C.J. Wilson has thrived in late-inning use for the Rangers this season. He has often pitched the eighth inning or two innings at a time and, at times, as a closer with Frank Francisco sidelined with a shoulder injury. Overall, the hard-throwing left-hander is 4-3 with six saves and a 2.89 ERA.
06/22/2009 1:58 PM ET
Wilson using versatility on the mound
Lefty reliever a boon to first-place Rangers
"He's been outstanding," manager Ron Washington told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He's using all his pitches. He's throwing them all over for strikes. He's got good tempo out there. He's just doing what he has to do. That's a lot of credit to C.J."
Wilson's success has not come as a surprise to pitching coach Mike Maddux, who watched Wilson closely this spring and believed he would be successful.
"He has such a good idea of what he's doing out there," Maddux said. "He's a tremendous utility guy. You can use him in any situation, and he has the stomach to handle the closer's job as well. I still expect him to get better."
MacDougal relying solely on fastball: Mike MacDougal has gone back to basics. Of his last 62 pitches, covering four appearances, the Nationals' closer has thrown 60 fastballs. One of the other pitches was a slider and the other a pitchout.
"From Day 1 I said, 'Hey, you've got a very good fastball. You shouldn't be trying to trick guys,'" manager Manny Acta told the Washington Post.
"I didn't have as much confidence in it as before, so he really helped me out with that," MacDougal said of pitching coach Steve McCatty, who has helped MacDougal harness his 97-mph fastball.
Brotherly matchup leaves Weaver parents proud: Saturday's Angels-Dodgers game featured a pitching matchup of Jered Weaver taking on older brother Jeff Weaver. It was just the eighth pair of brothers to face each other as starting pitchers in an MLB game and the 21st time that it happened at any position.
Their parents were in the stands], wearing specially made blended jerseys given to them by Angels vice president Tim Mead that were half Angels and half Dodgers.
"We didn't want to draw attention to ourselves," Gail Weaver told the Los Angeles Times, "but you can't not wear it, right?"
"It's a little different perspective for us than what Major League Baseball and the historians think," Dave Weaver said. "They're still our sons. They're the most important things in our lives."
Hunter an important presence off the field, too: Torii Hunter's teammates say he contributes as much off the field as he does in between the lines.
"Consistency," Angels pitcher John Lackey told the Los Angeles Times. "I've never seen anybody like this guy -- everyday with a smile and a laugh, every day ready to lead."
"Professionalism," said third baseman Chone Figgins about Hunter. "He's the one who talks to everyone on this team -- not just about baseball. It's about how do you go through your life. He's a rock."
Green's blast catches wind: Nick Green, whose game-winning homer lifted the Red Sox to a 6-5 win over the Braves on Sunday, is hitting .355 (11-for-31) in his last 10 games.
"The last thing I really wanted to do was hit the ball in the air right there because the wind was so bad," he told the Boston Globe. "Fortunately, it was blowing to the right. Blew it right where it needed to go."
Interleague play leaves Thome longing for the plate: Jim Thome is ready for some regular at-bats after serving as a pinch-hitter in NL parks during Interleague play.
"I was just thinking last night, 'Man, it sure would be nice to get more than one at-bat,'" Thome told MLB.com. "But it will be nice to get back and get into a rhythm. The bottom line is you want to get some consistent at-bats, and with pinch-hitting, you don't get that as much as you want."
Guthrie doesn't miss high-five this time: Jeremy Guthrie somehow missed catching a high-five from Orioles manager Dave Trembley after a dramatic victory on Saturday, so on Sunday he set out to make sure that didn't happen again.
"[Trembley] gave everybody a high-five [Saturday], but he inadvertently skipped me," Guthrie told MLB.com. "After the game, I just asked what I had to do to get a handshake. I told him I'd make sure I got my handshake today."
Streak leaves Dickerson riding high: Chris Dickerson, with his average up to .271, is beginning to live up to the confidence manager Dusty Baker has shown in him.
"He wouldn't have been my left fielder at the beginning of the season if I didn't think he had talent and skill," Baker told MLB.com. "He has as much talent as anybody out there. It's about putting it together and keeping it together for an extended time."
Hawkins meets with diehard fans in Minnesota: LaTroy Hawkins visited with his still-active fan club in Minneapolis when the Astros played the Twins.
Hawkins said the fan club has close to 50 hardcore fans but that there are nearly 900 overall members.
"I talk to them during batting practice," he told the Houston Chronicle. "It was nice for them to see me. Usually they travel to see me, but today I'm here. They come to see me each spring."
Crash into wall leaves Gardner feeling lucky: Brett Gardner was reportedly feeling better after a collision with the center-field wall at Yankee Stadium.
"Still have a little headache, a little sore, but other than that, I'm probably pretty lucky it's not any worse," he told Newsday. "Got some good sleep last night and good sleep this morning, too. Hopefully, I'll feel even better tomorrow."
Carlos Peña's blast one for the ages: Carlos Peña hit a home run against the Mets that some of his teammates estimated at 500 feet.
"I knew I hit it pretty good," Peña told the St. Petersburg Times.
The home run was the 22nd of the year for Peña, which ranks second in the AL. The home run also moved Peña into a tie for second place on the team's all-time home-run list with Fred McGriff at 99. Aubrey Huff is the team's all-time home-run leader with 128.
-- Red Line Editorial