SPRING TRAINING ROUNDUP | News and notes
Yankees: Bernie Williams thinks he's in the same situation he was in when he first came up to New York. He's one of the fixtures, along with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada. Yet, he hasn't driven in 100 runs since 2002, hasn't hit 20 homers since the year before that. And while the Yankees traded Kenny Lofton during the off-season, Williams doesn't know how much longer he'll be New York's center fielder. "I'm always thinking that it could be not mine at any minute, and that is the attitude that has kept me here," he said Tuesday before his first spring training workout. "If I allowed myself now to think this is my job, sort of, and nobody else is going to take it, then I think it will take away from my hunger and my aggressiveness to hold onto it. I'm still worried I'm going to lose my job at any second." He's a five-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove, but his offense has tapered and his defense has become subpar, hampered by bad shoulders. For much of the off-season, he wondered whether the Yankees would sign Carlos Beltran. "I knew financially speaking it would have been a big burden for the Yankees to take, especially after signing Randy [Johnson]," he said. "It would have been a great addition to the club." Williams is just 36, not that old for top baseball players these days. "Some days I feel like I want to retire right at that moment, and some days I feel like I want to play for the next 10 years," he said.
Angels: AL MVP Vladimir Guerrero took his first swings of spring training, showing his thumb is healed. The slugger, who hurt his right thumb playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, lined a series of pitches from hitting coach Mickey Hatcher hard to the opposite field. Manager Mike Scioscia doesn't necessarily condone big league players playing winter ball, but he understands it. "You know how much Vladimir loves to play," the manager said. "But you're risking tens of millions of dollars from an investment standpoint."
Phillies: Placido Polanco isn't happy about being a backup to Chase Utley and he hopes that he'll be with another team on opening day. "It's a situation I can't control," Polanco said before the team's first full-squad workout. "I don't like to be in this situation. I hate to be in this situation, but I have to live with it." Polanco hit .298 with a career-high 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 126 games, but the Phillies plan to start Utley every day at second base, and use Polanco in a reserve role. "You know I want to play every day," Polanco said. "I want to be somewhere else where I can play. If I have to stay here, I have to be happy."
Cubs: Aramis Ramirez said he'd like to complete a new contract before the season begins. "Hopefully we'll get something done. I haven't heard anything," Ramirez said before the Cubs first full-squad workout. "If we get something done, I hope we get it done in spring training." Ramirez signed a one-year, $8.95 million deal earlier this month, avoiding arbitration following his 36-homer, 103-RBI season that included a .318 batting average. But he would like a multiyear deal from the Cubs.