Aubrey Huff didn't expect to get off to a quick start in Spring Training just a couple months after hernia surgery.

"It was surprising," Huff told The Baltimore Sun of his first appearance of the year. "My timing felt pretty good. I actually saw the ball well, and everything just felt nice and relaxed and comfortable after the first pitch. It felt good just getting back out there."

Actually, Huff added, he felt better after his first appearance this year than he can ever remember.

"It was probably the first time I've felt pretty good on my first day at Spring Training," he said. "I don't think I've ever pulled two balls in Spring Training in the first game in my career. Everything usually goes to left."

Schumaker plans run for leadoff spot: With David Eckstein moving on to the Blue Jays, Skip Schumaker has set his sights on becoming the Cardinals leadoff hitter.

"Everybody here knows what's at stake," Schumaker told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's about doing the most with the opportunity you're given."

Cabrera aims to strengthen defense: Miguel Cabrera is working on his third-base skills in his first spring with the Tigers.

"I want to play better defense. I want to win the World Series," Cabrera told The Detroit Free Press. "I like to win."

After dropping weight in the offseason, Cabrera comes to Detroit with big expectations.

"He has the power and talent to be one of the best ever, but he has to take care of himself," said Leyland. "I told him if he keeps going the way he is, he'll end up in Cooperstown. You want people to say that you were a hell of a player, not just a hell of a hitter."

Young proving to be a good fit for Twins: Delmon Young is making a good first impresson with the Twins.

"He's very excited to be here; he's done everything we've asked," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "He moved over to left field. He has a chance to keep working and to be a really good ballplayer. He has a lot to learn -- he'll tell you that -- but he's growing as a hitter, getting better and better. He has a lot of talent."

Cruz Jr. marching toward roster spot: Jose Cruz Jr. is making a strong push for a spot on the Astros roster. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs to lead Houston past Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Cruz Jr., who is the son of former Houston outfielder and current first base coach Jose Cruz, was hitting .381 with five RBIs after Thursday's game against Cleveland.

"My situation is I have to do well and produce and look good at the plate and have something to show for it at the end of the day," Cruz told The Houston Chronicle. "I'm trying to make the team, and it's a good start. There's still a couple of weeks to go."

Outing too efficient for Halladay: Roy Halladay's outing Wednesday against Philadelphia was almost too easy, according to The Toronto Globe and Mail.

The right-hander threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out two, but only threw 30 pitches, so he needed to go to the bullpen to throw 10 more pitches to get his full schedule of work in.

"You keep getting outs like that in the bullpen?" pitcher Casey Janssen quipped after the game.

Big-hitting Young no longer a rookie: As a rookie last season, Chris Young was often quiet around his Diamondbacks teammates. That's not the case as much this season.

"His bark is louder than his bite," first baseman Conor Jackson told The Arizona Republic. "That's what happens when you hit 35 home runs, man. Got a little something in your step now. But all joking aside, he's definitely a guy that can become a leader in the clubhouse. He's got those traits. And he goes about his business the right way. A lot of guys could have a year like last year and go out and do the bare minimum. He does things the right way."

Hernandez brings new leg kick to delivery: Tinkering with his delivery, Orlando Hernandez is considering some changes to his famous leg kick.

"I don't think people are swinging at his leg kick," pitching coach Rick Peterson told Newsday. "Deception for him is changing angles and changing speeds. I don't think it's going to affect him at all."

'Rookie' Ellsbury brings high expectations: Jacoby Ellsbury is still technically a rookie, but he's become a household name in Boston following his eye-catching late-season play in 2007.

He batted .353 in 33 games with the Red Sox last season and shined in the World Series. But that doesn't mean he has center field locked up in the competitive Red Sox camp.

"It's all new," Ellsbury told The Boston Globe. "I used to laugh about it when there was a lot of stuff said and written about other people. Now I'm in it. Some of that stuff is true, some of it is not. But you can't read too much into it and think about it, even though it is pretty funny at times what people will say."

Burke thankful for opportunities: Last year catcher Jamie Burke surprised everyone by making the Mariners Opening Day roster. It was the first time in Burke's 15-year professional career that he broke camp with a Major League club.

He proceeded to bat .301 for the year and Seattle won 20 of the 34 games he started last season.

"It's weird to think back to last year at this time, that I'd still be here and be in this position," Burke told The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "They gave me great opportunities and I'm very thankful, and hopefully I'll have a lot more opportunities to help this team."

Chamberlain finally gives up another long ball: Joba Chamberlain showed his mortal side during his Spring Training outing against the Twins. Garrett Jones hit a long, two-run homer against him.

"I guess if you're going to give 'em up, give 'em up big, because he didn't miss it," Chamberlain, who gave up one home run -- to Boston's Mike Lowell -- in 24 Major League innings last season, told Newsday.

-- Red Line Editorial