In a pinch, Owings a two-way threat
Diamondbacks pitcher getting it done on mound, at plate
It doesn't really matter to Micah Owings whether he beats you with his arm or with his bat.
The Arizona right-hander is 4-0 as a starting pitcher and hitting .421. On Wednesday, he hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning to tie the game against Houston at 7-7. The Diamondbacks went on to win, 8-7.
Owings came off the bench and smacked the first pitch thrown to him to the opposite field and over the right field fence.
"No, no, no," he told The Arizona Republic. "It's not easy. I give these guys in here a lot of credit. I've been blessed in being able to swing, so, any chance I get to bat, I do my best to help this team. I come ready to play every day. When I got the ball or bat, I'm going to compete."
Massage is the answer for DY's back pain: Dmitri Young was having a slow recovery from his sprained lower back. The Nationals were set to call the Mayo Clinic for treatment advice when Young made a rapid and unexpected improvement thanks to a massage.
"I was stunned," general manager Jim Bowden told The Washington Post before the team gave away 15,000 bobblehead dolls of Young. "I've never had an experience like that before."
Young worked with Nationals massage therapist Tatiana Tchamouroff, who focused on his hip flexor rather than his back.
"All of a sudden, he felt instant release," Bowden said. "She found the spot."
Young will join the team's extended Spring Training on Sunday to begin his rehab now that he can swing a bat.
For Lee, goose eggs are always good: Cliff Lee picked up his fifth win against no losses on Wednesday night in an 8-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Lee, who saw his streak of 27 consecutive scoreless innings snapped in the seventh, has an 0.96 ERA and has allowed just two walks compared to 32 strikeouts.
"I try to put up zeros all the time, to do that [that] many innings is nice," Lee told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I'm happy I'm doing my job. I'm giving the team a chance to win. That's what I set out to do."
Santana finds recipe for 5-0 start: The fifth starter's job for the Angels figured to be a battle between Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders. Instead injury problems led both pitchers to break camp with the Angels. Now Santana and Saunders each have 5-0 records.
Santana, who gave up one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings Wednesday in a victory over the A's, attributed a more aggressive approach for his early success.
"First-pitch strikes, get ahead in the count, and don't give credit to nobody," Santana told the Los Angeles Times,
Gomez brings 'calming effect' to infield: While the Pittsburgh Pirates await the return of starting shortstop Jack Wilson, they have turned to veteran Chris Gomez. Manager John Russell says Gomez will provide a level of consistency.
"He's going to catch the ball," Russell told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Does he have Jack Wilson range? No, probably not at this point. But he makes the plays that need to be made, and I think he can have a calming effect on the infield."
Bonderman helping Tigers get on track: Jeremy Bonderman had his best start in a while on Wednesday night, working 7 2/3 innings against the Yankees in the Tigers' 6-2 victory. Bonderman says that he knows what he's capable of doing and hopes to keep pitching well as the Tigers continue to recover from a slow start.
"I know what I can do," Bonderman told the Detroit Free Press. "I know I can pitch. I've done it for five years now. If I pitch well, then we're going to have a good chance to win."
Tired arm healed, Everett ready for action: Shortstop Adam Everett has made his way back to the Twins, noting that his sore shoulder is no longer sore, the cortisone shots have helped, and he's ready to get back on the field.
"Everybody goes through tired arm in Spring Training," Everett told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Instead of taking care of it, I just pushed through it. It feels really good now -- best I've felt in a long time."
Ensberg, Gonzalez to step in at hot corner: With Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, the Yankees will turn to Morgan Ensberg and Alberto Gonzalez to man third base. Ensberg got the start at third base on Tuesday while Gonzalez started there on Wednesday.
"They just need to step up, just do what they're able to do," manager Joe Girardi told the New York Daily News. "Don't try to do more, don't try to be Alex Rodriguez. Just be who you are, and, as long as you play up to your capabilities, we'll be good. They're all Major League players. They need to find a way to get it done and step up, help us win a game any way they can."
Sonnanstine makes case for starting spot: With Scott Kazmir close to returning to the starting rotation, the five current Rays starters know one of them will be pushed out of the rotation. Andy Sonnanstine did his best to make sure he remains there by leading the Rays to an 8-1 victory against Baltimore on Wednesday. For the month of April, Sonnanstine won four games against just one loss.
"We all know what's coming up in the next couple of days, and we have a tough decision to make," manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Tribune, "but he's making a good case for himself."
Forearm soreness lands Jennings on DL: The Rangers had to add another pitcher to the disabled list when Jason Jennings was placed there with forearm soreness. Jennings was examined on Wednesday, and doctors concluded that the soreness is part of Jennings' recovery from last year's flexor tendon surgery.
"We're going to put him on the DL and give him a little more time to let his arm recover," general manager Jon Daniels told The Dallas Morning News. "We don't think he'll be down very long."
Scherzer plays his way into rotation: After striking out seven hitters over 4 1/3 innings in his Major League debut Tuesday, Max Scherzer has been inserted into the Diamondbacks' starting rotation and will start Monday against Philadelphia on the road. Scherzer, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft out of the University of Missouri, replaces Edgar Gonzalez in the rotation.
"I'm going out there to do my very best," Scherzer told The Arizona Republic. "I'm still excited [about my debut], but I'm glad it's over."
Alou ready to be taken off DL: Moises Alou pronounced himself ready to be activated from the disabled list after taking batting practice on Tuesday. Alou, who was battling swelling in his ankle during his rehab games last week, said he thought he might have been activated in time for Wednesday's game.
"I was expecting to play [Wednesday], but they're not going to activate me until Friday," he told the New York Daily News.
After 22 games away, Wigginton set to play: Ty Wigginton will be activated from the disabled list Friday. The Astros infielder missed 22 games with a broken bone near the tip of his left thumb. Before suffering the injury, he was hitting .250 with one home run and two RBIs in six games. Wigginton is expected to be in the starting lineup against Milwaukee.
"I can't wait," Wigginton told the Houston Chronicle. "Obviously, I've always taken a lot of pride in being on the field and being ready to play and to have this come up, and it's finally over, and I want to get back out there and help the squad."
Gonzalez continues on rehab trail: Lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez continued his rehab from reconstructive elbow surgery by facing rookies in an extended Spring Training game on Tuesday. He will continue in extended Spring Training until the middle of May and then on to either a Minor League rehab stint or perhaps directly to Atlanta and the Braves bullpen.
"I've been salivating to get back out there since they left [Spring Training]," Gonzalez told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "My intentions are to go in there and have an immediate impact. I'm not planning to go out there and try to figure things out. My things to figure out are right now."
Trouble in fifth no problem for Billingsley: All season long, the fifth inning was a trouble spot for the Dodgers' Chad Billingsley. It explains why his ERA was 6.53 despite striking out 32 batters in 20 2/3 innings heading into Wednesday's start against the Marlins. It looked like the pattern was ready to continue, as Billingsley walked two batters in the fifth. But this time he escaped, allowing just one run while pitching through the seventh inning to pick up his first win of the year as Los Angeles beat Florida, 13-1.
"The fact that he was able to straighten it out," Manager Joe Torre told Los Angeles Times of the fifth inning, "and pitching the sixth and seventh -- that's probably more impressive than if he didn't get in trouble at all."
Cust watches average rise by 56 points: In Thursday's game against the Angels, Jack Cust went 4-for-4 with a home run and reached base six times as the A's claimed a 15-8 win over their division rivals. The big night raised Cust's average to .222, a jump of 56 points.
"He's proven he's a good hitter," A's shortstop Bobby Crosby told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was just a matter of time. He had a heck of a night tonight, and if Jack's swinging the bat, that will pump us up even more."
Ten years later, Woods sees huge strike zone: It's been 10 years since Chicago Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood burst onto the scene with a 20-strikeout game against he Houston Astros on May 6, 1998. Having seen the game a few times since then when it's been replayed on television, Wood says that something stands out to him about the home plate umpire that day, Jerry Meals.
"The strike zone blows my mind," Wood told the Chicago Tribune. "Every now and then, someone will call me and say it's on, and I'll flip it on, and really the thing that sticks out is I had some pretty generous calls."
Ankiel sees better pitches, his average rise: After watching his average drop all the way to .239 last weekend, St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Rick Ankiel went on a hot streak -- a streak that included eight hits in his last 13 at-bats -- to raise his average to .290. Ankiel, who has five home runs and 16 RBIs, says he credits a better selection of pitches for his recent surge.
"As of late, I feel I've been getting better pitches to hit -- for whatever reason," Ankiel told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "When you're not going good, you might go out of the [strike] zone."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.