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MLB World Series 2010 News | Archive December 24, 2009


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World Series MVP Hideki Matsui finalizes $6 million deal with Los Angeles Angels

AP News
December 24, 2009

The Los Angeles Angels went from one aging designated hitter to another on Wednesday, finalizing a $6 million, one-year contract with World Series MVP Hideki Matsui that all but signals the end of the Vladimir Guerrero era.

Matsui hit .274 with 28 homers and 90 RBIs last season for the New York Yankees, then was selected World Series MVP despite starting only three of the six games against Philadelphia. The two-time All-Star went 8 for 13 (.615) with three homers and eight RBIs, tying a Series record by driving in six runs in Game 6.

Slowed by surgically repaired knees, the 35-year-old Matsui will replace Guerrero as Los Angeles' primary DH. Guerrero, who turns 35 in February, also has been hobbled by injuries and is a free agent.

"What Vlad has done for our organization, you really can't quantify it," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's going to go out and obviously continue his career, which is going to be Hall-of-Fame caliber by the time he's done. We're looking to move ahead. On the offensive side, it was important to get this done."

Angels general manager Tony Reagins said he has spoken to Guerrero's representatives.

"He was accepting of our decision to move on," he said.

Guerrero's average declined to .295 with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 100 games last season, which began with him recovering from knee surgery. He went on the disabled list twice, but recovered for the postseason, leading the Angels with a .378 average, one homer and seven RBIs in nine games.

Guerrero rarely played the outfield last season for the Angels. Matsui has not played the outfield since June 2008, and the Angels said his availability will be decided in spring training.

"It's going to be contingent on his health and how Hideki feels," Scioscia said. "It's much more important for us to have his presence in the lineup swinging the bat everyday than it is to try to ask him to go play the outfield if it's something he's not ready for. That being said, we're a much deeper team and have many more options if he can go play the outfield whenever we need, 2-3 days a week."

Matsui was introduced during a news conference in which more than 100 media, including a large Japanese contingent, crowded into a room at Angel Stadium to watch him don a red Angels cap and a No. 55 jersey.

"I'm very excited," he said through a translator. "This is the beginning of a new journey for me. I'd like to do my best in every way I can to bring another world championship to this team since they won in 2002."

Matsui surpassed 100 RBIs four times in seven seasons with the Yankees after coming over from Japan, where he was a huge star. He just completed a $52 million, four-year contract with New York.

"There was a certain level of attachment there, but this organization had welcomed me with open arms and understood my goals and desires," said Matsui, who indicated few other clubs were pursuing him.

Matsui will be the second Japanese player in Angels' history, and his presence is certain to be a hit with the region's large Asian population. Shigetoshi Hasegawa pitched for the club from 1997-2001.

Matsui and the Yankees beat Los Angeles in the AL championship series last season. The Angels have won three straight AL West titles and five of the past six, but haven't reached the World Series since winning the 2002 title.

"He's a left-handed hitter that can play against anyone," Scioscia said.

"The impact he'll have on our lineup, it'll be felt right away."

Matsui was among three key free agents on the Yankees. Left-hander Andy Pettitte agreed last week to an $11.75 million, one-year contract. Talks have stalled with left fielder Johnny Damon, whose agent wants more guaranteed years than the team is willing to offer.

Matsui joined the Angels on the same day pitcher John Lackey finalized an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the AL rival Boston Red Sox.

"We put our best foot forward and that wasn't enough to get the deals done," Reagins said about retaining Lackey and infielder Chone Figgins, who left for Seattle.

At the same time, Reagins said he has no financial constraints from owner Arte Moreno.

"From the offensive side, we feel we've filled our needs," he said. "We feel real good about the club, but we still have some opportunities out there."

Lackey had a 102-71 regular-season record with a 3.81 ERA in eight years, all with the Angels. The 31-year-old right-hander is coming off a strong postseason.

Scioscia called him "a guy we had hoped we were going to see finish his career here." Instead, the Angels will rely on the likes of Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir.

"The only way you're really going to survive is to keep developing your own pitching," Scioscia said. "They have the potential to elevate their games to what John has done. It's not one guy that's going to fill what John does."

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MLB News Archive Index: 2010, 2009


Santo' Claus has gift for giving

By Carrie Muskat
December 24, 2009

CHICAGO, IL — Ron Santo still remembers a Christmas photo of him at 3 years old holding a brand new baseball glove.

"We only got one present a year," said Santo, the Cubs' radio analyst, who turns 70 in February. "We couldn't afford any more."

This holiday season, Santo becomes Santa Claus for his two grandsons, Sam, 10, and Spencer, 4. And young Spencer had a special request: He wants some baseball gear, just like grandpa. Under the tree on Christmas Eve, young Spencer will get his wish, all kid-sized.

Spencer also is a huge fan of "Star Wars." That's a galaxy Santo isn't too up-to-date on, but he said he was able to find something Luke Skywalker would be proud of.

"This Santa Claus takes very good care of my family," Santo said.

It will be a special holiday for Santo, who recently signed a three-year contract extension with WGN Radio to do the color commentary on the Cubs broadcasts with partner Pat Hughes. The negotiations didn't take long at all.

"I love what I do, and it keeps me alive, as far as I'm concerned," Santo said from his Arizona home. "When I go in [to negotiate], I could say I'm looking for a two-year [deal] and they'll say, 'Why don't you take a three-year contract?'"

He has taken time off in years past for health reasons. Santo has had both legs amputated below the knee because of diabetes, and there are times when road trips wear him out.

"There are certain perks [WGN Radio] gives me," Santo said. "They also know I go crazy when I can't go [with the team]. As long as I'm feeling good, meaning I know my sugars have been good and I'm feeling good, I'll go. If I start to feel like I'm not feeling that great, I'll take a road trip off."

Santo annually hosts a walk-a-thon to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. He was diagnosed at 18, shortly after he had signed his first pro contract. At the time, life expectancy of someone with Type 1 juvenile diabetes was 25. Santo never told the Cubs about his disease. He has beaten the odds and is a hero for his resiliency.

"I can't tell you how much it means to me," he said. "I'm very proud to be able to be an inspiration to a lot of people. I get a lot of letters, and my son opens them. When I get one from somebody who has lost a leg and is a diabetic, instead of me writing back, I call them. It means so much more to them. I've helped a lot of people who have lost limbs."

Santo often refers them to his prosthetist, Ray McKinney. The two of them have established a foundation to help people with diabetes.

Imagine the surprise when someone picks up the phone and hears Santo's recognizable voice.

"They say, 'You're kidding?' but a lot of them listen to me and know my voice," he said. "When I fly from [Arizona] to Chicago or Chicago to here, you can't believe how many people come by on the plane to say 'Hi' to me."

Santo picked Arizona for the offseason. He has had enough of Chicago winters.

"I spent all my winters in Chicago when I played," he said. "When the kids got out of college, Vicki and I decided to come to Arizona. Everybody puts up their lights down here early in December, and it's really gorgeous. There's a lot of good Christmas feeling."

Which means decorating the cactus and palm trees and not having snow to shovel. Santo and his wife, Vicki, have four children, and they get together Christmas Eve to celebrate. Before dinner, the kids can open one gift and the rest wait until after the plates are cleared.

"Every year, I get a big gift [for the grandkids]," Santo said.

Just in case Sam and Spencer are reading this, we won't reveal what "Santo Claus" has planned.

"I'm Santa Claus here," Santo said. "Well, at least one of them believes in Santa Claus. I don't talk about it, but I know [Sam] knows."

There is one present Santo would like to see under the tree with his name on it: a Cubs' World Series.

"I'm always excited for the season," he said about the Cubs. "Every year, right after Christmas, in January, I start to get the itch."

He has been sticking to an exercise program this offseason to help keep his blood sugars at a good level. He works out every other day, including riding a stationary bike for 40 minutes and doing about 50 sit-ups on a specially designed chair.

"Exercise has a lot to do with controlling your sugars," he said. "When I leave here, I'll be in the best shape I can be in."

Not bad for a 69-year-old former third baseman.

Does Santo miss Chicago's snow?

"No -- are you kidding?" he said, laughing. "It's going to be 72 [degrees] here today. We've got the Christmas tree up and lights out in the back. It's really great."

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MLB News Archive Index: 2010, 2009


Yankees to visit Red Sox in 2010 US opener

AFP American Edition
December 23, 2009

World Series champion New York and arch-rival Boston will meet in the opening game of the 2010 Major League Baseball season on April 4, officials announced Monday.

The Yankees begin defending their 27th World Series crown against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in a game that was moved from April 5 to become the Sunday night opener. Most teams will open their season over the two following days.

Next year will mark the fifth time in six years that the reigning World Series champion will play in the following season opener.

The only other time that American baseball's epic rivalry has been the lone opener came in 2005 after the Red Sox won their first World Series title since 1918 the season before.

In season openers against the Red Sox dating to 1904, the Yankees own an 18-10 edge with one drawn.

The Yankees will play their first home game of the new season on April 13 against the Los Angeles Angels, a team reportedly in talks to sign Japanese free agent Hideki Matsui, the 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player.

The Yankees will also travel to Boston for the final three games of next season in October.

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MLB News Archive Index: 2010, 2009


Lefty Pettitte relishes fifth championship ring

By Thomas Boorstein
December 24, 2009

NEW YORK, NY — For the past nine years, Andy Pettitte has added to his already-impressive postseason resume. But no matter how many individual milestones he passed, Pettitte couldn't add to his four World Series championships.

That changed Wednesday. Pettitte started and earned the win in the Yankees' 7-3 victory vs. the Phillies in Game 6 of the World Series, helping the Bombers win their 27th World Series championship.

"It makes it sweeter, no doubt, because you don't know if you are going to get a chance to go back," Pettitte said in the Yankees' celebratory clubhouse. "I realize I'm 37 years old. I realize I'm getting older. That makes it sweet."

In 12 years with the Yankees that sandwiched a three-year stop with the Astros, Pettitte has built up an all-time lead in postseason starts with 40. His win Wednesday was his 18th, also the most. His 249 innings in the playoffs represent more than any single season in his 15-year career.

"There isn't a guy you'd want on the mound more than him," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "He's been in every situation. He's succeeded in all situations. We have a lot of confidence in him. I don't care how many days' rest he's on."

This year's Fall Classic marked Pettitte's eighth overall and seventh with the Yankees. Among pitchers, only Whitey Ford, who pitched in 11 World Series, has appeared in more.

Working on three days' rest after winning Game 3 on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pettitte remained effective despite spotty control in 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball. He walked five and struck out only three. But aside from a run in the third and a two-run Ryan Howard homer in the sixth, Pettitte managed to keep the Phillies off the board.

Pettitte, who beat the Red Sox to clinch the American League East on Sept. 27, became the second pitcher to win the clinching game in all three postseason rounds and the first to start and win every game. Derek Lowe of the 2004 Red Sox beat the Angels, Yankees and Cardinals to help the Red Sox win their first championship in 86 years.

Pettitte, who started Game 4 as the Yankees swept the Padres in the 1998 World Series, has now won the clinching game in a postseason series six times. He is the first Yankees pitcher to win two games in the same World Series since Mike Torrez did it in 1977 and the 10th pitcher in Major League history to clinch two World Series.

"I just enjoy seeing everyone else enjoy it," Pettitte said. "I've been able to do it so many times. Obviously, it's great to win another one. But I'm just fired up to see the young guys and see the guys who haven't won one yet."

Pettitte, Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada have now all won five championships; they also won in 1996, '98, '99 and 2000. Even after a nine-year hiatus, Pettitte still said the experience of the earlier titles helped him.

"I really don't know what to say," Pettitte said. "We've been here. We've been able to do it. I don't know how they feel, but I just feel so much more comfortable, I feel more relaxed. The more experience you get, it makes it easier for you to go through."

When Pettitte last pitched in a Game 6 of the World Series, he left the mound a tough-luck loser facing an uncertain future. Josh Beckett and Marlins bested the Yankees for the 2003 title, and Pettitte, feeling neglected by the Yankees, would sign a three-year contract with the Astros.

Now Pettitte's future is again up in the air. He is not under contract for 2010. Since returning to the Yankees before the 2007 season, Pettitte has said his goal has been to win another championship. With that goal achieved, he could consider retirement.

"I'm not sure," Pettitte said about his future. "I have to go home and talk to my family. I have to talk to the Yankees and find out where they're at, and then I can probably start trying to figure out what I want to do."

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MLB News Archive Index: 2010, 2009


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