Pujols opens Down syndrome center
Cardinals slugger creates place to help afflicted adults
The Albert Pujols Wellness Center for Adults with Down Syndrome, funded by Players Trust grants that go along with Pujols' multiple Players Choice Awards, opened this week.
Pujols, who was voted both the National League's Outstanding Player and the overall Player of the Year for the second consecutive season by his peers, has focused much of his charitable activity to Down syndrome-related programs because Pujols and his wife, Deidre, have a daughter with Down syndrome.
"It's not what I do on the field, it's what I do off the field," Pujols told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the dedication at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Mo. "I want people to remember me for that."
Since 1992, the Players Trust has contributed more than $3.5 million to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners. It was the second consecutive year Pujols has won the Players Choice Awards for both the NL Outstanding Player and the overall Player of the Year. A grant of $50,000 from the Players Trust accompanies the overall Player of the Year award and a $20,000 grant accompanies the NL Outstanding Player award.
Overall, Pujols has won eight Players Choice Awards, dating back to 2001, when he received the NL Outstanding Rookie award.
The 29-year-old slugger has hit better than .300 with 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs for nine consecutive seasons and made himself the face of the Cardinals for a generation of fans. This season, Pujols won his first home-run title with a Major League-leading 47 and led St. Louis on a second-half surge to win the NL Central.
Greinke honed control after bullpen stint: American League Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, who spent some time in the bullpen as recently as 2007, says that, while he had always had excellent control, it actually got a little worse around the time he went to the bullpen.
"Once I went to the bullpen, my stuff got a lot better, but my control got a little worse. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as it used to be," Greinke told MLB.com, "and it slowly got to where I could control the better stuff a little more. The slider I finally got to where I could throw it consistently. And the curveball, in the past I could throw eight good ones and two would be nowhere near, and now it's more like 19 out of 20 will at least stay out of the hitter's power zone."
Beckham plans for communication signs at second: Gordon Beckham, the 2009 Players Choice Award winner as the AL Outstanding Rookie, will shift to second base and, along the way, break the language barrier between himself and Cuban-born shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
"We're going to have to talk about that," the White Sox second baseman told the Chicago Tribune. "From what I have heard from [former Sox second baseman Chris Getz], it is kind of difficult to communicate with Alexei. I will make sure we know the signals we can give each other, or different words we know in each other's language, so we can figure out who is covering the bag."
Kottaras claimed by Brewers: The Brewers claimed left-handed hitting catcher George Kottaras off waivers from the Red Sox.
"It's just adding depth to our catching," general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I don't know that far down the road. We haven't made offers to catchers yet."
Kottaras played in 45 games for the Red Sox this past season, hitting .237 with one home run and 10 RBIs.
Chamberlain wants friend, teammate Pettitte to return: If Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain has his way, Andy Pettitte will be pitching in New York once again in 2010.
"To see what he's done and the longevity he's had, he's a great player and obviously we'd love to have him back," Chamberlain told the New York Daily News at the New Yorkers For Children's "Wrap and Rap" event. "That's a decision he'll have to make with his family and himself."
Chamberlain has been in contact with Pettitte, exchanging photos of their children via text messages. If he has to, he will put the full-court press on Pettitte to make sure he returns for a 16th Major League season.
Lowell feeling stronger than ever since surgery: Mike Lowell, a year past hip surgery and rehab, feels he's well-positioned for the 2010 season.
"I treat this offseason like any other and maintain how much I like Boston, but this is a business and there are certain things I cannot control," he told the Boston Herald in an e-mail. "I am focused on enjoying my family, working hard and getting ready for a successful 2010 season. The focus now is to definitely get all the surrounding muscles of the hip that were traumatized with the surgery much stronger, while maintaining flexibility that was achieved last year.
"Things have been really going great. I feel stronger than at any point since the surgery."
Wood likely to see more playing time: Angels owner Arte Moreno told reporters that Brandon Wood, one of the Angels' top prospects for several years, will likely get an opportunity to earn a starting job in Spring Training.
"Eventually, Brandon is going to get his 600, 800, 1,000 at-bats. He's done everything he can in our Minor League system," Moreno told the Los Angeles Times. "He's been a very patient guy. ... I can't tell you he'll be guaranteed a job. He's one of the players that's earned an opportunity to try to win a job."
Hernandez named top Venezuelan player: The Seattle Times reports that Felix Hernandez received the Luis Aparicio Award, given to the player chosen as the best Venezuelan in the Majors. Aparicio gave the Mariners pitcher the award at a winter league game.
Bailey has big plans for Year 2: Andrew Bailey thinks Oakland has the right players in place to make a step forward in 2010. While the A's finished last year with a 75-87 record, the team played .500 ball in its final 88 games.
"We had a lot of rookies on the field, too," Bailey told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I think our team can be a lot better. If we play like we did in the last 80-some games, I think we'll be a force to be reckoned with. The year's experience will help, and now we're definitely looking to win the West.
"Well, I mean, that's our goal, obviously and I hope we achieve our goal," said Bailey, who won the BBWAA's Rookie of the Year award this week.
Wainwright finds comfort in offseason home: Now that his profile is rising, Adam Wainwright enjoys returning to his home in St. Simons Island, Ga., more than ever.
"Everybody knows everybody who lives here all around the year," Wainwright told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I'm grandfathered in. They've known me since I was 1 -- all my life. It's like, 'Adam, you doing good? Had a good year?' No one here wants my autograph."
Wells takes new approach to offseason: Randy Wells, who won 12 games as a rookie in 2009, outlined his offseason plan to prepare for his second season with the Cubs.
"I'll take some time off and do things a little differently this year. I'll start playing light catch through the offseason. Nothing extravagant or anything," Wells told MLB.com. "I'll do my weights and keep my range of motion. I'll start thinking about it pretty early. I probably won't get cranked up until mid-January. By Jan. 1, I'll start throwing."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.