Carlos Beltran plans to open an English-only school in Puerto Rico for ninth-to-12th-graders in the fall of 2010, with a goal to implement better baseball development and get students more college scholarships.

Beltran said he is spending nearly $2 million of his own money for the Carlos Beltran Academy, with the rest of the approximately $10 million coming from fundraising. In addition to classrooms, the academy will include baseball fields and batting cages.

Beltran said he hopes the school will get students prepared for college, if they can't be a professional baseball player, and, if they are good enough to be drafted, then they will be able to communicate in English.

"When I signed as a professional, it was difficult for me to communicate with my coaches and teammates," Beltran told the New York Daily News. "I wanted to talk, but I was afraid to talk because I didn't want to make a mistake or sound stupid.

"There are not a lot of kids in Puerto Rico that have the habit of practicing every day. They need to have a place where they can go and study, and, at the same time, they practice every day and have a good development program so they can become better ballplayers."

Hunter takes shot to the nose to clear sinuses: Shortly after seeking treatment for a sinus infection, Torii Hunter took a blow to his nose by getting hit in the face by a ball that caromed off the outfield wall in a game on Wednesday.

Hunter had to be helped off the field, but X-rays showed nothing broken.

"It's crazy, man," Hunter told the Los Angeles Times. "You go to the doctor for a sinus infection, then you get hit in the nose. I get an X-ray, and they say, 'Well, one thing I can tell you is your sinuses cleared up.' That was pretty funny.

"It was puffy; I couldn't see," Hunter said. "But I iced it all night, and the swelling went down."

Howard shed 25 pounds during offseason: Over the winter, Ryan Howard dropped 25 pounds in an effort to get himself into better physical condition.

"I just worked, worked, worked, worked, worked, worked," Howard told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It was simple. I just wanted to get in better shape. ... I changed up a lot of things."

Kemp's vision improved by addition of contacts: Matt Kemp is seeing things in a new light. That is because he received new contact lenses this week. Last year in Spring Training, Kemp had 20-20 vision. This year when the Dodgers tested him, his vision sat at 20-30.

"It made it way, way clearer," Kemp told the Los Angeles Times. "It's better. I feel really good at the plate."

"I feel dangerous," he said, laughing. "I feel like Manny Ramirez. ... Matt Kemp is not going to strike out 153 times this year."

Wilson knows what's around the bend: Jack Wilson is just 31 years old, but, with a trio of young children at home, he knows the time may soon come when it's time to hang up his spikes. That will be determined, in large part, he says, by 1-year-old daughter Jersi, 3-year-old daughter Jaidyn and 6-year-old son Jacob.

"I gotta get back to coaching baseball and just be a dad, just being there for them," Wilson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "They're gonna get to the age pretty soon when I need to be around more often. My son loves that I play baseball, so that helps. The two girls, they're gonna need daddy pretty soon."

Ortiz inches closer to rotation spot: Russ Ortiz wasn't feeling very good on Wednesday, but you couldn't tell by watching him on the mound. Facing the St. Louis Cardinals and a lineup full of regulars, Ortiz allowed only one run in five innings of work, putting him in even better position to become the team's fifth starter.

"There were certain times when I just had to take more time to take a deep breath and see if it would pass for a little bit," Ortiz told the Houston Chronicle after giving up one run on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts. "I'd come into the dugout and feel a little better. And then, as soon as I finished my warm-up pitches, I'd feel it again."

Byrnes overcomes pair of torn hamstrings: Eric Byrnes is happy to be playing once again after suffering tears in both hamstrings last year. Now he is focusing on becoming a starter once again.

"It's my job to prove I belong out there," he told the Arizona Republic. "It's my job to prove to the Diamondbacks that, No. 1, I'm healthy and, No. 2, I can play at the level I played at before, if not better."

De La Cruz gets new start with Padres: San Diego acquired pitcher Eulogio De La Cruz in a trade with the Florida Marlins. De La Cruz, who has been used as a starter and reliever in the Minors, throws in the mid-90s and is said to have hit 100 mph this spring.

"He has a live arm," Padres Minor League pitching consultant Bob Cluck, who was the Tigers' pitching coach when De La Cruz signed with Detroit out of the Dominican Republic, told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Wilson pleased with progress: C.J. Wilson threw two hitless innings of relief on Tuesday against Seattle -- his longest outing of the spring. Wilson, who has battled a blister on his left index finger this spring, has not allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings.

"I'm pretty much where I need to be," Wilson, who has allowed two hits and struck out five, told the Dallas Morning News. "I didn't throw two innings at all last spring. That was kind of a bonus."

Benson remains in the hunt for spot in rotation: Kris Benson, who is competing for a spot in the Rangers' starting rotation, threw six innings in a Minor League game on Wednesday. Benson was effective and apparently kept himself in the running for a spot.

"It's a possibility," manager Ron Washington told the Dallas Morning News. "He's certainly throwing the ball well. Anything's possible. He's healthy. We've certainly got tough decisions to make, and I love that. The past two years we were hoping to be in this position."

Smoltz throws off mound: John Smoltz threw from a mound for the first time this spring, throwing 40 fastballs.

Smoltz, recovering from shoulder surgery he had last June, would prefer to be a full participant in his first camp with the Boston Red Sox.

"In my mind, I still think about pitching," Smoltz told the Boston Globe. "That's what keeps me from going crazy. The hardest part is watching games, watching guys throw BP, watching guys throw bullpens, 'cause I want to do it. I feel like, all in all, my grade, if I had to give myself a grade, it's a pretty good grade for the patience level."

Ludwick gaining consistency with extra-base hits: Ryan Ludwick notched his fifth extra-base hit in his last five games on Wednesday.

"I barreled three balls up today, two up in the air, one to center field," Ludwick told after Wednesday's game. "I feel like consistently, every time I go up there now, I've got a pretty good chance. My timing is back. My hands are in a good spot. I'm making consistent, hard contact again. Now it's about just really locking in. I feel like I'm right where I need to be."

Harden optimistic about a healthy season: This spring, Rich Harden says he is feeling as good as he's ever felt.

"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but I definitely feel like I have a good idea what I need to do to go out there every fifth day and pitch," the Cubs' pitcher told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Hopefully, I can talk to [the media] at the end of the season after throwing 32 games or whatever. We'll see."

Lewis uses spring to earn starting job: In five Cactus League appearances this spring, Scott Lewis is 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA, 12 strikeouts and just six walks in 15 1/3 innings. For the Indians, that's enough to give him a spot in their starting rotation.

"It says a great deal about Lewis, in reference to what he did in big league camp," manager Eric Wedge told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I told him today that he came in and won the job from people who have had, or will have, a lot of success in the big leagues."

Hafner's focus is contact: Travis Hafner is more focused on timing than on power or results this spring.

"Squaring balls up, hitting balls hard, that will come," Hafner told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "After that, you start to drive the ball. Right now, the focus is on putting the barrel on the ball, using the whole field and seeing the ball well. After that, it will be time to start driving the ball."

Reyes, Hanson primed for callup: The Braves sent pitchers Jo-Jo Reyes and Tommy Hanson to the Minors, despite both pitchers having strong showings in Spring Training. With the offseason additions of Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami, there was simply no room in the rotation for the two youngsters.

"Both Jo-Jo and Tommy Hanson have had tremendous springs," manager Bobby Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "If somebody goes down, we've got two guys ready to go."

Martis closes in on starting position: Shairon Martis all but sewed up a rotation spot with the Nationals by hurling six scoreless innings on Tuesday versus the Orioles. He allowed just three hits in the outing and struck out four. Martis now has a 1.42 ERA in 22 innings this spring.

"He really helped his chances," Nationals manager Manny Acta told the Washington Post. "All spring he's done it."

"Today was a really good day for me," Martis said. "I'm doing my job. The decision is for them."

Hoffman could start on DL: Trevor Hoffman has had a slow recovery from an oblique injury and may begin the season on the disabled list.

"With each day, it's getting more and more unlikely [he will be ready]," manager Ken Macha told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We have a number of candidates."

-- Red Line Editorial