Darren Oliver spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day at a youth center in Fort Worth, Texas.
01/19/2011 11:41 AM ET
Darren Oliver volunteers on MLK Day
Rangers veteran lefty spends day at youth center
In an outing led by the Volunteer Center of North Texas, Oliver joined the Texas Rangers' front office staff, Volunteers of America mentors and students from the Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School mentorship program at Wesley Center.
"MLK Day is a national day of service and the theme of today is a 'day on' instead of a 'day off,'" Ashley Hyder, public relations and communications manager for the Volunteer Center of North Texas, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Dr. King rarely took vacation, so the whole idea is to get people actively involved in the community."
Monday was Oliver's second consecutive year working with the Volunteer Center of North Texas on MLK Day.
"My father always said to treat others the way you want to be treated, and that always stuck with me," Oliver said. "I like being outside and we have a lot of fun. It's a little cloudy but still a nice day, and I think everyone's really happy to be here."
Motte plans for more bullpen success in 2011: Jason Motte had success out of the bullpen in 2010, relying more on his sinking fastball and a cut fastball than his breaking ball. He plans to use the same formula in 2011 in St. Louis.
"Last year, I think I mixed in my two-seamer a lot more," Motte told MLB.com. "I got to where I was little bit more comfortable with it. I was throwing it and I wasn't up there babying it. But probably [I'll throw] my four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter and then I guess my slider-curve, whatever thing that is. I'll throw it up there every now and then."
Tabata hopes to beef up on homers: Jose Tabata has gained some weight this offseason with the intention of bulking up his power numbers.
"Yeah, I'm bigger," Tabata told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs."
Votto not interested in leaving Reds: Joey Votto, fresh off of signing a new three-year deal to stay with the Reds, is happy in Cincinnati.
"I can't imagine playing anywhere else," Votto told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I enjoy myself. I can't imagine being with a better team. The Yankees or Red Sox -- that's a lot to deal with. I'm young in my career. I'm still learning. I don't want to go anywhere else."
Strasburg progressing with rehab: Stephen Strasburg, rehabbing from last year's elbow surgery, has yet to pick up a baseball and hasn't pitched since Aug. 21.
"I'm saving picking up a baseball for until I start throwing," Strasburg told the The Washington Post. "I'm at a yellow softball right now. Hopefully, I'll have a baseball soon."
"I'm definitely at peace with it," Strasburg said at a benefit he created for the San Diego State University baseball team. "At first, I was real shell-shocked. I didn't know what was going to happen. Now, I'm getting pretty comfortable with the idea of working back. It feels good. There's no doubt in my mind. I've worked so hard so far. I'm going to keep that going. If you work, you're going to get rewarded."
Thames signs one-year deal with Dodgers: The Dodgers signed free agent Marcus Thames to a one-year deal. Thames is expected to be a platoon left fielder, supplying power from the right side. He will likely share time in left with Jay Gibbons and Chris Gwynn.
"Marcus helps balance us out a bit," general manager Ned Colletti told MLB.com. "We needed a right-handed bat, and this opens the door to add a left-handed hitter in the infield."
Thames batted a career-high .288 with 12 home runs last year for the Yankees. In 2006 he belted 26 home runs with the Tigers.
Aardsma targets Opening Day for return: The Mariners and David Aardsma avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year deal. Aardsma underwent offseason surgery on his hip and may miss the first two weeks of the season. He is on track to resume throwing in about two weeks.
"I'll be on crutches for a little while," Aardsma told the Everett Herald. "I'm doing leg strengthening stuff every day. Light curls, light squats, some glute stuff. At this point, I'm on the same timetable as before."
"In my mind, absolutely that's my goal," Aardsma said about pitching on Opening Day. "But I want to be healthy. That's the most important goal."
B.J. Upton back for another year with Rays: B.J. Upton and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a one-year deal on Monday. Upton experienced what it was like to go through the arbitration process last year and decided it was better to avoid arbitration in 2011.
"You always evaluate the mindset of a player, and B.J. is pretty focused and locked in right now," agent Larry Reynolds told the St. Petersburg Times. "We didn't think it was a good time in his career for any further distraction. We want to continue the momentum he's built up this offseason.
"It also helped that the team was willing to get this resolved as well. That always helps."
Upton hit .237 with 18 home runs, 62 RBIs, 38 doubles and 42 stolen bases last season.
Giambi to get another shot with Rockies: Jason Giambi, 40, agreed to a Minor League contract with the Rockies.
Because Ty Wigginton, who signed with the Rockies this offseason, can play both the infield and outfield, Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd said the team plans to carry only four outfielders. That may create a room for Giambi to serve as a power-hitting pinch-hitter.
"It's huge," O'Dowd told the Denver Post of Giambi's role. "It changes the way managers set up against us. I can't emphasize it enough. We wouldn't bring him back if we didn't think so."
Last season with the Rockies, Giambi hit .244 with six home runs and 35 RBIs in 176 at-bats.
"He does a lot of things around our ballclub that go unnoticed," O'Dowd said. "He adds a whole other dimension to our clubhouse that doesn't get seen day in and day out by the common fan."
Collins likes the damage Reyes can do at leadoff spot: Mets manager Terry Collins has been trying to figure out what his lineup will look like. Right now, Collins' first six hitters in the lineup are Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay and Ike Davis. Who hits seventh and eighth will be determined this spring.
"Jose can change the face of the game leading off," Collins told the New York Post. "The greatest leadoff hitter of all time [Rickey Henderson] is in the Hall of Fame because of the way he could change the way the game's played, and I think Jose Reyes can do that."
As for Wright, who batted third, fourth and fifth last season under Jerry Manuel, Collins wants him in the third spot.
"He's a run producer, I think he needs to hit in the third spot," Collins said. "We did it in Houston with Jeff Bagwell. In 1994, we moved him from fourth to third and he won the MVP that shortened season. I want David to be himself, go hit and have some fun. I think he's the face of the organization and if he has something to say, he can say it.
"I think Beltran is going to have a big year. He'll protect David and Jason Bay will protect him. I think Jason will be better his second year back in the National League. Ike Davis is a baseball player, and he will continue to make adjustments."
Franklin might not be done after all: Ryan Franklin, who last year said that he believed the 2011 season with the Cardinals might be his last, says he may be rethinking that stance.
"I've done a lot of that [thinking] this offseason," Franklin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've come to the conclusion that if this year goes well, I'm going to keep playing. If I stay healthy, and I don't see why I shouldn't. The family has told me to keep playing, so I'm going to keep playing."
Overbay holds Hurdle in high regard: Lyle Overbay is coming to Pittsburgh fully believing that new manager Clint Hurdle is the right man for the job. A father of three (his sons are 7, 6 and 2), Overbay says Hurdle will bring out the best in him.
"I've got three boys," Overbay told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And Clint Hurdle is a man who is, in a sense, raising boys here in this clubhouse. He is an inspirational person, and I'd like to coach someday and that is the kind of man I want to surround myself with."
Gregg sees bright future with Orioles: Kevin Gregg might have surprised some people when he chose to sign with the Orioles, but he says he had good reason -- his faith in manager Buck Showalter.
"I really liked what I saw last year in the team," Gregg told MLB.com. "I know early on, the wins weren't coming at the pace that they wanted, but I saw a lot of potential with the team. And then once Buck took over, I noticed a change in attitude and direction. Along with all the moves that have been made this offseason so far, I just wanted to be a part of it. I know a lot of people are probably wondering what's going to happen, but I like it."
-- Red Line Editorial