The Angels thought they were done with their offseason makeover, but, somehow Bobby Abreu -- a player riding a streak of six consecutive 100-RBI seasons with a .405 lifetime on-base percentage -- remained available late free agency. So they changed course and agreed to a one-year contract with the two-time All-Star.
02/13/2009 1:18 PM ET
Abreu too good for Angels to pass up
Consistent corner bat will give boost to Halos lineup
"A week ago, we were perfectly content going to Spring Training with the club we had intact," Angels general manager Tony Reagins told the Los Angeles Times. "What we tried to do was bring a player in who would impact us in a significant way, and we felt Bobby's overall package made a lot of sense for us.
"He balances the lineup, which is important, and his presence alone will be significant because of his approach at the plate. He sees a lot of pitches, runs the bases well; he's an aggressive player, he's a professional. It's going to be a good situation for us."
Church ponders headgear after concussions: The concussions Ryan Church suffered last season were no laughing matter. So it was good to see his sense of humor had returned as he reported to Port St. Lucie, Fla.
When asked by Newsday about playing in the new Citi Field outfield, which features a jutting edge in right-center field, Church joked, "I'll probably put a football helmet on."
During an 11-week span, Church suffered two concussions and spent the last half of the season trying to recover. When the season ended, Church was finally able to completely rest and let himself fully recover.
"I took that month off, then started up that first week of November, and it's been nonstop since," Church said. "Everything's been fine. I haven't had any setbacks, nothing like that. I woke up one morning during the month I took off and said, 'Hey, it's gone.' A couple of days went by, and I was like, 'You know what? Wow, I'm feeling pretty good.' It's like night and day."
Price prepared to battle for starting spot: David Price made a big splash in the postseason last year for Tampa Bay, but the Rays left-hander understands he still needs to work for a spot in the starting rotation.
"You don't want them to come out and say you have a spot," Price told the Tampa Tribune. "You want to come in, and you want to earn it. You want to earn the respect of everybody that's in [the clubhouse], and that's what it's about. It's a competition, it's a challenge, and that makes it more fun in my eyes."
Carpenter's mound work a positive sign: Chris Carpenter worked from the mound on Wednesday for the first time in five months. The Cardinals ace was out most of 2008 with an ulnar nerve injury in his pitching elbow.
"I feel good," Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've been working hard. I started preparing myself like always to be ready to pitch no matter what the outcome with my arm might be. And that was months ago when it wasn't as strong as it is now and nobody knew what was going to happen."
Willis grateful for opportunity: Dontrelle Willis, returning to the Tigers after struggling in his first season with Detroit, expressed gratitude that he's still in the Major Leagues.
"I'm still a big league ballplayer," Willis told MLB.com. "I still have fun, and I'm still blessed to have a job. In this day and age, it puts everything in perspective. A lot of people don't have jobs, and I'm blessed to be a big league guy."
Wood ready to get to know his new team: Kerry Wood is anxious to meet his new Cleveland teammates.
"I'm just ready to get going," Wood told MLB.com. "It's good to get around the guys and start going through the drills. You develop more of a relationship the more time you spend with guys."
Soto sticks with same offseason plan: Geovany Soto batted .285 with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2008 to win the Players Choice Award for Outstanding Rookie in the National League.
Last offseason's preparation served him well, so he stayed with the program.
"I just tried to do the same thing," Soto told MLB.com, referring to his workout program. "You have to prepare for the season for eight months. You might as well go to the track and the field and work on what you need to work on. When you're down [in body weight], it's easier to keep it down."
Cuddyer willing to help wherever he's needed: Michael Cuddyer is prepared for whatever challenges manager Ron Gardenhire might present him.
"If Gardy or anyone else comes up to me and says, 'Look, we feel that by moving you back to third, you can really help our team and our lineup,' obviously I'm not going to quit," Cuddyer told MLB.com. "I'm not going to throw my hands up and say too bad about it. I'm going to do the best I can.
"With that being said, is it my preference? No. My preference is playing right field where I'm used to playing and where I've excelled over the last couple of years. I think I can help this team more in the outfield. But again, if they came up and asked me, I would go. I would do the best I can and make the best of the situation."
Glavine remains a free agent: Tom Glavine still does not have a contract, but the veteran lefty is unconcerned about his official status.
"I'll just continue doing my thing, continue getting myself to the point where I'm ready to start pitching in some games, which I'm confident is going to be early March, and see where that happens, whether it's with the Braves or somewhere else," Glavine told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Someone always gets hurt in Spring Training, or a team is not happy with how things shake out with the pitchers they have. Just keep doing what I'm doing here, keep getting myself ready to pitch, and I'm confident the phone will ring from somebody. I hope it's here, but we'll see."
Garza making recovery from foot surgery: Matt Garza should be ready to begin the season in the starting rotation as he recovers from offseason surgery to repair a chipped bone in his right foot.
"It's been there for a while, but it started bothering me last year, like in July," Garza told the Tampa Tribune. "I had to stop wearing my high-top spikes, and every time I threw there was like golf ball-sized swelling in my foot. So I stopped running outside, stopped doing a lot of stuff I usually do and just focused on pitching and that's it."
Santana on track for Opening Day: Johan Santana believes he'll be ready to go for Opening Day. The Mets ace left-hander is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He threw 18 pitches earlier this week and said he is on schedule for the opener in Cincinnati.
"That's what we're shooting for," Santana told Newsday. "Of course, we have to be very careful and not try to rush anything. I go by the program. So right now, it's just about playing catch. Today was my first day on the mound, just to get the feeling for it, and we'll go from there. We'll see what the next step is."
Uggla sees his salary increase after hearing: Dan Uggla won his arbitration hearing with the Florida Marlins. With the victory, Uggla will make more than 10 times as much in salary as he did last season.
"We felt pretty good about our case," Jeff Borris, Uggla's agent, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "Daniel, over the last three years, gave us quite a bit to work with."
Dunn takes big bat to Nationals: The Nationals added a power bat to their team by agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with free-agent slugger Adam Dunn, who has hit 40 or more home runs in five straight seasons.
"To be able to walk into Spring Training having signed Adam Dunn," General Manager Jim Bowden told the Washington Post, "we feel we accomplished something."
Schneider prepared for daily catching duties: As the 2009 season approaches, Brian Schneider has one goal: be the starting catcher for the Mets. Last year, he suffered through a staph infection and landed in a platoon situation.
"Obviously we didn't get to where we wanted to get last year," Schneider told Newsday. "But I feel good coming into it, and I feel like I'm going to have a good year. I want to play every day. I want to face lefties. I don't want it to be a platoon situation, but that call goes to Jerry [Manuel]. Throughout my career, I'm never one to pull myself out of the lineup and say I'm not ready to play. Jerry knows I want to go out there every day."
Millar gets a chance to make Toronto roster: Kevin Millar signed a Minor League contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and received an invitation to Spring Training.
Millar hit .234 for Baltimore last season and slugged 20 home runs while driving in 72 runs. If Millar earns a spot on the 25-man roster, he will provide depth on the bench and a right-handed bat at designated hitter and first base.
"Millar will DH against some left-handers and play some first base if it works out and he makes the team," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the Toronto Globe and Mail.
-- Red Line Editorial