Tag:Aaron Boone
Posted on: April 23, 2009 12:29 am
Edited on: April 23, 2009 12:30 am

Aaron Boone: Post-surgery progressing well

Four weeks after open-heart surgery, Houston infielder Aaron Boone is thrilled with his progress.

Why, on Wednesday afternoon, he even drove himself to a haircut appointment, the grocery store and to "a very light workout" near his home in the Phoenix area.

"The big thing is fighting fatigue," Boone said during a telephone conversation Wednesday afternoon. "The first two weeks, the littlest things would make you tired."


The guy isn't quite ready to play nine innings yet, but he's making very steady progress.

And he hopes to play nine -- or, at least, a few innings -- before this season ends.

Boone, 36, was diagnosed in college with a congenital defect in his heart where the valve had two -- not the normal three -- cusps to manage blood flow. He had it checked every year, but it wasn't until this spring that his cardiologist determined that it had reached the point where he needed to have it repaired.

So he left Houston's camp in March, and surgeons replaced his bicuspid aortic valve at Stanford University.

He's not supposed to lift anything heavier than five pounds during the first six weeks, and he can gradually increase that between the sixth and the 12th weeks following surgery. He's on blood thinners now for a little while longer, and he's looking forward to getting through these first 12 weeks following surgery.

"By 12 weeks, you can do whatever you want," he says. "I'm even thinking about trying to play later this year. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. But it would be cool to show myself I can do it."

The Astros, he says, have been in very close contact.

"Houston has been awesome," Boone says. "They've treated me like I've been there for 12 years. I'm really appreciative."

He's also been inundated with well wishes from throughout baseball.

"It's been overwhelming," Boone says. "I'm so appreciative of the number of messages from very close friends and family, and the random people who have called. It's been very touching."

He was hoping to travel to Houston for the Astros' next homestand -- May 6-10 against the Cubs and San Diego -- but he probably will have to wait for the following homestand (May 19-24) unless he acquires an assistant in the next several days.

See, it's difficult to travel when you're still under doctors' orders not to lift more than five pounds.

Here's wishing Boone the very best, a complete recovery and a return to the field this season, if that's what he wants.

And in the meantime, whenever his playing days are finished, I know of one talent he's got that definitely should keep him involved in the game. Check it out here.

Likes: Aaron Boone making a strong recovery. Best news of the day. ... The Detroit News' Tom Gage and his excellent piece on the late Mark Fidrych. ... The Pirates, winning? Really? You go, Buccos. Look forward to seeing them soon. ... David Newhan signing with the Phillies as a player-coach at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... You can never go wrong with Rubio's Fish Tacos.

Dislikes: Brutal scoring decision in the first inning in Anaheim on Wednesday night when Tigers right fielder Ryan Raburn butchered a Maicer Izturis fly ball. Inexplicably, it went as a double instead of a two-base error. Worst scoring decision I've seen in a long, long time. And making it worse, three batters later, Kendry Morales blasted a three-run homer when Justin Verlander should have been out of the inning. Ugh. ... I really like Amy Poehler, but from what I saw of her new show the other night, Parks and Recreation, she's finally met something that can make her not funny. And that's really hard to do.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"So buy this fool some spirits and libations
"It's these railroad station bars
"With all these conductors and the porters
"And I'm all out of quarters
"And this epitaph is the aftermath
"Yeah I choose my path"

-- Tom Waits, Bad Liver and a Broken Heart



Posted on: March 29, 2009 2:48 pm

Cubs name Gregg as closer

 MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Kevin Gregg has won the Cubs' closer job, with Carlos Marmol being relegated to the set-up duties he performed last season for Kerry Wood.

"We said we'd let both pitchers compete in the spring, and both have pitched very well," Piniella said Sunday morning after informing Gregg and Marmol of the decision. "I'm fortunate that I have two pitchers I have confidence in."

Piniella was being generous to Marmol in his assessment of the spring. While Gregg hasn't allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings this spring (four hits, 10 strikeouts, one walk), Marmol has allowed four runs in eight innings and, most noticeably, has had difficulty with his command. Marmol has hit five batters during his eight innings.

"I think, leaving spring training, we're a better team the way we put this together," said Piniella, whose Cubs open next Monday in Houston. "Now, what we have to do with Marmol in the set-up role is find a couple of pitchers who can help him so we can get to where we don't have to used him as much as we did (early) last year."

Veteran Aaron Heilman, who should see a lot of work in the seventh innings, figures prominently in that mix. Piniella also mentioned Luis Vizcaino and lefty Neal Cotts. Right-handers Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija are two others who could factor in, but the Cubs aren't certain how the last spot or two in their bullpen will shake out.

Gregg, 30, compiled 61 saves over the past two seasons combined for the Florida Marlins. Marmol, 26, has eight career saves -- seven last year. Though Piniella did not mention the World Baseball Classic as factoring into the decision, Marmol spent part of this spring away from Cubs camp, pitching for the Dominican Republic. He struggled there as well, blowing a save opportunity in the Dominican Republic's 2-1 loss to The Netherlands.

"I told him the better he does his job, the better we'll be as a team," Piniella said of his message to Marmol. "I told him not to be disappointed, that there will be plenty of opportunities down the road for him for him to close. I told him to improve and maintain, and a lot of good things will happen for him in his career."

Besides, in a perfect Cubs world, if they win as often as they hope, Marmol may still get a chance to close at times because Piniella hopes to refrain from using Gregg more than two or three days in a row.

Of course, worse-case scenario is that Gregg stumbles early and a full-blown controversy develops.

"We're not going to tiptoe through the tulips with this thing," Piniella said. "We've made our decision. We're going to give (Gregg) every chance to succeed, and I'm sure he will."

Piniella added: "I couldn't go wrong either way, I really couldn't. I thought about this for a long time. It's tough to bring a young man into this office like that (and tell Marmol he lost the job), especially someone who's played such a big role in our success."

Likes: How can you beat this upcoming week: Bruce Springsteen's new tour kicking off on Wednesday night, the Final Four games on Saturday, Braves at Phillies in the season opener on Sunday, 28 major-league clubs opening on Monday and then the NCAA championship hoops game on Monday night. If you can't find some things to smile about in there, you may as well give it up. ... Aaron Boone continuing to do well following open-heart surgery last week. ... Clubs like the Cubs making final roster decisions. ... Jordan Zimmerman in the Washington Nationals' April rotation. Why not? What, they've got somebody both more experienced AND better. ... Villanova. What a great, gutsy team.

Dislikes: Watching Pittsburgh (and so much of the Big East, for that matter) play basketball. Grab, push, shove, hip-check ... it's all brawn, little artistry. But the Panthers sure do have onions, as television commentator Bill Raftery would say.

Sunblock day? Partly cloudy on Sunday in the desert, actually. I suppose it sunblock wouldn't hurt, but it's been on the cool side.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey Frank, won't you pack your bags
"And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall
"Just one kiss from you my brother
"And we'll ride until we fall
"We'll sleep in the fields
"We'll sleep by the rivers
"And in the morning we'll make a plan
"Well, if you can't make it
"Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive
"If you can
"And meet me in a dream of this hard land"

-- Bruce Springsteen, This Hard Land




Posted on: March 27, 2009 7:20 pm

Get well soon, Aaron Boone

 I don't know if the day will come when we'll again see infielder Aaron Boone in a Houston uniform -- or any other big league uniform, for that matter.

But I'm really looking forward to the day when we again see Boone around a major-league park. Because I'm sure we will, and with the terrific news this week that he's made it through open-heart surgery at Stanford University and is doing well, it will only be a matter of time.

Few folks in the game are as classy as Boone. We worked together two falls ago, doing post-game World Series video analysis during the Boston-Colorado sweep, and as I knew it would be, it was a pleasure. He was effort-less and charming, as always. He was interested in the entire process, and willing to do whatever was asked.

And when I blew the opening of the very first video we did by introducing him as "former infielder Aaron Boone", not only was he not insulted, but he about choked on his gum. He thought it was too funny. And, of course, he didn't let me forget it.

It always has taken a lot to penetrate Boone's cool.

And cool has always emanated from one of baseball's good guys.

This is a guy who was on top of the world after pushing the Yankees into the World Series with his ALCS-winning home run against Boston in Game 7 in 2003.

And a guy who then ripped up his knee playing basketball that winter and told the Yankees exactly what had happened, costing himself millions. And the Yankees, suddenly in need of a third baseman, later that winter traded for a fella named ... Rodriguez. Alex.

But Boone's best humanitarian moment by far came when Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy, who had covered the Cincinnati Reds for four decades for the Dayton Daily News, suffered a degenerative eye condition that resulted in him being legally blind.

McCoy determined to continue working, but became despondent that spring when he was in the clubhouse and realized he couldn't see well enough to pick out players who literally weren't standing in front of him.

Boone noticed something amiss with McCoy and approached him. Hal said he thought he was going to quit. Boone then delivered an impassioned pep talk, telling McCoy that the players would help him, that he was too good to leave and that Boone didn't ever want to hear McCoy using the word "quit" again.

Six years later, McCoy is still covering the Reds.

Six years from now, Booney, we'd better see you back in the game, too.

Get well soon, pal..


Aside to the gentleman who left the comment under my blog the other day: The late George Kell and Ernie Harwell did work together on Tigers television and radio broadcasts between 1960 and 1963. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to comment.

Likes: New Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu has the best posture of any manager I've ever seen. He cuts a trim figure, anyway, but he stands as straight as a piece of plywood while working the fields during drills. ... Chris Getz winning the White Sox's second base job. ... The San Diego Padres in the process of being sold. ... Yours truly nailing 15 of the Sweet 16 teams on his brackets. Figures, this is the year I'm not in a pool where I can win money. ... A Three Stooges movie is enticing enough, but Sean Penn as one of the stars? Now this I've got to see. ... Danica McKellar, even if she just did get married earlier this month. The only other girl I've had a crush on since meeting my wife. How could you not if you watched The Wonder Years? Ah, Winnie Cooper. What a fabulous, fabulous show.

Dislikes: Man, was it windy here Thursday night. Not just windy, but howling, gale-force, devil winds. The internet in my hotel was out by 8 p.m. I called downstairs and the guy just basically said, "Forget it. It's out. Too windy, mon." ... Aw, did you see where Dan Seals, the Dan part of England Dan and John Ford Coley, passed away? You couldn't avoid I'd Really Love to See You Tonight if you heard any radio at all in the late 1970s. How many times was that the background music for dates?

Sunblock Day? Barely. That wind brought a chill to the desert. Sunny day, but very cool. Good blue jeans weather. Forget shorts.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I won't ask for promises
"So you won't have to lie
"We've both played this game before
"Say I love you then say goodbye"

-- England Dan and John Ford Coley, I'd Really Love to See You Tonight



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com