Jayson Nix knows Rockies fans became accustomed to impeccable play from their middle infielders last season.
03/26/2008 5:15 PM ET
Nix to join Tulo in Rockies middle infield
Rookie second baseman has earned the spot
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and second baseman Kazuo Matsui were two primary reasons why Colorado set a major-league record with a .98925 fielding percentage in 2007. Tulowitzki is back this season, but he will have a new double-play partner in Nix at second base.
"I'm eager to see the combination of Tulo and Nixie," infield coach Mike Gallego told The Denver Post. "We are going to see some exciting defense up the middle again. I don't think we missed a beat moving from Kaz to Nixie."
Nix was named the starting second baseman for the season opener by manager Clint Hurdle on Monday.
"We are going to start him out there and run with it and see where it takes us," Hurdle said.
While the announcement was expected by many followers of the Rockies, it still came as good news to Nix.
"It was a dream come true," he said. "I wouldn't allow myself to think about winning the job. I just tried to concentrate on getting myself prepared."
Tulowitzki believes Nix is ready to handle the starting job at second.
"Obviously the talent is there, especially on defense," Tulowitzki said Monday. "I think the thing that is most impressive is he competes well and he isn't scared of the big stage, which is huge for a young player."
Glavine has eyes sets on 200 innings: Last year the Braves had two constants in their rotation -- Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. Tom Glavine hopes to make it three this season. Glavine, who pitched 200 1/3 innings for the Mets last year, thinks he can give Atlanta 200 innings as its third starter.
"I still think I'm more than capable of doing that," Glavine told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm not sitting here saying I'm going to pitch 250, but 200 is a realistic number. ... If I pitch 200 innings, then I've done a lot to help this team win and whether or not I'm the guy that gets credit for the win, you have to wait and see. But at this stage of my career, I don't care so much about that. I want to help us win."
Glavine has the history to back up his vow. He has pitched 200 or more innings in 14 of the past 18 years. And one year that he missed he fell just two innings short while two more misses were shortened seasons. Glavine continues to pitch 200 innings as he has learned to change speeds to help combat lost velocity.
"That's a lot of area to cover," Glavine said. "I think that was one of the big things I learned with [Mets pitching coach] Rick Peterson. The more you can create a gap between your high end and your low end, and move the ball inside and outside, the more you're giving the hitter speeds and locations they have to think about, the tougher it becomes."
Frandsen keeps injury in perspective: A ruptured Achilles tendon will keep Kevin Frandsen out for the season, but the Giants infielder refuses to let the injury dampen his outlook on life.
"I think I've dealt with enough in my life that this is nothing," Frandsen, whose older brother D.J. died of cancer in 2004, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "There are a lot worse things going on in this world, and my perspective has always been that. I'm a privileged individual by being able to play this game. If you're injured playing this sport and it's not life-threatening, it happens."
Frandsen injured his tendon earlier in the spring and was rehabbing in a Minor League game when he tore it. Frandsen suffered the injury running from first to third, but he does not believe he rushed back from the initial injury.
"In my mind, no. I will never put that on the trainers," Frandsen said. "I did everything they asked, and they followed everything that was going on with me. We just went with the next step. I didn't feel great, but compared with the previous two weeks, it was night and day. I could still feel it a little when I was running, but you've got to grit your teeth and bite the bullet. It wasn't excruciating.
"If we had waited another couple of weeks, it probably would have blown out in the middle of a game while I'm rounding second going to third and I'm the winning run. I'd be tagged out and we'd lose. I think it was bound to happen."
Young readies for sophomore season: As a rookie last season, Chris Young struggled at the plate for the Diamondbacks at times, especially against certain types of pitches. But the Arizona centerfielder has been hitting the ball to all fields this spring during games, something he showed manager Bob Melvin during batting practice when camp first started.
But it isn't just the hitting for Young, who has a .346 average. He has also shown selectivity at the plate as he walked twice in Saturday's game and has four walks in his last 14 plate appearances.
"His at-bats seem to be getting better and better, and hopefully on time here," Melvin told The Arizona Republic. "Whether it's fighting his way through an at-bat and drawing a walk or driving a ball the other way or pulling a breaking ball -- just his swings and pitch recognition [are a lot better. That's due to some hard work this spring training."
For Young, it may be a matter of being more prepared at the plate after going through a learning process as a rookie last season.
"I am getting more comfortable and seeing the ball a lot better," he said. "If I can keep this and take it into the end of the season, that's all you can ask for.
"Hopefully I can keep this feel as long as possible. The great hitters -- the feeling that I have right now -- they keep that all year long. That's what I'm working on. I'm trying to figure out how to keep it as simple as possible to keep the same feel."
Haren's splitter dazzles: Scouts and opposing hitters who have faced Arizona pitcher Dan Haren know he has a nasty split-fingered fastball.
He showed off the pitch for the first time this spring on Saturday and devastated opposing hitters. Facing Arizona's Minor Leaguers, Haren struck out 11 batters in 6 2/3 innings of work. He allowed three hits, one walk and one run. Haren said a majority of his 90 pitches were splitters.
"That was the best I've thrown it," he told The Arizona Republic. "I've been trying to find it. It's really a feel pitch."
The pitch drops quickly at the last minute, often leaving opposing hitters swinging over the ball. With that in mind, hitters often try to hit something earlier in the count.
"It puts some urgency in the hitter to not get to two strikes," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "That works in his favor because he can throw any of his pitches over for a strike. He's not just a first-pitch fastball pitcher. You get to two strikes it's a very difficult pitch for him to put into play."
Maine blows through final spring outing: Heading into spring training, the Mets' John Maine had one goal -- to get prepared for the start of the regular season. Consider that goal accomplished.
"The bottom line is that you want to get ready for the season," Maine told Newsday, "and I think I've done a good job of that."
Maine has done more than just get prepared, he has been downright nasty this spring. In Monday's 1-0 win over Baltimore, Maine increased his scoreless streak to 10 2/3 innings. In six innings of work, he allowed only one hit. For the spring, he has a 1.78 ERA, allowing only 17 hits and five walks while striking out 28 in 25 1/3 innings. Maine, however, knows all of this means nothing when the regular season starts. When that occurs, his goal will change.
"Two hundred innings," Maine said. "That's the biggest thing for me this season. Two hundred innings and the playoffs."
Piniella says Wood can carry the load: Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella is fully aware that there are those that still question whether or not Kerry Wood can hold up as the team's closer for an entire season, but he's not at all worried at this point.
"There's no reason he can't pitch three days in a row for an inning," Piniella told The Chicago Sun-Times. "We're not going to do anything to jeopardize Kerry or any of our other pitchers out of the bullpen to sustain an injury. If it happens, it's going to be because it's going to happen, but it's not going to be because they're overloaded."
Wood, meanwhile, is glad to have been chosen as the Cubs closer.
"I'm honored they picked me for the job, and I'm excited about it," he said. "I'm sure, especially early on, the first couple of times I get in there, the adrenaline's going to be racing. I'm just going to try to do my best to control it but also use it and feed off of it."
-- Red Line Editorial