Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:35 am
ANAHEIM, Calif -- Highlights have been few and far between for the 2011 Chicago White Sox, but Paul Konerko put up one for the books when he cracked his 2,000th career hit in the eighth inning of Tuesday's series opener here.
The hit surely was especially meaningful to Konerko in that it was an RBI single against Ervin Santana that tied the game at 4-4 at a point in the season where the White Sox are desperate for every run, every win they can get. Konerko, a beloved figure on Chicago's South Side and widely respected throughout the game, becomes only the 13th player in club history to collect his 2,000th hit.
It's been a boom season for the 2,000-hit club: Konerko is the sixth man to join that club this summer. Previously this summer, Houston's Carlos Lee, San Francisco's Orlando Cabrera (then with the Indians), Cincinnati's Scott Rolen, St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Texas' Michael Young each collected his 2,000th hit.
The White Sox dugout immediately erupted in cheers, then most of the players began waving for the baseball as soon as the play concluded with Alejandro De Aza crossing the plate. With the game 4-4, White Sox manager removed Konerko, who was DHing, for pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge.
Konerko also is at 393 career homers and soon could become only the sixth active player with 400 homers and 2,000 hits, joining Pujols, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta's Chipper Jones, Baltimore's Vladimir Guerrero and Minnesota's Jim Thome.
Tags: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Carlos Lee, Chicago White Sox, Chipper Jones, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Jim Thome, Michael Young, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Orlando Cabrera, Paul Konerko, San Francisco Giants, Scott Rolen, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Vladimir Guerrero
Posted on: April 27, 2011 7:32 pm
SAN DIEGO -- On one of the most routine plays in baseball, Chipper Jones moved past one of the most extraordinary players in the history of baseball.
Jones' first-inning ground ball to shortstop Wednesday sent Martin Prado home from third, and it changed the game's all-time RBI list for switch-hitters to look like this:
1. Eddie Murray, 1,917.
2. Jones, 1,510.
3. Mantle, 1,509.
One inning later, Jones clobbered a two-run triple to dead center during Atlanta's 7-0 blitzing of San Diego, sending him home from this 10-day trip to the West Coast with 1,512 RBI and some extra text messages from a set of sentimental parents.
When Jones' father taught him to switch-hit as a kid in Florida in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was Mantle's name he usually invoked.
"It's gratifying," Jones, who turned 39 Sunday, said as the Braves dressed to fly home Wednesday. "I look at the numbers as just going out and doing my job."
Jones said he never really paused long enough to consider the history of it all as those numbers were piling up. But now that it's impossible to avoid the height of those piles. ...
"When you grow up hearing about Mantle like I did, the reverence regarding him from my father ... to pass him, it's gratifying," Jones said.
"It's nice to see," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It seems like there's a new milestone every day."
This one, though, comes with an extra lump in the throat for Jones and the Braves.
"The guy's pretty good, from what I hear," pitcher Tim Hudson deadpanned. "He's had an amazing career. I've played with him for going on seven years now.
"When you play with him and see some of the names he's passed, and the names of some of the guys he's going to be passing ... you lose touch with how significant a career he's had because you play with him and he's your teammate, your friend.
"But when you stack him up against everyone, he's going to go down as one of the greats in the history of the game."
Hudson paused, then quipped: "Even though he is a big dork."
That Jones was in the lineup Wednesday was a mild -- albeit pleasant -- surprise for the Braves. Following his season-ending surgery last summer that could have ended his career, and following an intense rehabilitation in which he arrived in spring training ahead of schedule, the Braves figured that at the very least, Jones would not be able to play in day games following night games early in the season.
Yet here he was on a beautiful day in San Diego, not only in the lineup, but advancing on history.
"He came in today saying, 'I'm good,'" said Gonzalez, clearly thrilled.
Jones is hitting .289 with three homers and 21 RBI through 25 games this season.
"Everyone has been saying in the dugout, 'Every other game, they're throwing out a baseball'," he said. "I'm like, 'Guys, we're done for awhile."
Posted on: February 9, 2011 7:02 pm
Chipper Jones, Braves: Strong early indications that Atlanta's leader is recovering well from major knee surgery last August. Just ask the baseballs: Jones has been hitting in Atlanta since the first of the year, and the legend already is growing. Earlier this month, he literally knocked the cover off of a ball -- ala Roy Hobbs in The Natural -- in a Turner Field batting cage.
"There might have been a stitch or two loose," says general manager Frank Wren, who was away on the Braves' Winter Caravan at the time and was told of the feat by club president John Schuerholz.
Where there was talk last summer that Jones' torn knee could have been a career-ending injury, now the Braves are expecting him to be full-go on the first day of spring training.
"I think we all expected him to be back performing at a high level," Wren says. "You're talking about a very gifted player. All the hard work he's put in, you can just see it. You can see it with your eyes."
Justin Morneau, Twins: The 2006 AL MVP did not play after July 7 last year -- one day after Peavy went down -- because of post-concussion syndrome. The Twins missed him badly during their first-round playoff loss to the Yankees, and there's still a weird vibe about this whole situation. Such as, Twins GM Bill Smith told Morneau to skip TwinsFest a couple of weeks ago so he could stay home and concentrate on his conditioning. And as of the end of January, Morneau still had not resumed baseball activities.
What to expect from Morneau this spring?
"We have pledged patience, and we only want him to go when he's ready," Smith told colleague Danny Knobler a couple of weeks ago. "If that's March 1, April 1 or July 1, that's what it will be. We only want him to go through this one time. We don't want this to become a rollercoaster."
Smith says the date he has circled is April 1, because that's Minnesota's opening day. But it sounds like it's in pencil, not pen.
Brandon Webb, Rangers: In danger of falling permanently into the "Whatever Happened To..." category, Webb has a chance to become Texas' sleeper this summer and help ease the Rangers' pain following the departure of ace Cliff Lee. The 2006 NL Cy Young winner, Webb has made only one big-league start since 2008. And that lasted only four innings.
Arizona was hopeful Webb would have helped last year's club, but he couldn't make it back to the mound following shoulder debridement surgery in August, 2009.
"There's obviously a risk, an unknown anytime a guy is coming back from surgery," Texas GM Jon Daniels says. "But the timeline, the 18-months-out from surgery when you think a guy has a chance to bounce back, lines up with the beginning of the season.
"We're betting on the guy."
The Rangers like what they see so far: Webb has been on a conditioning and throwing program, he's worked over the winter with Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez and he's talked with pitching coach Mike Maddux about what everyone expects. His heavy sinker is made-to-order for the Ballpark in Arlington.
"We're going to push him more on the conditioning side than anything," Daniels says. "If he's ready to go, I'd expect him to be in the rotation."
Kendry Morales, Angels: We haven't heard from Morales since his game-winning grand slam last May beat the Mariners and Morales suffered a broken leg when he awkwardly landed on home plate. The injury required immediate surgery and Morales, who led the Angels at the time with 11 homers, 39 RBIs and a .290 batting average, was done for the season.
The injury was one of many things that wrecked the Angels' season, and after a rough winter in which they failed in their quest to sign Carl Crawford, a big comeback season from Morales is a must. The hope is that he can replicate a 2009 season in which he crashed 34 home runs, compiled a .569 slugging percentage and finished fifth in AL MVP voting.
"We're anticipating him to be full go in spring training," manager Mike Scioscia said at the winter meetings in December. "Obviously, once you get on the field and get into some more extensive activities, you're going to take it slow. Does it mean he'll play our first spring training game? I don't know yet. When he comes into spring training, we expect he'll be full go for all the drills. And if not, we'll adjust on that."
Joe Nathan, Twins: The Upper Midwest report on the Twins' closer sounds more promising than it does on Morneau. Nathan, sidelined the entire 2010 season following Tommy John surgery, has been throwing off of a mound and was throwing breaking balls by the end of January. Smith described Nathan as "very upbeat" and noted what a big boost it would be to have a fully healthy Nathan along with experienced closer Matt Capps late in games.
Carlos Santana, Indians: He could have been Buster Posey, or Jason Heyward. Instead, things weren't exactly smooth for the baseball Santana, whose rookie season was ruined after his June 11 recall when he suffered a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee during a home plate collision with Boston's Ryan Kalish on Aug. 2.
One of the many bright lights in a stunningly good rookie class in 2010, Santana has been cleared by Indians doctors to resume full baseball activities during spring training. Barring any setbacks, Santana could start playing in games when the Cactus League schedule begins on Feb. 27.
The Indians, losers of 93 games and the worst-drawing team in the majors last season, are not expected to contend in 2011. But in Santana, one of the brightest young prospects in the game, and center fielder Grady Sizemore -- also recovering from left knee surgery -- Cleveland's season could gain traction (or slip into the ditch) depending on how this duo progresses in Arizona this spring.
Posted on: October 9, 2010 2:23 am
One small step for the Atlanta Braves, one giant leap for major league baseball.
Oh, and a belated Merry Christmas to the Braves as well.
Yessir. When the Braves agreed to terms with Troy Glaus last Christmas Eve, they did not exactly envision him playing third base with the season on the line in the 10th inning of the NL divisional playoffs.
Fact is, they did not envision Glaus playing third. Period, end of sentence.
So what was he doing, all brittle and lumbering, starting the Braves' most crucial 5-4-3 double play in years as they seized another game with their last licks and evened their series with the Giants at one game apiece with a 5-4, 11-inning, Rick Ankiel Special on Friday night?
Short answer is, quite simply, it's the beauty of the game. Sometimes the best-laid plans are forcibly scrapped at the most inopportune times, and the game reverts back to the schoolyard. You play here, you play there, and we'll see what happens.
Long answer? Desperate for offense and with a hole to plug at first base, Braves general manager Frank Wren gambled that Glaus could learn a new position and add the bat Atlanta needed. It was a sizable gamble, too, in that the shoulder surgery Glaus underwent in January, 2009, allowed him to play in only 14 games for St. Louis that summer.
It worked fine for a time, especially in May, when Glaus collected 28 RBI in 27 games. But his production diminished as the summer wore on and then, on Aug. 12, came a season-changer: Chipper Jones was lost for the rest of the year to a knee injury.
So what happens? Wren acquires first baseman Derrek Lee from the Cubs ... and Glaus is such a team guy, such a Bobby Cox devotee, that he's all for bringing Lee aboard and volunteers to play third base while he's at it.
Not that the Braves took him up on it. Are you kidding? He's 33, he's 6-6 and 250 pounds, and Glaus had reached the part of his career where, if he did play third, the odds were far greater that he would hurt himself (and the team) than much good would happen.
Until Friday night became just late and crazy enough that the Braves were left without many options. And Glaus entered the game as an, ahem, defensive replacement in the 10th.
It figured that the first batter in the 10th, Edgar Renteria, immediately dropped a bunt in Glaus' direction. Do you know how many total chances Glaus has had at third in the past two seasons? Nine, that's how many. And just one this year, in the one appearance (two total innings) he had made there.
Renteria reached base, of course. And so did two other Giants.
And there in the bottom of the 10th, with one out and the largest crowd ever to gather at AT&T Park roaring, what should Buster Posey do but roll a 'tweener grounder -- it wasn't hit hard, but it wasn't a soft grounder, either -- in Glaus' direction.
And the big guy came up with it, wheeled and threw to second to start the 5-4-3, and the relay to first barely beat Posey. Said later throwing home for the force out was never an option.
One false move in the play, and Renteria scores and the Giants win.
Instead, Glaus was perfect, in both the plan and the execution.
And next inning, Ankiel blasts a fastball into the water. And somehow, Kyle Farnsworth keeps the Giants off the board in the bottom of the 11th.
Not only did it complete a rousing comeback for a down-and-out team that had seen Cox ejected nine innings earlier, it also breathed life back into a postseason in dire need of mouth-to-mouth.
Six outs from a fourth series going 2-0 when bearded Giants closer Brian Wilson was summoned by manager Bruce Bochy, baseball was edging close to four sweeps, a first round ending by Sunday evening, the next round not slated to begin until next Friday.
So what were we all supposed to do if the game went dark Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday?
Convene a national convention to bitch about the umpires?
But enough about a downer of a first round, something that has become an all-too-familiar event and might warrant baseball reviewing the playoff format.
Right now, all the Braves care about is that, somehow, they live.
And bleak as it may look with Jones and Martin Prado (oblique) done for the year -- and, quite possibly, closer Billy Wagner (oblique) to follow after he hurt himself in the 10th inning Friday -- Tim Hudson getting the ball for Game 3 in Atlanta on Sunday looks pretty darned good.
After they scored zero runs in their first 14 innings against the Giants, the Braves finished Friday with five in the last six innings.
They get a couple more Sunday, Hudson steps up and the Turner Field magic kicks in (the Braves' 56 home victories led the majors), who knows? The Giants -- and baseball -- might have a fight on their hands yet.
Posted on: August 12, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 8:21 pm
It is one of the great modern manager-player runs going, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox, together in Atlanta, 17 seasons strong.
Now, with news that Jones has blown out his left knee and is finished for the season, the Braves' last gasp under the retiring Cox is guaranteed to have a bittersweet ending no matter how it finishes.
Jones' wrecked knee wrecks Atlanta's playoff hopes? Awww.
Braves overcome Jones injury to make the playoffs while Jones forced to watch? Awww.
Braves win World Series to send Cox out with another ring while Jones helpless to help? Awww.
Sentimental as some stories become, the game has a way of stripping sentiment in favor of cold reality, and that's what the Braves are dealing with now. Fighting for their lives to fend off two-time NL champion Philadelphia -- dealing with a significant injury of its own with Chase Utley sidelined -- life now becomes much more difficult for the Braves.
Jones, 38, was hitting .265 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 95 games with the Braves this season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Struggling so badly earlier this year that he spoke of retiring at season's end, Jones over his past 11 games was hitting .368 with three homers, five RBI and eight runs scored.
Short-term, Jones' loss vastly increases the degree of difficulty for the Braves, who now will plug Omar Infante and Brooks Conrad into third base in place of Jones while searching the waiver wires for a spare-part match.
Long-term, this injury means we very well might have seen the last of Jones. If he does decide to retire -- a very real possibility, given the normal six-month recovery from this type of injury and his advanced age -- the next time Jones' name comes up in earnest in baseball circles very well might be in Hall of Fame discussions.
He's not a slam-dunk first-ballot guy, but his 436 career homers (37th all-time), 1,491 RBI (52nd all-time) and .941 OPS (30th all-time) certainly put the six-time All-Star -- and 1999 NL MVP -- onto the front porch of Cooperstown.
It's just a shame that if the Braves do make the playoffs this fall, Jones won't be at Cox's side as a couple of Atlanta icons swinging for one more shot at glory.
Likes: Tell you what, glad there were no serious injuries in the Cardinals-Reds brawl, and this might not be the most mature or politically correct reaction, but I love the emotions that were injected into that rivalry this week. Baseball, in the free agent era, has gone corporate and too many players are way too friendly with each other. The result is, it takes the edge off of too many rivalries. No worry about that down the stretch in St. Louis and Cincinnati now. ... The Kids Are All Right. Great cast, great acting. Next up: The Other Guys. Gotta see Derek Jeter's acting debut. And I hear WIll Ferrell is actually funny again. ... Finally catching up with Pat Conroy's Beach Music, a long ago best seller, and man Conroy can write. Enjoying the book, but the plot goes a little too far in the back half of the book in some areas. ... Wrote off Mad Men a couple of years ago, decided to give it another chance this year and I'm glad I did. Finally, belatedly, enjoying it. ... Hard to go wrong with any Apple products in my book. My iTouch went bad after just a year-and-a-half, turned out the battery malfunctioned and they replaced the entire unit with a new one. ... Look, the former drummer for the Greg Kihn Band now ... cleans carpet? It's true. But don't ask him about pet hair in the carpet.
Dislikes: The fact that Manny Ramirez is earning $20 million and can't be bothered to rehab his calf strain, or whatever he's calling it, with the Dodgers is a joke. Of course, nobody's surprised, are they, that Manny's off on his own? And the Dodgers were the suckers who gambled with him.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"You could lie on a riverbank
-- Mac McAnally, Back Where I Come From
Posted on: February 18, 2009 9:27 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Atlanta Braves slugger Chipper Jones said Wednesday he did not watch the Alex Rodriguez press conference, nor did he spend any time viewing the highlights (or lowlights, as it were).
For Jones, the fact that Rodriguez has admitted using steroids is enough.
"I commend A-Rod for coming out and admitting to it," Jones said Wednesday morning at the Braves' complex. "He's doing all the right things. The guy made a mistake. We were all tempted back then. I feel for him, I really do.
"I hope he's forgiven. He means well.
"Steroids or no steroids, he's still one of the top five players I've ever seen in my life. Let's move on."
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day
"Everybody's got a cousin in Miami
-- Jimmy Buffett, Everybody's Got a Cousin in Miami
Posted on: June 13, 2008 11:14 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2008 11:54 pm
Not that Atlanta's recent run of injuries has bordered on the absurd, but a baseball came zooming out of the sky to knock slugger Chipper Jones out of the lineup Friday night in Anaheim.
Just like a meteor or something.
Actually, what happened was this: Jones, leading the majors with a .414 batting average, took a cut during batting practice, drilled the ball skyward ... but it slammed into one of the batting cage poles and ricocheted straight down, slamming into his left eye. Fortunately, the Braves announced late Saturday that X-rays were negative and are listing Jones as day-to-day.
For any other team, it might have been a freak thing.
For the Braves, who took a six-game losing streak into the weekend and were an embarrassing 7-24 on the road, it was business as usual.
Then there's reliever Rafael Soriano, who was just activated on June 2 but still can't (or won't) pitch on consecutive days.
And then there's Jair Jurrjens, who was scratched from Wednesday's start in Chicago when he turned an ankle falling down the stairs outside of the Wrigley Field visting clubhouse.
"We've had tough luck," said Tim Hudson, the rare member of the opening day rotation still standing, was saying not long before Jones took the ball off of his coconut and was lost Friday night. "Smoltz, Soriano ... nagging injuries throughout the year.
"Glavine's down. It's tough. We're not going to throw a pity party. It seems like every team is going through it. But we've been hit with some tough ones."
Even before Jones was taken for precautionary X-rays Friday night, the Braves put Smoltz on a conference call at midday to discuss his shoulder surgery. The legendary right-hander, though finished for the season, was optimistic on the call that he will come back.
Meantime, the Braves announced that tests revealed a small tear in Glavine's elbow but that he won't need surgery and should be back around the All-Star break.
It's not good at the back end of the bullpen, either, where Moylan last year developed into one of manager Bobby Cox's most trusted set-up men. Moylan had Tommy John ligament transfer surgery earlier this season.
"His stuff was as dirty as anyone's in the game," Hudson said.
Entering this weekend, 17 disabled list moves had cost the Braves 507 games.
Likes: The Iowa Boy Scouts. Now those are scouts. ... The halo on the Big A outside Angels Stadium being lit on nights following a victory but remaining dark on nights following a loss. ... David Letterman's Top Ten Signs an NBA Game is Fixed the other night, which included: 10. Game begins 20 minutes before visiting team arrives. 7. Missed three-pointers count for two points if they're "pretty close." 3. The team loses even though it led in points, delegates and the popular vote. ... The cab that Dave O'Brien, beat man for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Mark Bowman, of MLB.com, was involved in an accident on the Dan Ryan Freeway in Chicago on Friday morning as the pair were attempting to travel to Southern California. Good news is, it was a minor fender-bender and everyone was OK. But O'Brien, vice-president of the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America, and Bowman were forced to unload their bags from the cab and frantically hail another mode of transportation right there on the freeway. A Super Shuttle picked them up.
Dislikes: Sad, sad day when Tim Russert suddenly passes away at the far-too-young age of 58. Prayers for his family.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Mama, take this badge off of me
-- Bob Dylan, Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Posted on: March 6, 2008 5:55 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Slugger Mark Teixeira's bat fits perfectly into Atlanta's lineup behind that of Chipper Jones, he's well-liked by his teammates, he seems to enjoy being an Atlanta Brave ... and yet, he's a free agent following the 2008 season and it isn't as if many Braves are working overtime recruiting him to sign an extension before his probable departure.
"I don't think there's any amount of convincing that can be done," Jones says. "Unfortunately, he's a true believer in Scott Boras' style, and that doesn't bode well for us."
Oh, right. Teixeira's agent is Boras, who consistently directs his clients toward the biggest payday.
"This is his first big payday, and I think he's going to get a lot of money," Jones says.
You don't have to be wearing Boras' loafers or Jones' cleats to figure that.
Teixeira won't elaborate on his personal feelings toward the Braves or on his early thoughts regarding his future.
"We'll talk at the end of the season, me and 30 teams," he says. "I'm just worried about getting this team to the playoffs."
Acquired from Texas last season after he had a falling out with Rangers manager Ron Washington, Teixeira hit in Atlanta just as he did in Texas. He thumped 17 homers and collected 56 RBIs in only 54 games with the Braves. Though Atlanta missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the Braves finished only five games behind Philadelphia as Teixeira bashed and made everyone around him better.
"I know having him hit in the lineup behind me last year was great," says Jones, who had 29 homers and 102 RBI in '07. "I'm looking forward to having him hit behind me against this year."
At the very least, even if Teixeira does follow the trail of another Boras client who once played here -- Andruw Jones, now playing center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers -- the Braves figure to benefit from having his bat in the lineup for six months rather than just two.
"I wish we had him for six years," manager Bobby Cox says.
Likes: If you missed it when I flagged it last summer following Teixeira's arrival in Atlanta, you've got to check out the classic tribute song two Auburn kids perform on YouTube. It is outstanding. ... Several Braves -- John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, Tim Hudson and Brian McCann among them -- who had stayed behind to practice sitting together in the clubhouse and yukking it up like high schoolers after the bus left for Winter Haven and a Grapefruit League game with the Indians the other morning before they were due on the field. ... Lakeland's Mario's Italian Restaurant. The place has been around so long that former Detroit general manager Jim Campbell and field manager Sparky Anderson regularly dined there back in the day. ... Main Street Creamery and Deli in Lakeland. A quaint old reminder of what things must have looked like in the days of soda fountains. ... Last trip today on the Polk Parkway. Not that I mind the Lakeland area, but the fourth day in a row of driving past this skunk that was smoked who-knows-when and lies there in all of its bloody glory on the side of the road, let's just say it's a daily sight I'm happy to no longer have to view. Doesn't the city or county get rid of those things here?
Dislikes: Pedro Martinez's start in Viera getting rained out Thursday night. It is coming down in buckets. ... Love XM radio, love this year's POTUS channel (acronym for President of the United States, it's all election news all the time, and the '70s channel never fails to crack me up. But I gotta come clean here, when the '70s channel played the Captain and Tennille's Muskrat Love today, I went with the iPod. My God, how did that song ever get written in the first place, let alone recorded?
Sunblock day? Warm -- upper 70s -- but cloudy and overcast all day. If you're looking for sun, the weather this week hasn't been a bargain.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"I sat alone in the dark one night
-- Mary Chapin-Carpenter, I Take My Chances