Adjusting to a new team after a trade isn't always easy - especially if you're a catcher.
New Cubs catcher Jason Kendall, acquired earlier this month in a deal with the Oakland A's, is doing all that he can to learn an entire staff of new pitchers, while adjusting to a new city, team and manager. But, he says, he thinks things are coming together.
"It's kind of difficult," Kendall told the Chicago Tribune. "But I've been around long enough to where one, two or three times around the rotation, you get comfortable with everybody, and go from there. Last week was definitely a crazy week. It was good to have a day off [Monday] to go home and get some stuff."
Video, he says, is an important tool when it comes to adapting to a new situation.
"I've taken a lot of time watching video, so if you want to say the off day was an 'off' day, I guess you can," he said with a laugh.
Yet another adjustment for the veteran backstop is quite a few more day games in the north side on Chicago.
"You know what, we played a lot of day games in Oakland," said Kendall. "Obviously we'll play more in Chicago, but with my kids, I'm up at 6 a.m. anyhow. Now, back in the day maybe ... but for the last three years I'm up early, and I like day games better."
What a difference a year makes for Carmona: About a year ago, Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was enduring a rough week.
In that short time, he suffered four losses and blew three saves. Fast forward to Wednesday night, when Carmona extended his scoreless-innings streak to 18 while picking up his 13th win of the year against just four losses.
"You talk about a young player getting the most out of the experiences he goes through," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge told the Akron Beacon Journal. "It says a lot about the young man.
"There were times (last year) when he was a little upset, but he never lost that look in his eye."
Carmona considers those hard times a thing of the past.
"I learned that when you pitch one inning, you can change the whole game," he said through his translator, first-base coach Luis Rivera. "I feel better as a starter."
Lidge puts up five in a row: Houston Astros closer Brad Lidge appears to back to his dominant ways.
"I felt real good," Lidge, who has posted five straight saves, told the Houston Chronicle. "(Tuesday) night I didn't have quite as good of location with my fastball. (Wednesday) I was able to come out and throw strikes right away, and that made a big difference. They've got some real good hitters on that team, so you want to make sure you've got your control before you come into the game."
Lidge, who lost the closer's job after the first week of this season before regaining it in June, only to land on the disabled list, has thrown 10 shutout innings in his last nine appearances. During that span, he has allowed only four hits and five walks while striking out 15.
"I've been fortunate to get some opportunities there, and I've been feeling good for several months now and I'm certainly happy to get out there and put any questions to rest because I feel great right now," he said.
"Maybe as good as I ever have in my career."
Linebrink a key addition for Brewers: Seeking to add depth to the bullpen, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired Scott Linebrink from the San Diego Padres Wednesday. Linebrink, who is expected to join the Brewers Friday in St. Louis, was 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA for the Padres.
The Brewers traded right-hander Wil Inman and left-handers Steve Garrison and Joe Thatcher to the Padres for Linebrink.
"You have to give up something to get something," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "One of our goals was to add quality to our bullpen. We think we got one of the best guys out there. Linebrink is a guy we've talked about for a year."
Melvin said the acquisition of Linebrink doesn't mean he is dissatisfied with the bullpen. He is just worried about wearing the relievers out as the season progresses.
"It's not because the guys in our bullpen haven't done the job," Melvin said. "But I'm always concerned about the workload of a bullpen. You try to get to September. In September, you can add bodies (when rosters are expanded).
"The month of August is always a very tough month for bullpens."
Derrick Turnbow is currently the top setup man for the Brewers with Francisco Cordero coming in to close games. Cordero's role won't change, but manager Ned Yost will have to determine how to use Turnbow and Linebrink, who was the top setup man for the Padres.
"Ned's going to talk to the guys," Melvin said. "This gives us depth and versatility. You've got to be ready to pitch. In a pennant race, everybody's got to be ready to do whatever they're asked to do."
Glavine prepares for 300: That is 299 down, one to go.
With a victory Wednesday night, New York Mets starter Tom Glavine now has 299 career victories, putting him on the threshold of the magical 300-win mark. So, is Glavine finally excited about being so close to 300 wins?
"I don't know yet, to be honest with you," he told Newsday. "I guess the first thing I think about is I have a whole lot of stuff left to start planning. Trying to figure out who's going to go and how I'm going to get them there and all that stuff."
Glavine, who is 9-6 with a 4.51 ERA, will get a chance to become the 23rd pitcher to win 300 games Tuesday night against the Brewers in Milwaukee. In his career at Miller Park, the left-hander is 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts.
"I think a lot of us are pulling for Tommy, and I can only imagine what he's going through," said catcher Paul Lo Duca. "I even feel a little nervous going out there. I can't wait to catch the next one. It's exciting."
Cook breezes to win: Aaron Cook made the art of pitching look easy Wednesday. The Colorado starter needed only 74 pitches en route to a complete-game 10-2 win over San Diego. The 74 pitches are the fewest ever thrown in a complete game by a Rockies pitcher.
"That's unheard of. I can't imagine getting 27 outs on any fewer pitches than that," teammate Josh Fogg told the Denver Post.
Pitching coach Bob Apodaca said Cook's effort on Wednesday shows just what type of pitcher the right-hander can be.
"Definitely. Aaron is capable of being that kind of pitcher," Apodaca said. "We've seen glimpses for two years of what he's capable of doing. Maybe not to the extent throwing just 74 pitches in nine innings, but his ability to dominate the strike zone and control a game."
Cook is now 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA. Over his last three starts, opponents have only a .197 batting average against him.
"I am feeling more confident," Cook said. "And when you start to win games, that confidence grows."
Family will play into Cards' decision on Springer: With the trade deadline fast approaching, a player like St. Louis Cardinals reliever Russ Springer is very valuable. But don't be too quick to assume that Springer is headed to a team a little closer to the top of the heap than the Cardinals.
It appears that Springer may be staying put -- for the good of his family, at the discretion of the team.
Springer's son, who is autistic, plays heavily into that equation. Russ signed a deal with St. Louis specifically so his son could attend a particular school.
"There will be a humanity to any Russ Springer deal," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "And we want him for the stretch."
Springer himself is quick to admit that coming back to St. Louis was not entirely for the on-the-field success of the World Champions. He "came back here for more than the baseball; it was best for my family," he said.
With solid numbers, though, Springer might otherwise be a candidate for a move. Through Thursday, he is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.92 while striking out 45 hitters against just 14 walks. Even so, he doesn't think such a move will take place.
"I like it here," he said. "And I can't see us in a situation where we'd just liquidate this team."
Nixon takes leadership role for Tribe: Veteran Indians outfielder Trot Nixon is a leader both on and off the field, and his presence has been noticed by management and teammates alike in his first year with Cleveland.
"Trot's done a great job of leading," manager Eric Wedge told MLB.com. "His presence and his personality [are] felt by this ballclub daily."
Third baseman Casey Blake says that Nixon is a winner, plain and simple.
"He commands respect. He's been there, and he knows what winning baseball is all about," said Blake. "That's big for some guys in here who don't have the experience that he has."
Flores has a future: The Nationals selected Jesus Flores in the Rule 5 Draft from the Mets prior to this season, despite Flores never having played above Single-A.
As a result, Washington has to keep Flores on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to New York. The Nationals plan to keep him and Thursday he showed why, hitting a three-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Washington to a 7-6 win over the Phillies.
"We think he's going to be an everyday front-line catcher in the big leagues," manager Manny Acta told the Washington Post. "That's what we think here. We think that he's going to hit for power. ... We're very impressed by the defense that he has shown at this level."
Since July 1, Flores is hitting .387 in 31 at-bats with two home runs, eight RBIs and a .613 slugging percentage as the backup to starting catcher Brian Schneider.
"I've been learning from the beginning until now," Flores said, "doing some drills that help me to be prepared for the opportunities that Manny gives to me when I come in."
Saito's return lifts Dodgers: Takashi Saito was sidelined eight days because of a tight shoulder. The Dodgers wasted no time in installing Saito back to his closer's role, inserting him into a one-run game in the ninth inning Thursday. Saito pitched a hitless ninth and earned his 26th save of the season as the Dodgers edged the Rockies, 5-4.
"I used to think throughout my career that one of the worst things that could happen to you is that if you have a bona fide closer, is to have this bona fide closer blow a save, like when it happens to a [Trevor] Hoffman or to a Mariano Rivera," manager Grady Little told the Los Angeles Times. "But I was completely wrong. The worst thing that can happen is to have the unavailability of the guy for about a week."
Starting pitcher Derek Lowe agreed with Little, saying, "You don't realize the importance of a good closer until he's gone."
Saito was worried about rustiness from the layoff, but used that to his advantage on Thursday.
"It made me concentrate on my work," Saito said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.