to be in a fight," Guthrie told The Baltimore Sun. "Personally, I'm able to be in one of those it seems like every five days, where every pitch matters, where every at-bat is big. You enjoy that, and that's what makes this game fun. Unfortunately for me, it's not going the right way."
Baek could get a spot in Padres rotation: Recently acquired pitcher Cha Seung Baek could be placed in the starting rotation at some point by the Padres. Baek, who was acquired from Seattle for pitcher Jared Wells, was pitching in middle relief for Seattle but prefers to start. In 24 career starts, Baek is 9-9 with a 5.19 ERA.
"He's got a four-pitch mix," manager Bud Black told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Astros happy to get Sosa; righty to work with Hooton: The Houston Astros signed right-handed reliever Jorge Sosa to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Triple-A Round Rock this week. Sosa, who started the season with the New York Mets, will work closely with Express pitching coach Burt Hooton.
"In my opinion, we've got a big league pitching coach in [Triple-A] in Burt Hooton," general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle. "I think Burt really helped Tim Byrdak [another player signed to a Minor League contract but is now in the Astros' bullpen]. We just thought, if we had a chance to get an experienced arm like Jorge's, we thought we'd do that -- no strings attached. We'll see what kind of progress he makes."
-- Red Line Editorial