Chris Duffy grew up a Yankees fan, but never managed to get inside the stadium.
"Never been there," Duffy told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I guess it's working out kind of weird. The first time I'll ever be there, I'll play there. That will be pretty special."
The Pirates outfielder has had the trip on his priority list for a long time. His dream will be realized this weekend, when the Yankees host the Pirates in a three-game series in the Bronx.
"When I was a kid, every birthday, I just wanted to go to Yankee Stadium," said Duffy. "But my dad never took me. We always had Opening Day for Little League on my birthday every year. And I wanted to skip it every year."
With a new Yankee stadium scheduled to open in 2009, Duffy is thankful for this opportunity.
"It's a good thing, getting there before they tear it down," Duffy said. "That will make it even more special than just playing where all those great players played."
Guerrero settles himself, then delivers game-winner: The Angels got a two-run home run from Vladimir Guerrero in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull out a 4-3 win over the Orioles on Sunday. It was the team's first walk-off home run since last September, which also came against Baltimore. Guerrero's teammates mobbed him at the plate and gave him the now customary congratulatory beating for his game-winning hit.
"They do hit you pretty hard when you score," a grinning Guerrero told the Los Angeles Times. "I felt a few punches here and there, but the overwhelming feeling of winning takes care of that."
Guerrero hit his home run after taking a called strike that he thought was low. Guerrero, who rarely argues with the umpires, walked out of the box muttering to himself after the pitch.
"I thought the pitch was down," Guerrero said. "In that situation, what I've learned is to back off the plate. Even though I was saying a couple things to myself in Spanish and they were not directed at the umpire, I backed myself up and got ready for a pitch I could handle."
It was the 12th home run of the season for Guerrero.
"I'm going to go up there and swing hard whether they're throwing inside on me or the umpire makes a call I don't agree with," Guerrero said. "I'm going to keep the same approach."
Guerrero's reaction surprised manager Mike Scioscia.
"Vlad doesn't usually say anything," he said. "Obviously, he didn't agree with the call, but something like that is not going to affect him. It's not like there was any extra incentive for him. I've never seen him when he's not locked in on any pitch."
Mastny getting comfortable: Cleveland reliever Tom Mastny has quietly put himself in a strong position in the Indians bullpen.
"I look at it as proving I can pitch up here," Mastny told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Honestly, I didn't know if I would be in this position. It shows they have some confidence in me. I've come a long way since the start of the year."
After a brief stint with the Indians in 2006, Mastny says that he's more and more comfortable with his teammates every day.
"Getting to know the guys, you are not walking on eggshells," he said. "It helps calm the nerves. There was an awe factor, but the fact is you are up here also, so you are a professional ballplayer as well."
Capps gets first chance to close: Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Matt Capps, who was recently named the new closer for the Bucs, picked up his first Major League save in the role on Saturday night by working a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Dodgers. At the conclusion of the game, teammate Jason Bay gave the ball to Capps as a keepsake.
"That was pretty cool," Capps told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I had one other save last year, but this was a little different."
Manager Jim Tracy likes Capps' ability to throw strikes.
"I was saying it the other day when we made the change in closers: If you're going to get to Matt Capps, you're going to have to do it with the bat," said Tracy. "He went out there with a two-run lead, and he got after them."
For Capps, throwing strikes has always been a big part of his game plan.
"Whether it was the seventh or eighth inning, I've always gone after guys, tried to get strike one and ... well, they were swinging," he said. "They were swinging hard."
And as for nerves, forget about it. "Once I got out on the mound, everything felt the same," said Capps. "It was just good to get it out of the way."
Pena has been more than Royals expected: When the Kansas City Royals brought up shortstop Tony Pena Jr., they thought they were getting someone to play solid defense. What they didn't count on was the offensive presence Pena brings to the team.
"Really when we got him," manager Buddy Bell told the Kansas City Star, "we just needed someone playing defense. Just catch the ball and make the routine plays. He's been more than that.
"He's been the way we want all of our young players to be. He just plays."
Despite seeing his career-best 11-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday, Pena is still batting .266 and has given the Royals a nice boost.
"I'm just trying to see the ball and hit it," said Pena. "I'm trying to be patient and study the pitchers, work the count and get a good pitch to hit."
Capuano needs work on his trot: Milwaukee pitcher Chris Capuano is not a home-run hitter, and it showed on Saturday. After hitting a long drive, Capuano took a look at second base umpire Mike Reilly because he wasn't sure whether he was signaling if the hit was a ground-rule double or a home run.
"I kind of stutter-stepped and stopped and then once I saw him (signal home run) I kept running the bases," Capuano told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's hard to describe it. It just felt really good. There was a lot of adrenaline. It was exciting. It was the first time in a while it felt like it was kind of a dream out there."
Capuano said he hopes he didn't offend Byung-Hyun Kim of Florida, who threw the home-run pitch to Capuano.
"I already think I went a little too slow after second to home," Capuano said. "If I ever do hit another one I'm going to try to be like Scott Rolen (of the St. Louis Cardinals) and run real fast around the bases."
Capuano is now hitting .250 this season with two RBIs.
Padres players visit injured soldiers: Taking advantage of their road trip to Washington D.C. to play the Nationals, seven members of the San Diego Padres took a side trip to Bethesda Naval Hospital to visit with Marines and other members of the armed forces who were injured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Making the trip were Trevor Hoffman, Scott Linebrink, Doug Brocail, Josh Bard, Rob Bowen, Kevin Cameron and Justin Hampson. It is the third straight year for members of the Padres to visit a military hospital during a trip to Washington D.C.
"It is quite an eye-opener to hear about the bravery and see the ordeal these young men must endure as a sacrifice for the rest of us," Brocail told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Padres went to the National Naval Medical Center in uniform, making them easy to spot as they entered the building. However, those who went left without their uniforms, as each player gave away his uniform, as well as pictures and other souvenirs.
Saltalamacchia making impression on Braves: The Braves have two impact catchers in Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Manager Bobby Cox has to find a way to get both of them in the lineup. Sunday, he inserted Saltalamacchia at first base as part of a double switch in the seventh inning.
"I felt good, felt comfortable," Saltalamacchia told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Saltalamacchia has four multi-hit games in the 10 contests in which he's had more than one at-bat in the Majors.
"Everybody wants to play every day," hitting coach Terry Pendleton said, "and as young as he is, you want to see him play every day. But he's in a situation where we've got Mac [McCann] here.
"Salty's the type of kid who's going to work hard and keep himself ready, so when he's called upon he's ready to go. He already knows what he has to do to be successful. That's a big plus for a kid just getting to the big leagues."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.