Tag:Orlando Hudson
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 11:37 pm
 

Baseball, history re-connect a decade after 9/11

SAN DIEGO -- Last time baseball came this close to Osama bin Laden, it went dark for a week while the United States shook off the horror and the world regained its breath, both slowly staggering forward after 9/11.

I was in Dodger Stadium on the night baseball returned in September, 2001, and the raw emotion still resonates from a night that did what baseball does when it is at its best: It brought communities together. Coaxed smiles. Provided, for a couple of hours, a shelter from the storm.

Monday night, 24 hours after bin Laden's death, you could trace a line drive straight back to that horror and tragedy.

In Pittsburgh's clubhouse here, three ballgames played out silently on the televisions in the background before batting practice. But the television with the sound up was tuned to CNN and its news coverage. Pitcher Chris Resop talked with a teammate about Homeland Security.

Over in San Diego's clubhouse, pitcher Mat Latos hung a navy blue "USA" basketball jersey in front of his locker. For the first time on a non-Sunday, the Padres were wearing their camouflage jerseys honoring the military.

"We never take it lightly," Padres closer Heath Bell said. "But it means a little more tonight."

The game might exist in its own corner of the world, but so much of that corner is woven into the rest of life the way a baseball is stitched together by its seams. And so there was no stepping away Monday, no tuning out. Not that anyone wanted to.

Several clubs offered various forms of free tickets to games. As the Padres offered two free tickets to any active or retired military member for Monday night's game, infielder Orlando Hudson was lobbying to take that several steps forward.

"I think there should be free tickets all around the game of baseball," Hudson said. "And free tickets to the playoff games, basketball games and hockey games."

Emotions came from every angle, probably much like you encountered on a Monday unlike any we've had in a long, long time.

"I just think everybody feels like they have the pride of the United States in them today," said Bell, the Padres closer and son of a U.S. Marine. "But I don't think it should be a day of celebration.

"I don't think killing a guy is a reason to celebrate, because I don't think we should stoop to their level. After 9/11, they were jumping up and down. I don't want us to be doing the same thing. ... I'm totally behind my country, but it's hard. Half of me wanted to kill the dude, and the other half of me thinks killing is wrong.

"I was proud when I heard we gave him a proper burial. I think it was a class act by the United States.

The Pirates earlier in the day visited the Navy SEAL training base on Coronado Island, just minutes from the team hotel and Petco Park. It was a tour planned long before Sunday's historic day, and it reinforces the fact that baseball -- all sports -- is not an island unto itself.

Pittsburgh trainer Brad Henderson has been bringing small groups of Pirates to the Navy base for the past several years, since a former minor-league trainer in the Pirates' system left and went to work as a trainer for the Navy SEALS (which stands for the Navy Sea, Air and Land teams).

There is a man on base named John McTighe, who serves as a special assistant at the Navy Special Warfare Command center -- where all of the Navy SEALS report to run through their early training -- and he is a native of the Pittsburgh area. He sets up the tours when the Pirates come to town. Sometimes the players are able to shoot the Navy's guns. Monday, they went out on boats.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, McTighe invited Henderson to write letters to the other major league clubs, and now many take the same tour the Pirates do when they come to San Diego.

"It's a treat for us," Henderson said.

It's not just a one-way street. In gratitude, the Pirates -- and other clubs -- leave behind autographs and memorabilia to be auctioned off. Last year, Henderson said, these baseball items helped the Navy SEALS raise some $90,000 for the families of fallen soldiers.

With adrenalin still in the stratosphere on both sides as news tidbits continued to rocket around the globe, the feeling as Pittsburgh visited Monday was unlike any in the past.

"There was a sense of accomplishment in the air," Henderson said. "This is what those guys do. They go and look for the bad guys.

"They weren't patting themselves on the back. They completed their task, and now they've moving forward."

Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed on that horrific day after the heroic "Let's roll" passengers overtook the hijackers, is about an hour east of Pittsburgh

"It was fun for us, knowing we were standing in the same spot where all the Navy SEALS stood," Henderson said. "Knowing that this is where they all started, including the group that got bin Laden."

Knowing that, he said, was pretty darned special.

 

Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Short Hops: Yanks, Zo-rilla, Padres zeroes & more

-- The Yankees are doing exactly what they need to do in the first few weeks of the season, and that's take advantage of home cooking. They opened with 11 of 14 games at home, and through May 1, they play 18 of their first 25 games at home. So far, they're 10-5 at home, and they've got a chance to continue to pad their home record while they play 46 of their first 79 games at Yankee Stadium. The flip side, and the reason it is important for Joe Girardi's club to build up as much collateral at home as possible: From Aug 1 through season's end, the Yankees are home just 20 times (nine home games in August and 11 in September).

-- Zo-Rilla is back: Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist has crushed four homers in his past five games, including one each in Thursday's day-night doubleheader in Minnesota. He had a monster doubleheader, collecting 10 RBI, giving him 18 over his last five games and 25 for the season. Impressive, yes, but his best moment might have come right after the game when he quipped to reporters, "This must be what it's like to feel like Sam Fuld."

-- Tampa Bay is 13-3 since April 10 which, yes, is the best record in the majors since that date.

-- Kansas City was the last team in the majors to lose a series this season, and now look at the Royals: six losses in a row. The Yankees were the last team in the majors to lose consecutive games, to the White Sox on Monday and Tuesday.

-- Seattle's historically bad offense last summer looks positively Ruthian compared to what the Padres are doing (or, rather, NOT doing) so far this season. San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez-less lineup has been shut out seven times in the month of April. That, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is a major-league record. When the Padres score just ONE run, they're 9-9.

-- Yes, it's a different deal this year for the Padres from their 90-win team of a year ago. Ryan Ludwick (.202, four homers, 11 RBI), Brad Hawpe (.143, 23 strikeouts in 63 at-bats), Orlando Hudson (.238, .300 on-base percentage) and Jason Bartlett (.231) have gotten off to miserably slow starts, and there are growing questions regarding whether cavernous Petco Park is defeating hitters mentally. That was one key to last year's group -- which included David Eckstein, the Hairston brothers, Jerry Jr. and Scott, and Tony Gwynn Jr. -- the bottom line was winning, and there was no griping about Petco. "You've got to be mentally tough to get through some things," Padres manager Bud Black says. "That's part of being a total player, part of being a total, major league professional player. It works the same way if you're a pitcher in a small park. It works the same way for pitchers in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Houston."

-- The Dodgers' Andre Ethier takes a 24-game hitting streak into this weekend's series with San Diego, but it could be in jeopardy Friday night. Ethier lifetime is hitting .077 (1 for 13) against Padres starter Clayton Richard.

Likes: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saying the other day he has his closer -- outfielder Brent Lillibridge -- following Lillibridge's great, diving catches in Yankee Stadium. ...  Andre Ethier's hitting streak at 24 games. ... The way Brandon Phillips always refers to the "Redlegs", not the "Reds", in his tweets (@DatDudeBP). ... Great casting on Hawii Five-O. Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan (son of James) are really good together. ... First listen reaction to Steve Earle's new disc I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive: Outstanding. The disc might even be better than the title.

Dislikes: If you see me at Fast Five, please come up and say hello. Maybe that would then distract me from my next move: Jumping off of a bridge. Man, summer movie season stinks.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now listen youngster, be on your way
"Don't bother me til a later day
"I like my men like I like my whiskey
"Mmm, aged and mellow"

-- Little Esther, Aged and Mellow Blues

 

Posted on: February 8, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Padres: More talented 1-25 without Gonzalez?

They were the feel-good hit of the summer of 2010, winning 90 games and waging a spirited pennant run until San Francisco finally eliminated them on the last day of the season.

Then they traded All-Star Adrian Gonzalez and ... they'll be better in 2011?

Hard to imagine that until we see where the San Diego runs will come from. And general manager Jed Hoyer isn't necessarily predicting it. But he won't be surprised if it happens.

"I think the idea that we were entering a fire sale period where we were not going to be competitive ... it was born of reaction from the Adrian deal and the uncertainty after that," Hoyer said during a recent conference call. "It is our intent to field a competitive team.

"We can't replace Adrian with one guy. ..."

Perhaps they won't be able to do that even with five key newcomers -- shortstop Jason Bartlett (acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay), free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, center fielder Cameron Maybin (acquired in a trade with Florida), free agent Brad Hawpe (who will replace Gonzalez at first base) and veteran utilityman Jorge Cantu (the Padres also are taking a flier on starter Aaron Harang).

But, Hoyer said, "I think we are more talented one through 25 than we were a year ago. We have balance and depth."

One of the GM's goals was to improve up the middle, and the Padres think they did that with Maybin, Bartlett and Hudson.

They no longer have a big bopper in the middle of their lineup, so on-base percentage and smart execution will be a vital.

"This is the most humbling sport there is," Hoyer said. "We were fortunate to win 90 games last year. A lot of things went well for us.

"Four other teams in our division had good offseasons. ... It was an interesting offseason. We executed our plan well. At the same time, there's a lot of uncertainty. And a lot of good teams competing against us."

 

Posted on: April 7, 2009 12:00 am
 

New year, and Dodgers loaded

It's a miniscule sample size, but the snapshot following game one of 162 for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they should have the best lineup in the NL West this season and, possibly, as good as there is in the National League.

Against San Diego ace Jake Peavy, the first inning played out perfectly. Leadoff man Rafael Furcal punched a single, and second baseman Orlando Furcal followed with another.

So Peavy was staring at two speedsters aboard, none out and Ramirez at the plate.

"That's what we're hoping for at the top of the lineup," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That they can make the pitchers pitch to Manny.

"Manny didn't get any hits today. But I believe his presence is important."

No kidding. Ramirez didn't do any damage in the inning, popping to center. But two batters later, with two out and Russell Martin at the plate, Furcal and Hudson took off, successfully completing a double steal.

After Martin walked, Loney cracked a two-run single. The Dodgers never came close to trailing after that.

Peavy was impressed, not only with a deep Dodgers lineup in which the six-seven-eight hitters are James Loney, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake, but with the one-two punch of Furcal and Hudson at the top.

"Both can run," Peavy said. "Both are switch-hitters, table-setters, All-Stars. They can run, they can hit-and-run, they can get on base and steal. They can run around the bases, and when you've got Manny up there. ..."

Trouble.

It's a miniscule sample size, but if the Dodgers get some pitching, and if Furcal avoids further back trouble and they stay away from key injuries, then these Dodgers are going to be extremely dangerous.

Likes: Day baseball at this time of year. Nice to watch the Mets-Reds before heading to the park later Monday. And nice to listen to Thom Brennaman and Jeff Brantley on XM radio. I'll tell you, though, when they started talking about Montgomery Inn, it made me wish I was in Cincinnati for opening day this year. Might be the best ribs in America right there. ... Writing out the first lineups of the year on my scoresheets. ... 75 degrees at game-time in San Diego on Monday. ... Spring break. Nice to have my daughter home from school. ... Cruising through the park on my daily run and seeing the rabbits out. Ah, spring. ... My wife's homemade pizza on Saturday night as the NCAA semi-final games were going. I may be one of the more boring guys around, but I'll tell you what: It's still really hard to find a more enjoyable evening than a good ballgame on television at home with pizza.

Dislikes: Longtime New York Times baseball columnist and buddy Jack Curry getting hit by a car while in Philadelphia on Sunday for the Phillies-Braves opener. Thank God he escaped with "only" badly bruised ribs and several scrapes. Get well soon, Jack. ... Ichiro out with an ulcer. ... San Diego's crack media relations gal, Leah Tobin, leaving for a job with the Red Sox. Don't get me wrong, good for Leah and great move for the Red Sox. Personally speaking, I'll miss her. She's good. Congratulations, Leah. ... Michigan State getting clocked in the NCAA title game. And, worse, a lopsided title game.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

With respect and eternal admiration to Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who regularly ushered in the new season in his first spring broadcast each year with this:

"For, lo, the winter is past
"The rain is over and gone
"The flowers appear on the earth
"The time of the singing of birds is come
"And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land"

-- Song of Solomon, Solomon 2:11-12.
 

 

Posted on: November 25, 2008 6:52 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 6:55 pm
 

Free agency: Calm before the storm?

If you're wondering why there continues to be a whole lot of talk and little action on baseball's Hot Stove front this week, circle Dec. 1 on your calendar.

That's the deadline for clubs offering salary arbitration to any of their own free agents.

Most importantly, of course is this: If arbitration is offered, the signing team must compensate the player's old team with a draft pick. Now that might not be of concern to clubs chasing the biggest free-agent prizes this winter -- Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, et. al. -- it definitely comes into play with the next-tier guys.

Consequently, many clubs are in wait mode until after Monday. Maybe San Francisco is interested in shortstop Edgar Renteria if Rafael Furcal signs elsewhere, but the Giants surely would wait until after Monday to see whether Detroit offers him arbitration (which the Tigers aren't expected to do).

And maybe Cleveland will make an offer to a free-agent closer -- Trevor Hoffman? Kerry Wood? -- but from where the Indians sit right now, in a market saturated with closers, it makes a whole lot more sense for them to wait and see who might be available that wouldn't cost them a draft pick.

While Dec. 1 is the date by which clubs must offer their free agents salary arbitration or cut bait with them for good, the players have until Dec. 7 to decide whether or not to accept.

Which is why a couple of executives with whom I've spoken this week said they think the winter meetings -- which begin Dec. 8 in Las Vegas -- will be where the action is this year.

***

The economy continues to be on the minds of front-office executives and may wind up affecting this winter's player market more than we thought.

"It's pretty treacherous for us," says Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro, whose needs include a closer and an infielder (second or third base or shortstop). "The economic situation is a real factor here. We're seeing it in season-ticket renewals. Some of our city issues pre-date the international and national economic issues, and those are amplifying our city issues.

"It's a challenge. We're trying to get our arms around it and see how it affects our revenues."

In Toronto, meanwhile, the Blue Jays already are resigned to not filling every item on their winter wish list (starting pitching, big bat in the middle of the lineup).

"The Canadian dollar isn't as strong, and we're taking a hit with the United States' dollar with the exchange rate," Blue Jays GM J.P. RIcciardi says. "The world in general is being affected by this, and to stick our head in the sand and say it's not affecting us is crazy.

"We're talking about people's discretionary spending, and they might not spend it."

Things have changed in Toronto, even from season's end to now.

"What we thought at the end of the season and what we think now is different," Ricciardi said.

***

Random other items:

-- The Los Angeles Angels' sudden turn toward CC Sabathia, explained here by colleague Danny Knobler, should really rattle the Yankees' cage. Even with Milwaukee offering five years and $100 million, until the Angels decided to get so aggressive, most executives with whom I've spoken figured the ace would sign with the Yankees.

"I've heard talk of this guy wanting to do this and do that, but you know what? They all follow the money," one National League executive said. "It's just the facts of life."

"I don't think the Yankees will allow him to go anywhere else," one AL GM said, referring to the enormous contract the Yankees reportedly have offered. "Wherever he goes, it's going to have to be to someone who has a giant payroll and can absorb it if he gets hurt."

The Yankees qualify in that department. So, too, do the Angels.

-- Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi says the Blue Jays don't have an offer out to pitcher A.J. Burnett right now and have not spoken with agent Derek Braunauer about the length of a potential deal.

-- One National League executive on pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $8-million deal with San Francisco: "I think Affeldt might be the smartest free agent out there. He had a deal on the table and said, 'Screw it, I'm taking it.'"

-- Clubs looking for infield help are not seeing any quick fixes in a free-agent market that includes Rafael Furcal (the most sought-after, by far), Orlando Hudson, Ray Durham, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake and Joe Crede. Hudson and Crede are coming off of injuries, Blake and Durham are into their upper-30s and Renteria is coming off of a miserable season in Detroit during which scouts were alarmed at both his lack of defensive range and his lack of arm. "Extremely thin market," one GM says. "A lot of it is flawed."

-- Minnesota, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland continue to be the most aggressive suitors for Casey Blake, though his agent, Jim McDowell, did say Tuesday that there is a small group of four or five other clubs that have "stayed close." "I don't expect anything to happen this week," McDowell said. "We've had good discussions with several teams." Blake's versatility -- he can play the outfield and first base in addition to third, and the Dodgers even used him at second base in a playoff game this fall -- may wind up being his strongest selling point.

Posted on: November 25, 2008 6:52 pm
 

Free agency: Calm before the storm?

If you're wondering why there continues to be a whole lot of talk and little action on baseball's Hot Stove front this week, circle Dec. 1 on your calendar.

That's the deadline for clubs offering salary arbitration to any of their own free agents.

Most importantly, of course is this: If arbitration is offered, the signing team must compensate the player's old team with a draft pick. Now that might not be of concern to clubs chasing the biggest free-agent prizes this winter -- Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, et. al. -- it definitely comes into play with the next-tier guys.

Consequently, many clubs are in wait mode until after Monday. Maybe San Francisco is interested in shortstop Edgar Renteria if Rafael Furcal signs elsewhere, but the Giants surely would wait until after Monday to see whether Detroit offers him arbitration (which the Tigers aren't expected to do).

And maybe Cleveland will make an offer to a free-agent closer -- Trevor Hoffman? Kerry Wood? -- but from where the Indians sit right now, in a market saturated with closers, it makes a whole lot more sense for them to wait and see who might be available that wouldn't cost them a draft pick.

While Dec. 1 is the date by which clubs must offer their free agents salary arbitration or cut bait with them for good, the players have until Dec. 7 to decide whether or not to accept.

Which is why a couple of executives with whom I've spoken this week said they think the winter meetings -- which begin Dec. 8 in Las Vegas -- will be where the action is this year.

***

The economy continues to be on the minds of front-office executives and may wind up affecting this winter's player market more than we thought.

"It's pretty treacherous for us," says Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro, whose needs include a closer and an infielder (second or third base or shortstop). "The economic situation is a real factor here. We're seeing it in season-ticket renewals. Some of our city issues pre-date the international and national economic issues, and those are amplifying our city issues.

"It's a challenge. We're trying to get our arms around it and see how it affects our revenues."

In Toronto, meanwhile, the Blue Jays already are resigned to not filling every item on their winter wish list (starting pitching, big bat in the middle of the lineup).

"The Canadian dollar isn't as strong, and we're taking a hit with the United States' dollar with the exchange rate," Blue Jays GM J.P. RIcciardi says. "The world in general is being affected by this, and to stick our head in the sand and say it's not affecting us is crazy.

"We're talking about people's discretionary spending, and they might not spend it."

Things have changed in Toronto, even from season's end to now.

"What we thought at the end of the season and what we think now is different," Ricciardi said.

***

Random other items:

-- The Los Angeles Angels' sudden turn toward CC Sabathia, explained here by colleague Danny Knobler, should really rattle the Yankees' cage. Even with Milwaukee offering five years and $100 million, until the Angels decided to get so aggressive, most executives with whom I've spoken figured the ace would sign with the Yankees.

"I've heard talk of this guy wanting to do this and do that, but you know what? They all follow the money," one National League executive said. "It's just the facts of life."

"I don't think the Yankees will allow him to go anywhere else," one AL GM said, referring to the enormous contract the Yankees reportedly have offered. "Wherever he goes, it's going to have to be to someone who has a giant payroll and can absorb it if he gets hurt."

The Yankees qualify in that department. So, too, do the Angels.

-- Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi says the Blue Jays don't have an offer out to pitcher A.J. Burnett right now and have not spoken with agent Derek Braunauer about the length of a potential deal.

-- One National League executive on pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $8-million deal with San Francisco: "I think Affeldt might be the smartest free agent out there. He had a deal on the table and said, 'Screw it, I'm taking it.'"

-- Clubs looking for infield help are not seeing any quick fixes in a free-agent market that includes Rafael Furcal (the most sought-after, by far), Orlando Hudson, Ray Durham, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake and Joe Crede. Hudson and Crede are coming off of injuries, Blake and Durham are into their upper-30s and Renteria is coming off of a miserable season in Detroit during which scouts were alarmed at both his lack of defensive range and his lack of arm. "Extremely thin market," one GM says. "A lot of it is flawed."

-- Minnesota, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland continue to be the most aggressive suitors for Casey Blake, though his agent, Jim McDowell, did say Tuesday that there is a small group of four or five other clubs that have "stayed close." "I don't expect anything to happen this week," McDowell said. "We've had good discussions with several teams." Blake's versatility -- he can play the outfield and first base in addition to third, and the Dodgers even used him at second base in a playoff game this fall -- may wind up being his strongest selling point.

 
 
 
 
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