PAIR OF FORMER TEXAS GREATS CALL IT QUITS
“I had a great time in Philadelphia last year and getting to play for my hometown team [the Los Angeles Dodgers) and going to the postseason with them was great. But I’m a Ranger. I started as a Ranger. I grew up in front of these fans. It was my privilege to play for these fans. I know these fans and they know me. The last game I may have played may not have been in a Rangers uniform, but I’ll always be a Ranger. It’s as simple as that.”
—Michael Young, when talking about his retirement. (Evan Grant, Dallas Morning News)
“You have to be there. You have to be involved and dig in. I’ve always said the second I felt like one of my sons needed me, I’d be there for them. I sensed that to some extent over the last summer. Everything else comes second to the way I want my family to live. I can see my kids grow into young men and have a huge impact on their lives. At the end of it, that’s really what your legacy is, what kind of impact you made on your children.”
—Young, on the responsibilities of being the father of three young sons.
“He’s going to go down as one of the great players in Astros history. A local Texas kid, goes to Rice, makes good, comes to the big leagues. He’s been a fabulous player in the big leagues, and he’s done it all with a touch of class.”
—Phil Garner, who managed Berkman when he played for the Astros. (Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Houston Chronicle)
“I think I'm actually glad about it. I’m excited about the next chapter in my life. I'm looking forward to spending more time with my family, and at some point, I'll definitely coach somewhere.”
—Berkman, on his plans for the future. (Richard Justice, MLB.com).
PLAYERS AND COACHES LOOK AHEAD TO THE SPRING
“I don't know if it's going to be tougher. I think it's just … regimented. That's a good way to put it. I get all bunched up if I don't have a plan. Oftentimes, that plan is completely wrong, but at least I have a plan. We'll change and it'll be fluid and all of those things. But at least we know going in we've got it kind of mapped out with what we want to accomplish.”
—Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams, on his plans for spring training workouts (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)
“I'm really excited about this year. I’m excited to go out there in big league camp and show them what I can do in the field and do a great job up there. It will be a fun experience.”
—Astros top shortstop prospect Carlos Correa, on his spring training experience. (Brian McTaggart, MLB.com)
“I've done it every single year, so it's nothing different for me. I've never had a spot just given to me; it's always been up for grabs. I've won it in the past. I think I can do it again if I stay healthy and throw well.”
—Washington Nationals starting pitcher Ross Detwiler, on fighting for a rotation spot in 2014 (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)
—Sean Doolittle wanted to keep this a secret.
— Rob Schumacher (@RobSchumacher1) January 29, 2014
“We were thinking about bringing signs. We were just going to make a big sign that said, ‘King of the Hill', or maybe a quote from (the movie) ‘Happy Gilmore' or something. And then we threw around the idea of the Big Heads. I was looking into getting them, and the D-backs said, ‘Oh, we can have somebody make them', so they made them and got them for us. I didn't realize they were going to be as enormous as they are.”
—Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter, on collaborating with Charles Brewer, Eric Chavez and Patrick Corbin to bring Aaron Hill fatheads to the Waste Management Phoenix Open Annexus Pro-Am last Wednesday in support of their teammate. (Craig Grialou, arizonasports.com)
“It's all muscle memory. I've ran my entire life how I did last year, and obviously I had two [knee] injuries in the past two years, and that's definitely not right. And from what I saw yesterday, it's a fix, it's an easy fix, but it's something that's more mental than anything else. It's more of getting the right positioning and getting my gluteus and quads [involved].”
—Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who will have to alter the way he runs after he recovers from knee surgery. (Brittany Ghiroli, MLB.com)
“People can go out and sign whoever they want right now. Boxing rules, we still have the belt. Whoever else, reloads.”
—Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes, on the balance of power in the AL East. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)
“I don't believe in the phrase, ‘all in.’ I've heard it, and I don't care for it. We are feeding the beast. That usually comes with very successful teams who have to keep throwing money into an incinerator to keep things going… This is a beast that has been very successful for a number of years now. And we've come to the understanding that we're going to do everything in our power, if we have a chance to get to the World Series, to try to get to the World Series.”
—Rays owner Andrew Sternberg, emphasizing his team’s consistent approach to winning baseball. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)
“Really, did he say anything else? Dang. Let me get up to speed on that.
—Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, after reporters informed him that club VP Dan Duquette had allegedly offered him a contract extension. The extension offer has yet to be confirmed; sources talks between the two sides have not progressed. (Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun)
“He's an ultra-talented guy. He had just gotten to where there was too much going on [during his swing]. It created timing issues. He was consistently late last year, and that was not because of bat speed, because he's got great bat speed and great talent. I think it caught us all off guard last year. I hate to say that, but it's true. You sure didn't expect that and he didn't either. I think it shocked him a little bit and became like a snowball rolling down the hill. We just couldn't stop it.”
—Atlanta Braves hitting coach Greg Walker, on B.J. Upton’s struggles at the plate in his first year with the Braves (Mark Bowman, MLB.com)
“Everything's great. March 7 will be three years for me being clean and sober… I'm proud of that. Unfortunately it took a while, a long time. A lot of beat-downs. A lot of embarrassment. A lot of sad days. A lot of hurt — to my family, friends, fans, everybody — to get to the point I am now.”
—Former pitcher Doc Gooden, reflecting on his issues with drug addiction and his new lifestyle. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)
“My office works tirelessly to help constituents every single day, but it's not often you get a call from a constituent like the New York Yankees. You see, the Yankees called me a couple of days ago to say they were worried about Masahiro Tanaka getting to spring training on time due to the length of time it can take for foreign players to get a visa… Now the Yankees' star free agent will be able to join the team at spring training with everyone else. As a lifelong Yankee fan who is hoping for another World Series this year, I could not be happier.”
—New York Senator Chuck Schumer. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)
“My arm is perfect. When I threw in winter ball, my command was perfect. I’ve tried to work hard to be ready to do my job as closer and go to the playoffs this year.”
—Neftali Feliz on his winter training at the Rangers’ Dominican academy and his expectations for next season. (Jeff Wilson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
“It could help take a lot of the pressure off him from being leadoff. You saw how he responded in the playoffs. And now with the different kind of team we have … more speed in the 8-and 9-hole could improve the chances (of) getting more guys on base when the batting order gets back to Miggy at no. 3… He does things that you simply cannot teach. The trick for him now is better refining those skills so that he can get more consistency out of those tools. But he reminds you all the time that he can be a special player.”
—Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, commenting on what the future holds for fellow outfielder Austin Jackson. (Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press)
“There’s two (MLB) teams that have turf, us and Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay’s turf is even better than our turf, because it’s down permanently. Ours goes up and down depending on whether we have a rock show, the Pan Am Games coming here (in 2015)… But the way that the (Rogers Centre) stadium works, you cannot put the (grass) in and put a football field on it. That is actually the problem. That’s the problem. It doesn’t work. The seats need to move. That’s how it was designed.”
—Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, discussing the difficulties of planting natural grass at the Rogers Centre. Beeston himself insists that baseball is meant to be played on grass, but with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts as cotenants, he acknowledges that the Blue Jays will not make the shift for some time. (Richard Griffin, Toronto Star)
“I’ve certainly been blessed to be a part of some teams and rotations I’ve been with. I think here we are just as good, if not better.”
—Nationals pitcher Doug Fister, comparing the pitching staffs of his current and former teams. (Mark Zuckerman, Comcast SportsNet Washington)
“Sports fans have always been fascinated by the two-sport star. When you talk to fans about amazing athletes, you always hear the name Bo Jackson come up. And whenever you have an athlete that could potentially be a two-sport star, there's always a lot of buzz about him.
Will he ever play for the Rangers? We don't know. But we thought we'd make a card to let people know what it would look like if he did.”
—Topps vice president of product development, Clay Luraschi, on producing a baseball card of Super Bowl Quarterback Russell Wilson (who was recently a Rule V draft pick by the Rangers). (Richard Durrett, ESPN.com)
“The technology is there. It helps. It's proven to help. But I don't think it's ready yet as a major league-ready product. And I told them that. I told them that's where it’s at.”
—Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy on the current state of protective headgear for pitchers. McCarthy was struck in the head in a game in September 2012 by a batted ball, and suffered a head injury as a result. (Jayson Stark, ESPN.com)
“Fifty-nine years (in baseball) is going to be enough where I think I want to kick back and relax a little bit. I'm going to make some of the trips but I'm going to spend most of my time, probably, at Miller Park doing the home games. The west coast trips, I think I'm going to kind of cut back on.”
—Milwaukee Brewers radio voice Bob Uecker, on how much broadcasting he will be doing in 2014 (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)
“I made a huge mistake and I paid a great price for that mistake. I deeply regret it. I wish I could change it. I recognize I don't have that opportunity. All I can do is … show that I've learned from my mistake, that I've grown from it, I've learned from it and hopefully I'm a better person because of it.”
—Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, speaking to fans in his first public appearance since being suspended for steroids for the remainder of the 2013 season (Michael Hunt, Journal Sentinel).
“That's why we have the people around us that we have with our agents and our family and friends. You let them handle the business side of things while I continue my work and do what I have to do to keep that demand high because essentially, that's what it's all about. Being wanted is a good thing and I look to continue that, but obviously, my heart lies here in Chicago. I grew up 45 minutes from here, I went to college an hour-and-a-half from here and I love it here. I love the cold, I love the summers, I love Wrigley Field. This is where I want to be, but I also understand that's just not a 100 percent thing. Things change overnight and I just want to be playing baseball and hopefully on a winning team.”
—Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, on the rumors surrounding his trade and contract status (Tony Andracki, CSN Chicago).
“It almost seems like divorce isn't an option for them down there and they're pretty sold on staying in Wrigleyville. If they'd call, we'd talk to them. But I'm not very optimistic. It's not like we're going to halt any discussions we're having with potential users for that site (in hopes of landing the Cubs). We're going to keep going forward with our broker and some potential users out there.”
—Rosemont, Illinois, Mayor Brad Stephens, on the Chicago Cubs chances of moving out of Wrigleyville due to disagreements with rooftop owners (CSN Staff, CSN Chicago).
“At some point, the available options diminish. It's not a change in strategy so much as it's a recognition, a reality.”
—New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, on his team’s approach to the rest of the offseason (Anthony DiComo, MLB.com)
“That's ancient, I guess, huh? I think people make a little too much of that. It is what it is. If people don't perform, it will be because of age, I guess. But I don't necessarily believe that. Was Boston a fairly old team last year? They did fairly well. They weren't a young team. They had older guys. They had experienced guys. But they had to perform. And they had to stay healthy. But I feel pretty bullish about the guys we have being ready to play.”
—Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, on the age of players including Ryan Howard (34) and Chase Utley (35) (Sam Donnellon, Philadelphia Daily News).