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Tejada lends a hand to local kids

Tejada lends a hand to local kids

Miguel Tejada is hosting more than 300 Houston-area children at a baseball camp this week. The camp, which ends Thursday, will allow kids from the Girls and Boys Clubs of Greater Houston to receive instruction from Tejada as well as from Mike Harris of Miracles Baseball Academy.

"Hopefully, through events like these clinics, I can encourage kids to work hard and believe in themselves -- whether they want to play baseball or do something else with their lives," Tejada told The Houston Chronicle.

Victorino, Suzuki get rare meeting outside Hawaii: The series between the A's and the Phillies has given a chance for Hawaii natives Shane Victorino and Kurt Suzuki to renew acquaintances. Victorino went to kindergarten with Suzuki's sister, and the two future Major League players went to rival high schools.

"This doesn't happen very often," Victorino told The San Francisco Chronicle. "It's great. Not only are we from the same island, we're from the same hometown. Our families are close friends, our fathers have worked together. We have a lot of ties, and now, we'll finally be on the field playing against each other."

"It's awesome," Suzuki said. "It shows we have players capable of playing in the big leagues with a lot of hard work. They're blowing this [series] up back in Hawaii, too -- it's great."

Hernandez's blast brings out the record books: Felix Hernandez entered rare territory when he took the first pitch he saw and hit it for an opposite field grand-slam home run Monday night against the Mets. It was the first home run ever by a Mariners pitcher and the first grand slam by an AL pitcher since Steve Dunning did it in 1971.

"That's four RBIs. That's all," Hernandez told The Seattle Times. "I was happy. I said, 'We scored four runs, good. That's all I need, four runs.'

"I closed my eyes anyway. My approach? Just swing."

Vizquel honored by Indians with video highlights: With the Giants in Cleveland for a series against the Indians, the Tribe opted to honor former Cleveland star Omar Vizquel with a pregame video highlight tribute. The 25-minute show included many fabulous Vizquel plays, which had teammates in the Giants' dugout joining the Cleveland fans in clapping.

Vizquel later dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt in the top of the ninth inning to give San Francisco a 3-2 victory and the team's first win in Cleveland since the 1954 World Series.

"No question, I needed to do something good today," Vizquel told The San Francisco Chronicle. "When I saw the squeeze sign I said, 'Oh yes, thank you.'"

Francoeur gets night vision help with contact lens: In an effort to better pick up pitches in night games, Jeff Francoeur has been fitted with a contact lens for his right eye. The vision in that eye has deteriorated since Francoeur was hit by a pitch in the face during a Minor League game in 2004.

"We'll see what happens," Francoeur, who wore the contact lens in Monday night's series opener against Milwaukee, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm near-sighted in my right eye a little since I had surgery [for multiple fractures of his right cheek and orbital bone around the eye]. I'm not making excuses, but I feel like I haven't been able to recognize pitches. I've only got to wear it at night."

Kapler makes an impact in return: Gabe Kapler has been outstanding for the Brewers this season, hitting .311 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. Not bad for a player who was coaching in the Minor Leagues last season in the Boston organization.

"I came into the season believing I could make an impact on this team," Kapler told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I didn't necessarily have any expectation, but there is nothing about what has happened so far that has come as a shock.

"I believe in myself strongly enough to know that there's more coming."

Hamstrings healed, Byrnes back in lineup: Eric Byrnes was back in the lineup Monday night for the Diamondbacks, saying he is nearly 100 percent healthy after spending close to a month on the disabled list with tears in both of his hamstrings. Byrnes says he feels good enough to start trying to steal more bases.

"I was struggling," he told The Arizona Republic. "By the time I went on the DL I could barely jog on a home-run trot. I'm excited to have my legs back underneath me."

Drew brothers hunt for more June success: On Monday night, J.D. Drew and his brother, Stephen, were playing against each other as opponents as the Red Sox battled the Diamondbacks. During the offseason, however, the two seldom talk about baseball. Instead, the conversation usually is about fishing or hunting.

"We hunt a lot in the offseason -- duck, dove, deer. It's fun. It's relaxing," Stephen told The East Valley Tribune. "He killed a big old six-point [buck] in Kansas last year. I got a 10[-pointer], but he was hurt, though. We go back to the farm house and clean them ourselves."

Stephen has 10 home runs, only two shy of his career-high, and has five multi-hit games over the last two weeks. J.D. has 14 home runs, which is already three more than he had last year, and has hit 10 dingers this month to go along with a .394 batting average in June.

Church maps out plan for return from DL: Ryan Church, who is on the disabled list due to effects of a concussion suffered May 20 in Atlanta, could return to the New York Mets lineup soon.

"We have a little plan that's mapped out this week; it all depends on how I react to being able to go out there and do all the baseball activities," Church told The New York Daily News. "It's one of those things where we see how it is [today] and keep progressing from there."

Fasano relishes all of his chances: Sal Fasano, recently acquired by the Indians, says that every time he gets the chance to catch in the Major Leagues, he greatly appreciates the opportunity.

"Every time I get to the big leagues is like the first time to me," he told The Akron Beacon Journal. "It's fun, and it's a challenge. When you start out in this game, you think you're going to be in the Hall of Fame, but it doesn't quite work out. So I like to try and help."

Bukvich to provide depth in bullpen: Ryan Bukvich, after posting a 5-2 record with a 3.45 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk as a starter, was recalled by the Orioles earlier this week and will see action out of the bullpen.

"It's a great opportunity," Bukvich told The Washington Post. "It's a little different situation for me having started and coming in as a long guy. I've been in and out for five years and been a one- or two-inning guy. Now I've had a chance to stretch it out and really learn some stuff. I really feel good about it. I'm just excited to give it a shot."

Mientkiewicz to see familiar faces: Doug Mientkiewicz has a lot of friends on the Yankees -- the team with whom he spent the 2007 season. So, as the Pirates and Yankees square off this week, he's had the chance to look back at his time in the Bronx -- a time he very much enjoyed.

"I have nothing but respect for them, from George Steinbrenner on down," Mientkiewicz told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I loved every minute of my time there. It was an honor to play for the Yankees. The guys I got to play with were the best teammates on Earth. They taught me a lot about what it takes to be expected to win every single game you play."

Nathan eyes Yankee Stadium nod: Joe Nathan has gotten to experience what it's like to be in an All-Star game, having made the team in both 2004 and in 2005. And, he says, he's not about to underestimate how important it is to him -- and his peers -- to be named to the team.

"A lot of guys will say it's not a big deal, but it is. It really is," Nathan told The St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Not only for the event itself, which is great, but because that's what people look at when they assess your career -- he was a so-many-time All-Star, or a Gold Glove winner or whatever."

Staying sharp important to Hall: Catcher Toby Hall knows that his job is to give the White Sox what he has -- both offensively and defensively.

"I've always taken pride in my offense," Hall told The Chicago Tribune. "At this point, I have to learn how to prepare for one game every five or six days. I took it for granted with a lot of backups in the league how tough it is to perform well. I take pride in staying sharp."

Marcum gets good news on elbow: Toronto got some good news about the right elbow of pitcher Shaun Marcum. Dr. James Andrews confirmed that Marcum was suffering from strained ligaments near the elbow and forearm after an examination. Marcum has been given the green light to start throwing as soon as Saturday. Marcum has 2.65 ERA, the third-lowest in the American League. He is also second on the Jays' staff in strikeouts with 86.

According to pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, Marcum has been trying to nurse the strain for a few weeks.

"We knew there was something in there, but it never altered him from pitching," Arnsberg told The Toronto Globe and Mail. "He always took the ball, and we kept guarding it. We told him we had the option of shutting him down if we felt he needed it."

-- Red Line Editorial

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