Yanks' Mussina feeling the pain
Yankees pitcher has been the target of numerous comebackers
On Monday Mark Saccomanno hit the first Major League pitch he saw over the fence in right-center field in Houston.
The 28-year-old Saccomanno, a 23rd-round draft pick out of Baylor in the 2003 draft, finally got his chance in the Majors after batting .297 with 27 home runs, 33 doubles and 84 RBIs in 137 games for Triple-A Round Rock this season.
"I don't remember it -- I was so nervous," Saccomanno told Astros.com. "My legs were ... I had to tell myself to take practice swings. It was like going up there for your first time again. It was a great feeling."
Saccomanno was not originally added to the Astros' Major League roster when it expanded on Sept. 1. But with several players sidelined, he was contacted at 2:20 p.m. on Monday in his home and told to report to Houston for that day's game.
"I was just thinking about my next move, thinking about being a career Minor Leaguer and how am I going to make money in the offseason," Saccomanno said. "It was a dream come true today."
The last player to hit the first MLB pitch he saw for a homer was Kevin Kouzmanoff for Cleveland, on Sept. 2, 2006.
Safety prevails in Brewers game: Manager Ned Yost persuaded umpire Fieldin Culbreth to give a little extra warmup time to Ben Sheets on Saturday night after the hard-throwing right-hander fouled off a pitch while batting and felt numbness in his fingers.
"He had as much time as he wanted [to recover]," Yost told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "[The umpire] didn't want anybody getting domed. You don't want a guy throwing 95 mph with no feeling in his fingers. That's why I went out there."
Halladay could pitch on three days' rest: Depending on how well the Blue Jays do against the White Sox, Roy Halladay may pitch on three days' rest on Sunday in Boston. Halladay will make the start if, according to manager Cito Gaston, the Blue Jays take three-of-four games against the White Sox and Tampa Bay fares well against Boston.
"That's too far ahead for me," Halladay told the Toronto Star. "I'll pitch [in Chicago], and, based on how the series goes here, they'll make that decision."
"I've always felt fine with [throwing on three days' rest]," Halladay said after a short meeting with his manager. "You just change your work in between is all."
Scherzer gets into a groove on mound: Max Scherzer did all he could on Sunday to help the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers. Filling in for Randy Johnson, Scherzer struck out 11 batters in five innings of work. From the third to the fifth inning, he fanned eight of the nine hitters he faced.
"I kind of found a rhythm," Scherzer told the Arizona Republic. "[Catcher] Chris Snyder and I had a plan of what we wanted to do, and I kind of got into a rhythm with him."
Mussina feels targeted: Mike Mussina is starting to feel there is a giant bull's-eye painted on his chest. In his last start, Mussina was left with a large bruise on his sternum after being hit by a one-hop shot.
"It stung a little bit; it still stings a little bit," Mussina told Newsday. "I don't think that affected the way I threw, though."
Mussina has already had to dodge a slew of balls hit straight at him the past few starts. The veteran right-hander hopes that stops soon.
"I'm tired of the ball coming back at me. It can stop any time now," he said.
Kottaras gets callup to Red Sox: George Kottaras, who was acquired from the Padres in exchange for David Wells in 2006, was promoted to the Red Sox on Monday after Triple-A Pawtucket was eliminated from the playoffs. He batted .243 with 22 home runs and 65 RBIs this season. After being told the good news, he immediately called his parents, who live in Markham, Ontario.
"Well, I tried to, but nobody was home," Kottaras told the Boston Herald. "So then I called my grandparents, and everyone was over there having dinner and hanging out. I got my dad on the phone, and by his response, my mother figured out what was happening and I could hear her screaming in the background."
Ian Stewart making his mark: Ian Stewart is showing why the Rockies drafted him in the first round of the 2003 draft out of La Quinta (Calif.) High School. The rookie third baseman, who hit .432 with five doubles and 15 RBIs in July to earn NL Rookie of the Month honors, is hitting .295 overall for Colorado this season with nine home runs and 40 RBIs.
"I've always been confident, but I learned that I had a lot of work to do," Stewart told the Denver Post. "I think all of that work is starting to pay off."
"I was frustrated, I was struggling," he said. "I was getting the opportunity to play, but I wasn't really making the most of it. I learned that I had to be able to make adjustments."
Market for Cantu: Jorge Cantu, who hooked on with the Marlins after struggling in 2007, has put himself in position for a good job next season with a .456 slugging percentage in 140 games while gaining experience at third base.
Cantu told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he would like to stay with the Marlins and that switching positions just adds to his marketability.
"I've been able to adjust to the position and it's not a battle for me anymore," he said. "Everything is coming out well. I can play second, third, first. It gives me some value as a defensive player.
"You never know in this business what can happen. I would like to stay on this team because I like it and I'm happy."
Ethier's surge a part of Manny's influence: In his last 12 games batting second with Ramirez behind him, Andre Ethier is batting .500 in 46 at-bats with 15 runs scored and 14 RBIs.
Ethier told the Los Angeles Times he was grateful for "not only the protection and the confidence he adds by being in the lineup, but also the knowledge he has brought to us as a team and to me individually."
Manager Joe Torre noticed a change in Ethier, remarking, "I see a guy who lets go of bad stuff."
Vizquel getting work in final month: Omar Vizquel is finding plenty of playing time in September.
"I know the fans enjoy him," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "You can't help but love Omar, the way he plays, the way he is. He got a big hit, a double that got us going in that inning. He's a pro. He's the best defensive shortstop I've ever seen. I'm excited for him that he's going to get some playing time as we wind down."
"It will be better," Vizquel said, "instead of sitting down and playing once every five days. It's cool. Maybe I'll have a chance to raise my batting average a little bit and give me a chance to enjoy a little my last three weeks. I don't know what the fans feel, but it will be more gratifying for me than leaving on the bench, or with an injury."
Jepsen sits down potent trio in debut: Kevin Jepsen made his debut against the heart of the Yankees' order on Monday. The first three batters he faced in the Majors were Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez. Jepsen retired the side in order.
"It was amazing, definitely something I'll remember," Jepsen told the Los Angeles Times. "Those are some of the best hitters in the game. Knowing what they can do, it was definitely a good experience."
Corcoran's drawl, effectiveness all part of the package: Roy Corcoran has gotten as much notoriety for his upbringing and accent as he has from his pitching. A native of Slaughter, La., a town with a population of just over 1,000 people, Corcoran grew up in a small town 27 miles away from Baton Rouge and has the drawl to prove it.
"People mention my Southern accent everywhere I go," Corcoran told the Seattle Times. "Everywhere. It never stops. I don't see anything wrong with it. But I hear myself on film, it's pretty bad. I grew up around it. That's probably why it's so heavy."
"I see him as a guy that, next year, when we're talking about getting someone to replace [Brandon] Morrow as a right-handed setup guy, Roy has to be considered for that," said Mariners bullpen coach Norm Charlton. "He doesn't have a 97-[mph fastball], but he gets outs in big situations."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.