After trading Adam LaRoche, the Braves plan to give the team's first-base job to Scott Thorman. But the youngster is taking nothing for granted.
"I definitely feel good about it," Thorman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "but until April 2, the goal is the same -- I want to be on the roster to open the season."
The Braves are encouraged with the power produced by Thorman, who has hit 41 home runs the past two seasons, spent mostly in the Minors.
"He's going to be fine," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "He's not yet at the point where [LaRoche] was, obviously. He's not going to put up the numbers [LaRoche] put up, but I think he will [eventually].
"He's going to make some adjustments, and when he does, he'll be fine. Good kid, unbelievable power, and he's going to become a better first baseman. He's just got to get reps."
One of Thorman's biggest supporters was LaRoche, who wants him to succeed in his place.
"The funny thing is, we always joked and said he was going to be the one who got traded," LaRoche said, "because I wasn't going anywhere.
"When he first came up, he struggled not to go nuts. He had a little temper, which is great, but you've got to learn to control it. That's what he's done in the last year and a half.
"He's produced at every level, and I think people overlook his defense. He does it a different way, but he's pretty good. I'm pulling for him, I really am."
Schneider prepped for another kind of delivery: Nationals catcher Brian Schneider heads to Spring Training with the same goals as most players -- try to improve and get ready for the season. But Schneider will have another thing on his mind, as his wife is slated to deliver the couple's first child on March 7. Schneider has already broached the subject with new manager Manny Acta.
"Manny was great about it," Schneider told the Washington Post. "He said: 'Don't worry about baseball too much. Your priority's with her.' Whatever I need to take care of, they'll understand."
Still, Schneider's thoughts always return to baseball.
"I feel great," he said. "I'm ready to go. I could get after it this offseason, lifting hard and heavy. I feel healthy, which I know a lot of people talked about last year.
"I know people said I was having a down and bad year, and obviously I'll accept that. But I had a career high in RBIs , and those last two months, I was a different person. I made some adjustments, and I'm going to take that from Day One this year. I'm looking forward to it."
Castilla wraps up career in Caribbean Series: Vinny Castilla last played in a Major League game at the conclusion of the 2006 season. Now, the veteran third baseman has officially retired from baseball, ending his career as a first baseman in Mexico's 4-3 win over Venezuela on the final day of the Caribbean Series, the Rocky Mountain News reported.
Castilla, who finished his Major League career with the Colorado Rockies, went 1-4 with a double and run scored in Mexico's win.
"I knew it was my last game, but I got emotional when I came to the park and all my teammates came to congratulate me," the 39-year-old slugger said while trying to hold back tears after the game. "When the players from the other countries hugged me after the game, I couldn't hold back the tears. I felt very emotional and proud for all my accomplishment."
Castilla is Mexico's all-time leading home-run hitter in Major League Baseball. He hit 320 home runs in a career that spanned 16 seasons. Castilla started with Atlanta and also played for Colorado, Houston, Tampa Bay, Washington and San Diego. He was picked up off waivers by the Rockies last season, allowing him to retire in a Colorado uniform -- the uniform in which Castilla had his best years.
From 1996-1999, he averaged more than 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. His best season came in 1999, when he hit .319 with 46 home runs and 144 RBIs.
"I left everything on the field and always respected the game," he said.
Castilla has said he will work as a special assistant to Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd, and he hopes to one day be a coach or manager.
Winter ball a lift for Castillo: Jose Castillo and the Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed on terms for next season, and the team has liked what it has seen from the second baseman this offseason. Playing for Venezuela in the Caribbean World Series, Castillo has produced to the point where the Pirates took notice.
"It's very encouraging to see what he's doing (in winter ball)," general manager Dave Littlefield told MLB.com. "He's maturing, he has great concentration and is a very talented guy. Hopefully the adjustments he's made will carry over to the Major League season."
It's not certain where Castillo -- projected as a second baseman -- could end up, with Freddy Sanchez and Jose Bautista also in the mix.
"Freddy's going to play somewhere on the infield," Littlefield said. "Where Bautista and Castillo fit in, we won't know until we see how things shake out in Spring Training."
Arroyo follows Harang in inking new deal: Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds came to terms on a contract extension on Thursday that will keep Arroyo in Cincinnati through at least the 2010 season.
After signing Aaron Harang to an extension just two days earlier, the Reds were very excited to have firmed up the top of their rotation in a short amount of time.
"I can kind of get used to this -- twice in one week," general manager Wayne Krivsky told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "This is a lot of fun. We're very pleased and appreciative of Bronson making this kind of commitment to the organization."
Money aside, Krivsky is encouraged at the commitment players are giving the team and the city of Cincinnati.
"Obviously, there are big dollars involved but they're making these commitments because they want to be here," Krivsky said. "As a general manager, you get emotional thinking about it."
Arroyo said at a press conference that he is glad to extend his time with the Reds.
"I want to thank Wayne and (CEO Bob Castellini) for giving me an opportunity to be a marquee guy in the league," Arroyo said. "I enjoyed myself last year. Obviously, I wouldn't be signing a deal for five more years if I didn't enjoy myself."
Castellini added his thoughts on Arroyo.
"Signing Bronson to an extension is important because he's a leader and proven winner," Castellini said.
"Most baseball people agree that with Bronson and Aaron Harang, the top of our rotation is as strong as any in baseball. These two contracts show the commitment of the Reds, Bronson and Aaron to fans of Cincinnati."
Johnson making progress: With Spring Training just around the corner, Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson continues to make progress from offseason back surgery. Johnson has not thrown off a mound yet, but he is playing catch.
"He's making solid progress and continued progress," Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes told the Arizona Republic. "We're still not sure on specifics of a timeline. He's felt good in all his activities in preparing, whether it's general conditioning or throwing."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.