Pena felt earthquake in Dominican
Rays first baseman experienced shocks of neighbor's tragedy
Carlos Pena was working out in a gym while vacationing with his wife and daughter in the Dominican Republic last week when everything around him began to shake.
"All of a sudden, the whole building started swaying from left to right," Pena told MLB.com. "As I'm waiting, the whole entire thing is moving left and right. I'm like, 'What is going on?'
"It was the weirdest helpless feeling, immediately. You spend the first five seconds not knowing what's going on. After that, you know it's an earthquake."
Buildings in the Dominican Republic weren't damaged, but last week's earthquake left the country's island neighbor Haiti devastated. Hundreds of thousands of people have died or been injured and countless numbers of people are now homeless.
Pena has since flown back to the United States. But before he left, he helped gather supplies with his church for the Haitian people. Pena is proud of the way Dominicans and the rest of the world has responded.
Crisp returns to spot of first home run in Oakland: Coco Crisp, who recently agreed to a one-year deal plus a club option with the A's, remarked about his Bay Area roots during his media introduction, recalling that his first home run in Oakland was at his aunt Diane's house.
"It was a tennis ball, and I hit it over the big fence," Crisp, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Have you ever seen The Sandlot? I was all excited, and then I realized we had no more ball to play with. It was a huge fence, plus there was a dog on the other side."
Fans try to tease Crisp by calling him by his given name, but that makes no difference to the outfielder.
"Fans try to get under my skin by calling me Covelli, and that's fine, because I like my name," Crisp said.
Thome willing to return to White Sox: Jim Thome is still looking for a job.
"My door is open," Thome, a free agent who spent nearly four full seasons with the White Sox before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31, told the Chicago Tribune. "Just call me."
The veteran slugger made it clear he's gauging interest among potential suitors.
"I want to play baseball," Thome said. "Right now, we're talking to a few teams, and we'll see what happens. It's been a slow winter in the market."
Greinke maintains steady offseason routine: Zack Greinke has changed little in his offseason preparation.
"I try to keep things really simple. I think I got a lot better since doing that," Greinke told MLB.com. "No matter what I do, it's just stay to the basics and don't try to get out of control. And just repeat that and repeat that and repeat that. Just try to do that again next year, and when you do that and you don't make the mistakes to allow the other team to beat you, that makes it easier. Because when you make mistakes, that's when the big trouble happens."
Redmond eager for new start in Cleveland: Mike Redmond says that Cleveland's desire to have him on the club was very appealing, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"Minnesota was done with me," Redmond said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "They'd given up on me. I didn't have a great year last season. I got banged up.
"Cleveland really wanted me. I've got a chance to work with some great young pitchers. My wife's sister lives in Medina. It seemed like a good fit. Besides, it's going to be fun catching Fausto Carmona instead of trying to hit against him."
Scott hopes to gets some work in the field: Luke Scott knows he may serve as Baltimore's designated hitter for much of 2010, but he'd like to play the field, too.
"Absolutely, I want to be able to play defense," Scott told the Baltimore Sun. "If it were up to me, I'd DH two or three times a week and play in the field wherever they needed me. That would be optimal. I'd be off my feet some and stay fresher longer. I'd play left field and first base and DH. That'd be great."
Sullivan in the mix for outfield spot in Houston: Cory Sullivan agreed to a Minor League deal with the Astros, who have been looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder to fortify their bench.
Sullivan spent the first four years of his career with Colorado and then played for the Mets last season, hitting .250 in 64 games. For his career he is a .276 hitter with 10 home runs and 93 RBIs in 419 games.
"He's an experienced guy," general manager Ed Wade told MLB.com. "He's left-handed and can play all three outfield positions. At the very least, we can put him into the competition for the fourth and fifth outfield spots and see where it goes."
Oswalt happy, lighter with new conditioning program: To get ready for the 2010 season, Roy Oswalt has done a lot of core-strengthening exercises to strengthen his back as well as several other exercises. He's lost 12 pounds in the process.
"I'm doing all the exercises they showed me to do as far as strengthening the lower back and doing a little bit less long cardio and a little more short stuff, like quick bursts here and there," Oswalt told MLB.com. "Instead of running three or four miles, I'm trying to do a little more accelerating stuff.
"I feel like I'm getting in shape quicker this way. I just started throwing this week. I've been lifting [weights] for a couple of months now, and it seems like it's coming together well."
Valdez gets bullpen chance in Toronto: The Blue Jays acquired Merkin Valdez from San Francisco on Wednesday in exchange for cash. Merkin will compete for a spot in the Toronto bullpen this spring.
"Valdez has a power arm with a fastball that can reach up to 98 mph," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told MLB.com. "He's out of options, so we're taking a chance on a reliever with a good arm."
Valdez pitched in 48 games for the Giants last season, going 2-1 with a 5.66 ERA. He added 38 strikeouts and 28 walks over 49 1/3 innings. For his career, all with the Giants, he is 3-1 with a 5.24 ERA in 67 games.
Papelbon signs another one-year deal: Jonathan Papelbon agreed on a one-year contract soon after exchanging arbitration figures with the Red Sox, MLB.com reported. Papelbon talked about the deal while being interviewed on Boston FM radio station WBZ 98.5.
"I think the biggest thing in these kinds of situations is making both sides happy," Papelbon said. "As you well know, that's a really hard thing to do. I think finally, before the deadline, we came to an agreement on both sides, and I think both sides are very happy. That's really all you can ask for, you know?"
Hernandez plans to deliver in 2010: Felix Hernandez passed a physical to complete a five-year deal that could keep him with the Mariners through the 2014 season.
"For me, it's not about money," Hernandez told the Seattle Times. "For me, it's about being here. I know the fans need to be in the playoffs. We need to be in the playoffs, and we knew we had to get things done early this year, before Spring Training. And now my mind is clear -- all I've got to do is go out there and pitch. That's the only thing I've got on my mind right now."
McClellan has rotation spot on his mind: Kyle McClellan was content with his setup role in 2009 with the Cardinals but is preparing himself to work as either a starter or reliever in 2010.
"The way I look at it, I'm going to go in and prove to them that I can pitch in the rotation and that I can pitch in the bullpen," McClellan told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. "I'm going to let them determine where they think I'm going to best help this team. If I go in and don't pitch well in the rotation, I feel like I'm not doing my job of giving them a choice, giving them some flexibility.
"I loved my role last year and the year before, pitching in the seventh and eighth innings, in tight games -- that's something that I really enjoyed doing. But again, I've started in the Minor Leagues. I'm comfortable with that. Either way, I look at it right now, with Carp [Chris Carpenter] and Waino [Adam Wainwright] at the top and [Brad] Penny and [Kyle] Lohse. If I was going to make the transition, I think those are four guys who would definitely help with that."
Padilla back with Dodgers for another year: The Dodgers signed veteran free agent Vicente Padilla to a one-year contract. The Dodgers picked up Padilla off waivers from the Rangers last year, and he was 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA for Los Angeles.
Asked at the end of the season if he would like to re-sign with the Dodgers, Padilla told the Los Angeles Times he would, adding, "They gave me an opportunity."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.