Pettitte 'mulling' a return to Yankees
Left-hander wants to make sure he can contribute
Andy Pettitte is not sure if he will return to the mound next season, even though Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said he would like the veteran to return.
"I've definitely started to think about it, mulling over what I would like to do," Pettitte told Newsday. "If I try to do it again, more importantly than anything, I just want to make sure mentally I feel I can go through the grind. I do not want to come back if I feel like I can't bring to this team what I know that they're going to want me to do. It's a big decision for me because I don't want to come back and go through the motions."
Kazmir's crystal ball has right answers: Scott Kazmir was confident about the ability of the Rays entering the 2008 season. Just look at what he said on the first day of Spring Training about what is possible with the team this year.
"What's possible? Playing in October -- that's possible," Kazmir told the Tampa Tribune.
With Kazmir on the mound on Saturday night, the Rays clinched a playoff berth with a 7-2 win over Minnesota. It will be the team's first-ever trip to the postseason.
"I knew we had something," Kazmir said. "Our rotation, the bullpen, everything we had. We had depth."
Edmonds provides pep talk following clincher: Jim Edmonds is no stranger to postseason baseball, having spent many October nights playing in the playoffs for the St. Louis Cardinals. So when the Cubs clinched the division on Saturday afternoon -- against the Cardinals, no less -- it was Edmonds who addressed the team after the game. His message? There's still plenty left to do.
"I got it from the other side over there," Edmonds told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, acknowledging his time in St. Louis. "You bring the team together and you just give them a little boost. ... Let them understand what this is about. You don't get a chance to win all the time. When you do, it's special."
Howard gets MVP plug from manager: When it comes down to the National League MVP race, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel says that he has no doubt that it's his first baseman, Ryan Howard. With a Major League-leading 46 home runs and 141 RBIs, Howard has helped to carry the Phillies toward the postseason with a .348 average in September.
"Those numbers speak for themselves," Manuel told MLB.com. "Who's close to him? You can say whatever you want to say, he's the best run producer in the league. He has the RBIs and he has the homers."
Garko's triple was in the cards: For the first time all season, Ryan Garko hit a triple on Sunday -- one that he'll tell you he knew was coming.
"I get one a year," Garko told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Kelly Shoppach and I were laughing about it."
Mijares getting the job done in relief: As the Twins try to figure out who might be their best option in the eighth inning in the final week of the season, Jose Mijares seems to be making his case. On Sunday, the rookie came in to preserve a 4-1 lead over the Rays while retiring the side in order.
"I don't have a problem putting him out there," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "I don't think he has any fear. He'll throw the ball over, it looks like. He'll spin it. Those are big outs. That's what we need. If he's hot, he'll go in."
Since being recalled, Miajres has a 1.50 ERA with four strikeouts and no walks over six innings of work.
"I'm ready for the big leagues," he said.
Ludwick closing in on .300 average: Ryan Ludwick finds himself with a .294 batting average as the season winds down. Ludwick also has 34 home runs and 103 RBIs.
"I'm seeing the ball a lot better," Ludwick told MLB.com after Sunday's game. "I feel better at the plate. I step into the box and feel comfortable again. Everything seemed really fast there for a while. I've been able to slow it down a little bit."
Francoeur ends final homestand with drama: Jeff Francoeur saved his best for last. In the final home game of the year for the Braves, Francoeur went 3-for-4, including an RBI triple in the eighth inning of a 7-6 win for Atlanta.
"When the ball came off the bat, it was just like a breath of fresh air," Francoeur told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It was a fun game. It was a fun way to end the season at home. It was fun to play in front of the fans we have [had] the last three nights."
Hanley Ramirez named team's MVP: On Sunday, Hanley Ramirez received an award from the South Florida Baseball Writers' Association of America, which named him Marlins MVP for a second straight season. Ramirez was thrilled to receive the award but still critical about his performance in 2008.
"Not quite enough," Ramirez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "My goal was 200 hits, but I had too many walks and too many strikeouts."
Ramirez indicated he may play winter ball in his Dominican homeland to work on his defense.
"I have to get better and I'm going to get better," he said. "When my arm feels good, everything is going to be fine. It's all about my arm."
Odalis Perez ties career high with 11 strikeouts: Odalis Perez spent the 2008 season proving that he still has what it takes to pitch at the Major League level. In his penultimate start of the season, Perez tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, and he allowed just one run in six innings on Sunday against the Padres.
"He's given us a lot of quality starts, and the innings we were hoping he would give us out of Spring Training," manager Manny Acta told The Washington Post. "Naturally, he has probably exceeded a lot of people's expectations from the outside world about the quality innings he was going to give us. We think that easily he could have won double-digits -- almost 15 games -- with other things around him."
Aurilia provides memorable hit in rivalry: Rich Aurilia broke a scoreless tie in the 11th inning on Sunday when he drove in Brad Hennessey to lift the Giants to a 1-0 win over the first-place Dodgers. Aurilia, a long-time Giant who understands the rivalry like few other players, was thrilled with his hit, especially considering this may be the last game against the Dodgers in his career.
"I don't know what next year holds for me, my future with the Giants," Aurilia told the San Francisco Chronicle. "But if this is how I can go out in my last game at Dodger Stadium, with a hit like that, it would be pretty cool."
Hunter credits 'character guys' for team's success: Winning teams follow Torii Hunter around. That explains why five of the last seven teams he has played for have won a division title. Hunter is quick to credit chemistry for the team's success.
"I know we have a great team, but we don't have the Yankees' hitting. We don't have different things like that," Hunter told the Los Angeles Times. "But we do have a lot of good character guys. When you have good character guys, guys that love to play together, then you get guys that go out there to bust their butt.
"That's one thing about this ballclub that I love. We're laughing and joking, watching TV together, listening to music together. We don't have too many different cliques. Everybody's kind of together, cracking jokes with each other. And that's kind of cool."
Nothing able to get Nathan down: With saves on both Thursday and Sunday, closer Joe Nathan says he feels just fine -- even after taking a line drive off the back of his right heel on Sunday.
"The last few times out, I've really felt pretty good," Nathan told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Even the tough stretch on the last road trip, I felt fine. I pitched in a lot of tie games and one-run games. It just seemed like, every time I went out, it had to be perfect."
Durham nursing strained hamstring: Ray Durham was out of the lineup on Saturday and was not in the starting lineup Sunday due to a strained hamstring he suffered on Friday night against the Reds. He suffered the strain stealing second base in the first inning and left the game in the fourth inning.
"It's probably not horribly bad," interim manager Dale Sveum told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Otherwise he would have come out right then, and that would have been a red flag right away."
Maine's return still up in the air: John Maine threw a 24-pitch simulated inning over the weekend, but it is still unclear if he will be able to return to the mound this season. Maine is scheduled to throw another simulated inning or two on Monday, assuming he experienced no shoulder trouble on Sunday.
"I think I can get guys out," Maine told the Newsday. "The more pitches I throw, the higher velocity, the better the control is going to be. So I've just got to keep doing that. I think once I get that going I'll get guys out."
Wandy Rodriguez aims for another start: Wandy Rodriguez threw a simulated game on Saturday in Pittsburgh, tossing 37 pitches in two innings. Rodriguez has not pitched since Sept. 7 due to a strained muscle on the right side of his torso.
Rodriguez is expected to make one start during the last week of the season, manager Cecil Cooper told the Houston Chronicle.
"He threw the ball OK," Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson said. "It's just whether or not he feels like he can pitch through it, and he says he feels he can."
Scherzer could increase innings in fall league: Max Scherzer said he is willing to go to the Arizona Fall League this offseason in order to throw some more innings and give himself a better chance to join the Diamondbacks' rotation next season. Scherzer has pitched close to 100 innings this season. Scherzer has thrown 51 innings with the Diamondbacks this season and 54 in the Minors.
"If they want me to get more innings," he told the Arizona Republic, "I would be more than happy to go to the Arizona Fall League to obtain those innings."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.