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Tag:Eric Chavez
Posted on: April 22, 2010 12:29 am
 

Even the schedule working against Orioles

Baltimore's epically horrible start (2-14 following Wednesday's loss in Seattle) is the perfect storm of a whole lot of things going wrong, from bullpen meltdowns to miserable situational hitting, but the Orioles aren't getting any breaks from the schedule-maker, either.

That the Orioles knew this spring that they would start off with as rugged a schedule as anybody in baseball is no consolation as they plow through their worst start since the 0-21 beginning in 1988.

The O's are in the midst of playing 18 of their first 28 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tampa Bay. And of those other 10 games, seven consist of a West Coast trip to Oakland and Seattle (which ended Wednesday night against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez).

That finished, the Orioles open a series in Boston on Friday, entering a stretch in which they'll face the Red Sox and Yankees 12 consecutive times. After that, it's off to contending Minnesota for four games before finally hitting the first "soft" part of their schedule: And eight-game homestand against Seattle, Cleveland and Kansas City beginning May 11.

Meantime, Baltimore's struggling AL East rival, Boston, is in as friendly a part of the schedule as a team could want: The Red Sox are in the midst of playing 20 of 26 games in Fenway Park, where Boston went 56-25 last season.

The Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday against Tampa Bay, and following a trip to Toronto and Baltimore, they open another 10-game homestand May 3 against the Angels.

At 6-9 and fourth in the AL East, the Red Sox will not have a better time to turn things around.

A couple of other early scheduling observations:

-- The Angels will make a whopping six different cross-country trips this summer to the East Coast. They were in New York to face the Yankees in April, they'll be in Boston in May, New York again in July, Baltimore in August and Tampa Bay in September. June is the only month in which the Angels do not head for the East Coast. Hmmm, think manager Mike Scioscia made someone angry when he complained about the playoff schedule last October? The Angels will fly 50,509 air miles this season, a major-league high.

-- When San Francisco started 7-2, the thought was that we would find out whether the Giants were for real very soon (though getting swept in San Diego this week didn't figure to be one of the crucial test cases): Beginning in Los Angeles against the Dodgers last Friday, the Giants were to face five contenders in six series': The Dodgers, St. Louis (which arrives in San Francisco on Friday to open a weekend series), Philadelphia, Colorado and Florida.

-- The Twins, who hosted the Red Sox for three games last week, play just twice in Boston this season. Minnesota and Boston are finished with each other for 2010 on May 20.

-- Detroit plays the Mets in New York (June 22-24) before facing the Yankees in New York (Aug. 16-19).

Likes: Austin Jackson, Detroit's good-looking rookie center fielder. ... How about Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes in Oakland on Wednesday night, no-hitting the A's until Eric Chavez's sharp single that bounced off of Hughes to start the inning. ... Never a dull moment talking baseball in Detroit manager Jim Leyland's office. ... I applaud Carlos Zambrano's willingness to do anything to help the Cubs, but a temp job as a set-up man? Yikes.

Dislikes: The plight of the independent record stores, which are shrinking as badly as the independent bookstores and, sadly, are probably headed the way of the independent grocery stores and pharmacies. I applauded Independent Record Store Day last Saturday, but when I visited one of my favorites, Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif., the other day, it was discouraging. They didn't have the Drive-By Truckers' newest CD (The Big To-Do), which makes about the fourth consecutive trip where they were out of what I was looking for. Worse, they're consolidating inventory into one building (it's a funky little place that currently consists of two small buildings, with used CDs in one and new in the other). Which obviously means less stuff. A clerk told me sales have been down 80 percent.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the Lord

-- Curtis Mayfield, People Get Ready

Posted on: April 9, 2009 8:39 pm
 

Different Giambi set for Oakland home opener

Biggest difference between the 20-something Jason Giambi who played in Oakland in the 1990s and the 38-year-old graybeard whose encore performance there resumes in earnest with the Athletics' home opener Friday night against Seattle?

Probably the yams.

Yes. Yams.

"No more fast food runs," Athletics third baseman Eric Chavez says. "It's yams now. That's his big thing."

Like Popeye, Giambi yam what he yam in the twilight of his career.

"I've gotta stick around," says Giambi, whose fast-food drive-thru tales were legendary in his early days with the A's. "Those were the good old days. I'd get fast food and burn it off until it was all gone."

Whatever he's doing is working so far. When Giambi steps onto the Oakland Coliseum field for the first time since 2001 wearing the green and gold, he'll bring with him a .417 batting average and a .500 on-base percentage through three games. He's yet to have homered, and he has one RBI.

Booed lustily by the Bay Area fans whenever he'd return after signing as a free agent with the Yankees before the '02 season, the A's are expecting their home fans now to wrap Giambi in a giant, warm, standing-ovation hug during what undoubtedly will be one of baseball's emotional high points of the weekend.

"There's no doubt," says Chavez, one of Giambi's good friends on the team then -- and now.

"It's great," Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson, recovering from offseason surgery and a former teammate of Giambi's during those glory days in Oakland, said this spring. "I was happy to see him go back. I know the fans and the people in Oakland are really going to enjoy him.

"He's got a lot of years left to play, and hopefully the rest of them will be right there. He was a great teammate there for me. One of the best teammates I've ever had. He was as great a teammate as a superstar could be. He makes everyone feel important.

"He's got a heart of gold, and he's a likable guy. I've never met anybody that doesn't like him."

Hudson chuckled at the memory of Giambi's old penchant for junk food.

"I've never been through a drive-thru with him, but he's brought me some in the past, that's for sure," Hudson said. "In Oakland, he was the kind of guy who came into the clubhouse with a sack of McDonalds and everyone would get what they wanted."

Giambi's new diet is completely fat-free. According to www.nutritiondata.com, one cup of yam cubes (136 grams) contains 158 calories, five grams of dietary fiber, two grams of protein, 27 percent Vitamin C and zero grams of fat.

He's even made dietary converts out of outfielder Matt Holliday, second baseman Mark Ellis and, yes, Chavez.

"Chavy was busting on Mark Ellis the other day, saying, 'Look at those guys -- they're in the trainer's room riding (exercise) bikes and eating yams," infielder Bobby Crosby says. "The next day, Chavy was mowing down some yams.

"Heck, I'll probably be doing it today."

Giambi brings 396 career home runs, 1,280 RBI and way shorter hair back to Oakland for his second tour, not to mention a stricter diet (thank goodness the tattoos haven't gone anywhere).

"Trust me," Giambi says. "I drive by McDonalds all the time and say, 'Oh, man. Those were the good old days.'"

Likes: Kansas City could have swept the White Sox this week, but for Kyle Farnsworth's first relief outing for his new team. ... Not that I wish bad things for the White Sox, because I don't -- I really like the team, manager Ozzie Guillen and the city -- but it's nice to see perennial doormats Kansas City, Cincinnati, Baltimore and even Pittsburgh get off to reasonable starts in the first week. ... Ichiro on his way back to the Seattle lineup soon. ... This GQ article on Lenny Dykstra. Shady, shady, shady. ... Mooning a train? Sounds good to me.

Dislikes: Sad, sad times in Anaheim for the Angels.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Days turn to minutes
"And minutes to memories
"Life sweeps away the dreams
"That we have planned
"You are young and you are the future
"So suck it up and tough it out
"And be the best you can"

-- John Mellencamp, Minutes to Memories

 

 

 
 
 
 
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