"Ripken and McGwire were good players, and I played with a young Mike Piazza in Los Angeles, but out of all those guys, Sammy is the most unselfish, most exciting player," DeShields said. "Just because you are one of the top players in the game, you can't distance yourself from your teammates. You've got to make the other people around you better.
"Sammy does that better than anyone I've played with. When he walks in here, this is a better team. He makes everybody better in this room. It's not just statistics with him. He leads by example. He doesn't just pile up 60 homers and 140 RBIs and it doesn't mean anything. Look at all the stuff he does, and it helps us win games."
There was speculation that Ken Griffey Sr. resigned his coaching position with the Cincinnati Reds because he was tired of all the public abuse that has been heaped on his son during the early weeks of spring training.
Ken Griffey Jr. has been the target of criticism from several former Reds, most notably infielder Pokey Reese, but that apparently was not the reason his father asked to move into the Reds' front office as special assistant to GM Jim Bowden.
Griffey Sr. said on his radio show recently that he left because of a perceived lack of respect in the Reds' coaching hierarchy that dates back a couple of years. The frustration just bubbled up this spring and he decided to get out of the clubhouse.
Indians manager Charlie Manuel has no trouble putting baseball in its proper perspective, as evidenced by his response when someone asked him about the pressure of managing on a one-year contract after the departure of offensive stars Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton.
"There's no pressure in baseball," he said. "Pressure is when they're getting ready to cut on you for open-heart surgery and they tell you they're going to take your heart out and put it on a table. Or when they tell you they're going to put your colon in a plastic bag so they can do surgery. That's pressure. Baseball is fun."
Manuel knows of what he speaks. He has had both open-heart and intestinal surgery.
Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.