It came as no surprise when Greg Maddux was named as the only pitcher on the Rawlings All-Time Gold Glove Team, a squad determined by fan voting.
08/24/2007 11:37 AM ET
Fans glove Greg Maddux
"Maddux? Really?" former teammate Tom Glavine jokingly told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "What a shocker! Amazing!"
Pitcher Jim Kaat and Bob Gibson received a few votes, but they didn't come close to Maddux, who has won 16 Gold Gloves, sharing the distinction of most Gold Gloves with Kaat and Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson.
"I just think it's pretty cool to look at the names on that (all-time) list," said Maddux. "To have your name with those guys? Yeah, that's very cool."
The all-time Gold Glove team also includes catcher Johnny Bench, first baseman Wes Parker, second baseman Joe Morgan, Robinson at third base, shortstop Ozzie Smith and outfielders Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Ken Griffey Jr.
"My favorite on here is probably Ozzie Smith," Maddux said. "For one thing, I got to play against him, and he just made so many unbelievable plays. He was always diving all over the field at Busch Stadium."
Because Maddux is so close to home plate, he often has to rely on his quick reaction time to field hot shots up the middle. However, Padres manager Bud Black says there is more to Maddux's ability than quick reactions.
"Why is he such a great fielder?" said Black. "Number one, he's a very good athlete. Number two, he has great hand-eye coordination. Number three, he anticipates the ball back to the mound better than everybody I've seen. Number four, he anticipates where the ball is going to be hit (based on the pitch he's throwing). A lot of it is a result of his first step and instinct. Greg knows where he's going to throw a pitch and where it's going to be hit."
By any name, Cubs like Eyre: Chicago Cubs pitcher Scott Eyre could be excused for having an identity crisis. After all, his manager, Lou Piniella, is having trouble identifying him. He has been know to mispronounce his name, or give him an entirely new one.
"I don't care. It's funny," Eyre, who not only has heard Piniella pronounce his last name two different ways all season, but also has been referred to as "Steve" and "Stevie" in recent weeks, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"I hope he keeps calling me that," he said, "because Scott Eyre didn't pitch so good in the first half. Stevie's pitching good."
Meanwhile, Eyre's performance and health have been what he's hoped for.
"My arm feels really good. My body feels good," said Eyre. "The trainers have helped me get through some elbow issues. They've done a good job."
Piniella is glad that Eyre has given the Cubs some much-needed bullpen help.
"We've been slowly working him into our scheme of things here," said Piniella. "He's throwing better. He's got better stuff. It's coming out of his hand much better. It's got a little more life to it. The breaking ball's got a little quicker snap. We've noticed an improvement here, slowly but surely."
Phillies eye Utley's return: Just as badly as his team wants him back, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is eager to return to the lineup as he recovers from a broken hand. According to team doctor Michael Ciccotti, Utley could go on rehab assignment as early as the weekend. When he gets back to the Phillies, though, is still up in the air.
When he was injured, Utley was batting .336 with 17 home runs and 82 RBIs. Hitting coach Milt Thompson says it's going to be tough for him to get back to that sort of production right away -- probably.
"Most definitely," Thompson told the Philadelphia Daily News. "It's almost impossible to be 100 percent, right where he was. To think he could miss a month and be the same guy as soon as he comes back is almost too much to ask.
"At the same time, each person is different. And Chase is a great athlete. He does so many things. He's old school, hard-nosed. He's going to get his walks. He's going to find a way to get on base."
For Rogers, it's Detroit or nowhere: Veteran Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers is enjoying his time in Detroit. So much, he says, that he doesn't plan to pitch in 2008 unless he's once again a member of the Tigers.
"It's either here or nowhere," Rogers told the Detroit News. "There's not another team out there that I'd consider. I don't envision playing anywhere else."
Family, health and playing for a contender all play in, says Rogers.
"This is the only place I want to play," he said. "My son comes up here, and he has a great time. Those things are of huge importance to me right now.
"This is an up-and-coming organization. They're going to win for the foreseeable future. I don't think I could go somewhere else and replace that."
Logan's not ready to say he's got it made: Chicago White Sox reliever Boone Logan has spent most of the year focusing on retiring left handed batters. In the future, he says, he'd like even more responsibility placed on his shoulders. And while trying to get that extra work, he knows he's going to have to earn it.
"That's another big thing," Logan told MLB.com. "I see a lot of people -- and not just baseball, any other job -- they think they have their job secure and start slacking off, and they lose it.
"I'm going in next Spring Training fighting like it's not my job. I'll be fighting every day and prove to them I need to be on that team."
For now, though, he's willing to do whatever his team asks of him.
"All I want to do right now is get out there and pitch," he said. "I'll face a left-hander or eat up innings or come into tight situations, whatever the case may be.
"I want to prove to them I can get righties out because I know I can. I have the stuff to do it. But as long as I'm getting in and pitching, that's all I really want right now.
"Ultimately, after I have 1 1/2 years in and establish myself a little bit, I would like to prove I can handle a late-inning role," Logan added.
Corpas establishing new role: Last season, Colorado reliever Manny Corpas was at Double-A Tulsa and went 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 19 saves in 34 games. He was promoted to Triple-A Colorado Springs but lasted only eight games there before making his Major League debut on July 18, 2006.
Corpas is now entrenched as the Rockies' closer. He has 11 saves and has made 60 appearances this season, recording a 2.16 ERA with 50 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 58 1/3 innings of work. Since becoming the closer, Corpas has shown no signs of being afraid to take the ball at the end of a game.
"It's very different now when you're the last line of defense," Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca told the Rocky Mountain News. "So I was very, very curious to see how he would handle this emotionally, how it would change him as far as his routine. It hasn't changed him one bit. He's prepared; if anything, I think he's gotten better."
Corpas features a fastball that hits 95 mph and also throws a slider. Apodaca can only imagine how good Corpas can become if he improves his slider.
"He's more aggressive in the strike zone," Apodaca said. "He is very aware of how he needs to develop and improve his second pitch, his slider. It's not bad. It's not a vicious slider; it's not in that category. I think with normal improvement of that secondary pitch, hitters are going to scratch their head because his movement on his sinker is unbelievable and it's thrown at 95 (mph)."
End of streak brings some relief, and another win, for Webb: The streak is over. Brandon Webb entered Wednesday night's game riding a shutout streak of 42 innings. However, he lost the streak in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Webb, however, still pitched well, earning the win to improve to 14-8 by allowing two runs in seven innings of work. The streak came to an end on a first-inning single by Milwaukee's Prince Fielder.
"It was fun while it lasted," Webb told the Arizona Republic. "Hopefully I can start a new one."
The Arizona crowd gave Webb an ovation after the streak ended and once again at the end of the inning. After the game, Webb said he felt a sense of relief after allowing the run and snapping the streak.
"I was feeling it a little bit today, with all the attention it was getting," Webb said. "To get it out of the way in the first inning was really a relief."
While he won't get a chance to break the record of 59 scoreless innings held by Orel Hershiser, what Webb did is no less amazing, at least to his teammates.
"It's tough to do what he did," reliever Brandon Lyon said. "It's probably the most amazing thing I've seen since I've been playing in the big leagues."
Said catcher Chris Snyder: "To do what that guy in that stretch, three complete-game shutouts in a row? Unseen. I don't even know how to describe it. You don't see something like that. Just an incredible run. Wish it could have gone on longer, but it is what it is.
"We got the guy a win. That was the main thing."
-- Red Line Editorial