After working his way into being one of the top relievers for the Giants last year, Sergio Romo decided to add a new pitch to his repertoire this season. With the help of Jeremy Affeldt, Romo now throws a sinker.
"I want to get away from the feeling that I have to strike guys out," Romo told the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm not really a power pitcher. I want to get more ground balls and be able to get both righties and lefties out. I may not have to rely on the slider as much."
"There's no room to get comfortable up here -- I'm never going to feel comfortable," Romo said. "But I do feel that if I had a spot to lose, I've done a decent job of maintaining it to this point."
Marrero feeling good at first: After Chris Marrero was drafted as a third baseman in 2006, the Nationals moved him to the outfield. Now, Marrero is a first baseman.
"I'm very comfortable with him over there defensively," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman told the The Washington Post. "He's really made strides with his range. He throws the ball very well when that's needed from a first baseman. His hands are soft. He's a very usable first baseman. There was some question as to whether he was going to be able to do that. There's no question now."
"I don't think I'm doing anything different," Marrero said. "It's just the confidence. I have the confidence I'm going to catch the ball. I bust my butt every day taking ground balls, but at the end of the day, it's all about knowing you can catch the ball."
Hunter likes his partners in Angels' outfield: The Angels feature quite a trio in the outfield with Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells. All three players are capable of playing center field, and they think they have one of the top defensive trios in the game.
"You look at the speed of Bourjos, the athletic ability of me and Vernon. I'm not trying to be cocky, but Vernon is athletic. I'm 35, so it seems like I'm older, but I can play," Hunter told the Los Angeles Times. "The instincts of playing the game, the arm strength ... looking at the total package, not many teams have three outfielders like us."
Lohse back in the groove: Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse is feeling fully recovered, having tossed 13 innings this spring while allowing only two runs and no walks. Lohse was hit in the right forearm with a batted ball on May 23, 2009, and later had surgery.
"Except for my last start last year, ever since I got hit by that ball, I haven't had the stuff I showed out there today," Lohse told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's been awhile since I've been able to locate and have that consistency.
"That's what I felt like all of '08 and the beginning of '09. Once I came here, working with [pitching coach Dave Duncan] and locating that sinker down in the zone, that's what I feel I'm capable of. I feel excited about the way I'm throwing the ball."
Quentin puts focus on 500 at-bats: Carlos Quentin has set a goal in 2011 -- he wants to finish with at least 500 at-bats for the White Sox.
"[But] that goal is not just achieved by saying you're going to get 500 at-bats," Quentin told the Chicago Tribune. "It's achieved by the other things you have to do to stay on the field to be healthy. That's another good goal to consider for myself, and I'm focusing on some small ones right now.
"You can say 500 at-bats [is a goal]. A lot of stuff I'm doing pregame and postgame to be prepared can be a byproduct of that. Staying on the field was a huge goal this offseason. I'll prepare again to set a routine that will allow me to be healthy."
Gordon collecting hits and walks during strong start: Alex Gordon is off to a fast start this spring for the Royals, hitting for both a high average and drawing plenty of walks.
"I was seeing pitches. I was seeing them well," Gordon told the Kansas City Star. "I was just late and not making solid contact with pitches. Lately, I've been getting ready earlier. I'm seeing pitches better and making good contact. That's what it's all about.
"I mean, who knows? Let's hope it carries over into the season."
Wallace doing damage at the plate: Brett Wallace is making himself noticeable at the plate for the Astros. On Tuesday, Wallace went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a grand slam to go along with seven RBIs against Baltimore. Wallace is hitting .366 with one homer, six doubles and 12 RBIs this spring.
"We want this kid to get as much -- it's almost like force-feeding him -- experience," manager Brad Mills told the Houston Chronicle.
McGowan eyes roster spot after surgeries: Dustin McGowan is back after not having pitched in a Major League game since July 8, 2008. He had labrum surgery on his right shoulder that year and then knee surgery, and surgery to repair his rotator cuff since that time. He's on the mound throwing in Blue Jays' camp with an eye on making the pitching staff.
"It's been worth it," McGowan told the Toronto Star. "[The Jays] are the ones that have kept me going the whole time. I've never really thought about if I'm done, I'm just not going to quit. I couldn't do that. I couldn't live with myself if I did that.
"It's not to say there hasn't been times when I've thought to myself, 'Is my arm going to come back? Am I going to pitch again?' But those are two separate things. They'll have to take the uniform off my back before I'm done."
Stauffer pleased after pitching five innings: Tim Stauffer became the first San Diego pitcher to go five innings this spring. He threw 69 pitches in a 7-2 win over Cleveland. Stauffer gave up one run on four hits and a walk. He also had three strikeouts.
"I didn't feel quite as sharp today, but overall, I was happy," Stauffer told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I was pretty economical. It felt good to get in five innings."
Manager Bud Black was happy to see that nine of the 15 outs Stauffer recorded came on ground balls, including two double plays.
"Tim had good sink," Black said. "He kept the ball down."
Chavez keeping himself in the hunt with Yankees: Eric Chavez's quest to make the Yankees as a backup corner infielder is still on track. After going through back surgery and two shoulder operations, Chavez is ecstatic to be feeling good and competing for a job.
"It's been very encouraging so far, especially after being as close I was to not playing again," Chavez told the New York Daily News. "I knew if I felt healthy, I'd have an opportunity to make a team. If it doesn't work out? Well, there's no regrets."
Feliz brings cutter, confidence as starter: Neftali Feliz, the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year, said he wants the chance to be a starter. His outing against Los Angeles seems to support that statement. In four innings of work, he allowed one run on three hits. He threw 59 pitches.
"That's what we're working for," Feliz told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'd like to be a starter, and I'm working right now to be a starter."
Feliz recently spoke with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux about using a cut fastball, which he has been showing more often this spring. By having success with the cutter, Feliz is much more excited about being in the starting rotation.
"You asked me [last week] if I felt more comfortable being a closer," Feliz said. "But working with my pitching coach, I'm working on my cutter and it's been effective. That's why we're talking about being a starter again."
Brothers turning heads with spring performance: Rex Brothers will likely start the season at Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies, but the left-handed reliever is opening eyes in camp and is positioning himself to be called up at some point this season. Brothers threw a scoreless inning and struck out two Cincinnati hitters Monday.
"Rest assured of the fact that, regardless of the direction we make, he's close and he's pushing," manager Jim Tracy told the The Denver Post.
After his outing, Brothers was excited about how well he threw his slider.
"It was leaps and bounds better today than it's been all camp," he said. "I've been wondering, did I leave it in [his home state of] Tennessee?"
Lowe puts up another strong start: Derek Lowe went five innings on Tuesday and used all his pitches, including his cut fastball for the first time. In his fourth game of the spring, he notched one strikeout and induced one fly out and 11 ground outs.
"This was more like a game," Lowe told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We really weren't trying to work on anything. We were just trying to get people out, so it was good."
"A really, really good start," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Five solid innings, balls on the ground. That's his thing, getting those ground balls. When you're getting the ground balls, you feel pretty good."
Wood gets tagged as new 'Mr. Cub': Back in Chicago as a member of the Cubs, Kerry Wood is once again the face of the team. Or, according to teammate Marlon Byrd, even more than that.
"He stepped right in, and he is Mr. Cub right now, now that Ernie [Banks] is retired," Byrd told the Chicago Tribune.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.