Raul Ibanez, one of the Phillies' new members, is thrilled to be part of the team he grew up watching and happy to be a Major League Baseball player given the current global economic climate.

"I feel very blessed in this market the way things have played out," Ibanez told MLB.com. "Not just the baseball market, the world market. There are a lot of people suffering out there. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have signed the deal that I did and play for the World [Series] champions. ... I watched this team. Mike Schmidt and Larry Bowa, all those guys -- [Garry] Maddox, Pete Rose. I watched them growing up. It's kind of neat for me to put on the red shoes and the pants."

Ludwick gets big raise with one-year deal: An All-Star in 2008, Ryan Ludwick and the Cardinals avoided arbitration this week when they came to terms on a one-year deal that included a big raise.

"I wish people could feel what I'm feeling, to have gone through what I've gone through and to know just how happy this moment is," Ludwick told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've been told a couple times in my career that I would never play again. I enjoy just knowing that I'm still able to play this game. I'll never lose that."

Glaus unsure of return date: Troy Glaus, who underwent arthroscopic surgery in his right shoulder in January to clean up the labrum and rotator cuff, says there is no clear timetable for his return.

"It's very vague," Glaus told MLB.com. "I want to be back as soon as I possibly can. But I don't want to hurt something else by not being ready, [and I don't want to go] out there and not be legitimately ready to compete. So whenever that day is, we'll get ready to go. We'll go play and we'll do that. Hopefully that's sooner than later, but I can't sit here today and say that's going to be in four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, whatever."

Soriano could see new spot in batting lineup: While nothing is set in stone, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella is entertaining the idea of moving Alfonso Soriano out of the leadoff spot, and Soriano seems agreeable.

"He said, 'Lou, you can do whatever you want,'" Piniella told the Chicago Tribune. "So we'll see. To me, he's still my leadoff hitter. I love him in the leadoff spot. But we can see how it looks. We've got plenty of time in the spring to see where things shake out."

Guthrie commits to Team USA for Classic: Jeremy Guthrie has accepted an invitation to pitch for the United States in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

"It's neat to have the opportunity," Guthrie told the Baltimore Sun. "I've never put a jersey on that says 'USA'. That's a great honor, and to be surrounded by the type of players that will be on that team is going to be a good learning experience. It's fun. It's obviously humbling."

Pence plans to approach sliding doors with caution: Hunter Pence vows to take things easy this spring after crashing through a sliding glass door last spring, leaving him with several cuts and bruises.

"I'm going to be very slow about moving around," he jokingly told the Houston Chronicle. "I wouldn't say there's any worries about that. I've got everything covered -- just be myself. But those are just some weird things you can't really control. I don't think that's ever going to happen again, but the lesson is to make sure to go slowly through doors."

No timetable set for McGowan's return: The Toronto Blue Jays had hoped Dustin McGowan would be recovered from shoulder surgery in time to return to the mound in May. That timetable, however, may have to be pushed back.

"I'm not sure when he's going to come out and pitch for us this year," manager Cito Gaston told the Toronto Globe and Mail.

McGowan had surgery on July 31 after going 6-7 with a 4.37 ERA. He is working out in Florida and said he is progressing well.

Gallardo's future appears to be bright: The Brewers are high on the potential of Yovani Gallardo, but they don't want to put too much pressure on a player who won't be 23 until next week.

"You don't see many like him at that age. He reminds me of a young Teddy Higuera," Brewers pitching coach Bill Castro, conjuring the name of one of the pitching greats in club history, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I haven't seen too many young guys like him come to the big leagues and not have any problem with the pressure up here. We don't know right now who our No. 1 pitcher will be, but I have all of the confidence in the world that he has the ability to handle it."

Scherzer likes what he feels in his arm: Slated to be the No. 5 starter in Arizona this year, Max Scherzer was slowed in January by inflammation in the deltoid muscle in his right shoulder. Scherzer is not expected to throw his first bullpen session until next week, nearly a week after the rest of the pitchers.

"In reality, I'm still on time," Scherzer told the Arizona Republic in reference to the extra week of camp added to accommodate the World Baseball Classic. "My arm feels great. The ball comes out of my hand, and it feels electric. I'm ready to get off the mound anytime."

Hairston signs on with Mexico for Classic: Scott Hairston will compete for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. His mother, Esperanza, was born in Mexico, and Hairston has several relatives who live in Hermosillo.

"I love the culture and I am proud to represent Mexico," Hairston, who doesn't speak Spanish, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It's so funny to see people's reactions when they find out."

Burrell greeted by welcome wagon in Tampa: Pat Burrell played with Philadelphia for nine seasons before signing with Tampa Bay this offseason. The slugger admits it will be take a couple of days to get used to wearing a new uniform.

"I can't lie, it's different," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "The thing I keep thinking about is, when you've been in a place like I was for a long time, you have a hard time turning the page and accepting some of the new things. You know, it's going to be an adjustment period for me. But I tell you what -- these guys have made it very easy for me as far as making me feel welcome and stuff like that. I couldn't be happier as for what's happened as far as me getting here."

Wilkerson 'ecstatic' about signing with Boston: Brad Wilkerson didn't think he would be playing for the Red Sox this season after Mark Kotsay signed with Boston in January. But Kotsay underwent back surgery at the end of January, leading the Sox to sign Wilkerson to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

"We knew something was going on," Wilkerson told the Boston Herald. "That was one of the reasons I came to terms. I felt like it was going to be a great opportunity for me. There were a few other teams out there we were talking to, but this came up and I felt like this is the thing to do. We tried to get a deal done as quick as possible. I was ecstatic about having this opportunity."

Griffey Jr. closing in on deal with Braves: Players on the Braves were happy about reports that Ken Griffey Jr. may be joining them.

"I've gotten to know Griff from playing in the [World Baseball] Classic," Chipper Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "and he's a great guy. And he wants to come here and contribute."

Jones added, "I can think of no better way to christen his first season as a Brave than for him to contribute to us getting back on top."

Zimmerman gets rave reviews: Nationals manager Manny Acta thinks the sky is the limit for Ryan Zimmerman.

"There's got to be a next level for a guy who is only 24 years old," Acta told the Washington Post. "There is going to be consistency throughout his career. Twenty-five [home runs] or higher every year, and 100 RBI. That's what I can see -- and a few Gold Gloves in the future. That's what we see year in and year out."

Kuroda language lessons put on hold: Hiroki Kuroda spent the offseason rehabilitating from shoulder tendonitis and turned down the chance to pitch for Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

His plans to spend the winter taking English lessons were also put on hold.

"My 6-year-old daughter understands a lot more English than I do," Kuroda told the Los Angeles Times in Japanese, laughing. "My English isn't progressing at all."

Cain heeds advice to stay in shape: Matt Cain took to heart manager Bruce Bochy's suggestion that he become more focused on conditioning.

"He's one of the strongest guys on the team, but it's fair to say he wasn't a fan of running and conditioning," Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Late in the game, that can be a factor. It's like a boxer. If he was in a one-round fight, he wouldn't have to train for six weeks."

"I'm still young and I'm probably going to do things that aren't right," Cain said. "I think that was a big thing, actually having that talk. I went with it and tried to see their point of it and actually try what they wanted me to do. It's helped me, and I'm very grateful for it."

Matthews Jr. sees positive results after surgery: The Angels received good news on Gary Matthews Jr., who is ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery on his left knee. Matthews joined his teammates for drills and could begin playing in exhibition games in mid-March.

"I won't be doing explosive takeoffs, but I'm going to take fly balls, throw, hit and do as much as they let me do," Matthews told the Los Angeles Times. "I haven't had any hiccups, no setbacks. The knee has reacted very well. With the hard ground here, I want to make sure I monitor the things I'm doing to make sure it stays on the right track."

Carpenter ready to take confidence to mound: Chris Carpenter feels just fine, but that doesn't mean he's not fully aware that things can go poorly in a hurry. After battling one thing after another over the past few years, Carpenter is taking nothing for granted.

"I'm confident in the way that I feel," Carpenter told MLB.com. "I'm confident that I'm going to be fine and I'm going to go out and pitch and be successful just like I always have. But after so many ups and downs in the last two years, there's at times some doubt."

Hoffman seeks familiarity in new environs: After pitching for the Padres for 16 years, Trevor Hoffman is getting used to a new environment with the Brewers this spring.

"I could close my eyes the last few years and kind of knew where I was going," Hoffman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "So, I'm looking for familiar places and where I'm supposed to be.

"It's different. I'm trying to learn a bunch of new names. Before, I'd just walk in the clubhouse and hold court and wear people out. Now I have to tread a little lighter."

-- Red Line Editorial