In an effort to rediscover his power stroke, Russell Martin spent the offseason working out and adding weight to his frame. Martin came to camp weighing 231 pounds -- about 25 more than he did a year ago.
"I just didn't have the weight behind me," Martin told the Los Angeles Times. "I think it just didn't translate well into my offense. As far as using the weight, transferring weight to hit the ball, it kind of faded for me a little bit.
"I eat healthy, but I'm not being a freak the way I was last year," Martin said. "I'm trying to find something that I can stick with instead of just doing something and trying something for two months and getting tired about it and doing something else. It's all about balance."
Kendall already has new fans on the mound: In Kansas City, Zack Greinke is among those excited about having the chance to work with veteran Jason Kendall this season.
"Everyone on our team likes throwing to him already," Greinke told MLB.com. "It's just obvious that everyone's going to like throwing to him. He's just a great catcher. The reason why is he knows how to handle pitchers, and everyone's going to enjoy throwing to him."
Martinez wants to make new name for himself: Last year, the Giants' Joe Martinez won a job in Spring Training as a reliever and picked up a win on Opening Day. Two days later, he was pitching in a mop-up role and got hit in the head with a line drive, resulting in three skull fractures and a concussion.
Now, Martinez is being viewed by the Giants as a potential fifth starter, along with top prospect Madison Bumgarner and newly-acquired Todd Wellemeyer.
"I think there's always a tendency for people to get the 'poor-me' syndrome when something unfortunate happens to them," Martinez told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's like anything else. If I didn't get hit in the head, I might have needed Tommy John surgery and I might have been out even longer.
"I hope it's not something where, for rest of my baseball career, I'm known just as the guy who got hit in the head," Martinez said.
Stevens soaking up tips from Maddux: It hasn't taken long for four-time Cy Young-winner Greg Maddux to have an impact at Spring Training with the Cubs, as Jeff Stevens has already taken in some of his wisdom.
"He's pretty soft-spoken," Stevens told MLB.com. "He'd whisper one thing to you -- you're going to trust him. He said, 'Throw a slider here.' He would help me with sequence and gave me perspective.
"During the bullpen, you have a tendency to throw 10 fastballs in a row and 10 sliders," Stevens said. "[Maddux] was saying, 'When are you ever going to pitch like that?' You throw a couple fastballs, a slider, another fastball and maybe two sliders. There's no use in throwing 10 sliders because you're never going to do that [in a game]."
Headley thrilled to make move to third base: Chase Headley will make the move from left field, where he played last year, to third base.
"I'm excited about it," Headley said San Diego Union-Tribune. "I'm the best player I can be at third. There's no other way to say it. I know I can be a good third baseman. I knew I was never going to be better than an average left fielder. I'm not happy to be an average player. That eats on you."
Neshek back at his comfort level after surgery: Pat Neshek last pitched for the Twins nearly two years ago, but now -- 15 months after Tommy John surgery -- he says that being back on the field has helped give him the confidence he needs heading into the season.
"Coming off an injury like this, I needed to see that I had it and that I didn't have any worries," Neshek told MLB.com. "I said I just wanted to face hitters and to get it in my head. It really helped me mentally to do that. And now, I can just enjoy [spring] and show everybody that I've got it back."
Reyes takes video gaming to new level: Dennys Reyes admits he is addicted to at least one video game and says that he tends to get pretty entrenched.
"I love to play 'MLB The Show' on my PSP. I do the whole season, like a dynasty mode. I just created a guy and put him on a team, and I play," Reyes told the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. "Last year, I went all of the way until 2019. I am on the plane and in the hotel playing on my PSP. I always put my kids names in there. I usually make myself a hitter, but you have to train in that game, too. You have to build your guy up. The more points you get, the better you get. You start in the Minor Leagues the first year, and you have to work your way up to the big leagues. You can get sent down, you go to arbitration, you do it all. It's pretty fun."
Soriano aims for Opening Day return: Alfonso Soriano, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee almost six months ago, says he feels good and thinks he'll be even better by Opening Day.
"It feels like about 80-85 percent," the Cubs outfielder told the Chicago Tribune. "I have five or six weeks here working now, and I'm hoping it feels much better and I'm ready for Opening Day."
Myers inspired by youngsters: Brett Myers says he re-learned something about baseball while working with youngsters in the offseason.
"I coached my son's Little League team this year, and it kind of inspired me a little bit to see how much fun those kids had," Myers told the Houston Chronicle. "That definitely helped me this offseason."
Gregg willing to contribute wherever he's needed: Kevin Gregg expects to get some saves this year, which is why he signed with the Blue Jays. But he also knows the bullpen is deep enough that he won't have to be the man in the ninth inning all the time.
"Whatever role we all end up in, we're making that bullpen pretty deep," Gregg, who signed with Toronto two weeks ago and joins Scott Downs and Jason Frasor as the line of last defense in the Blue Jays bullpen, told the Toronto Sun. "You look at our starters, and they're pretty young, and it allows us to shorten a game. We're not going to have to push those guys to get into the seventh and eighth innings.
"When you've got three guys that can close the door at the back end, it really helps the starters and lets everybody grow."
Pedroia ready to get the season started: Dustin Pedroia doesn't get caught up in preseason prognostications and projections.
"I don't even buy into that stuff. We have great pitching, we have great defense, and we have good offensive players," he told the Boston Globe. "I don't even know what run prevention is. I'm a baseball player. I don't know how to read very good; I don't know how to write very good. We just go play, man. That's it. We'll be fine."
Park signs one-year deal with Yankees: The Yankees added to their bullpen depth by signing Chan Ho Park to a one-year contract.
Park was 3-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 45 games last season for Philadelphia, making seven starts. As a reliever, he had a 2.52 ERA and then posted a 3.24 ERA in 12 postseason games. In four World Series games against the Yankees, he had a 0.00 ERA.
"He's very attractive, especially what he does out of the bullpen," general manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News. "He's got a good arm. We saw that in the World Series."
Heyward gets 'em talking in camp: Top prospect Jason Heyward is making a big impression in the early days of Spring Training. Heyward had an impressive batting-practice session that left both Braves manager Bobby Cox and newly-acquired Eric Hinske nodding in appreciation.
"His line drive is like the old Hank Aaron sound," Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I don't want to put him in that class, but it's the same sound, the same ring off the bat."
"He looks like he's all he's been built up to be," Hinske said. "His body reminds me of a bigger Carl Crawford, and he hits balls like Cliff Floyd -- that hard. Low line drives."
Nunez primed for closer's role: In their brief history, the Marlins have not had a lot of stability in the closer's role. The team hopes that Leo Nunez can change that this year.
"He can have a better season this year because of the experience he had last year," catcher Ronny Paulino told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "He isn't afraid. He's always attacking hitters. Last year, he would give up a home run, and the next hitter, he would come back at him just the same. He stays at the same level."
Rodney content with switch to setup role: Last year, Fernando Rodney was a closer for the Tigers. This year, he signed as a free agent with the Angels, with whom he likely will be a setup man for Brian Fuentes.
"It doesn't matter what my role is -- I'm excited to be a setup man instead of a closer," Rodney told the Los Angeles Times. "To me, the eighth and ninth innings are the same. They're both big innings."
Lidge still building arm strength: Brad Lidge, who had offseason surgery on his elbow and knee, threw 20 fastballs off a mound on Monday and says he is hopeful -- but not necessarily optimistic -- that he will be ready to go by Opening Day.
"I didn't come out and all of a sudden feel 100 percent," Lidge told MLB.com. "That being said, nothing hurts. I was able to use my body in the way that I was hoping to be able to use it this year without any pain or side effects. It's all about building arm strength now. I'm going to need to do a lot of work to get that. We'll be working hard to get that."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.