Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 7:17 pm
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Quick glimpse, small sample. Two innings, first impression:
Yu Darvish's Japanese legacy and World Baseball Classic dominance looked for one day Wednesday like they will translate beautifully into the major leagues.
Or, if you prefer, you could take it beyond one spring outing.
"They're going back to the postseason," Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson said of a Rangers team with Darvish in their rotation. "That's a no-brainer."
Darvish surrendered two hits -- doubles to Hudson and Will Venable -- no runs and whiffed three Padres in Texas' 6-3 Cactus League win on a cold, windy Arizona afternoon.
He rose to the occasion when needed, handcuffing the Padres to 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position. He backed off when the situation suggested, getting Carlos Quentin to swing out of his spikes with a 79 m.p.h. curve to end the first.
He threw first-pitch strikes to seven of eight batters faced, including each of the first six major league hitters he saw. He got nine swing-and-misses, and threw 26 strikes and just 10 balls.
He does not dawdle like Daisuke Matsuzaka, and he does not nibble like C.J. Wilson. He comes right at hitters, and he's got the stuff to do it.
"He's got some deception and he's got some velocity," Texas' Michael Young said. "If he commands the heater, he's going to get outs."
Scouts said he threw six different pitches: Two variations of his fastball, two types of curveballs, a slider and a change-up. Texas catcher Yorvit Torrealba says he throws seven pitches. In a game in which everything plays off of the fastball and changing speeds, though, who really can count?
"At one point, I was thinking about taking my glove off and using two hands" to flash signals while calling pitches, Torrealba joked.
With a fastball that hit 95 and an even slower curve than the one Quentin saw, clocked at 67 m.p.h. to Will Venable, Darvish possesses an exceptional ability to keep hitters off-balance. His fastball ranged from 92 to 95 m.p.h.
Though Hudson yanked a double between Young and second baseman Ian Kinsler in the first, it was Venable's booming double in the second that was the attention-getter. Venable blasted a 2 and 2 fastball some 420 feet off of the batter's eye in dead center.
Not only was it the hardest-hit ball against Darvish, the moment also later provided some pretty good insight into just how stubborn, determined and proud Darvish is.
"The dry air in Arizona and the wind blowing out carried the ball pretty far," Darvish said through an interpreter. "To me, it didn't seem that it was hit very squarely."
To which, a couple of Padres called bull. Mark Kotsay chortled that during his 16 years in the majors, he hasn't seen a ball blasted 400-and-some feet high off of a "50-foot wall" that wasn't exactly, um, smoked.
"Maybe his perception of reality isn't as right on as ... I don't know," Venable said. "No comment."
Translation: Yes, Venable thought, he not only squared that fastball up, he CRUSHED it.
So file that one away. If Darvish is as dismissive of other hitters who take a bite out of him as he was of Venable, well, some awfully entertaining rivalries are about to be born. Or, a bit of a humbling process is about to begin.
Mostly, Darvish said, he was happy to get his first Cactus League start out of the way. He said his teammates teased him a little about being nervous before the game, and "I told them, no, I'm not." He was very happy with the way his secondary pitches were working, though he acknowledged that throwing into the teeth of a strong wind aids the movement of his pitches.
He opened some eyes with two impressive defensive plays, showing some quickness while covering first base on one play and leaping high to grab a high chopper up the middle. He threw home, and Torrealba tagged the runner coming in from third.
Defense-loving Texas manager Ron Washington said those plays were the most impressive things he saw the 6-5 Darvish do.
"That's a big Asian dude," Hudson said. "What's that guy who played basketball for the Rockets? Yao Ming? I looked at him and thought, that dude is big. ...
"Watching him on TV I thought, he's big. Then when I saw him, I thought he's not as big as I thought. Then I got to the plate and I thought, damn."
Hudson had no qualms about admitting his excitement to face Darvish. He said he even had trouble sleeping Tuesday night.
Interestingly, the Rangers picked up on Hudson's eagerness.
"I thought Hudson grinded out his at-bat," pitching coach Mike Maddux said of Hudson's first-inning double. "It looked like one of those emotional at-bats where it's like, 'I'm going to show this guy.'"
One other impression: Darvish worked both innings entirely from the stretch, not the wind-up. Even with nobody on base. He works both ways randomly, he said.
Maddux said he was given two DVDs, one from a game last July in which Darvish worked from the stretch, another from a game last October in which he worked entirely from the windup.
"The biggest pitches you make come from the stretch," Maddux said. "If you want to hone that craft, by all means, I'm all for it."
Hone it Darvish did, as his homeland studied through a microscope. Four different networks beamed Darvish's two innings back to Japan live, according to Rangers' PR guru John Blake. ESPN News showed the first four hitters live. Some 150 media members packed the press box in what had to be some sort of Cactus League record.
Yeah, you could see why Darvish and the Rangers were just as happy to get this one behind them.
As the Padres' Hudson said, that's a whole lot on the back of a 25-year-old who is moving to a new country to change jobs, no matter how talented he is. First time you surrender a home run, everyone wants to know what happened. First time you get knocked out of the box after three innings, everyone demands explanations.
Of course, that all comes with $111.7 million -- the $60 mil the Rangers are paying Darvish, and the $51.7 mil posting fee.
"Ichiro kind of set the bar high getting 900 hits a year," Hudson said. "[Darvish] has got to go win a Cy Young."
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:15 pm
If the Twins do opt to deal Jim Thome, who reportedly is on waivers through Thursday, it's hard to imagine a better way for Thome's career to end than him taking one last victory lap in Cleveland.
Thome certainly would fit with the Indians, with Travis Hafner possibly out for the season with a foot injury.
But here's a thought: What if another of Thome's ex-teams is in position to claim him first?
Hello, disappointing Chicago White Sox.
Any interest there?
"I'd love to have Jim Thome back," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said before Tuesday night's series opener against the Angels in Anaheim. "I've said day-in and day-out, he's one of my favorite guys in baseball.
"But that's up to Kenny [Williams, Sox general manager]."
The Sox are still hanging in there in a tepid AL Central in the midst of a disappointing, mediocre (63-63) season.
Free agent slugger Adam Dunn (.169, 11 homers, 40 RBI) has been one of the game's most disappointing players. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski currently is on the disabled list with a fractured wrist. Outfielder Carlos Quentin (.255, 24 homers, 77 RBI) was out of the starting lineup for a second consecutive game Tuesday with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder suffered Saturday against Texas.
"If you ask anybody wearing this uniform if they would want Jim Thome back, they would say, 'Yes'," Guillen said.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 5:49 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 6:20 pm
Looking for an outfield bat, the Braves are engaging the Padres in trade discussions regarding Ryan Ludwick, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.
Ludwick is not the only outfielder with whom the Braves are exploring a trade, but they are described as having significant interest in the 33-year-old. The Braves also have talked about Oakland's Josh Willingham, the White Sox's Carlos Quentin, Houston's Hunter Pence and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton.
The difference is that Ludwick and Willingham will cost less than Pence, Quentin and Upton.
Ludwick was held out of San Diego's lineup Thursday afternoon against Arizona, though manager Bud Black brushed off any suggestion that it was because a trade was imminent. The Padres acquired Ludwick from St. Louis at last year's trade deadline during a surprising season in which they won 90 games.
However, Ludwick was a bitter disappointment down the stretch in 2010 (.211, six homers, 26 RBIs in 239 plate appearances). While he's been better in 2011 (.238, 11, 62 in 412 plate appearances), he clearly is not in San Diego's future plans. A free agent this winter, it is believed that Ludwick will seek something in the neighborhood of a three-year deal. With his game not translating well in Petco Park, the Padres are not interested.
Willingham is hitting .240 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs for an Oakland team that long ago fell out of the race this summer.
There are two problems with the White Sox's Quentin, whom the Braves really like and have serious interest in:
One, he's more expensive than Ludwick or Willingham, according to sources. And, two, the Tigers apparently refuse to allow the White Sox to become full-blown sellers. Detroit lost again on Thursday, this time to the Angels, allowing idle Chicago to pull to within three games of the AL Central lead despite a 51-52 record. The White Sox are only two games behind Detroit in the loss column.
As for Pence, his market has exploded since San Francisco traded for Carlos Beltran. My colleague Danny Knobler writes that the Braves, Phillies and several other clubs checked in with the Astros on Thursday.
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Posted on: May 26, 2009 10:56 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2009 11:08 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Chicago White Sox had used 33 different lineups in their first 44 games heading into Tuesday night's contest against the Los Angeles Angels, and with outfielder Carlos Quentin headed back to Chicago for tests on his sore left foot Wednesday, manager Ozzie Guillen is going to have to keep juggling.
Quentin felt something pop in his left foot on Monday night. He will re-join the team in Kansas City on Friday, and the White Sox hope it's for active duty. But there remains a chance that Quentin, who has been bothered by plantar fasciitis for much of the season, will land on the disabled list.
"It's too early to say how it's going to be, how it will react," Guillen said. "We're (playing it) by ear."
Guillen said that part of the treatment prescribed by doctors is to place Quentin's foot in a cast for a couple of days until it calms down.
"It's hard to come to the field every day (asking) can you play or can you not play?" Guillen said of Quentin, who finished fifth in last year's American League Most Valuable Player voting after a season in which he slammed 36 homers and had 100 RBI. "I'd rather have him shut it down for good (until he's full speed).
"Carlos is the type of guy who wants to be on the field. He might try to play through soreness or pain just to be on the field. That doesn't work because the more pain you have, the more days you're going to lose."
The Sox seem to have passed that point already. Quentin, hitting just .229, has been playing with a sore left foot for quite awhile.
"I don't know the exact date, but it's gone on awhile, a good many days," White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker said. "He's limped into the batting cage several times.
"I don't think that's been his only issue, but it's been bothering him."
Quentin started off hot, tying a club record with seven home runs in Chicago's first 12 games. But he's batted only .193 with one homer and seven RBI over his past 26 games.
"He's a max-effort guy," Walker said. "Early on, he was swinging the bat great. He didn't have a lot of numbers, but he had home runs. But he's also had a lot of bad luck, and I don't say that lightly. Usually, when Carlos squares a ball up it's hit so hard that nobody can get to it."
Quentin missed five games between May 16 and 20. Now, he and the Sox, who have been shut out a major-league high six times, appear to be at another crossroads.
"I've got to sit down in Kansas City with him and Kenny (Williams, Sox general manager) and make sure he's honest with us," Guillen said.
Likes: This New York Times story from Saturday on the makers of the Zamboni. ... You know, I've gotta be honest here: There are far worse things than a Taylor Swift concert. Took my daughter and her friends Saturday night. I like that Swift writes her own lyrics and seems to have some actual talent and things to say, as opposed to, oh, I don't know ... Britney Spears, perhaps. ... Biking along the Pacific Coast Highway through Carlsbad, Leucadia and the funky beach areas. ... The grilled salmon with the rub that includes chili powder, cocoa and sugar we made for dinner on Memorial Day.
Dislikes: Oh no, Tigers radio broadcaster Dan Dickerson injured in a jogging accident Tuesday in Kansas City, badly enough that he wasn't in the booth? Get well soon, my friend. I hope it's not as bad as it sounds. ... Ugly play in Wrigley Field the other night, Pittsburgh closer Matt Capps taking that line drive off of his elbow. ...
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"If I had a million dollars (If I had a million dollars)
-- Barenaked Ladies, If I Had $1,000,000
Posted on: September 25, 2008 9:39 pm
MINNEAPOLIS -- You don't hear the term nearly as often as you do the phrase "stretch-run" or "pennant race", but baseball men for years have had a fond way of describing the pressure in these final days of the season.
And it was the White Sox's whose were on the chopping block as they looked to avoid a sweep and allowing the Twins to move past them into first place in the AL Central.
"These games mean more," Williams was saying. "You've got to play better. We controlled our destiny when we came to Minnesota. If we fool around and don't win tonight's game, we don't control our own destiny.
"There's no need to dissect it anymore."
What was on the line for the White Sox, trying to hang onto first base, was clear.
"It would be a shame, with all the things we've had to go through, the criticisms and doubts, Scott Linebrink going down, Carlos Quentin, Joe Crede, all those things ... it would be a shame to walk in here in control of our own destiny and not close it out.
"The fact of the matter is, you've got to do it on the field."
Likes: Stat of the day, computed by crack Yankees beat man Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger: Carl Pavano threw what surely was his last game as a "Yankee" in Toronto on Thursday night (note, very far away from the playoff race) and at the expiration of his $39.95 million deal, it essentially paid Pavano $1,536,538.46 per start (26), $4,438,888.89 per win (9), $274,256.29 per inning (145 2/3) and $17,606.88 per pitch (2,269). ... Adele's Frozen Custard in Excelsior, Minn. Wonderful little small-town place. I had the Mudd Pie and Orange Creamsicle on Thursday.
Dislikes: Rain, rain go away on the East Coast. We certainly don't need postponements stacking up. ... Cell phone batteries. Do any of them last as long as they tell you they will?
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"The whole damn town was sleeping
-- Uncle Tupelo, Train
Posted on: September 5, 2008 6:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 8:40 pm
Sure, the news Friday for the Chicago White Sox could have been worse. U.S. Cellular Field could have been condemned. A Black Sox Scandal II could have been uncovered. Ozzie Guillen's arch-enemy columnist, Jay Mariotti, could have been re-hired.
But failing those disastrous possibilities, dang, it's difficult to imagine anything much worse for the poor White Sox than slugger Carlos Quentin heading to the surgeon's table.
He will undergo surgery Monday and have a screw inserted into his fractured right wrist. He'll be re-evaluated in two or three weeks and, though he hopes to salvage the season, it doesn't look good. There is a very real possibility that he's done for the year.
Wrist injuries, particularly serious wrist injuries, are temperamental things, and for the White Sox, losing Quentin is no less of a blow than if Boston were to lose David Ortiz, or the Los Angeles Angels were to lose Vladimir Guerrero. That's how important he's been to them in his first season on the South Side.
Sox general manager Kenny Williams absolutely stole Quentin from Arizona last winter, sending infielder Chris Carter to the desert in exchange, and Quentin has responded with a Most Valuable Player-type season. He leads the AL with 36 homers, ranks fifth in the AL with 100 RBIs and has provided needed heft for the White Sox lineup.
"He's had a phenomenal year," general manager Bill Smith, whose Minnesota Twins are battling the White Sox for the AL Central title, said Friday afternoon. "He was probably one of the best pickups of the year.
"You never like to see players get hurt, and I'm sorry to see this. He's had a huge impact for them every game he's played against us this year, I can tell you that."
The Sox play the Twins three more times, at Minnesota from Sept. 223-25, in what likely will be a key series to determine the AL Central title. Entering the weekend, the White Sox had opened a 1 1/2-game lead on Minnesota.
Most aggravating, and manager Ozzie Guillen was vocal about it before Chicago opened its weekend series with the Angels, was the fact that the probable season-ending injury appears self-induced. Quentin says he angrily slammed his bat with his right fist after missing a pitch during his final at-bat Monday in Cleveland. It's something he's always done, Quentin says, only this time, he missed his spot and hit the bat with his wrist instead of his fist.
Undoubtedly, it will go down in the freak-injury annals of stretch-run baseball. Nobody ever plans on getting hurt, but Quentin's fracture would be more understandable if, say, it occurred when he was hit by a pitch.
"Quentin is one of those guys who's led every league he's ever played in in being hit by a pitch," one scout said Friday.
Quentin, who has been hit by a pitch an AL-leading 20 times this season, also led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in hit-by-pitches in both 2006 (31) and 2005 (29), and he led the Class A California League in 2004 (27).
Now, thanks to one brief instant in which his self-discipline disappeared, Quentin is out.
And no surgery is going to fix the hole he's leaving in the middle of the White Sox lineup.
Posted on: July 15, 2008 8:09 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2008 8:10 pm
NEW YORK -- Talk about your perfect paparazzi moments: Slugger Alex Rodriguez planting an autograph on rocker Sheryl Crow's baseball just in front of the American League dugout during batting practice before Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Crow was at Yankee Stadium to sing the national anthem and to help promote baseball's campaign to raise money for cancer research, Stand Up To Cancer.
So, you bet she and A-Rod were surrounded by television cameras and photographers on the jam-packed field, and they smiled pretty for the cameras.
I caught up with Crow a few minutes later and couldn't resist. This is how rumors start, Sheryl: Today Madonna, tomorrow Sheryl Crow. ...
"Listen, you don't get bigger than Madonna," the pretty and personable Crow said, smiling. "So I'm pretty certain that that rumor would die pretty quickly."
Crow spent much of the AL's allotted batting practice time on the field and played the part of your average autograph hunter. Well, as average as you can get with gold records and million-dollar compact disc sales.
I asked her whether she'd sold the A-Rod autographed ball yet, and she joked, "I intend to put it on e-Bay as soon as I get home."
Then she turned serious and said, "Let me tell you, I've got a couple of nephews, 9 and 11, and they'll be worshiping the ground I walk on when I get home with these baseballs.
She seemed to know her baseball. She grew up in Missouri -- thus, her Cardinals interest -- and she wasn't just some chick who scored a field pass. She even asked Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox for his autograph.
"I grew up watching the Cardinals," she said. "Later on, I got to know a lot of those players -- Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Andy Van Slyke. I've always been a fan."
So much so, it turns out, she even knows the nicknames.
"I've got to get Big Papi's or I won't be able to get in the house when I get home," she said. "My 9-year-old nephew will kill me."
She missed David Ortiz on the field. But not long after the AL went inside, someone grabbed Ortiz and told him Crow would love his autograph, and she was waiting outside the clubhouse.
Ortiz, who can't play because of his wrist and is here just to soak up the sun, went out and obliged.
And Crow? Well, the All-Star Game will be played in St. Louis in 2009, you know.
Might a certain Missouri-native singer be in attendance?
Said Crow: "Absolutely."