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Baseball Sunday: Around the horn

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Next big call-ups

On Sunday, Kansas City called up right-hander Luke Hochevar, the first player taken in the 2006 draft, to fill a spot in its rotation.

Five other prospects that figure to find their way to the big leagues soon:

— Left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw is at Class AA Jacksonville only because the Dodgers don't want him to pitch in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

— Center fielder Jay Bruce of the Reds is the best prospect in the game.

— Arizona right-handed prospect Max Scherzer hasn't even been in pro ball for a year, but with a legit 97-mph fastball, he'll be in the rotation shortly.

— Left fielder Chase Headley of the Padres is making the transition from third base at AAA Portland.

— Center fielder Colby Rasmus is the one impact prospect in the Cardinals system.

Ray for a day

Dan Johnson, claimed off waivers from Oakland, proved to be an expensive insurance policy for Tampa Bay. He was in uniform only one game before being designated for assignment after the Rays acquired outfielder Gabe Gross from Milwaukee. The St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin figures it cost the club about $40,000 to sit him on the bench for that one day.

Pie in the face

Mariners closer J.J. Putz came off the disabled list and got a save Tuesday. He thought he avoided getting a shaving-cream pie in the face ... until pitcher Mark Lowe burst from his hiding place behind some shirts in Putz's locker and nailed him. Check out the hilarious video on YouTube.

Quotable I

The lovable losers, the Cubs, become just the second franchise, after the Giants, to reach 10,000 wins in their history. "It was a tough first 10,000 wins. I hope the next 10,000 are easier," joked shortstop Ryan Theriot.

Quotable II

"I already got a text from (Greg) Maddux that said I've lost a hair for every strikeout I've made." — Atlanta right-hander John Smoltz after becoming the 16th pitcher in history to strike out 3,000 batters.

TOP 10

Team . . . . . Last week

1. Arizona Diamondbacks . . . . . 1

Leading the league in runs

2. Chicago Cubs . . . . . 3

10-4 in the friendly confines

3. Boston Red Sox . . . . . 2

Dice-K off to a great start (3.24 ERA)

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim . . . . . 7

Triple-A Bees could be decent in MLB

5. Chicago White Sox . . . . . 6

.500 this week, still leading division

6. Oakland Athletics . . . . . 8

Tied with the Angels atop the AL West

7. Florida Marlins . . . . . —

Back on top in the NL East

8. St. Louis Cardinals . . . . . 4

Only won 4 of last 10

9. Milwaukee Brewers . . . . . 9

Has 14 pitchers on roster

10. Baltimore Orioles . . . . . —

Yeah, those Baltimore Orioles

Dropped out: N.Y. Mets, Yankees — Aaron Morton


Sick of waiting for Troy Tulowitzki to hit his weight? Tired of endlessly monitoring Adam LaRoche to see when he'll surpass .150? Here's some advice: Dump them. If you want to finish in last, drop your slumping hitters in April, or better yet, trade them for players of equal or lesser skills who are off to good starts.

Edgar Renteria (.341-3-14) has been much, much better than Tulowitzki (.167-1-10). If you want to miss out on Tulowitzki coming out of his slump, by all means trade him now for someone like Renteria, who is on pace to hit 25 home runs. So what if his career high is 16?

LaRoche (.127-1-3) hit .133 last April and went on to hit a respectable .272 with nearly 90 RBIs. That means he hit .296 from May 1 on with strong run production. You wouldn't want someone like that on your roster, would you? — Associated Press