Koyie Hill returns from hand injury
Catcher back with Cubs after severing several fingers last year
Koyie Hill has returned to the Majors less than a year after severing several fingers on his throwing hand in a table-saw accident.
"To be back here, it's a dream come true within itself," Hill told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I never had a doubt I was going to play again. I just didn't know at what level the limitations of my hand were going to allow me to play. I've just lucked out."
The switch-hitting catcher batted .275 with 17 home runs, 24 doubles and 64 RBIs in 113 games for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate in Iowa just months after doctors told him that the accident would likely end his career.
Hill, 29, had to have his thumb and three fingers surgically reattached after the table saw struck a knot in the wood of a window frame he was building for his home last Oct. 16.
Thome ties Mantle mark: Jim Thome's 536th home run, a two-run shot in the first inning of Chicago's 4-2 win over Boston on Sunday, tied him for 14th on the all-time list with Mickey Mantle.
"We talk about it all the time, the history of the game, and what those guys have done," Thome told the Chicago Tribune. "To be a part of that is just really hard to talk about. Because when you throw Mickey Mantle's name around, that's probably one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time, for sure.
"It's special to hit a home run whenever you win a game, but to tie Mickey Mantle is really, really special."
Cycle-man Stephen Drew stays focused: It took a few extra seconds and prompting from the crowd for Stephen Drew to realize he'd hit for the cycle after his seventh-inning ground rule double on Monday night.
"Like I was telling you guys before, we're trying to put wins together," Drew told the Arizona Republic after he became the first ever Diamondback to hit for the cycle at Chase Field. "To hit for the cycle, it's fun, but it wouldn't mean anything to me if we didn't win."
Lee answers the bell by securing 20th win: Cliff Lee became the first Cleveland pitcher since Gaylord Perry in 1974 to win 20 games in a season when he and the Indians knocked off Baltimore on Monday, 1-0. Lee, who threw a complete game, is now 20-2 on the year with a 2.32 ERA and is the first pitcher in the Majors to reach 20 wins this season.
"Twenty wins has a nice ring to it," Lee told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I like the sound of it. It's nice to get it behind me on my first try. I didn't want to keep answering questions about it."
Thumb injury doesn't hinder Guzman: It's been a roller-coaster ride for Cristian Guzman this season. The Nats' shortstop earned All-Star status in the first half but has had to work through an injured thumb in the second half.
Last week, however, he batted .529 (16-for-29), earning co-Player of the Week in the National League with Bronson Arroyo. Guzman hit for the cycle on Aug. 28.
"Better," Guzman told the Washington Post when asked about his thumb. "Like I said before, not 100 percent, but it's good."
Carpenter overcomes shoulder problem: Chris Carpenter, who last pitched on Aug. 10 against the Cubs before leaving with pain around his right shoulder, has returned to the Cardinals and is set to work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season.
"We'll let him go out there for a couple appearances. We'll try to keep him out of one-run games," manager Tony La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You let him get some work and see how he feels. If he feels great, I wouldn't hesitate to use him any time."
Harden gearing up for stretch run: Rich Harden, who has thrown more innings this season than any other in his career, with the exception of 2004, is getting some extra rest. The Cubs don't plan to use him again until sometime after Sept. 9.
"I really want to be out there, but at the same time, I think it can be good," Harden told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I don't know how many innings I've thrown, but it's the longest stretch in a few years. I just want to make sure that I'm strong and ready to go for the stretch run."
Schierholtz bowls over teammates with hit at plate: The Giants recalled prospect Nate Schierholtz, who played on the U.S. Olympic team and won a bronze medal. A continuous loop of a play in which Schierholtz bowled over a Chinese catcher was played in the Giants' clubhouse to mark his arrival.
"I didn't realize they showed it so often until I saw it on the front pages of the newspapers," Schierholtz told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I was kind of surprised it was that big of a deal. I guess China plays differently than we do here.
"After the game, we had a press conference, and I explained the play. Obviously, the Chinese team was not happy with me. Other than that, there were no repercussions. It was back to baseball the next day."
Guardado recalls prankster highlight against Ortiz: Eddie Guardado, back with Minnesota, is well known for his ability to keep a clubhouse loose. The veteran reliever recalled a vintage prank perpetrated on David Ortiz when the Red Sox slugger played for the Twins.
"Corey Koskie and I gave him a lot of trouble. Once we lined his jeans with peanut butter in Spring Training. It was a perfect job, all up and down the inside lining, but you couldn't see it," Guardado told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "He comes in, in a hurry to leave, someone's talking to him to distract him. He puts his jeans on, does up the belt, suddenly stops talking. 'Wait a minute -- what the hell?' There was peanut butter all up and down his legs. We did a really nice job with that one."
Wrigley Field a special place for Ausmus: Brad Ausmus isn't sure yet if he will retire at the end of the season, but he does know that he will miss his road trips to Chicago to play the Cubs when his career is over. Ausmus enjoys playing day baseball at Wrigley Field and the ability to eat at some great restaurants in the evening.
"I'll miss Wrigley," Ausmus told Astros.com. "There's nothing more fun than an 80-degree day in the middle of summer at Wrigley Field."
"When I'm done playing, I plan on making a trip and watching a couple of games from the bleachers," Ausmus added. "That is something I definitely will do."
New addition Snider to get a look as DH: The Toronto Blue Jays will take a long look at right fielder Travis Snider this month as they start to plan for next season. Snider, the team's top draft selection in 2006, was promoted by the club from Triple-A Syracuse on Aug. 29. There, he hit .344 with two home runs and 17 RBIs in 18 games.
"We're going to get him up here, let him play and see what the evaluation is going into Spring Training," general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "And if we feel comfortable that he's a guy that's on the map [as far as playing DH], then maybe we don't delve into the free-agent market for a DH."
Chamberlain set for return, will pitch from bullpen: Joba Chamberlain will pitch out of the bullpen the rest of the season instead of being inserted back into the starting rotation. Chamberlain last pitched for the Yankees on Aug. 4 when he left a game in Texas early due to shoulder soreness that turned out to be rotator cuff tendinitis. Chamberlain is still expected to be a starter next season, but general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi believe the bullpen is a better spot for him right now.
"It's just that we don't have enough time," Girardi told Newsday about getting Chamberlain ready to be a starter again this season.
Teagarden feeling at home with Rangers: Rookie catcher Taylor Teagarden, a member of the bronze-medal-winning U.S. Olympic baseball team that competed in Beijing last month, hit his second home run for the Rangers on Monday night.
"It's an awesome feeling," Teagarden, whose only two Major League hits are homers, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I've seen a lot of games here as a fan since the ballpark opened up. I've been a fan of the Rangers ever since I was little, watching Pudge [Rodriguez], Juan [Gonzalez] and Raffy [Palmeiro] and all those guys. This is going to be an unbelievable experience for me and my family."
Kent could return this season from knee surgery: When Jeff Kent went on the disabled list with torn knee cartilage, it was feared that both his season and his career might be over. But after undergoing surgery on Tuesday morning, there's now a chance that Kent could return this year.
"It was as good as we could've expected," trainer Stan Conte told the Los Angeles Times of the surgery, which did not disclose any additional problems. Kent now undergoes a rehab schedule that could be completed in two weeks and allow him to return for the final 10 days of the season.
Saunders adjusts mechanics to find success: Joe Saunders made a mechanical adjustment to his delivery and came up with a solid outing versus the Tigers, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing three runs.
"I closed off my front side," Saunders told the Los Angeles Times. "I was flying open. That was making my fastball cut a little bit, and [the batters] weren't missing [it]. I stayed through the ball instead of trying to place it."
"Joe is too talented to not get on track and throw the ball like he did in the first half," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's a shame he didn't get the win tonight, but he threw the ball well. He got more aggressive with everything. He has a terrific arm. You have to put the ball in good spots, but you can't wish it there. You have to turn it loose."
Eckstein has a fan in new manager Melvin: Arizona manager Bob Melvin always admired the way infielder David Eckstein caused trouble for him as an opponent. He likes him even better now that he's a member of the Diamondbacks.
"He's one of those guys who just gets under your skin because he does all the little things," Melvin told the Arizona Republic. "I'm glad he's on our side doing that to the opposition now."
Eckstein has primarily been a shortstop during his career but will see most of his playing time at second base for Arizona.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.