Joe Nelson is experiencing some sustained success with the Marlins, his seventh organization in a decade of professional baseball that's seen him overcome four surgeries, including three to repair his right labrum. The adversity makes him appreciate the upturn in his luck even more.
08/18/2008 11:17 AM ET
Joe Nelson flourishing in Florida
Journeyman reliever settling into Marlins bullpen
"I'd rather say I've had 10 years in the big leagues and three years in the Minors, rather than 10 in the Minors and three in the big leagues," Nelson told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "We all want to be Hanley [Ramirez]. Some of us just don't have that. But we want to be."
Nelson has limited batters to a .200 batting average, and he has a 2.02 ERA since being recalled from Triple-A in late May.
Montero's blasts end dry spell: Hot-hitting Miguel Montero hit a grand slam and a solo home run to lead Arizona to an 11-5 win over Houston. The first-inning grand slam gave the Diamondbacks a 5-0 lead. Both home runs sailed into the upper deck in right field at Minute Maid Park.
Since July 11, Montero is hitting .350 (14-for-40) with three home runs. After not hitting a home run in his first 122 at-bats this season, Montero has three home runs in his last five games.
"Whenever I get a chance, I go out there and do my best," Montero told The Arizona Republic. "Whenever I play, I do my best and am ready for whenever they put me in."
Ethier ends it again: Andre Ethier delivered his second home run of the game in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 7-5 victory over the Brewers on Sunday. It was Ethier's second game-ending homer in a week, and it capped a 6-1 homestand for Los Angeles.
"It's a statement to ourselves saying we're capable of playing good baseball on an everyday basis," Ethier, who hit a solo homer in the fifth inning and is batting .357 with four homers, two triples, eight runs batted in and 11 runs scored in his last 10 games, told The Los Angeles Times. "We're able to compete and come out here and have a shot to win no matter who our opponent is."
Lincecum finds success out of the stretch: In his first start since being hit in the leg with a batted ball, Tim Lincecum threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up his 13th win in 16 decisions. Lincecum fanned 10 batters while making an in-game decision to pitch from the stretch.
"I was throwing strikes. That's the key," Lincecum told The San Francisco Chronicle. "I didn't have a rhythm on the mound. I had to make an adjustment. I was more comfortable going to the stretch. It helped me out.
"I had done it in college. This is the first time I did it in professional baseball."
Wainwright declares himself ready for action: After working 4 2/3 scoreless innings for Double-A Springfield on Saturday night, Adam Wainwright declared himself ready to return to St. Louis. The only thing left to be determined is if that will be as a starter or as a reliever.
"I feel like I'm ready, for sure," Wainwright told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Eighty [pitches] would be no problem. Eighty-five would be no problem. I'm ready for that. I just have to wait and see what role I'm in."
Galarraga making an impression with improvement: Armando Galarraga has made the most of the chance he's been given with the Tigers, posting an 11-4 record and impressing veteran manager Jim Leyland while doing so.
"He's improved more than any pitcher we have," Leyland told The Detroit News, "because he's learned how to hold runners, learned how to be deceptive, how to slide step. He's made a lot of adjustments -- some of them here, a lot of them down [at Toledo]. He studies the hitters, too. I'm happy for him and proud of him. He's more than earned his keep."
Aramis Ramirez's defense better than ever: Aramis Ramirez is particularly happy with his defense at third base this season.
"I've had some good years [defensively]," Ramirez told MLB.com, "But this year stands out a little bit more. Maybe it's because we're in a race, but I'm playing good defense this year."
Some of his success he credits to being a bit older and a bit wiser.
"I've matured a little more," he said. "I used to make a lot of throwing errors. I made stupid errors. Sometimes you have a chance to get the guy out, and you throw the ball away. You've got to know who's running and all that kind of stuff. When you get older, you realize all those things. You know when to throw, when not to throw."
Righty House gets the call for hitting help: With the Astros facing a string of tough left-handed pitchers, the club recalled right-handed hitter J.R. House from Triple-A Round Rock. At Round Rock, he was hitting .303 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs.
"J.R. is a guy that swings the bat," Astros manager Cecil Cooper told The Houston Chronicle. "He's a right-handed hitter. Specifically, we're going to face some pretty tough left-handers pretty quickly. He'll be a guy that can help us either catching, playing first base, possibly third base and being a pinch hitter off the bench."
Harrison shines with eight shutout innings: Matt Harrison pitched eight shutout innings to lead the Rangers to a 3-0 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday night. He was the first Texas starter to last more than five innings in the last 10 days, and he retired the final 18 hitters he faced.
"I just want to say that I'm happy I didn't walk anybody tonight," Harrison told The Dallas Morning News. "I've always been a guy to limit walks in the Minors. I wanted to come out and attack the strike zone better."
Reineke picks up victory in debut: Making his Major League debut, Chad Reineke overcame a rough start to help the Padres defeat Philadelphia on Saturday night, 8-3. Reineke threw 36 pitches in the first inning before settling down. At the plate, he also had an RBI single to help spark a five-run fourth inning.
"There were so many things going on," Reineke, who was summoned from Triple-A Portland to replace injured No. 2 starter Chris Young in the rotation, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. "I tried to simplify things. I tried to stare at the [catcher's] glove as hard as I could."
Halladay's outing leaves 'em talking: Roy Halladay allowed only a solo home run in the ninth inning while shutting down the Red Sox on Saturday.
"I would say he's the best [in baseball]," Jays manager Cito Gaston told The Toronto Star. "Doc is pitching like a Hall of Famer."
Halladay not only impressed Gaston, but Boston manager Terry Francona as well.
"Halladay was too much for us," Francona said. "Cutting it, sinking it, throwing a lot of strikes with good stuff down in the zone."
Smoltz gets taste of broadcasting: John Smoltz was a color commentator for the Braves' Saturday night game against the Giants. Smoltz worked with Joe Simpson, filling in for the late Skip Caray. The pitcher received mostly positive feedback on his performance and left open the possibility of doing more broadcasting work both this season and after he retires.
"In a situation like this -- for me -- I'm just trying to do my best, trying to have fun," Smoltz told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm not trying to be anything I'm not. It could be awkward and cause you not to do it, but I don't look at it that way. I'm not ever going to be a full-time guy. I see myself, if the time permits and there are opportunities like that -- it's pretty fun. I'm not going to shut the door on anything, but it's a little awkward when you want to come back next year [as a player]."
-- Red Line Editorial