Counsell changes stance, sees results
Brewers infielder implements instruction from Coach Sveum
With a new batting stance, Craig Counsell is hitting .333 with a .429 on-base percentage.
"He is absolutely on fire," manager Ken Macha told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He's putting his name in the lineup, and that's what you'd like to see. What a professional. Maybe he doesn't want to be a bench guy. I've said this before: the players write the lineup. I said that in Spring Training. He's writing it such that he wants to play more. That's the way he's performing."
Before the start of Spring Training, hitting coach Dale Sveum told Counsell he should drop his hands and bring them closer to his "launch" position quicker. He also thought Counsell needed to use his top hand more in his swing. Counsell listened to Sveum and tweaked his swing.
"It's something he took to and was willing to change and work on religiously every day," Sveum said. "He gets to every fastball now. When he gets his pitch to hit, he's hitting it and hitting it hard.
"I do think the new hitting position and using his top hand allows him to do that on a consistent basis."
Werth had steal of home all mapped out: When Jayson Werth broke for home on Tuesday night, it caught most people by surprise. With the bases loaded and the count at 3-2, Werth took off for home on a throw back to the pitcher.
"The first pitch, I knew I had it," Werth told MLB.com. "If we got to two strikes, I felt like I had the timing. I knew it was going to be close, but I felt like I was going to be safe. I thought it was the right situation."
Werth did more than just steal home, though. On the night, he tied a franchise record with four stolen bases, including a record-tying three in the seventh inning.
Berkman has his eyes on coaching next: Lance Berkman, a graduate of Rice University and one of the best players it's ever produced, would like to coach someday -- at the University of Texas.
"I'm being dead serious," Berkman told MLB.com. "I asked my agent if he knew how to get ahold of [Texas athletic director] DeLoss Dodds so I could at least let him know that I might be interested down the road. I know [current head coach Augie] Garrido's going to coach four or five more years. I figured that might dovetail nicely with the end of my career."
Bay continues to impress in new environs: Jason Bay has thrived under the spotlight since being traded from Pittsburgh to Boston last season. He was solid for the Red Sox down the stretch and in the playoffs last year and this season he leads the Sox with nine home runs and 34 RBIs. He had 14 RBIs in his last seven games entering Tuesday night.
"He's always looked comfortable," general manager Theo Epstein told the Boston Herald. "He performed really well in the playoffs last year. He's hot -- I don't think anyone can expect him to continue at this level of performance -- it would be unprecedented -- but it's been a great start. He's been a very consistent performer. The only down year of his career he had a knee problem. He's a consistently excellent performer."
Zimmerman extends hitting streak to 30 games: Ryan Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 30 games when he lined a single to center field in the first inning of Washington's game with San Francisco on Tuesday night. It was the 14th time in the streak that Zimmerman got a hit in his first at-bat.
"It's fun; I'm enjoying the ride," Zimmerman told the Washington Post.
Asked if he'd like to carry the streak back to Washington, he said, "I think I'd rather win, but it would be fun. It would be fun to carry it on for a long time."
Scott avoids rotator cuff scare: An MRI revealed that Luke Scott suffered a sprain and not the torn rotator cuff he initially feared following a hard slide on Sunday. He could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday.
"I'm very thankful," Scott told the Baltimore Sun. "God answered my prayers, so I'm happy."
Thome settling in at the plate: Jim Thome, who smashed a pair of home runs on Tuesday, says he's been feeling more comfortable at the plate.
"Well, you know, we've been working hard and trying to make a few adjustments," Thome, who has six home runs and 18 RBIs this season, told MLB.com. "The last couple of days I felt a lot better, just as far as where I've been in the box and how my approach has been. You are not going to get hits every time, but if your path to the ball is good and you feel good during at-bats, ultimately that's where you want to be."
Neck pain was unbearable for Duncan: Chris Duncan says he was experiencing unbearable pain from a herniated disc in his neck near the end of last season, which led to a risky surgical procedure.
"The pain was bad enough at the end that I was basically begging them to do something," Duncan, who is hitting .283 this year with three home runs and 23 RBIs, told the Belleville News-Democrat. "I was on a lot of pain medicine. Without it, it was intolerable. There was no way I could sleep. It was really irritating nerve pain, burning pain all down my arm. That's the only way I can explain it.
"Toward the end, the pain that I was feeling, there's no way I could have played. It got bad at the end. It was definitely tolerable for a while, where I felt like I could play. But those last few weeks, if it were to stay like that, I felt like there was no way I could play."
Wilson maintains perfect ERA: Josh Wilson has a career ERA of 0.00. Not bad for an infielder.
Wilson entered Monday night's game against Cincinnati with Arizona trailing 13-5. Wilson, who threw a scoreless inning two years ago for Tampa Bay, kept his ERA perfect with a scoreless inning against the Reds. He allowed a walk but induced a double-play grounder to get out of the inning.
"When the chatter started in the dugout, I started letting them know," Wilson told MLB.com. "When they asked me if I could, I told them I pitched before. I did tell them that I was at the top of the list of ERA."
Blanks expected to be ready for callup: Adrian Gonzalez believes Kyle Blanks, the Padres' top hitting prospect, is ready for the Majors.
"I think he's a guy who should be up here," Gonzalez told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He can hit. You can see a guy's swing and know if a guy's ready."
Damon not letting shoulder slow him: Johnny Damon is still having trouble with his left shoulder, but you couldn't tell by watching him swing the bat. Damon hit his ninth home run of the year on Sunday, giving him six in a span of 10 games. Thanks to his surge at the plate, Damon is hitting .314 with 25 RBIs to go along with his nine home runs.
"He's been a big spark for us -- and we've really needed it," manager Joe Girardi told the New York Daily News. "Johnny has won games for us, and he's given us opportunities to win games because of his big hits late in games. It's something we really need."
Jurrjens sees ERA drop below 2.00: Jair Jurrjens has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last six starts and carries a 1.98 ERA.
"My job is to help my team stay in the game and hope we win," Jurrjens told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"You've got to have luck and performance," Jurrjens said. "If you don't have luck on your side, you can perform and still lose. ... It's not about me."
Sandoval uses blast to end game: Pablo Sandoval delivered the first game-ending homer of his career on Tuesday night. The two-strike, three-run homer likely won't be his last that ends a game.
"They call Timmy [Lincecum] 'The Freak,'" winning pitcher Brandon Medders told the San Francisco Chronicle, "but Pablo's also a freak, the balls he puts into play. He can take balls most men can't put wood on and hit them out of the ballpark. Now that Pablo is taking those close, borderline pitches, he's dangerous."
Vargas puts hip surgery behind him with start: After sitting out all of 2008 recovering from labrum surgery on his hip, Jason Vargas battled back to the Majors this year. He pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief before making his first start of the year Tuesday night in Texas. Vargas allowed one run in five innings in a no-decision.
"It's good to just be on the field being healthy instead of trying to pitch with things going on that you can't really control," Vargas told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Your hip takes a lot of wear and tear and it's a pretty important part of playing sports."
Carpenter sees start on the horizon: Inching closer to returning to the Cardinals, Chris Carpenter threw a bullpen session on Tuesday night and has another session schedule for Friday. Then, pending the outcome of that session, he could make a start for the Cardinals next week.
"If [Friday's workout] goes good, that's what happens," pitching coach Dave Duncan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.