It’s been a couple of weeks since the 30th anniversary of Hank Aaron’s historic 715th home run and the accompanying tributes, but Barry Bonds’ exploits tend to keep the top of the all-time chart in the news. With homers in seven straight games and counting at this writing, Bonds has blown past Willie Mays at number three like the Say Hey Kid was standing still, which–
You have to be strong offensively up the middle to win championships. I hear this all the time. The theory is that it’s harder to find premium players at catcher, second base, shortstop, and center field, and that once you’ve done so, finding the fill-in guys around the edges is much easier. This seems to make sense at first glance: There are so many guys in the majors (and minors) that could play a decent left field while hitting well that teams have to stack them like cordwood outside their Triple-A parks. And 1B/DH types are so plentiful it’s silly. But has that worked lately?
Andy Pettitte isn’t getting the attention of Mark Prior (more on him in the DMPU), but there are some inconsistencies in the story that the Astros are telling. Most of the concern has been focused on the UCL, but Pettitte’s described pain in his flexor tendon as well. Continued tenderness proves that the cortisone shot wasn’t enough to eliminate symptoms. The Astros will be watching his Friday spring training game closely.
The rehab on Joe Mauer is going well. Coming off minor knee surgery, Mauer is already hitting off a tee–or more likely his own swing trainer–and has had no setbacks. Expect him to come back toward the four-week mark due to caution and the hot streak that Henry Blanco is on. The Twins realize there’s no need to rush their prized catcher back.
The news is worse for Torii Hunter. His hamstring is not responding as expected, keeping from being able to run normally. Instead of being activated on Thursday, the Twins will wait a day and retest the leg. This delay would also allow Hunter to come back to grass rather than the new turf in the Dome. Several players I’ve spoken with, from various teams, are not fond of that new turf. Luckily, Lew Ford is giving the Twins room to be careful with Hunter.
Barry Bonds didn’t hit a home run last night, and that makes me happy.
Don’t get me wrong; I haven’t climbed aboard the Hate Barry! bandwagon. I think Bonds is a remarkable baseball player, someone who I enjoy watching whenever I can. He’s reached that level where no matter what I happen to be doing, I stop to watch his at-bats.
No, it’s just that the record is held in part by a player whose at-bats also used to dictate my movements: Don Mattingly. Mattingly made history by roping homers in eight straight games in July of 1987. If you’ve read this column for a while, you know that Mattingly is my all-time favorite player. I’m glad to see him hold his distinction, his place in history, for a bit longer. Records are made to be broken; I just don’t need to see this particular piece of my adolescence shattered.