Pena now first Ray with Gold Glove
Pedroia, Mauer among other AL players honored for defense
Carlos Pena became the first Tampa Bay player to earn a Gold Glove.
"I love hitting home runs and I love the offense; I think it drives every kid to play the game," Pena told MLB.com. "But I take so much pride in my defense. I've always dreamt of this, and finally I get recognized for the Gold Glove. You have no idea how excited I was when I received the news."
Pena has worked hard on his defense in recent years, and the hard worked paid off this season on the field.
"Carlos works very hard on his defense, and he has turned himself into a premier defensive player," executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "He has received a lot of attention for his bat the past couple of years, so it is great to see him recognized for his defense as well."
Pena had the top fielding percentage (.998) among AL first basemen and was charged with only two errors in 1,099 chances.
"I couldn't believe it at first," Pena said of winning the award. "I wasn't expecting it. I wasn't expecting a call. I didn't know they did this so early after the season. My wife started crying. She knows exactly how much it means to me, and I was kind of crazy on the phone when Andrew called me and let me know about it. It was very exciting news. I was very pumped up and happy about it."
Mauer adds Glove Gold to batting title: For the second straight year, Joe Mauer won the AL batting title. Last week, he was awarded with something even more meaningful to him -- his first Gold Glove award.
"When I first got to the big leagues, I think people knew I was going to be a pretty good hitter," Mauer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "But I take a lot of pride in my defense. I still have a lot more to learn, but it's definitely a good feeling to get recognized for the hard work I've put in so far."
Molina's Gold Glove was a long time coming: After it was announced that Yadier Molina had won the 2008 Gold Glove in the NL, his own manager said that he felt the award was overdue. Molina acknowledged that his skipper, Tony La Russa, was right.
"I didn't have my best season defensively," Molina told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Sometimes you get what you should have received from two years ago."
Soto didn't take long to make impression: Geovany Soto, who has already been awarded a Players Choice Award from his peers as the Outstanding Rookie in the NL, is also among the leading contenders to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Soto, 25, batted .285 with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2008 and handled a veteran pitching staff that was among the best in baseball.
"I was surprised when I came over here and first had a chance to work with him," Rich Harden told MLB.com. "For a rookie, he's got a very good idea back there. It's not just handling the pitching staff and calling pitches, but at the plate, he's done some amazing things."
Consecutive Gold Gloves a surprise for Sizemore: For the second consecutive year, Grady Sizemore has won a Gold Glove. Despite making just two errors this season, Sizemore was surprised at the recognition.
"It's a great feeling," Sizemore told the Akron Beacon Journal. "I don't go into the season thinking something like this.
"I wasn't expecting to win it this year, so it makes me feel that much better. It makes me want to work that much harder to win a third next year."
Granderson joins Olympic crusade: Curtis Granderson will be be part of an international delegation that will present baseball's case to the International Olympic Committee next week in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"I know a lot of people say that, you know, it's an American game," Granderson told MLB.com. "But the different places I've gone to -- Europe, China, parts of South Africa -- people are surprised to find out there are different nations that have baseball programs already."
Young rewarded with first Gold Glove: Texas Rangers shortstop Michael Young earned his first Gold Glove.
"From an individual award standpoint, this is as good as it gets," Young told MLB.com. "Defense is something I've worked hard at, especially since switching positions. I've put a lot of hard work in it, and for the managers and coaches to recognize me for that means a lot."
Young was able to maintain his excellence in the field despite playing with two small fractures in fingers on both of his hands throughout September. Young finished the year with the highest fielding percentage among AL shortstops and also led the league in assists per game and double plays.
"If he gets to it and gets his glove on it, it's an out," manager Ron Washington said. "That's all I want from my infielders, and he does it as well as anybody in the game."
Pedroia adds to hardware collection with Gold Glove: Last season, Dustin Pedroia earned the Rookie of the Year award in the AL. This season, he added to his trophy collection as the Boston second baseman earned the Gold Glove award. He is the first Red Sox second baseman to earn the award since Doug Griffin in 1972.
"It's unbelievable," Pedroia told MLB.com. "I didn't really set expectations on myself when I got up to the Major Leagues. The first two years have gone by so fast. I just kind of put my head down and work as hard as I can. When it's 7:00, or 1:00, whenever we play, I just go out there and play as hard as I can. That's the kind of attitude I'm going to take every single day of my whole career. I put the blinders on and just work as hard as I can, and hopefully, I'll just continue to be a better player."
Hawkins returns to Astros with one-year deal: LaTroy Hawkins and the Houston Astros agreed to a one-year deal.
Hawkins, who was designated for assignment by the Yankees in July and then traded to the Astros, was 2-0 with a 0.43 ERA for Houston. He allowed only one earned run in 21 innings of work.
"We never expected it to be quite as profound as it was," Astros general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle. "We just feel that bringing him in here gives us some real certainty in the eighth inning."
David Ortiz to host charity golf tournament: David Ortiz will host the first annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic on Dec. 6 in the Dominican Republic, with the benefits going to the David Ortiz Children's Fund. The golf tournament will cap a four-day schedule of events.
"I wasn't born having what I've got right now," Ortiz told MLB.com. "I know how bad people struggle sometimes, needing things that maybe they can never ever get unless somebody like myself or any other athlete puts it together and helps them out. That's one of the things that I always think about every day. If I can help people out that way, I will. Sometimes you have to sacrifice to do it, but it's worth it. It's really worth it.
"I'm pretty excited. When you get to help people and put them in a better situation, I think that's a wonderful feeling," Ortiz said. "It's a beautiful course. I think everybody will love to come down there, and one way or the other, help with this and have fun at this crazy, beautiful place."
Mussina's memorable season includes Gold Glove: Mike Mussina added his seventh Gold Glove Award and first since 2003. He trails only Jim Kaat (14) for most Gold Gloves won by an American League pitcher.
"I was hoping that I'd be important to the club this year," Mussina, who won 20 games this season for the first time in his career, told MLB.com. "I was hoping I'd have a role like I've had in the past."
Mussina made only one error this season. It was his first in three years.
Ludwick prefers to stay in St. Louis: Ryan Ludwick understands that trade rumors are part of the baseball offseason.
"I have heard about the rumors," Ludwick told MLB.com. "However, I have not heard any details. They don't concern me -- obviously, I can't control the situation. There is no place I would rather be than St. Louis, but I have been with five different organizations, and I know it's a business. St. Louis feels like home, I love my teammates and most importantly, I think we can win."
Taiwanese pitcher Chia-Jen Lo signs with Astros: The Houston Astros have signed Taiwanese pitcher Chia-Jen Lo. Glen Barker, Houston's director of Pacific Rim scouting, scouted the 22-year-old right-hander.
"There's not any other club [that tried] to sign him," Lo's interpreter told the Houston Chronicle. "And the Astros were the first one, so he thinks it's a good opportunity."
Lo is probably two years away from being ready to help the Astros, but he will be invited to Spring Training.
"He really likes the closer role," Barker said of Lo. "He has that look in his eye when he gets out on the mound. He's ready to go. That's what he likes to do. He has four pitches, so that possibility is there. He has a real overpowering fastball, really a good split, a good curve and a slider. He has a potential to be a starter."
Cordero willing to put in the work: Agent Larry Reynolds is convinced Chad Cordero will regain his closer status, either in 2009 or 2010.
"He wants to go out and have a good year, regardless of whether it's a ninth-inning role, an eighth-inning role or a seventh-inning role," Reynolds told the Los Angeles Times. "If he goes out and shows he's healthy and puts up good numbers, a closer role will be available to him, whether it's this year or the following year."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.