03/28/2007 4:36 PM ET
Jorge Julio will close for Marlins
The Marlins decided to go outside of their organization to find a closer, trading for Jorge Julio. Florida sent Minor League pitcher Yusmeiro Petit to the Diamondbacks in order to acquire Julio.
Jorge Julio, 28, who has a career record of 13-28 with a 4.20 ERA and 99 saves, is excited to come to Florida and close games. (David Zalubowski/AP)
"We love the arm," general manager Larry Beinfest told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We have for a few years. We watched him this spring and we thought it was the right thing to do given the composition of the bullpen."
Julio has 99 career saves. That gives him 78 more saves than the rest of the relievers currently on the team.
"All the time, the media guys and people from Venezuela and my friends were saying, 'What is happening with you? The Marlins want you,'" Julio said. "Whatever happened was fine for me. ... It's good for me because this team is giving me the opportunity to be a closer. I'm so happy."
A different spring for Camp: This time last spring, Tampa Bay pitcher Shawn Camp was do distracted he doesn't even remember what he did.
While trying to earn a spot in the bullpen, Camp and his wife, Heidi, were was also dealing with the loss of the couple's first baby after Heidi suffered a burst fallopian tube.
Heidi had to undergo two surgeries and multiple blood transfusions while Camp was trying to land a job with the Devil Rays.
"I was just going through the motions last spring," Camp told the St. Petersburg Times. "If you had to ask me five hitters I faced last year in Spring Training, I couldn't have told you. Now I know the five hitters I'm going to face."
This spring, Camp's spot in the bullpen is secured after appearing in a club-record 75 games last season. As for Heidi, she is in her 19th week of a healthy pregnancy.
"We're bringing a child into this earth, and it's just an unbelievable feeling," Camp said. "It's a motivation. I'm just proud of her, how she's come through all this."
Camp had concerns about the couple trying to get pregnant again because doctors said there was a 70 percent chance the same thing would happen. After Heidi got pregnant, there was concern. But once the egg moved from her remaining fallopian tube and into the uterus, all things became normal.
Now they are just awaiting the arrival of their son, who they have already named Garrett Benjamin.
Nationals like the look of Casto: The Nationals planned to send Kory Casto the Minors to start the season. But the combination of his strong spring and an injury to Nook Logan has forced them to at least consider changing that plan.
"He's got such a great work ethic, and [is] such a hard-nosed type of player," Nationals manager Manny Acta told the Washington Post. "He's my type of player. He's like a manager's dream. I walk in here at 6:30 in the morning sometimes, and 15 minutes later he's heading down to the cages. You ask him to go here, you ask him to go there, and he works his butt off."
Casto has earned praise for his patient approach at the plate.
"I think that, even in a big league-type situation, the approach becomes more important because the pitchers obviously have better stuff," Casto said. "They locate it better, so you have to be even more patient to get a better pitch to hit, because they nibble on the corner and get you to swing at those pitches."
Casto has become philosophical about making the Nationals.
"I really want to make this team," Casto said. "If that doesn't happen, it's out of my control. It's kind of one of those things you got to take in stride. ... I think I've shown them I can hit at this level."
Good health puts the smile back on Anderson's face: Injuries that have slowed Garret Anderson the past three seasons seem to be a thing of the past. Anderson enters the 2007 season healthy and ready to show that he can still be a force in the middle of the Angels' lineup.
"I don't think my skills have depreciated," Anderson told the Los Angeles Times. "In fact, I know they haven't. It will happen one day, but I'm not there yet."
Anderson, known for his poker face, has even been seen smiling frequently this spring, an indication he is enjoying his time on the field again.
"It puts you in a good frame of mind, not having to worry about how you feel all the time as opposed to doing your job," Anderson said. "If you're not healthy, you're not worried about doing your job, you're worried about how you're going to get through every day."
In the three years prior to his injury woes, Anderson averaged 30 home runs and 126 RBIs.
"Garret's physical skills haven't been diminished by age as much as injury, and I think that will show this year," manager Mike Scioscia said. "His strength is there, his bat speed there, he's running as well as he ever has ... there's no reason he can't be as productive as he was for those three or four years."
Loe will fit with Rangers: Kameron Loe is making a strong case to be a member of the Texas Rangers' starting rotation. After six strong innings Sunday against the White Sox, Loe now has an ERA of 0.92 in 17 2/3 innings of work.
The question concerning the Rangers is not whether Loe will be a member of the staff, but whether he will be in the bullpen or rotation.
"He's got no reason to walk around here worried about anything," manager Ron Washington told the Dallas Morning News. "He's had the best performance of any pitcher this spring. He has done the same thing since Day 1 of camp."
It may actually be to Loe's benefit to start the season in the bullpen. With three off days scheduled for the first three weeks of the season, the fifth starter will likely be skipped several times.
"In the early going, I think the long reliever might be more important than the fifth starter," Washington said. "But that fifth starter is very important over the course of the year. For the first month of the season, though, you really like to have options."
If given the choice, Loe would prefer to be a starter for the Rangers.
"I've made that clear the entire time," he said. "I think I've done everything in my power to make that happen. I'm kind of stubborn. I'll be disappointed if I don't get the starter's role, but I'll be happy to make the team. ... I want to do what's important to this team."
Clayton finds himself in familiar role: Another season, another team. That is the motto of shortstop Royce Clayton, who is playing for his eighth team since 2000. He's played for Texas, the White Sox, Milwaukee, Colorado, Arizona, Cincinnati, Washington and now Toronto.
"That's basically how it's been the last five years of my career," Clayton told the Toronto Star. "There's been years I've been told I'm a stop-gap ... told, 'You know, you're just here for the year because we've got this kid we're going to look at next season.'
"I appreciate the honesty, but that's the way it is now."
This year may be no different for Clayton as the Blue Jays may want to move Aaron Hill back to shortstop from second base. For now, Clayton is just happy to have the chance to play every day for a good ballclub.
"I've been patient trying to find a good fit these last few years," said Clayton, adding that he might have a special fit with the Blue Jays.
"This is different, a different opportunity. I'm the everyday shortstop on a very good ballclub and I'm looking forward to this being a great experience."
Looper adjust to starter's job: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Braden Looper, who is a member of a starting rotation for the first time in his career, is really enjoying the new experience.
"I'm having fun with it. I'm able to work on things and I haven't been able to do that stuff before," the 32-year-old Looper told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
"Now, I've got a good cutter, I've got a good sinker, I've got control of my changeup and slider. I haven't pitched too much in my career. I've been a thrower for quite a bit of it. It's a big difference.
"It was always game-on-the-line every single time you were out there (in the bullpen), and you never got to work on anything.
"You never got a break mentally. Now I enjoy being able to sit back and enjoy the game a little more. You're not so locked into what's going on. I enjoyed that aspect of it but it's kind of cool to see it from the other side. There's that one day (when he starts) I'm locked in all day long, but on the other days I've got my work to do and I can relax a little more -- unless I'm going to pinch-hit."
Ponson's pitching style has changed: Twins starter Sidney Ponson is a different pitcher now than several years ago, when he relied heavily on a blistering fastball to get outs.
"I don't strike people out," Ponson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "If I can throw 200 innings and strike 10 people out, I'll take it. I'm all about ground balls. That one inning ... three pitches in, I've got two outs. That's what's going to take me deeper into games.
"When you try to strike people out, you're going to get a lot of 3-and-2 counts, a lot of foul balls, foul balls, foul balls ... I always think about contact. I'm never afraid of contact. Let them hit the ball."
He said that it's been five years since he figured out that he had to find another way to get guys out.
"In '02, I realized that striking everybody out, I cannot do that," Ponson said. "So I started to use my defense. I always worked my behind off, so I can go nine innings. I want to start the game and finish the game."
And Ponson can also declare himself ready to go after he had bone chips removed from his elbow in October.
"My elbow is healthy," he said. "That's what it's all about. I don't have to go out there and grind it through my start. Now I just go with the flow, man. I can throw freely, with no problems.
"I'm getting outs. I don't care how hard I'm throwing. I used to throw hard, and I didn't get out of the first [inning]. It happens that way. There are a lot of great pitchers in this league who don't throw hard. It's where you locate, not how hard you throw.
"That's what you learn in the big leagues. Throwing 99 down the middle and getting a new ball every time is no good."
-- Red Line Editorial