The Major League Baseball Players Trust is providing life-saving medicines for Tropical Storm Noel victims in the Santo Domingo and Barahona provinces of the Dominican Republic through the non-profit Medicines for Humanity organization.
The Trust's $40,000 grant for the acquisition and distribution of medicines will go a long way because Medicines for Humanity has access to medicines at less than five percent of their U.S. wholesale prices. It estimates that the medicines -- which would cost about $680,000 if purchased in the U.S. -- will help more than 30,000 storm victims.
The grant was announced by the Players Trust on Tuesday, however, the distribution of medicines had already begun. Pitcher Miguel Batista helped Medicines for Humanity distribute medicines to Fundacion Samaritana in Santo Domingo last week. On Feb. 9, infielder Julio Lugo will help distribute medicines to the Pastoral Social Caritas operated by Obispos de la Diocesis de Barahona.
"For a ballplayer like myself, it's moving to see how much of an impact we can make at a time of need," Batista said. "Through the Trust we have a chance to bring hope to so many people."
The Trust has been working with Medicines for Humanity since 2002 in the Dominican Republic -- a place where one out of every 10 children dies before his or her fifth birthday. Together, the non-profit organizations have provided more than 150,000 medicine and vitamin treatments for people in need.
Tropical Storm Noel compounded distress in already poverty-stricken areas of the island and the Trust and Medicines for Humanity responded.
"There were a lot of women who had nothing to provide for their newborn babies," said Audeliza Solamo, president of Fundacion Samaritana. "Miguel and the rest of the players are providing not just medicine and toys but hope for these children and families.
Through the Trust, Major League Baseball players are committed to ensuring children in the Dominican Republic have access to medicines and vitamins needed to cure and prevent disease.
"When you're at the ballpark, people clap and cheer for you, but this is more," Batista said. "You can see the childrens' eyes shine with hope."
Sweeney lands Hutch Award: Slugger Mike Sweeney, still a free agent, was scheduled to be at Safeco Field in Seattle on Wednesday to receive the Hutch Award for his numerous contributions to charity. The Hutch Award goes to the player who "best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire" of Fred Hutchinson, a former Major League pitcher and manager from Seattle.
Among Sweeney's many admirers is his father-in-law, former baseball player Jim Nettles, who was a coach with the Royals and who introduced Sweeney to his daughter.
"It's not every father that can say, 'My daughter married the finest person I ever met,'" Nettles told the Seattle Times.
Nettles is a cancer survivor, having undergone prostate surgery in 2007. His brother, former Major League star Graig Nettles, needs to have the same procedure. Sweeney reflected on how cancer has hit his family at the Hutchinson Research Center, where he was given a tour of the cancer-research facility.
"The research being done right here is keeping our loved ones alive," said the 13-year MLB veteran.
Granderson in the community: Curtis Granderson will host a VIP luncheon at the MGM Grand in Detroit on Friday, then he'll host the Curtis Granderson/Grand Kids Foundation Celebrity Basketball Game at Auburn Hills Avondale High School on Saturday.
"I wanted to offer various options to the diverse crowds in Detroit throughout the course of the weekend," Granderson told the Detroit Free Press. "On Saturday, we have an event catering to families and high school-aged kids, but on Friday, I am doing something more private and more for the adults. Leadership, teamwork and goal-setting are topics we can all learn more about, whether it be in baseball, our family life or in our careers."
Included topics that Granderson plans to cover include leadership, teamwork and goal-setting, and he will also answer be answering questions from luncheon attendees.
There are a total of 150 seats available for the luncheon, priced at $100 each. Tickets can be purchased at his foundation's Web site or at the door.
Brewers remain high on Gwynn Jr.: The Brewers' decision to sign Mike Cameron and move Bill Hall to third base will likely keep Tony Gwynn Jr.'s in a role similar to the one he played last season for upstart Milwaukee.
"We're not down on Tony Gwynn," general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We like Tony Gwynn.
"But, in the position we're in now, if you can get veteran players that are established, it's a little tougher to run out a younger player and say, 'We're willing to suffer through the ups and downs.' "
Cameron is a Gold Glove winner with a career on-base percentage of .341 while Gwynn has only 200 career at-bats and a .307 on-base percentage.
"He could go out and hit .320," said Melvin. "But if he doesn't, it's hard to get players once the season starts. You can't get anybody at that time."
Melvin suggested that bringing in a center fielder to a short-term deal demonstrates that the club feels good about Gwynn's potential to become its regular center fielder in the future.
"The fact that we signed Cameron to a one-year deal with an option is an indication we still feel Tony is a Major League player."
Four more years for Molina: Yadier Molina, widely regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the game, has singed a four-year deal to remain with St. Louis.
"Yadier is the best catcher in the game, period," pitcher Adam Wainwright said Monday. "The fact he has never won a Gold Glove is a joke. You don't have to worry about the running game, all you have to do is make the pitch. And you have confidence to throw any pitch at any time and know he's going to catch it."
Molina caught 27 of 50 runners who attempted steals against him in 2007 while batting a career-best .275 with six homers and 40 RBIs in 111 games.
"He's definitely a cornerstone of this club moving forward," general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "If we didn't feel he had those capabilities (as a leader), or hadn't exhibited them to this point, we probably wouldn't even be talking of this type of deal. The reality is, it's really a compliment of what he's done and our assumption is it will continue."
Molina, meanwhile considers himself a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse.
"I'm one of the guys who doesn't get afraid of anything," he said. "If I have to say something to anybody, I do it. I would like to do it. We've got a young team this year, so they will need some experience. I only have three years ... but I love to (lead)."
Another Opening Day gig for Myers? Brett Myers was Philadelphia's Opening Day starter in 2007, but finished the season with 48 appearances out of the bullpen. He posted a 5-5 record with 21 saves and in relief had an ERA of 2.87. In games in which Myers appeared, the Phillies were 39-9 and Myers loved the relief role.
Now Myers is returning to the rotation due to the offseason acquisition of closer Brad Lidge.
"I liked having the chance to pitch every day or every other day as opposed to every fifth day," Myers told MLB.com. "I hate waiting those four days in between starts. Having the chance to be out there with the game on the line is exciting. It's what fires me up. I like that. The music is blaring and my adrenaline is pumping."
Nonetheless, the mental readjustment came quickly for the hard-throwing right-hander.
"About five minutes," he said. "We got a great closer in Lidge and we re-signed J.C. Romero, who did a great job for us last season. I think the bullpen will be just as good as last season. I'll do whatever the team needs. Truthfully, I wish I could do both roles, but I understand that's not feasible. I'll give them everything I have every time I start."
Tomko to bring mound artistry to Royals: With the signing of veteran pitcher Brett Tomko, who fancies himself an "accomplished artist," the Kansas City Royals have brought into the fold someone who can either start or relieve and brings veteran leadership into the clubhouse.
"I wish I painted the corners as well as I actually paint," Tomko told MLB.com. "I majored in art at college so my plan before baseball got in the way was to be a graphic artist."
On the field, Tomko prides himself on his grit. "I consider myself kind of a grinder. I go out there and throw hard -- low- to mid-90s, slider, cutter, changeup," he said.
Manager Trey Hillman played a big role in Tomko choosing the Royals.
"Trey called me all the time. He called me just to see what I was doing -- whether I was going to the movies or having dinner," said Tomko. "The phone calls, as silly as it sounds, made a huge difference in how I felt about where I was going to sign."
Braun could switch batting order spot: En route to winning the National League Rookie of the Year last season, Ryan Braun hit third in the Milwaukee lineup, ahead of Prince Fielder. Don't be surprised, however, if the two switch spots in the lineup this season.
Manager Ned Yost wants to be aggressive on the base paths when possible, but he didn't let Braun run much last year because he figured opponents would just pitch around Fielder. However, with the addition of Mike Cameron, Yost believes he has several players who can steal a base, and if Braun is hitting behind Fielder, they won't pitch around him if there is an open base as quickly.
"We've got four guys who could be 20-20 (homers and steals) guys, easily," Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Braun, Corey Hart, Cameron and Rickie Weeks can all do it.
"Sometimes, we've looked like a team that goes base to base. We can be a lot more aggressive this year. There are better athletes on this team right now than there were at the start of last year."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.