Players pledge $1 million for Haiti relief
Major Leaguers make commitment to Caribbean nation
Major Leaguers on Thursday pledged a long-term commitment with grants of up to $1 million over five years from the Players Trust to support Haitians in their recovery from the recent earthquake that devastated the island nation.
The Players Trust is making immediate grants of $100,000 each to Esperanza International and Medicines for Humanity -- two existing partners in the region -- to start the process.
"On behalf of all Major League baseball players, it's an honor to pledge our long-term support to the people of Haiti," said Curtis Granderson, one of the trustees of the players' collective charitable foundation. "Haiti faces a long road to recovery and we want to do our part to support the humanitarian efforts of those non-profits committed to this cause."
The Players Trust has collaborated with Esperanza since 2006, growing a microfinance program serving 35,000 women and families in the Dominican Republic. Esperanza has been working in Haiti since 2005 and is leading a coordinated rapid response effort of more than 150 local organizations, providing food packs, water, bedding and hygiene kits to thousands of families. It has established two medical clinics with two more online served by more than 80 doctors and nurses.
"For many years, I have seen firsthand the commitment of the Players Trust to make a difference in the lives of the poor," said David Valle, President, Esperanza International. "Esperanza is honored to serve alongside Major League baseball players in this Herculean effort of assisting those in great need in Haiti."
In keeping with its mission to free children and their families from poverty through initiatives that generate income, education and health, Esperanza also plans to help Haiti's economic development efforts by growing their established microfinance program and providing housing and educational opportunities.
Medicines for Humanity has been a partner of the Players Trust since 2002, providing lifesaving medicines and health services to people in the Dominican Republic, but MFH has also worked to improve maternal and child health in Haiti for more than eight years. MFH is currently supplying its Haitian healthcare partners with medicines and medical supplies, which are critically needed in the aftermath of this disaster.
"For almost a decade, the Players Trust has been at our side helping to save the lives of vulnerable children," said Tim Bilodeau, MFH Executive Director. "This gift, for the relief and restoration of Haiti, demonstrates the on-going commitment of Major League baseball players to reach out where help is needed most."
MFH is also supporting the work of a volunteer medical team that is seeing almost 300 patients each day. MFH will be actively involved in the efforts to rebuild maternal and child health services in Haiti.
The $1 million pledge to Haitians matches the largest financial contribution ever made by the Players Trust. In 2005, the Trust presented a gift of $1 million to launch the Volunteers of America Rental Housing Development Fund. That contribution, along with contributions from other organizations, was used to develop affordable rental housing in the Gulf Coast region.
Last week, the MLBPA joined the NFL Players Association, National Basketball Players Association and National Hockey League Players' Association in the creation of the "One Team 4 Haiti" campaign to support the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund's focus on the country's earthquake relief and recovery efforts.
The campaign launched with a text-message fund-raising effort supporting the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. In the U.S., supporters can text the word "TEAM" to 20222 to donate $10. Canadian supporters can text the word "TEAM" to 20222 to donate $5. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised by the texting campaign will go directly to relief efforts.
The "One Team 4 Haiti" campaign will also promote relief efforts in Haiti by airing public-service announcements featuring professional athletes from all four major North American sports. Albert Pujols, 2009 National League MVP, and Tim Lincecum, the 2009 NL Cy Young Award winner, have recorded the PSA on behalf of the MLBPA.
Arroyo lends a hand to relief in Haiti: Bronson Arroyo is among the individual players helping out with disaster relief in Haiti. The Reds pitcher recently donated three pallets of a milk protein product to the earthquake-shaken country. The three pallets held 10,000 containers, valued at nearly $10,000.
"It's a food product, flavored milk with protein in it. I've used it for the last three years," Arroyo told MLB.com. "It's perfect for that situation. It's whole milk that comes in a disposable container and can last up to a year even when it's hot. Third-world countries don't have enough milk as it is. I thought it was better than just sending money."
The donation was coordinated through a Florida-based charity, "For Haiti, With Love."
Belliard back for another year with Dodgers: The Dodgers re-signed Ronnie Belliard to a one-year contract. Belliard, who joined the Dodgers last August, took over as the club's everyday second baseman down the stretch, including starts in all eight of the club's playoff games.
"We got a professional hitter, as he showed the last month of the season and into the playoffs," general manager Ned Colletti told MLB.com. "He's not afraid of the moment, and he just adds to our versatility."
Izturis agrees to three-year deal with Angels: Maicer Izturis, who has can play second base, third or shortstop, has agreed on a three-year deal with the Angels.
"He's never had the security of a guaranteed contract, much less a multi-year guaranteed contract," agent Peter Greenberg told the Los Angeles Times. "He's very happy."
"He likes the fact the team wins all the time," Greenberg said.
Bush signs with Brewers, eyes spots in rotation: Dave Bush agreed to a one-year contract with the Brewers on Monday. The right-hander said his goal is to land in the starting rotation.
"I expect to be there and be part of the rotation," Bush told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It doesn't make sense to come with any other intention than that. I try to keep my approach simple. I try not to worry about things I can't control. Beyond that, I'm confident that, if healthy, I can pitch successfully."
Webb shaping up nicely after shoulder surgery: Brandon Webb, who missed all but four innings of last season, has been playing catch regularly at Chase Field this offseason as part of his rehab following shoulder surgery. In August, he underwent a "debridement" to clean up his rotator cuff and labrum.
"He looks really good and really comfortable," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch, who has caught Webb a couple of times, told the Arizona Republic. "I saw him throughout his process last year, and, even when he almost got back on the mound, he never looked comfortable.
"He had a floating arm slot. The look on his face -- he just looked like he didn't feel good. You notice immediately that he's a lot more confident. He's not hesitating and waiting for pain to happen."
Atkins prepared for time at first base with Orioles: Garrett Atkins, who has mostly played third base in his career, will be ready to play the opposite corner with the Orioles as needed.
"I played mostly third in Colorado, so I never really took groundballs at first," Atkins told MLB.com. "But first is probably a little bit easier than third. If I'm playing first, I'll probably have to go over there once or twice a week and take groundballs at third.
"It's a little different game [in the American League]. I won't have to field as many bunts as I did in the National League, and, obviously, the pitcher doesn't have to hit. It looks like that will be different, but I'm looking forward to it."
Rockies pleased to have Giambi back: Players on the Rockies were happy to hear that Jason Giambi would return.
"He never gives away an at-bat," first baseman Todd Helton told the Denver Post.
After he joined the Rockies on Sept. 1 last year, Giambi hit .292 with two home runs and 11 RBIs and had a .405 on-base percentage. He collected two game-winning pinch hits in his first two games with the club.
Garland brings durability to Padres' rotation: The Padres are counting on a front-of-the-rotation contribution from Jon Garland, who agreed to a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011 with the club.
"With Jon, there's a great degree of reliability," manager Bud Black told MLB.com. "I've seen Jon since he came through the American League as a young pitcher. I've always liked his style. I've always liked the durability. I liked that he makes his starts, and he toes the rubber every fifth day. And I like his stuff, the heavy sinker. I like the way he attacks hitters."
The right-hander has thrown at least 191 2/3 innings in every season since 2002.
Utley welcomes back former teammate Polanco: Chase Utley is glad to have Placido Polanco back in Philadelphia, noting that he has fond memories of Polanco from a few years back when the two were teammates.
"When we were here kind of platooning a few years ago -- him being the veteran guy -- I guess, if he really wanted to, he could have made the situation uncomfortable for me," Utley told the Philadelphia Daily News. "But he didn't do that at all. He was extremely helpful, trying to help me get better, telling me things that might help me out. When I think back on it, that's pretty cool."
Qualls confident he'll be ready after knee surgery: Chad Qualls believes he is on schedule for Opening Day after having surgery in September to repair a badly damaged left knee.
"I have no doubt in my mind that I'll be ready to go by Opening Day," the Arizona closer told the Arizona Republic. "I'm excited, because I've kind of turned the corner, and I can feel it getting better day by day."
Laird getting extra work in at the plate: Gerald Laird and Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon have worked together this winter to help him improve his production at the plate.
"I talked with Mac about my offense," Laird told MLB.com. "I want to definitely work in the cages and work a lot in the spring, because I know I'm capable of having a better year."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.