Red Sox players honor Action Team
Student volunteers have helped more than 55,000 in need
Alex Cora, David Ortiz and Jason Varitek presented achievement certificates to 35 high-school student volunteers of the Maine Action Team prior to Tuesday night's Red Sox-Royals game at Fenway Park.
The Action Team program is administered by Volunteers of America and the Major League Baseball Players Trust and encourages volunteer activity from youths in their communities. Since the program's inception, more than 12,000 high-school students have contributed to the program, which has helped more than 55,000 people in need.
The players presented award certificates to the 2007-2008 Action Team captains from Biddeford, Brunswick and Central High Schools in Corinth, Edward Little High School in Auburn, Georges Valley High School in Thomaston, Morse High School in Bath, Mt. Ararat in Topsham, Scarborough High School and Thornton Academy in Saco and York High School.
Additionally, Sean Ferris of Morse High School and Sunaro Ngourn of Scarborough High School both received a $1,000 college scholarship from the Major League Baseball Players Trust for their dedication to community service.
Among their efforts this past school year, the Maine Action Team organized food, clothing and recreational equipment drives to help underprivileged youths and the elderly.
Action Teams are working together in Cincinnati, Denver, Boston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Mobile, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland (Maine), San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
Volunteers of America and the Major League Baseball Players Trust plan to expand the Action Team program to Chicago, Cleveland and Tampa during the 2008-09 school year.
In addition, a school-based Action Team curriculum developed in partnership with the Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition has helped promote the call to volunteer and has taught community service skills to 700,000 high-school students in more than 5,000 classrooms across the United States.
Warmups worried Lester: Judging from his pregame warmup in the bullpen, Jon Lester didn't think he was going to throw a no-hitter.
"I wasn't worried," Lester told the Boston Herald, "but I was. Usually when you're in the bullpen you can figure out what you're going to have. You have a good curveball, a good changeup or whatever. Today I didn't have any. I didn't know what was going to happen."
With his warm-up session in the bullpen lingering in his mind, Lester relied on his two-seam fastball early in the game. Command of his pitches soon returned, however, and he ended up throwing first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 29 hitters he faced.
Varitek catches record fourth no-hitter: It's rare for a catcher to call one no-hit game, much less two of them. But after catching Jon Lester's no-hitter Monday night, Jason Varitek upped his tally to a record four no-hitters caught. He had previously shared the record with 12 other players.
"I'm very fortunate," Varitek told the Boston Herald. "It's so exciting to be part of one as a catcher. Each one is so different; the work that Jonny Lester had to do, to be able to be a part of something like that with him is totally different."
Along with Lester, Varitek has caught no-hitters thrown by Hideo Nomo (April 4, 2001), Derek Lowe (April 27, 2002) and Clay Buchholz (Sept. 1, 2007).
Ellsbury's catch critical to Lester's gem: Whenever a pitcher throws a no-hitter, there is usually one play that can be viewed as the play that saved the no-hitter. That play on Monday night came in the fourth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury raced into the right-center field gap and made a diving catch on a sinking liner from Jose Guillen.
"Below the stands, the wind was blowing in, but above the stands the wind was blowing out," Ellsbury told the Boston Herald of the tricky gusts. "The ball was hit low enough. I saw the ball well, and it stayed out of the lights. Looking back at it, I'm glad I made it."
Blalock to switch to first base: In an effort to help the Rangers win in the AL West, Hank Blalock has volunteered to move to first base when he returns from the disabled list (hamstring). Blalock, a former All-Star third baseman, said the decision to move to switch positions was his idea.
"It's a change in my profession," Blalock told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I look at it as a challenge for me. I feel like, if I can go over there and do a good job, I can be a big impact for our team."
Ludwick performing at All-Star pace: Ryan Ludwick is producing well for a guy who wasn't even projected to be a starting outfielder for St. Louis this season. So far, he's accumulated a .341 batting average and 12 home runs.
"I don't know if I'm a .330 hitter, but I've always had power," Ludwick, who hit 140 home runs in 736 Minor-League games, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Every year I've been healthy I've hit 20-plus home runs -- I think it's all confidence. I came into this year extremely confident, and I had never had that level of confidence before. Last year, when I got called up it was a different sort of confidence. This could have been my last opportunity. I didn't want that to get in my head."
Ludwick will have a difficult time earning a spot on the All-Star team this season; his name isn't on the fan ballot.
Soto swift on the basepaths for homer: Rookie catcher Geovany Soto showed his basepath speed on Monday night when he hit an inside-the-park home run in the Cubs' 7-2 win. After his line drive appeared to clear the wall -- it was ruled in-play -- Soto took advantage as the ball caromed back toward the infield.
"When I [rounded] first and I was about to step on second, the umpire called 'safe,' so the play was still alive," Soto told the Chicago Tribune. "I just tried to get to third and maybe get a stand-up triple, and [third base coach] Mike Quade just waved me home. I was like, 'There's no way.' I was about to give my last breath just to get to third, and he wants me to go home? I kept going with all I got, and I just got there."
Korecky magical in Major League debut: Bobby Korecky earned his first Major League victory and got his first hit -- in an American League park, no less -- in the Twins' 12-inning win over the Rangers on Monday night.
Korecky stepped into the batter's box out of necessity after manager Ron Gardenhire put designated hitter Brendan Harris in at shortstop the inning before. Korecky became the first Twins pitcher since the designated hitter rule was adopted in 1973 to get a hit in an AL game. He was also the first Twins pitcher to get a hit in the Metrodome.
"I told him to take a pitch and he looked at me. I said, 'You think you can hit a first-pitch fastball?' " Gardenhire told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He said, 'Absolutely.' So I said, 'Go for it.'"
Ramirez limiting teams to no runs: Yankees reliever Edwar Ramirez has not allowed an earned run this season in 8 2/3 innings of work. Only Tim Byrdak of the Houston Astros has pitched more innings (9 2/3) without allowing a run. Ramirez said the key to his success is command of his fastball and the use of his changeup.
"Every day Dave [Eiland, the pitching coach] and I work on something," Ramirez told Newsday. "The biggest thing has been using my fastball more and throwing it in the right place."
Oswalt planning to start after hip pain: After leaving his start Saturday night against Texas with pain in his hip, Roy Oswalt remains optimistic that he can take the mound on Thursday against Philadelphia. Oswalt skipped his in-between-starts bullpen session, but did throw off flat ground on Monday.
"I didn't throw hard," Oswalt told the Houston Chronicle. "I'm going to try to throw some tomorrow and go from there. It's not a muscle, so that's a good thing. I think it's just inflamed more than anything."
Peavy's elbow lands him on the DL: The Padres will be without ace right-hander Jake Peavy for an undetermined amount of time after placing him on the disabled list Tuesday. Peavy has pain in his right elbow and anti-inflammatory medicine has not worked.
"Hopefully this will be a short stint," Peavy told The San Diego Union-Tribune Monday night. "Best-case scenario, maybe I miss a few starts."
Peavy had to miss six weeks of the 2004 season due to a tendon strain near the elbow. This current ailment is closer to the ligament, and, according to Peavy, "that is a concern."
Parisi enjoying life in the big leagues: For Cardinals rookie Mike Parisi, there's more to take in at the Major League level than just the ballparks and the hitters.
"I walked into my hotel room last night," Parisi told MLB.com, "and [Adam] Wainwright was right behind me. And I go, 'Dude, this room!' On the field, like [Russ] Springer told me, it's still 60 feet, six inches. But what's different has been the travel. The nice hotels, the nice spreads."
Utley gets rave reviews from Lopes: When most people think about Chase Utley, then think about his offensive prowess. But Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes, who was also known as an offense-first second baseman in his day, says that there more to Utley than a big bat.
"He prepares and is so focused," Lopes told MLB.com. "He's never satisfied. He's always trying to get better fielding and hitting. That's what the great players do. He knows there are different ways to beat you or to get better. If he's 4-for-5, he's probably wondering why he didn't go 5-for-5. He may talk about the ball he [missed], even though he made six good plays. He has that type of mindset. The really good players have that mindset. He'll probably win an MVP some day soon. You have to see him every day to appreciate what he does for a team defensively. He can win a Gold Glove, too."
Campillo turns in his best performance ever: With a doubleheader on Tuesday, the Braves called on reliever Jorge Campillo to fill in as a starter, and he tossed six scoreless innings to lead Atlanta to a 6-2 win against the Mets.
"I think this is the biggest thing that ever happened to me playing baseball," Campillo told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Uggla nearing monthly home run mark: Dan Uggla is only the third player in Marlins history to reach double digits in homers in a single month. He's tied with Cliff Floyd at 10, and if he hits one more homer this month he'll tie Gary Sheffield's franchise record.
"Obviously, with each part of success you have your confidence grows," Uggla, who raised his on-base plus slugging percentage to 1.099 for the season, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "When you're not swinging the bat well your confidence isn't as high as it normally would be; that's the problem with this game. In order to have success, you need to try to stay as close to that level as possible. You got to have confidence in yourself and know it's going to come the next at bat."
Reed plans to extend promotion: The Mariners recalled outfielder Jeremy Reed to the Major Leagues. Reed was the starting center fielder for the club in 2005 and 2006 but has been in the Minors most of 2007 and all of this year.
"It becomes a little bit more emotional due to the fact you don't know if it's going to happen," Reed told The Seattle Times of his promotion.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.