Trevor Bell and Sean O'Sullivan missed a meeting of Angels players last month, but they completed their makeup assignment.

Rather than impose a fine on the rookie relievers, veteran Darren Oliver suggested they read and provide an oral book report about Marvin Miller's A Whole Different Ballgame, in which the Major League Baseball Players Association's former executive director outlines the struggles of creating, building and maintaining the baseball players' union.

"I never understood that side of baseball. And I always was curious about it," Bell, who missed the team meeting because he was doing an interview with ESPN, told the Los Angeles Times. "So to read about Marvin Miller and what he did and the people he influenced and, obviously, what he's done for baseball is huge."

"I had no idea [about] all the stuff that went into getting us where we are today," O'Sullivan said. "So it was very enlightening."

Youthful Counsell finds plenty in the tank: Energized by a strong season, Craig Counsell wants to return in 2010.

"I'm going to play," Counsell, who was named over the weekend as the Brewers' WE Energies High Energy Player of the Year, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "That's a nice award, because the fans [along with media and club officials] vote on it. You appreciate the fact that the fans like the way that you play."

Counsell signed a one-year contract with his hometown Brewers in January and is hitting .280 with 21 doubles, eight triples, four home runs and 37 RBIs in 126 games. Counsell hopes he can play with the Brewers again next season.

Ethier takes a liking to Kemp's bats: Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are close friends. Ethier even switched over to Kemp's model bat after Kemp "started hitting those bombs."

"His is the same weight as mine, but longer and different wood -- ash," Ethier, who has asked the team's equipment manager to order some more -- with Kemp's name on them again, told the Los Angeles Times.

What about his own bats?

"Burned them," Ethier says.

Davis shooting for 200 strikeouts: With two starts left this season, Doug Davis wants to finish strong for a variety of reasons. First, the left-hander wants to help the Diamondbacks win. Second, he needs to throw only 8 2/3 innings to reach 200 this season. It would be the fourth time in the last six years for Davis to throw 200 innings.

Third, he will be a free agent this offseason, and a good showing during this final week could help him on the open market.

"Coming into the free-agent market, that would be huge," he told the Arizona Republic. "[The innings total] always looks better with a two in front of it than a one."

Dice-K keeps making progress: After winning consecutive starts against the Angels and Orioles, Daisuke Matsuzaka held the New York Yankees to one run in seven innings on Saturday. His ERA has dropped by more than two runs in his last three starts.

"He's been outstanding, especially going into this last week and the postseason," Boston teammate Mike Lowell told the Boston Globe. "He's a guy we know we can count on. He's using all his pitches. He's throwing strikes. What did he go, seven innings today? That's a really good sign for us."

Carpenter not making any changes: Chris Carpenter is ready to finish the season and move on to the postseason.

"Thirty starts into the year, there's no fine-tuning," Carpenter told MLB.com. "You continue to do what you're doing and try to be successful, and you can do it."

Greinke wins his 16th: Zack Greinke pitched seven shutout innings and lowered his ERA to an MLB-best 2.06 in beating the Twins on Sunday.

"I've always thought he was filthy," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com. "I've always thought he was really, really good. I've never enjoyed it when our club is facing Greinke. He never throws the same pitch twice."

Jones not worried about rookie award: Garrett Jones, who leads all Major League rookies with 20 home runs and has .303 average and 42 RBIs despite not joining the Pirates until June 30, isn't thinking about awards.

"I haven't really put much thought into it," Jones told MLB.com. "I'm just trying to finish up strong. I want to finish up the season by concentrating on each game. At the end of the year, to get that award would be a tremendous honor. But right now, I'm just trying to stay focused and not let any game slip away."

If it's fall, then Hamels is getting geared up: Cole Hamels seems to pitch better as the competition heats up.

"I think it's being able to go out there, knowing what's at stake," Hamels told MLB.com. "I think any time September rolls around -- and fortunately enough, I've been here when we've had to win every game. You still have to go out there. For some odd reason, I seem to bear down a little bit more and compete [in September] and I've been in situations where I've been able to win. It makes baseball more fun."

Morse ready to use his big frame: Nationals manager Jim Riggelman appreciates what Mike Morse brings to the table. The only hard part is finding the 6-foot-5 Morse some playing time.

"People don't look at me as a second baseman, same as shortstop," Morse, who came up with the Mariners, told the Washington Post. "But if I play, I'm going to play as hard as I can. There's no pressure this far in my baseball career [about switching positions]. If they tell me to catch, I'll put the gear on."

Gonzalez thrilled to be in the hunt: Mike Gonzalez got to feel what it's like pitching in a meaningful late September game, earning the win as the Braves capped an undefeated road trip with a 6-3 win over the Nationals on Sunday.

"Remember, I'm coming from Pittsburgh, bro," Gonzalez told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "When I got traded, this was why I was so happy to come here, to have at least an opportunity. We're in the mix, man. We feel like we can beat anybody right now.

"The chemistry is ridiculous right now. It hasn't been like that before. Coming to the park now, we feel like we're going to win."

Maybin's blast keeps playoff hope alive: Cameron Maybin, entering as a pinch-runner when Cody Ross was hit by a pitch, later hit a three-run homer to help the Marlins beat the Mets 9-6 on Sunday. He now has 16 hits in September, and seven of those hits have gone for extra bases.

"I didn't know if it had enough height," Maybin told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of his homer. "I knew it had enough to get a couple of runs in. I'm hoping Cody is OK. It's one of those things where in the fourth, fifth inning you have to be ready for anything."

Huff gets high praise from Wedge: David Huff pitched eight shutout innings while allowing just five hits in Cleveland's 9-0 victory over Baltimore.

"It's been a great developmental year for him," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge told MLB.com. "It's tough for young pitchers to be consistent. There are a lot of adjustments that have to be made. He's answered that call. I like his focus and his attitude. He has a little bit of an edge to him."

Berkman appreciative of die-hard fans: Lance Berkman wishes the Astros could have given their fans more to cheer about this year.

"I just want to tell them thanks for continuing to support us through a difficult season," Berkman told the Houston Chronicle. "The people who are still here are the ones that are really not bandwagon fans. They're the ones that appreciate the team and the sport of baseball. And we appreciate them."

Lind coming up with strong finish: On Saturday, Adam Lind hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning and a game-winning homer in the 10th inning to give the Jays a 5-4 win over Seattle. He now has 32 home runs and 109 RBIs.

"It's always nice to finish up strong so you have a good taste in your mouth in the offseason," Lind told the Toronto Star. "It's always good to win at home. I didn't really see the ball go over. I just saw [outfielder Michael Saunders] getting ready to scale it like Spider-Man."

Wainwright puts final touch on regular season: Adam Wainwright, who pitched eight shutout innings on Saturday night and earned his 19th win to help the Cardinals clinch the NL Central, has earned the admiration of fellow Cy Young candidate and teammate Chris Carpenter.

"If that game right there doesn't solidify him as the best pitcher in the league, then I'm can't imagine what would," Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think that's what it's all about -- that game, that eighth inning, and everything he did tonight. That's what you want: Your big stud on the mound. Big game. Big situation. And he comes through."

-- Red Line Editorial