Here are some of the notable quotes from around Major League Baseball this week:
"I'm pretty much in high gear every day. If anything, I'll have to downshift a little bit."
--Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, on the significance of pitching in the first Opening Day in Washington D.C. since 1969. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"It got to a point where my wife and I were face to face saying it was done because literally 29 teams (bypassed me) until the Rockies at the last minute said, 'There's a little opportunity here.'
"There were teams that said, 'We don't think he has much left.' And that hurt me a bit. I'm usually, or at least I think I am, a pretty good self-evaluator, and I think when it is time, I think I definitely will say, 'OK, I'm done. I'll bow out. I can't really do this.'"
-- Reliever Matt Herges, who is battling for a spot in the Colorado Rockies bullpen, on what it was like to nearly be out of baseball this spring before getting a shot with Colorado. (Rocky Mountain News)
"'Hans' continued to work on things that he and John [Farrell] are talking about. Sometimes it doesn't happen as fast as you want it to, but he'll continue to work on what we're talking about. I think the big thing with Hans is his confidence. Same thing with a hitter -- when you feel good about yourself, things seem to go right. Hard work is what he needs to do and I don't think he'll back down from that. We value this guy a lot. Sometimes you have to be patient. It doesn't work if you're not patient."
-- Boston manager Terry Francona commenting on pitcher Craig Hansen, who was among a group of relievers whose day off was spent throwing at the player development complex. Hansen threw two innings, giving up two hits (one solo home run) and striking out two, on 29 pitches. (Boston Globe)
"It was about getting in a good hitting position, a more powerful hitting position. The video helped, but I was more interested in listening to Carlos (Delgado) and Julio (Franco) and what they had to say. I thought I had hitting figured out five or six years ago, and now I'm learning how to hit."
-- New York Mets outfielder Shawn Green on the extra hour of hitting he went through on the team's main Spring Training field to work on his swing. Green started the exhibition season in a 0-for-13 slump. (New York Daily News)
"I like pitching inside. I like to use the inside of the plate. It's an important part of being successful as a pitcher. You're going to hit guys sometimes. You just want to avoid it with two strikes. That's not something you want to do."
-- Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Dave Bush, explaining why he hit three Texas hitters in his last outing as well as 18 batters last season, second-most in the National League. (Milwaukee News Sentinel)
"My last two starts, I feel I've had some good at-bats and hit some balls hard. I went through a little bit of a funk the last seven days or so, but that's just part of the game, and it's nice to work things back out."
-- Houston Astros outfielder Jason Lane, who is competing for the starting job in right field, after hitting two home runs and driving in four runs Monday. (Houston Chronicle)
"I want to be a Cub. And I want to win. I know I can play second and short. The other stuff is a challenge, and it's fun.
Keeps it fresh."
-- Chicago Cubs utility player Ryan Theriot, who has in his locker gloves for third base, second base, shortstop and the outfield, on his willingness to play anywhere to be a member of the Cubs. (Chicago Tribune)
"I know I can play good defense. There's an adjustment period being up at this level, getting to know the hitters, situations
in the game and knowing the parks. But it's one of those things that as you continue to work and get acclimated with your
surroundings, you're going to get better."
-- Chicago Cubs outfielder Matt Murton, who says he has improved on defense for the 2007 season. (Chicago Tribune)
"I felt pretty good coming into camp. But how my games have been going, I've been pretty pleased. I've always been kind of a
slow starter, even the spring when I was 100 percent, before all the surgeries and everything. So I've been pleased with how
I was able to throw strikes right away and not walk a lot of hitters."
-- Veteran pitcher Wade Miller, who appears to have all but locked up a spot in the Cubs' starting rotation. (Chicago Sun-Times)
"There is nothing. I love this game. I love everything about this game."
-- Kansas City Royals second baseman Esteban German, when asked what about playing Major League Baseball he could do without. (Kansas City Star)
"The hot shots you get -- sometimes I don't like those too much. If I wasn't wearing a cup, I'd probably be scared."
-- Kansas City Royals third baseman Alex Gordon, when asked what about playing Major League Baseball he could do without. (Kansas City Star)
"The worst thing -- the worst thing -- is when you get a blown save. That's the worst. When you get done, you go home, you
can't even sleep. You don't want to do anything you normally do. You just want to be alone somewhere, don't talk to anybody,
forget what happened to you. That's the worst thing."
-- Kansas City Royals closer Octavio Dotel, when asked what about playing Major League Baseball he could do without. (Kansas City Star)
"He has shown me a couple of things. He's a great kid. I feel very comfortable now. I think I'm going to enjoy center field.
I'm excited they have confidence in me, so that makes me more confident out there."
-- Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, citing the help he has gotten from Cubs rookie Felix Pie on the art of playing center field. (Chicago Tribune)
"It's a good feeling. I really felt confident. I didn't feel overwhelmed like I had in the past."
-- Phillies pitcher Zack Segovia, who has worked his way into consideration for a spot in the Phillies bullpen in spite of never pitching above class Double-A, after working five innings and allowing just one run against the New York Yankees on Tuesday. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"I'm more open this year. Last year, that was my first year, I wanted to pitch, make sure that I was going to be up the whole
year with a Major League team. I thought if I got hurt they might send me down to Triple-A. I'm just trying to stay positive
and get healthy for next year. I don't think I'm going to lose any of my pitches or anything like that. That's what I have in
my mind, stay focused and be the same guy or better."
-- Minnesota starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, who will miss the entire 2007 season after having undergone Tommy John surgery in November. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
"Yeah, that was just fun. I would say that I've never posed like that before. Good thing it was an intrasquad."
-- Veteran White Sox slugger Jim Thome, after striking a pose following a home run off teammate Mark Buehrle on Tuesday in a White Sox intrasquad game. (Chicago Sun-Times)
"I think it was awesome. If you're going to be taken out, might as well be taken out like that. I'm not the only pitcher Jim
has taken out."
-- Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle, after teammate Jim Thome struck a pose following a home run off of Buehrle on Tuesday in a White Sox intrasquad game. Thome, well known as a solid sportsman, said afterwards that he'd never struck a pose like that in his career and that it was all in good fun. (Chicago Sun-Times)
"The thing I like about this spring is I'm getting a lot of walks. I'm seeing a lot of pitches, getting a lot of 3-1, 3-2
counts. I think my first 10 at-bats I probably went to 3-2 counts everytime."
--Braves outfielder Andruw Jones on the best part of his game so far in Spring Training. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"I kicked it around and really there's not a reason. Nobody cares when you put two righties together."
--Marlins manager Manny Acta on his plans to have Dontrelle Willis and Scott Olsen, two southpaws, be the team's top two starters. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"It just got to a point that last time around, I just said, 'Screw it'. There's pain. It's weak. But mentally, I've just got
to let it go and go as hard as possible. I've got to get comfortable doing that."
--Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson after his first outside work, which included running up stadium steps, in his recovery from last year's broken leg. (San Francisco Chronicle)
"That was the best time I ever had in my career. You're facing the best in the world. It was a situation where I could face
him. Lots of times you come in late in the game and you can't face him. There's no way you can pitch to him, and he knows
that. He knew what I was doing, and I knew what I was trying to do, and we just went at it head to head. It was fun."
--Rangers pitcher Eric Gagne recalling a confrontation with Barry Bonds. Gagne, with the Dodgers at the time, had a three-run lead and decided to challenge Bonds with his best fastball. Bonds hit a 101-mph fastball out of the park foul before hitting a 99-mph fastball over the center field wall. (San Francisco Chronicle)
"That was a job in itself, trying to find the games. You get the hang of it after a while, but the streets are crowded,
they're a little different, and the traffic is bad. But I made every game on time."
--Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman on driving to both home and away games during his stint this off-season playing Winter Ball in Puerto Rico. (Los Angeles Times)
"It was the type of game where you had to make dramatic adjustments because there was so much movement on your pitches and
some of them won't make it to the plate. There were pitches when the catcher came up to me after and said, 'Man, I'm scared
for my life because the ball's moving around like crazy.'"
--Mariners pitcher Miguel Batista on pitching in a Spring Training game Wednesday that had winds of 32 miles per hour with gusts of up to 44 mph. (Seattle Times)
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.