Here are some of the notable quotes from around Major League Baseball this week:
"I felt good. Mentally I was as good as I've ever been; you have to be when you've had a layoff."
-- Braves pitcher John Smoltz reflecting on his first start back from the disabled list Wednesday in which he tossed shutout ball over seven innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"I think he had an opportunity to learn a lot by watching the way [Scot] Shields and [Brendan] Donnelly and myself went after hitters. [Gregg] is really attacking hitters. I hope he learned some of that from us."
-- Cardinals reliever Troy Percival on the success of former Angels teammate Kevin Gregg with the Marlins. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"This kid is great. What kind of third base did this kid play today? Just unbelievable. He probably saved about seven runs today."
-- Nationals manager Manny Acta on third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who made three key plays in the field in Washington's 7-6 win over Houston Wednesday. (Washington Post)
"I'm not a contract player. I'm a young guy just playing, trying to earn a spot and keep a spot. There's nothing guaranteed, playing my position. I've got to go out and earn a spot and fight for what I got. They've preferred, the last couple of years, a more veteran staff and team here. And it's a case where they can fit in young players and fit the mold of what they're trying to do."
-- Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier on trying to play last year with an injured shoulder. (Los Angeles Times)
"People got their money's worth last night in one at-bat. He's exciting. He's like the action hero and the villain at the same time, you know. That's what people come to the ballpark to see. They want to see Barry swing the bat. And last night he did and hit a ball hard."
-- Cubs manager Lou Piniella on Barry Bonds' pinch-hit appearance Tuesday night which ended in a line-drive out. (San Francisco Chronicle)
"I don't think one player means everything for a team. But I think in this case, especially because even though those pitchers are pretty good, they've thrown the ball pretty well the last three years because of Jason. He's a big part of that. He really knows how to call pitches back there."
-- Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera on the impact of the A's trading catcher Jason Kendall. (Los Angeles Times)
"This has always been my favorite place to play. I'm just as excited as can be. This is a good change of scenery for me, being back in the National League. I'm fired up."
-- Newly acquired Chicago Cubs catcher Jason Kendall, on his trade from Oakland to Chicago. Kendall previously played in the National League with the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Chicago Tribune)
"Obviously, you want to get in there as soon as you can. My heart was beating fast. But now I've got my feet wet and I can go about it like it's another game."
-- Cleveland Indians rookie pitcher Jensen Lewis, who made his Major League debut on Tuesday in the Indians' game against the White Sox, on what it felt like to finally get the chance to pitch in the Majors. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
"I'm going to start another streak."
-- Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada, currently out with a broken hand, on his desire to get back into the Orioles lineup and stay there. Tejada recently had his streak of 1,152 consecutive games snapped when he suffered the injury to his hand. (Baltimore Sun)
"I tell you there's nothing like a long homestand. It's so refreshing to come home after a long road trip knowing you are going to see your family and have everything you need around you. The All-Star break and this last series vs. the A's really helped me recharge and get ready to play the second half. We are entering the dog days of summer right about now and it can get grueling so it's nice to get as much rest as we can."
-- Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Neshek on the importance of rest and comfort on getting through a season." (Pat Neshek Player Blog)
"It's almost time to get a live chicken down there [in the bullpen]. If not somebody else, it's me. We have to turn something around."
-- Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, on the recent struggles in the White Sox bullpen. (Chicago Tribune)
"It was like that old Alabama defense -- bend but don't break."
-- Cincinnati Reds reliever David Weathers, using a college football reference to describe the Reds' win Tuesday, in which they nearly blew a big lead before hanging on for a 6-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves. Weathers, who wears an Alabama Crimson Tide shirt under his jersey, was citing a well-known philosophy of former Alabama defensive coordinator Joe Kines. (Cincinnati Post)
"That game was one of the best experiences I've had in my baseball career. The ovation that I received from the fans, having it in our beautiful ballpark in front of the hometown fans was an honor for me and it was a lot of fun."
-- Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Freddy Sanchez, an All-Star in both 2006 and 2007, on the biggest difference between being selected this season when the game was in San Francisco and last year when it was in Pittsburgh. (MLBPlayers.com)
"It was awesome. It was a pretty neat deal that we got to go out there and walk through the plane and see the president's quarters where he sleeps, his office and sit in his chair in his office he works from. It's neat to see the amount of things you can actually put into a plane and what they have to move the president around."
-- Houston Astros reliever Chad Qualls, commenting on his tour of Air Force One Monday in Washington. (Houston Chronicle)
"It feels like my mechanics are in sync and everything feels good coming out of my hand. I'm definitely ready to get back and close some games. We need to start winning games, and hopefully I can get a lot of opportunities to help us win."
-- Houston Astros reliever Brad Lidge on how he feels after coming off the disabled list Friday. Lidge, who earned his first save of the season Tuesday night, has thrown three scoreless innings with six strikeouts since his return to the active roster. (Houston Chronicle)
"If you're happy, you pitch well. In the beginning of the year, everybody asked me why I was so happy, and I said because they had great chocolate chip cookies. I was in heaven. Gain a couple pounds and start doing well."
-- San Diego Padres reliever Heath Bell, crediting the cookies served in the Padres' clubhouse for the success he has had on the mound this season. (Newsday)
"I'm excited to be doing something -- getting that opportunity to come out here, get working, and finally do something instead of sitting around. The biggest thing is try not to go fast, but I want to go fast enough where I can hopefully come back and make a difference."
-- New York Yankees first baseman/designated hitter Jason Giambi on starting to work out in Tampa in hopes of returning to the Yankees lineup soon. (Newsday)
"I don't try to hit the big one. I don't think the club is asking me to do that. I just try to hit the ball hard and get singles. The guys behind me will get the big hits. I'm just there to put pressure on the opponent."
-- Colorado second baseman Kaz Matsui, explaining his approach at the plate when runners are on base. Matsui leads the Rockies in batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position, hitting better than .475. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
"I just try to drive the ball. Where I get in trouble is where I try to feel for it. (The approach) has to be in accordance to your strengths. It's a feel thing more than anything. I try not to get away from what I do, and hopefully I can be successful with that."
-- San Diego shortstop Khalil Greene, commenting on aggressive approach he takes at the plate. Greene's 16th home run on Saturday broke his own club record for homers by a shortstop and he is currently the team leader. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.