As a pitcher, Johan Santana is not exactly flying under the radar. His stuff, as they say, is nasty, and his two Cy Young Awards show that he's been recognized for his talent.
What many may not realize, however, is just how well Santana can field his position. He's good enough, says his manager, that he should be strongly considered to win a Gold Glove.
"I would say Santana is as good as anybody out there on the mound," manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com. "I would hope he would be recognized with a Gold Glove. He's that caliber of a fielder, no doubt. He's right there with Kenny Rogers. I had them both. And Kenny moved around very good off the mound, but Johan is right there with him."
Others that are close to Santana on the field agree with Gardenhire.
"You can't bunt on him, really," said first baseman Justin Morneau. "He's so quick off the mound. And when you hit a ball back up the middle he catches it and he can jump. I don't know how it is he hasn't won a Gold Glove yet."
Third baseman Nick Punto is also an admirer of the efforts of Santana.
"It's a little different having a guy that athletic," said Punto. "If he was right-handed, he'd be a shortstop, he's that good. He doesn't get nearly the recognition that he should."
Oswalt quickly climbs Astros' ladder: With eight innings of one-run baseball, Roy Oswalt earned his 13th win of the season Monday night and his 111th career win.
The victory moved him into sole possession of third place on the Houston Astros' all-time wins list. Oswalt was tied with Mike Scott and now trails only Larry Dierker and Joe Niekro.
"It means a lot," Oswalt told the Houston Chronicleof passing Scott in the same year he also passed Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan on the club's all-time wins list. "To get there in six years, six full years, that's pretty special. Especially Nolan is a guy that I followed growing up.
"To pass those guys was pretty special, for sure. Those guys were true No. 1 pitchers out there, and the type of guys who wanted to go in every day."
Oswalt broke into the Majors in 2001, and since then he has more victories than any pitcher. While he needed only six seasons to reach Scott and then surpass him, Scott pitched with the Astros for eight years.
"Mike became a good pitcher when he got to Houston," said Astros manager Phil Garner, who played with Scott. "He matured as a good pitcher. Roy's been a good pitcher since he got to the big leagues.
"That's been the difference. Mike matured and pitched extremely well, learned to throw a split when he got to Houston and that changed his career. Roy's just been dominant since he's been here."
Kazmir back to form: Scott Kazmir is looking more like the All-Star pitcher he was last season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Since the break, Kazmir is 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA. In 38 2/3 innings, he has recorded 45 strikeouts. His ERA is now down to 3.58 for the season.
One reason for the successful run is the fact that Kazmir has returned to pitching from the left side of the pitcher's rubber. Kazmir believes it has given him better command of his fastball and slider against right-handed hitters.
"It feels like I can throw the ball where I want, which is something that a pitcher needs," Kazmir told the Tampa Tribune. "Now I feel I can set up hitters and not just try to throw it by them. I feel confident."
Wakefield continues dominance over Rays: Tim Wakefield has dominated Tampa Bay throughout his career. Monday night was no exception.
Wakefield held the Rays hitless for six innings and ended up with a two-hitter in leading Boston to a 3-0 win. It was the 14th win of the season for Wakefield, which is twice as many victories as he had last season.
"I never saw that pitch moving that much," Sox designated hitter David Ortiz told the Boston Globe. "That was disgusting."
Wakefield is now 18-2 with a 2.83 ERA in his career against Tampa Bay, covering 35 games, 25 of which have been starts.
"Is that the best all-time against any team?" Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wondered. "He's good, but he's very good against us."
Chamberlain gains fans in the Big Apple: Joba Chamberlain is quickly gaining a legion of fans in New York. The Yankees reliever entered the eighth inning of Monday's game and chants of "Joba!" were heard around Yankee Stadium after he struck out Miguel Tejada and Aubrey Huff to start what was a 1-2-3 inning.
So has Chamberlain, 21, grasped the excitement he has creating among New York fans?
"Not really," he told Newsday. "I don't get reminded of it until all of you [the media] tell me."
Chamberlain, who was given a locker next to Roger Clemens, has pitched five shutout innings in his first three outings. He has allowed only one hit and two walks while recording eight strikeouts.
His work on the mound has even gotten manager Joe Torre excited.
"My reaction is he's been fun to watch, but you don't want to get too excited and expect that," Torre said. "It's hard to control yourself. ... His stuff is pretty damn special."
Theriot excels at top of order: With leadoff hitter Alfonso Soriano out of the lineup, the Chicago Cubs turned to Ryan Theriot to fill those rather large shoes. Thus far, Theriot has been up to the task. Last week, Theriot hit an impressive .344 out of the leadoff spot with five runs in the Cubs' seven games.
"I've always hit at the top of the order, one or two," Theriot, a leadoff hitter since before his College World Series championship at LSU, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's really where I feel most comfortable, and I think that's where I help the team the most."
It's unlikely that Theriot is any threat to hold onto the spot for which the Cubs signed Soriano once he returns, but he does hope to get a look down the road.
"I would hope it would be something in the future -- next year, the following year, whatever it may be," he said. "I would definitely love to be able to go out there and play shortstop and hit leadoff, of course. That's a wonderful spot to be in."
On Tuesday, Theriot was hitless but did steal his 22nd base of the season.
Jurrjens ready for the spotlight: On Wednesday night, Detroit Tigers rookie pitcher Jair Jurrjens is set to make his Major League debut when the Tigers take on the Cleveland Indians, and he hopes to do what has helped him succeed in the past -- keep his cool.
"I put up big goals for myself," Jurrjens told MLB.com. "If I don't make it, I would get really tough on myself. And that's the thing that would get me in trouble when I'm pitching."
Jurjeens, 21, does admit that he will be feeling some pressure. But, he says, he thinks he is up to the challenge. "There's going to be pressure," he said. "I see it as a challenge for me. The team has to really trust me to put me in the fire. Hopefully I can earn that trust.
"I can tell you this: They're going to get 100 percent effort."
A truly 'Custian' performance: Jack Cust reached the 20-home run mark for the season with a two-homer game in the A's 4-3 victory over the White Sox. Cust also added a sacrifice fly and drove in three of the team's four runs.
"That was a Custian performance," A's starter Lenny DiNardo told the San Francisco Chronicle. "No more 'Ruthian performance.' He's Jack Cust. He's incredible. He can swing the bat with anyone."
In his last 12 games, Cust is batting .405 with three homers and 15 RBIs. His homers and his 63 RBIs both lead the team. His hot streak has helped the A's win nine of their past 14 games to move within four games of the .500 mark.
"We're just trying to win ballgames right now," Cust said. "We just need to finish up playing good baseball. It would be great to get to that point and go from there. We've had a tough season, not having all our guys, it would be a great accomplishment to finish above .500."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.