It appears the gamble the San Diego Padres took in selecting Kevin Cameron in the Rule 5 Draft is paying off. Taken from the Minnesota organization, Cameron has thrown eight shutout innings to start the season.
Cameron's road to San Diego has not been easy. Five years ago, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum and a damaged rotator cuff.
"When I was with the Twins, we had a rash of shoulder injuries in the Minor Leagues," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I'm the only guy from that group who is still pitching."
While recovering from the surgery, Cameron stopped throwing a sinker and started to throw a four-seam fastball, a pitch that sails away from right-handed hitters and into the hands of left-handed hitters.
Twins instructor Rick Knapp also was impressed with Cameron's new pitch.
"He said, 'Maybe you should run with it,'" Cameron said.
The Padres are committed to keeping Cameron on the roster, which they must do, or else expose him to waivers or return him to Minnesota. Cameron is more than willing to stick with the Padres, who envision him as becoming a late-inning specialist.
"I really want to stay here," Cameron said. "The guys here have really helped me out a lot. They've made it comfortable for me."
Rouse gains comfort in Cleveland: Mike Rouse knew coming into the season that he was not guaranteed a spot on the Cleveland Indians roster -- not even close, actually. But that didn't keep him from having a positive attitude about his opportunity.
"I try not to look at the negative side of things," Rouse told the Akron Beacon Journal. "Even though I was a long shot to make the roster, I was ecstatic when I got picked up by the Indians. When I got on the phone to talk with the people in the organization, I quickly realized they're good people.
"Then, when I got here the first day and walked around to meet (manager Eric) Wedge and (general manager Mark) Shapiro, there was such a good feeling as I was shaking hands. Right away I thought, 'I'm really going to like it here.'"
Shapiro said that it was evident right away that Rouse possessed the defensive skills the Indians were looking for.
"Our primary criteria was consistent defense in the middle," said Shapiro. "From Day 1, Mike started distancing himself from everyone else, especially at shortstop."
Rouse says that he comes to the ballpark every day as prepared as he can be for whatever job manager Eric Wedge needs that day.
"Every day I come to the field and prepare as if I'm going to play," he said. "Every day I'm going to be ready, that's my job. Being ready, thinking positive -- it's the only way I know how to do it."
Yanks' impressive rookie On March 14, pitcher Chase Wright was assigned to Minor League camp by the New York Yankees. On Tuesday night, Wright was making his Major League debut at Yankee Stadium against the Cleveland Indians.
With the New York starting rotation hampered by injuries, the Yankees recalled Wright from the Minors.
"He impressed us in the spring," manager Joe Torre told Newsday. "He's got a mixture of stuff and a pretty good presence about him."
Wright continued to impress through his Major League debut, pitching five solid innings in a 10-3 win over Cleveland.
"I just looked at my phone," Wright told MLB.com . "I had about 50 messages and text messages. I'm probably going to go out there and give my dad and brother a hug."
Temperatures in the low 40s and stiff winds made conditions difficult, but the adrenaline undoubtedly kept Wright warm, Torre said.
"[Wright] was probably the only one who wasn't cold tonight, would be my guess," manager Joe Torre said after his team evened its early-season record to 6-6. "With that blood rushing."
Wright started the season at Double-A Trenton and pitched well, going 1-0 in two starts, throwing 14 scoreless innings. He struck out 19 batters while only allowing four hits and one walk.
However, Wright knew his first start for the Yankees was going to be a lot tougher than facing Double-A hitters.
"Chase showed a great deal of poise in Spring Training and he's had a couple very good Minor League starts so far this season," general manager Brian Cashman said.
Since being drafted in the third round of the 2001 draft, Wright has made steady strides. He was 13-21 with a 4.80 ERA from 2001 to 2004. In 2005 and 2006, he turned things around and was a combined 22-7 with a 2.90 ERA. This spring, he had a 2.84 ERA in four games.
"He's gotten command of the fastball," Cashman said, "and he has a pretty special changeup."
Virginia Tech shooting hit home for Wright: New York Mets third baseman David Wright had a flood of bad thoughts go through his mind Monday morning. Barely awake in his hotel room in Philadelphia, Wright learned of the tragic events at Virginia Tech, a campus where his younger brother, Stephen, is enrolled.
Wright immediately got on the phone and tried to contact his brother, who is an engineering major. Wright was more than happy to learn that his brother was unharmed.
David Wright had been awake for only a few minutes in his hotel room when he saw the news of a rampaging gunman on the Virginia Tech campus.
"Your heart kind of skips a beat," Wright told Newsday. "He obviously was shaken up and trying to make some phone calls. It's a scary thought to turn on the TV and see a shooting at a school -- any school -- but especially one that your brother is at."
Wright was unable to get in touch with Stephen. Instead, he learned of the news from his youngest brother Matthew, who is a freshman at James Madison University and was able to get in touch with their mother, who spoke with Stephen.
"They wanted everybody to stay inside and they canceled classes [today]," Wright said. "He was trying to call all of his friends and make sure everyone was OK."
Freel earns a new deal: Lots of hustle, plenty of effort and no fear have made Ryan Freel one of the most -- if not the most popular -- member of the Cincinnati Reds. For that and the numbers to back it up, Freel and the Reds agreed to a new extension that will keep him in Cincinnati through 2009.
"I'm very fortunate and very happy to be where I'm at right now," Freel told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I couldn't be in a better organization. I've said it from Day One and I told Wayne when we were going through (the contract negotiations) that I want to end my career here.
"I think with this extension through the next two years we've come another step closer to that. It's a dream come true."
His hard play on the field, he says, will not go away just because he now has the security of a new deal.
"I'm here because of being versatile and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played," said Freel. "None of that will change. I'm glad we did get this thing done because I know as aggressive as I am, I want to stay aggressive and I want to be able to do every little thing I can to help the ballclub win -- whether it's diving into a wall or into the stands. That will never change."
Manager Jerry Narron appreciates the effort he gets from the versatile Freel.
"Freel is here today because of his passion for the game and his energy, the way he goes about his business," Narron said. "Being able to play multiple positions, there's tremendous value in that. He came over here from the Devil Rays (after the 2002 season) just trying to find a job and did it by hustle, desire and passion. There's no reason in the world every guy in our organization cannot follow that example."
Teammate Josh Hamilton loves what he sees in Freel.
"You won't find anybody that hustles more than he does," Josh Hamilton said. "That's just his nature -- all out, going to give it his all. ... I've seen him run into walls before, and 95 percent of the time he's going to bounce back up and go after it just as hard the next time."
Multilingual Vanden Hurk opens lines of communication: Holland born Rick Vanden Hurk speaks five languages, one of which is Spanish. That has turned out to be a blessing for communicating with his catcher, Miguel Olivo. When the two have to go over something, they are likely to do so in Olivo's native tongue.
"I think he was surprised," Vanden Hurk told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Vanden Hurk worked with Olivo during Spring Training, and told Olivo the two could talk in Spanish.
"That helped me a lot because he knows me. He knows what I got, what my best pitches are."
Vanden Hurk also speaks Dutch, German and French. He learned Spanish by having Latin teammates and roommates during his four years in the Minors.
Close shave for Crosby: Baseball players try all kinds of things to break out of a tough stretch.
Carrying a .167 average, A's shortstop Bobby Crosby decided it was time for drastic measures. So he shaved his head trying to alter his luck. It turned out to do the trick, as Crosby blasted a three-run homer versus Jered Weaver to lift the A's to a 4-1 victory over the Angels on Tuesday.
"My fiance liked my hair, but I said I've got to shave it. I play better. When you look good and feel good, you play good," Crosby, who started growing his hair in August after his injury, told the San Francisco Chroncile. "I was just sick of it, to be honest. When I got hurt, I grew it out. It was a bad look in my opinion."
The home run snapped a 23-game homerless streak for Crosby.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.