Magglio Ordonez, who is about to enter his fourth season as a member of the Detroit Tigers, has announced the formation of the Ordonez Family Scholarship -- a $2,500-per-year scholarship that will be awarded to one southwest Detroit area high school senior each year and renewable for up to four years.
"If you want to be somebody in your life, you have to have an education," Ordonez told MLB.com. "For me, I didn't have the opportunity to go to college. I signed when I was 17 years old. The way that I can give something to the people here in Detroit is to help them out with a scholarship and also with the support of the Detroit Tigers."
As he finds himself more and more entrenched in Detroit, Ordonez wants to give more back to the citizens and fans in Detroit.
"I have to give something back to the community," he said. "People here in Detroit, they've been really nice to me. They've supported me the last three years. It's a way I can do something for the fans and the people here in Detroit.
"I'm really happy. The more that I know the city, the more that I know the state of Michigan, I like it even more every year."
According to MLB.com, requirements for the scholarship are as follows:
"To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a resident of southwest Detroit, generally recognized as the area of the city south of Interstate 94 and west of the I-75/I-96 interchange. They also must have attended a high school in southwest Detroit for their entire secondary education. Interested students who qualify can contact the Community Foundation or their high school guidance counselor."
The application deadline for the inaugural scholarship is April 1. If Ordonez plays out his entire Tigers contract, including the two option years, he could be around to see the first student graduate from a four-year college.
Thome helps raise $1.7 million for kids: Chicago White Sox veteran slugger Jim Thome believes in giving back -- and he has done just that in an effort that has raised $1.7 million for the Children's Hospital of Illinois. The money goes directly to the care and services provided to patients, said Stacy Litersky, the annual fund and marketing manager for the Children's Hospital of Illinois Foundation.
"Charity is important," Thome told MLB.com. "Being a role model is important. To be honest, I have a lot of fun with it. The event is something I take a lot of pride in."
Thirteen years, ago Thome's mother started the benefit with a baseball cookout in Bartonville, Ill. Following her death in 2005, the event was renamed for her.
"It's a neat thing to know that this has grown like it has," said Thome. "[My mother] is the one that started all this. She's probably looking down very proud and happy."
Glaus more than happy to join Cardinals: It didn't take long for new St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus to make his decision. With a no-trade clause in his contract, Glaus could have not only refused the move to St. Louis, but also could have scoffed at the notion of agreeing to exercise his 2009 option in order to make the deal happen. As it turned out, these were both easy choices.
"When Troy was first informed by the club that this was a possibility, he thought upon his approval it was done," Glaus' agent, Mike Nicotera, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "For him, it was an easy choice. It didn't take him long at all to agree to the trade and take his option (for 2009). It was almost instantaneous."
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are excited to bring Glaus' big bat to town.
"The guy hits it as hard as anybody," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "He is the kind of player that fits our team, has the winning experience that fits, and is the kind of player who fits a need we had."
As recently as 2005, Glaus was a free agent and had St. Louis on his short list of teams to which he'd consider going.
"There were a number of reasons why the Cardinals were interested him, even back then and certainly now," said Nicotera. "All that might sound cliche or convenient because of the current situation, but for him the Cardinals have certainly been up there as a place he wanted to play."
Bernero ready to break camp with Pirates: Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Adam Bernero is just under a year removed from Tommy John surgery, and when he arrives at Spring Training in a few weeks, he will do so with a new attitude. After starting last year with Boston, Bernero suffered quite a bit of pain and was beginning to lose his edge.
"I think it was great timing to get hurt," Bernero told MLB.com. "I had reached a point in my career where I kind of needed a break from baseball. I had a year off and I really started getting that hunger back again. I think it gave me a lot of perspective being gone for that long."
After spending last summer distracted with fishing and camping in the Rocky Mountains, Bernero feels good and is ready to get back in the game.
"I don't know if I can put a percentage on it, but I'm feeling real good," said Bernero, who has 150 Major League appearances (37 starts) under his belt. "It's just been long and slow and steady and getting better every day."
And as that progress continues, Bernero plans to break camp with the Major League club.
"I've really had in my mind that I am going to make [the Major League roster] this time," he said. "I don't even think there is a chance I am not going to make the team, in my mind."
Saarloos returns to Oakland in search of roster spot: Oakland signed former A's pitcher Kirk Saarloos to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. In his first stint with the club, Saarloos won 19 games between 2004 and 2006.
"We need as many bodies as we can get and Kirk is looking for a place to get himself back on the map," A's assistant general manager David Forst told the San Jose Mercury News. "It's good risk/reward from our standpoint and Kirk is a good guy to have around."
The A's traded Saarloos to the Reds last January. He returns a year later but many of his former teammates are no longer with the club.
"There's hardly anyone I even know," Saarloos said. "But it's exciting, it kind of feels like when I first came over, like I'm back where I started -- coming into the spring not on the roster and trying to win a spot."
Saarloos hopes to rebound from a tough season. He went 1-5 with a 7.17 ERA for the Reds in 2007.
"Nothing seemed to go right," he said. "But the A's know what I can do and I think this is the best fit for me. Oakland's going young, they're in a rebuilding phase, and for me, it's a great opportunity because they might need a little filler so they don't have to rush these young guys or start their clocks too soon."
Rhodes set to show off his 'brand new' elbow in Seattle: The Mariners signed reliever Arthur Rhodes to a Minor League deal and extended him an invitation to Spring Training. Rhodes missed all of 2007 with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.
"I'll be healthy," Rhodes told the Seattle Times. "I've been throwing pretty hard on flat ground, sticking with the program. My elbow feels great. Once I get to Spring Training, I'll work with Rick [Griffin, the trainer] and the staff. My goal is to be ready for Opening Day."
Rhodes made the Mariners out of Spring Training last season but suffered the elbow injury before appearing in a regular season game.
"It stinks to have surgery and not pitch the whole year," Rhodes said. "I want to go back next year and help the team win. I've seen a lot of guys have Tommy John surgery and come back throwing harder."
Missing last year with an injury is part of the reason Rhodes is retuning this season. He did not want to end his career on the disabled list.
"I didn't want to go out that way, after surgery," he said. "I told [general manager] Bill Bavasi after the season that I'd love to come back, because I didn't get to show you what I'm capable of doing. I feel like I have a brand new elbow."
Gibbons rolls out the welcome mat for Rolen: The Toronto Blue Jays will have a new player at third base this season after completing a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in which Scott Rolen was sent to Toronto for third baseman Troy Glaus.
"Everything (Rolen) does in the game, he does the right way," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Sun. "He's a hard-nosed dude. He plays to win and he really goes after you.
"Sometimes personalities don't mesh, it happens. I let the guys do their thing and have great respect for what they do. I've been a big fan of his watching him from the outside and there's not going to be a problem here."
Rolen has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons and hit .265 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs in 112 games last year. Surgery on his left shoulder ended his season early. While the Jays may lose some power in the trade, they are getting one of the top fielding third basemen in baseball. Rolen has also been a solid hitter against right-handers during his career, hitting .284 against them.
"We've added to our clubhouse a hard-nosed guy who's been on winners," said Gibbons. "Troy was the same way."
Addition of Cameron improves Brewers' defense: As the Milwaukee Brewers were deciding if they wanted to pursue center fielder Mike Cameron, the club got a simple recommendation from Ted Simmons, the team's new bench coach who used to be a top talent evaluator for San Diego, Cameron's former team.
"He said, 'If you can get him, go get him,'" general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Ted was very excited. In the end, it filled a lot of things we were looking for."
One of the main reasons for adding Cameron is his ability to field the ball in center field. One of the top players at his position, signing Cameron, a three-time Gold Glove winner, allows the Brewers to move Bill Hall to third base and Ryan Braun, who had 26 errors in 111 games last season, to left field.
"Improving our defense was paramount in my mind," manager Ned Yost said. "Once your defense gets better, your pitching gets better.
"It's very important to me, too, how a player is in the clubhouse. What type of make-up, what type of attitude, what type of person he is off the field as well as on the field. I knew his character was on the upper end of the chart, which I was really excited about."
Kouzmanoff didn't let defense slide in slow start last year: Kevin Kouzmanoff didn't start his 2007 season with the San Diego Padres the way he wanted. For the first two months of the season, the third baseman could barely hit the ball, a situation first baseman Adrian Gonzalez could empathize with.
Gonzalez struggled with the Padres after coming over from Texas in a trade before breaking out last season.
"Everyone hopes to come out and have a great first month so that you can relax a little bit ... but in reality, there is a lot of pressure on you," Gonzalez told padres.com. "They are looking at you to produce. So it makes it a lot tougher when things don't go your way. I think he did a great job of working at it, going about his business. And if you take away that first month, he had a great year."
Kouzmanoff was hitting only .108 on May 7, but the Padres never stopped believing in their young player. The patience paid off as he hit .317 after the All-Star break to finish the year with a .274 average, 18 home runs and 75 RBIs. In September, he hit .380 with 17 RBIs, leading the Padres to believe they have a solid one-two punch with Gonzalez and Kouzmanoff.
"For a young player to struggle as much in April ... you often see their offensive woes carry over to their defense," general manager Kevin Towers said. "But he might have played his best defense that month."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.