Kimbrel will compete for bullpen job
Braves right-hander ready for everyday role in big leagues
Craig Kimbrel will compete for a job in the back of the Braves' bullpen following a 20-inning, big league debut season in 2010.
"I'm looking at it like it doesn't matter what role I have, if I'm in the big leagues I'm happy," Kimbrel told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But if I just go out there and focus more on pitching well, good things will happen."
"I was going into Spring Training last year trying to make a good impression, catch people's eyes," Kimbrel said. "This year I'm a little bit more comfortable. I can work my arm strength up, instead of having to go in Day 1 being ready."
Markakis brings holiday cheer to kids: Among the many players involved in charitable events around the holidays, Nick Markakis and his wife, Christina -- through their Right Side Foundation -- took a mother and her five children on a holiday shopping spree to a Target department store in Baltimore.
Before the Dec. 21 spree began, Christina made it clear there was no spending cap.
"I said, 'A budget?' Are you kidding me?" Christina told MLB.com. "When a child sees a toy they want, have you seen their eyes? They just light up."
Halladay's gifts? Lots of baseball stuff: Roy Halladay says that his kids -- like many other Phillies fans -- love getting baseball memorabilia for Christmas.
"They do," Halladay told MLB.com. "But it's funny. Most of the older members of our family, that's always what they want for Christmas. Phillies shirts, jerseys, that kind of stuff. My youngest son always wants baseball cards. He likes all the players. He's pretty big into that."
Gomes shares the holiday spirit: Jonny Gomes recently celebrated his second Christmas with his daughter.
"The first one, she slept right through. It's a little bit emotional to be able to give my daughter a Christmas I really never had," Gomes told MLB.com. "We talked about having a Christmas tree, but to have a Christmas tree, you need to have a roof. To be able to give my daughter a nice upbringing and my wife a nice Christmas is pretty special."
Freese has close call with flying puck: David Freese, while attending a St. Louis Blues hockey game recently with Cardinals teammate Matt Holliday, was nearly struck by a errant puck. Instead, it struck the fan behind him.
"His blood got on my shirt," Freese said in a text message to FOXSportsMidwest.com. "That's how bad it was. He got popped pretty good. They were good dudes. We were talking to them before it happened. The weirdest thing is that he was yelling 'Give me a towel, give me a towel!' and somebody actually had one. It was amazing."
Brett Jackson hopes to be next in line as rookie: Brett Jackson would like to follow the successful path set last season by Cubs rookies Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin.
"You have to think that way and have that confidence as a player," Jackson told the Chicago Tribune. "It's exciting to be in the Cubs organization for all of us, seeing the type of moves that have happened in the past year and seeing many of our friends reach the big leagues.
"That makes us excited about the future and what the Cubs have to offer. I look forward to being a part of that.
"But right now, I'm working to be ready for that next step, and certainly guys like Castro and Colvin are great role models for us all."
Nolasco signs three-year extension with Marlins: The Marlins officially signed Ricky Nolasco to a three-year contract extension.
"I would say what really separates Ricky is his competitiveness," general manager Michael Hill told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We know every time he takes the ball he's going to give us 100 percent effort and do everything in his power to give us a chance to win. His rates and his strikeout ability obviously help that, but his competitive fire is something we've seen from the first day he put on the Marlins uniform."
"I can't even explain how much of a difference it'll do for me just to go out there and not have to worry about the whole arbitration process or where I'm going to be, if I'm going to be traded or not," said Nolasco, who had two more years of arbitration eligibility before qualifying for free agency. "I have confidence I'm going to be here for the three years. I couldn't be happier as far as the security, of course, that's going to be great for me and my family. It's definitely going to be a positive for me going out there every fifth day and helping this team win games."
Aardsma facing surgery: Mariners closer David Aardsma was scheduled for surgery on Monday to repair his hip labrum.
"What they told me is that after four weeks I should be able to start throwing and do my full rehabilitation regimen," Aardsma told the Seattle Times. "And then, on Day 1 that the season starts, I should be fully ready to go."
Dotel moving into closer's spot in Toronto: Octavio Dotel has reached an agreement on a one-year deal with Toronto.
"Octavio is excited about playing for a team that will give you the opportunity to close games in the strongest division in baseball," Dominic Torres, Dotel's agent, told the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Dotel is now the leading candidate to take over the role of closer. Dotel, who pitched for the Pirates, Dodgers and Rockies last season, went 3-4 with 22 saves and a 4.08 ERA in 68 appearances last season.
Elliot Johnson could make his mark with Rays: Minor League veteran Elliott Johnson may have an opportunity to stick with the Rays this season.
Johnson has spent nine years in the organization, even getting three hits in 19 at-bats for the club in 2008. He'll compete for a utility infielder spot.
"I'm as excited as you can possibly be," Johnson told the St. Petersburg Times. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm a 10."
Johnson played at four different positions last season and hit .319 with 11 home runs and 30 steals for the Durham Bulls. He was named the team's MVP and was a Triple-A All-Star.
Wood glad to be back home again in Chicago: Kerry Wood says that while he signed just a one-year deal to return to the Windy City, he has and always will be a member of Cubs nation.
"That's something that I've always felt strongly about," Wood told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm a Cub. And this is just the perfect fit for myself and my family at this point. It's never been about the money for me. I did leave some money out there. But it's about being home, it's about being here at Wrigley, which is home."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.