• What's it likebeing a major league rookie? Strange sometimes, if you forget you're famous."A couple times walking down the street, a random person has startedlooking at me weird," says Phillies starter Cole Hamels. "I'm like, Oh,shoot. Do I have something on me or something? All of a sudden they're like,'Hey, good job.' You have to step back and go, 'Oh, O.K. Thanks.'" ... InDetroit flamethrowing setup man Joel Zumaya was thrilled to see a fan in aTigers jersey bearing his name above "101"--the speed he's recorded onthe radar gun. "I made sure I signed it for him," says Zumaya (right)."You're treated like a king, but I was brought up humble. That's how I'llstay." ... Rookies, of course, are beloved in Red Sox Nation. "Someonehad me sign their [prosthetic] leg," says Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon(below). "But the strangest thing was when somebody wanted me to sign theirbaby--to sign the stomach with a Sharpie. I did it." Meanwhile, just beingclose to Papelbon's bullpenmate Craig Hansen is enough to draw a crowd. "Mybuddy dropped me off [at Fenway] in my truck," Hansen says. "As he'sleaving, people are swarming him and asking for his autograph."
• Eager to getaccepted by his teammates, Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis keeps a lowprofile. "You don't want to be known as one of those hotheads, a guy whowon't shut up," Markakis says. Third baseman Melvin Mora has taken Markakisunder his wing and gives him advice on topics from pitchers to finance. Morainsists Markakis share the empty extra locker set aside for veterans on roadtrips. (Mora knows about being paternal--he's the father of six kids, includingfive-year-old quintuplets.) ... Twins outfielder Jason Kubel got welcomed moreboisterously after he hit a 12th-inning grand slam on June 13. "I hadGatorade dumped on me by Cuddy [Michael Cuddyer] and Torii [Hunter]," hesays. "It was the most fun I've ever had."
• Angels catcherMike Napoli (far left) loves the high-class transportation--"You get to flywith [just] your team, [and] they come down the aisle with all kinds of foodand drinks"--but being in the Show doesn't change everything. In theminors, says Padres second baseman Josh Barfield, "I ate a lot ofpeanut-butter sandwiches because that's what was put out for pregame meals. Andpostgame meals. I got to dread peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches." And nowthat he has access to big league spreads? "I have [peanut butter] everyday. Why? Because it's a choice now."
August 20, 2006
ROYALS RELIEVERJoe Nelson, 31, and Phillies catcher Chris Coste, 33, each spent more than adecade in the minors before sticking in the bigs this year. "My friendswork 9-to-5 jobs," says Nelson (right, 3.00 ERA). "They always said,'Nelly, don't quit. No matter how bad it is, your job is a million times betterthan any job I've had.' They were right." Coste's hitting .340 but notfeeling secure. "I may not be on the team next year," says Coste(left). "As much as I want to buy something, I can't. My family and I haveone car." Coste and Nelson both like the taste of big league life. SaysNelson, "It's like having strip steak or filet mignon. Once you get filet,that's all you'll order the rest of your life."