Ricky Romero's early-season performance may be a surprise to some baseball fans, but not to Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki, who was the rookie pitcher's catcher in college at Cal State-Fullerton.
04/22/2009 4:19 PM ET
Ricky Romero making noise in first year
Rookie from Cal State-Fullerton off to a great start with Jays
"You learn things as you go along in this game," Suzuki told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "The thing with Ricky is that he was always -- always -- a kid who worked his butt off. So you knew that combined with the stuff he had, it was just a matter of it all coming together. Am I surprised he's here? Ha, not at all."
Romero is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA for the Blue Jays. He has 13 strikeouts in 21 innings of work.
"We figured coming in that he was going to be tough to hit; you could tell that from the video," Athletics shortstop Orlando Cabrera said. "Some of the things he does on the mound, his delivery -- it looks a little bit like Johan Santana. He was tough. That changeup is pretty good."
Coffey an asset in relief: Since joining Milwaukee, Todd Coffey has been outstanding pitching in relief. This season, he has inherited nine base runners and has stranded all nine.
"I've come in that situation a lot over my career," Coffey told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "You can't go for the strikeout there. You've got to get a ground ball and get a double play. It's a tough situation. You can't give up a hit. That's two runs right there."
Webb making progress in rehab: Brandon Webb threw from flat ground on Sunday and seemed to show no problems with his shoulder injury, according to manager Bob Melvin. The Arizona pitcher went on the disabled list on April 13 after experiencing tightness in his right shoulder.
"He feels good," Melvin told the Arizona Republic.
"We'll see what course of action we take, whether or not a couple of bullpens, whether or not we're going to do a [simulated] game with him, whether or not to do something live. I want to take it day to day and bullpen session to bullpen session."
Castillo batting .400 out of the gate: Luis Castillo is second in the National League with a .400 batting average.
"I feel way different," Castillo, who also boasts a .442 on-base percentage, told Newsday. "I can run, I have better movement, and I've been working hard with HoJo [batting coach Howard Johnson] on hitting. I'm feeling like a new man. I feel like I can play."
Cabrera out two months with broken hand: Everth Cabrera will be out six to eight weeks after breaking his left hand. The San Diego infielder, who played in Class A last season and led all of professional baseball in stolen bases, was hitting .308 for the Padres and had not committed an error in the field. He injured his left hand while swinging the bat on Sunday.
According to general manager Kevin Towers, team doctor Lorenzo Pacelli will remove the hook of the hamate bone. The Padres have placed Cabrera on the 60-day disabled list.
"He was becoming more and more comfortable in the big leagues," manager Bud Black told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "This isn't easy, but he'll be back, and hopefully he'll be back in less than two months. I'm sure he'll show the same energy and enthusiasm he did up to this point."
Kinsler setting the tone as leadoff man: Aided by a 6-for-6 night in which he hit for the cycle, Ian Kinsler was named the American League co-Player of the Week for the week ending April 19. Kinsler hit .556 (15-for-27) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and six stolen bases while scoring nine runs. He also had six RBIs and a 1.600 OPS during the week.
"He's incredible," teammate Hank Blalock told MLB.com. "He's a guy who has a chance to break the game open from the leadoff spot."
"He's the catalyst, our leadoff guy who sets the tone," manager Ron Washington said. "He still has a lot of upside, but he's turning into the player the organization thought he would be."
Big Papi turns to video for success: David Ortiz studied video and worked on his hitting with batting coach Dave Magadan on Sunday, and the improvement was immediate. On Monday against Baltimore, Ortiz hit a double in the first inning and tripled in the sixth as Boston won, 12-1.
"It felt good," Ortiz told the Boston Herald. "I've been working with my mechanics. I've been a little late with pitches, which is something that I normally don't do, and pitchers were taking advantage of that. It doesn't matter how hard the pitcher is throwing -- if you're late, you're late. We've been working on that. I'm very mechanical. If I don't have everything going the way I normally do, I get in trouble easy."
Nady trying to avoid elbow surgery: For now, it appears Xavier Nady will avoid elbow surgery. The Yankees outfielder has not played since April 14, when he left the game after experiencing sharp pain in his right elbow. Nady had Tommy John surgery in 2001, and Dr. Lewis Yocum is looking at other MRIs and tests before deciding on what course of action Nady should take.
"I think the course of treatment we'd like to take is a conservative one if possible," general manager Brian Cashman told Newsday. "But I think we have to make sure that the surgeon that previously operated on him [Yocum] and the player and the player's agent are on the same page."
McCann's vision improved with new lense: Prior to last season, Brian McCann had Lasik eye surgery. This year, the Braves catcher has suffered from blurry vision in his left eye since Opening Day. On Tuesday morning, he was fitted for a new contact after visiting an eye specialist in Washington. McCann said his vision improved right away with the new contact.
"Lasik surgery is the best thing I ever did," McCann told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Last year, I saw as good as you can possibly see. We'll get back to that, and hopefully the contact will work out and we can move on.
"I think this kind of thing happens," McCann said. "It's not a lot, but it's enough to notice when you're on a baseball field and you need perfect vision. If I didn't play baseball, I don't think I would have gone and got it corrected."
Zimmermann chalks up a win for DIII: Former NCAA Division III pitcher Jordan Zimmermann made his Major League debut on Monday night versus the Braves. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point product allowed two runs in six innings and emerged with a 3-2 win for the Marlins.
"I mean, it was a long two weeks I should say, going up to Triple-A Syracuse and knowing I'm coming down here on April 19th. Then [the debut] got pushed back to the 20th, and I get here, and it's raining again," Zimmermann told the Washington Post. "So it was a pretty long two weeks. I was just happy we got the game in tonight."
Matthews Jr. provides emotion: Gary Matthews Jr. has never been afraid to show his emotion on the field. That was the case on Tuesday after his two-out RBI double lifted the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Tigers. After the hit, Matthews celebrated with vigorous clapping on second base.
"It's an emotional team right now. And I don't know if there's a better situation than to have an emotional win," Matthews told the Los Angeles Times. "It just feels great to get the big hit. It's a really, really long season. Because it's a long season, you try to control your emotions. But tonight it kind of spilled out a little bit."
Furcal avoiding back problems: Rafael Furcal's surgically repaired back is holding up nicely. The back injury that kept him out most of the 2008 season has not been an issue this year.
"I don't feel any pain in my body right now," Furcal told the Los Angeles Times. "I keep working out, doing my exercises. I come in early before batting practice, and after the game I'm doing more exercising. I think that has helped me out a lot."
Berkman sees extra BP pay off: Lance Berkman took some early batting practice on Monday with Astros hitting coach Sean Berry. The extra work paid off later that evening as Berkman drove a pitch into the second deck in right field at Minute Maid Park for a home run.
"Hitting is a feel and, like I was saying, just working trying to get a feel," Berkman told the Houston Chronicle. "There's nothing in particular where you can say it's this or that.
"I just want to try to just feel good about the swing."
Rhodes keeps putting up goose eggs: Arthur Rhodes has not allowed a run in his six appearances for the Reds. In his six innings, he has allowed four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts.
"You've got to stay focused, stay calm," Rhodes told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "If you don't stay calm, you'll throw the ball all over the place."
-- Red Line Editorial