Released by the Rays, veteran slugger Pat Burrell ripped 18 home runs in 289 at-bats and became part of the Giants' clubhouse leadership this season.

"The whole package with Pat has been such a pleasant surprise to me, how hard he plays and the mentality he plays with," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's all about winning. He cares about his teammates. In the dugout, he's pulling for everyone so hard. He really helps get things going; he's so positive.

"It starts before the game, too. He's the first guy here and helps get the other guys prepared. He's got a great way of making everybody accountable and playing the game right. He's been through it, he's a winner, and all his intangibles are a big reason we're here."

Lewis finds journey hard to fathom: Colby Lewis, who released by the Nationals on the day his son was born, will be the starting pitcher in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series for the Rangers. His journey to the postseason even took a detour to Japan.

"If you would have told me two years ago, when I was getting on a plane going to Japan, that I'd be back here in the ALCS, I would've said, 'Yeah, right,'" Lewis told the The Washington Post. "It's kind of surreal. I think everything happens for a reason. You get put in situations where, I guess, you're kind of meant to be."

C.J. Wilson living a dream: C.J. Wilson plans to fulfill a lifelong dream as the starting pitcher for the Rangers in Game 1 of the ALCS.

"When you're a little kid, and you're in your backyard, you're taking little dry swings or you're looking in the mirror, you're pretending that you're someone or whatever, you put yourself in this situation," Wilson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "You put yourself in Game 1, Game 7, Championship Series, World Series, stuff like that. That's what you work for."

Halladay found a gem in Ruiz: In Carlos Ruiz, Roy Halladay has a batterymate who's also a perfectionist.

"He takes a lot of pride in the games that are called," Halladay told MLB.com. "He doesn't want you to shake. He wants to make the right call all the time. I've been fortunate to have some good catchers. But as far as a guy that takes pride in calling every pitch, I think he's probably the highest on that list. There are other guys where you shake and they're OK with it. He takes pride in it. There are times when he doesn't want you to shake."

Hughes preparing for second postseason start: Phil Hughes will make the second postseason start of his career in Game 2 of the ALCS in Texas.

"Obviously, you know it's the playoffs, and it's kind of tough to tell yourself otherwise," Hughes told MLB.com. "But as long as I can control the adrenaline and not get out of the strike zone too much, I'll be fine. I knew I'd be amped up, and I thought that was something I would have to control. But once I got out there, I felt like it was any other game."

The Yankees moved Hughes up in the rotation because he has pitched better on the road this season (3.47 ERA) than he has at home (4.66 ERA), and they prefer the left-handed Andy Pettitte at Yankee Stadium.

Alex Gonzalez to return at shortstop: The Braves acquired Alex Gonazalez from the Blue Jays in July in a trade of shortstops. Atlanta plans to bring him back as the team's starting shortstop.

"You look at Alex in August, he was outstanding ..." general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"I think Alex will be what he's always been. He'll be somewhere between .260-.270, hit 15-20 home runs, drive in 70, 75, 80, and play really good shortstop."

Howard excited for Game 1 matchup: Ryan Howard is just as excited as the fans about Saturday's Game 1 matchup in the National League Championship Series that will feature Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum.

"For the fans, I think it's going to be a great matchup," Howard told the Philadelphia Daily News. "Both guys are going to be well-prepared. It might be a quick game. Who knows? You want Halladay to just go out there and do his stuff and for us to go out there and try to get a couple runs. It's going to be one of those games where both teams are going to be scratching and clawing to get a run across."

Manuel sees good things ahead for Rollins: Charlie Manuel says he believes Jimmy Rollins is primed to have a strong NLCS.

"He's missed a lot of time," Manuel told MLB.com. "It's definitely affected him offensively and maybe even defensively. From an offensive standpoint, he's never really gotten into a groove and got going. I think he has a chance to do good in this series. When we talk about the pitching they got, Jimmy Rollins likes to hit good pitching. I look for him to have a good series."

Freeman targeted as starter at first base: The Braves are already formulating plans for 2011, and they include having Freddie Freeman as their Opening Day starter at first base. Last year the Braves took Jason Heyward north with them.

"It's a lot different than a year ago. We were not talking about, or putting pressure on Jason Heyward," general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Even though a year ago, I was pretty confident that he was our Opening Day right fielder. I didn't want to say it, didn't want to put that on him.

"Freddie's a whole different story. Freddie's already gone to Triple-A and experienced it, and dominated, and was [International League] rookie of the year. He's come to the big leagues and shown that he can play here. We saw defensively that he was outstanding. We saw him get big hits."

Posey gets high marks from Bench: Johnny Bench is a Buster Posey fan.

"The most important thing Buster has done," Bench told the San Jose Mercury News, "is take charge of the game and calling pitches and getting to know his pitchers and gain their trust and confidence. That is brilliant, if you can do that. ... Catchers don't need the credit. They just need to win for the pitcher."

"He's in a perfect situation," Bench said. "He's got youth on his side, and he's in a good organization, has got the people around him that he needs to have around him. He's dealing with a great staff that has great stuff, which makes it easier."

-- Red Line Editorial