Barry Zito hopes an offseason heavy on weight training will help him recapture his form.
"The workouts are awesome," Zito, who has been training all winter with fitness guru and fellow Giants pitcher Brian Wilson, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're working out six days a week, two-a-days."
"You can see a good difference," said Wilson, who adheres to among the most intense workout regimens and strictest diets of anyone on the Giants. "As far as strength goes, I don't think he's done this kind of work before. The gains are tremendous."
Rollins lends more time to make 'Strong Kids': Jimmy Rollins, the honorary chairman of the YMCA's Strong Kids campaign, recently visited the center to tape a promotional piece.
"I am blessed," Rollins told MLB.com. "I have so much, and I believe that the best thing I can do to show my thanks is to give back."
His affinity for the YMCA is no accident, as Rollins' parents met at a Y.
"My mom and dad stayed on me," he said. "I wasn't allowed to go outside or play Nintendo until my homework was finished. And I couldn't just say I did it. I had to show them. And not until they looked it over and it was OK was I allowed to go out. The discipline and education I gained as a result is still with me today. It is unfortunate that many kids these days don't have that family support that I did, and that's where the Y comes in."
Arizona signs Garland to one-year deal: Jon Garland first turned down an offer from the Arizona Diamondbacks. But two weeks later, the right-hander agreed to terms with the team on a one-year contract that will send him to the desert.
There is a mutual option for 2010, meaning Garland could stay in Phoenix for at least two years.
"It was still a destination I wanted to land," Garland told the Arizona Republic. "I got in contact with [agent Craig Landis] after we turned down the initial offer and said, 'Let's not get away from this. Let's keep pursuing this.' I felt like I definitely fit in well with this team and this pitching staff."
Garland has thrown at least 191 innings in each of the last season years.
Surgery keeps Carlos Pena off Classic team: Carlos Pena will not play in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic after undergoing surgery three weeks ago to repair two tears in his lower abdominal muscle.
He played with pain from August through the postseason and hoped rest in the offseason would lessen the pain. However, it persisted and he underwent surgery on Jan. 8.
The Rays waited until last week to make the surgery public, saying it was "minor surgery" and "he will be ready to go for Spring Training," the St. Petersburg Times reported.
Fogg could make return to Rockies: The Colorado Rockies could be welcoming a starting pitcher back into the fold as Josh Fogg admitted he is leaning toward returning to the team for which he once pitched. General manger Dan O'Dowd said he is interested in having Fogg come back.
"I have sent e-mails to his agent, and we will see where it goes," O'Dowd said told the Denver Post. "I would like to have more depth. Our pitching could become extremely interesting if we have five guys in the rotation and [five more] guys to pull from either in the bullpen or [Triple-A]."
Just like old times for Hampton in Houston: Mike Hampton hasn't pitched for the Houston Astros in nearly 10 years, but while traveling with club representatives on the team's winter caravan, it is clear Astros fans are happy to see him in Houston once again.
"It's just what I remember," Hampton told MLB.com after the traveling party visited patients at the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. "I remember doing these caravans when I was first coming up, being 21, 22, 23 years old, and it's still fun. It's still nice to get out and see people. It's nice to see people haven't forgotten that I played for the Astros at one time."
Wainwright ready to log more innings: For Adam Wainwright, there's no reason to wonder about what might have been in 2008. Instead he just wants to look ahead to 2009.
"It's hard for me to say how different it would have been if I would have made all my starts, but I like to think I would have made a positive impact," Wainwright told MLB.com. "The guys who stepped in instead of me were outstanding, too, though, so I wouldn't want to take away from what they did."
Samardzija eyes spot in starting rotation: Jeff Samardzija spent his 2008 stint in Chicago working out of the bullpen, an option much preferred to pitching in Triple-A. But given the choice, Samardzija would love to make the Cubs' starting rotation.
"I got word that I was going to get a shot [to start] in Spring Training. That's all I need to know. There's an open spot, and during Spring Training I'll fight tooth and nail to earn it," Samardzija told the Chicago Tribune. "I feel great. My arm feels awesome."
Edwin Jackson ready to contribute: Edwin Jackson isn't necessarily sure what role best suits him, but what he does know is that he just wants to be a part of making the Detroit Tigers the best team it can be.
"Me, I'm trying to be the person who just picks up slack," Jackson told MLB.com. "A good pitching staff, there's a slack there, where one person does a good job, then the next person gets it done. That's what it takes to win ballgames."
Mike Gonzalez brings 'new arm' to Braves: Braves manager Bobby Cox got to watch Mike Gonzalez throw during a voluntary workout at Turner Field and came away impressed with what he saw. Gonzalez missed more than 12 months due to Tommy John surgery before re-joining the Braves last June.
"You can only imagine what it's going to be like after a full offseason of rest," Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I know when I'm healthy, I'm going to succeed in any position they put me in," Gonzalez said. "I feel like I have a new arm, like I'm 20 years old again."
Heilman going home after brief stay in Seattle: After being acquired by the Mariners from the Mets in the J.J. Putz deal, Aaron Heilman was sent packing again, this time to the Chicago Cubs for two players. Heilman never pitched in a game for Seattle but did appear at the team's FanFest program.
"It was a little surprising to get the call from [Mariners GM] Jack [Zduriencik]," Heilman told the Seattle Times. "For what little time I was able to spend in Seattle, I had a great impression of the city and fans. I was looking forward to being able to play there and kind of enjoy a little of the West Coast lifestyle. I'm still a little shellshocked, but that's the nature of the game."
Heilman grew up a Cubs fan in northern Indiana, went to school at Notre Dame and lives in a Chicago suburb.
"Being able to play at home, in the same city I live, is a tremendous luxury," Heilman said.
Gordon close to signing with Arizona: Arizona appears close to adding depth to its bullpen as the club is closing in on signing free agent Tom Gordon.
"We've had a number of conversations, and we're getting close," Rick Thurman, Gordon's agent, told the Arizona Republic.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.