The Week That Was in Baseball: April 2-8, 2012
Former All-Stars on the Unemployment Line • The Longest Opening Day in Cleveland
A Look at the Marlins' New Ballpark • Torii Hunter's Near-Fatal Brush With the Law
The End of the Line?
If these guys are peaking with sad eyes through a door they’re no longer allowed through, don’t feel badand you won’t once you see the parenthetical number at the end of each player’s status below. That’s their total earnings to date playing baseball, according to baseballreference.com.
Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old outfielder played full-time for Tampa Bay last year but is currently on the outside looking in. His agent, Scott Boras, insists that he’ll find a new major league home by May 1, but the dope on Damon is that teams are weary of him due to weak knees and a perception that he’s self-interested in reaching the 3,000-hit mark. ($110,439,000)
J.D. Drew. The talented but oft-injured 14-year veteran may have broken down for the last time. The Red Sox breathed a huge sigh of relief that they were able to erase his $14 million in annual wages off the books with the expiration of his five-year contract, and apparently no one’s in a rush to grab himespecially after hitting .222 with four homers in 2011and from all we’ve heard, he’s in no rush to return, either. ($108,091,688)
Jon Garland. After nine straight years eating up roughly 200 innings annually (often with success), the right-handed pitcher succumbed to shoulder surgery in 2011; he was given a look by Cleveland this spring but failed his physicalhardly a good sign. Garland is still only 32, so perhaps we haven’t heard the last of him. ($50,942,023)
Vladimir Guerrero. The former MVP’s 37-year-old knees are in worse shape than your average 57-year-old. After a lightweight effort in Baltimore last year, Guerrero is looking, but no one’s looking back. The Indians (again) gave him a look but ultimately said no thanks. Guerrero is now talking about playing in Japan. ($125,541,455)
Derrek Lee. After hitting .337 with seven home runs in 28 games for Pittsburgh to end the 2011 season, you’d think there would be something of a rush to net the 36-year-old slugger, but perhaps the salary request is too much. Don’t be surprised if he gets attention from a contender desperate for increased hitting later this summer. ($91,487,001)
Hideki Matsui. Many baseball fans probably think Matsui’s long retired, and that’s because he played in relative anonymity with the Oakland A’s last year. Like Guerrero, Matsui may be headed to Japanbut that’s no big deal to him; he’s from Japan. ($83,250,000)
Magglio Ordonez. The career .309 hitter with nearly 300 lifetime homers has tailed off over the last few seasons; he was reduced to a part-time role in Detroit last year and hit .255 with just five homers. He’s been unapproached and reportedly contemplating retirementand if he does quit, he’ll go out with what may be the longest hitting streak (18 games) to end a career. ($133,470,746)
Roy Oswalt. The crafty ace right-hander has hardly been ignored during the offseason; he’s not looking for any deal, but the right one. He hasn’t found it yet, even with defending league champions St. Louis and Texas calling in. Oswalt appears to be going the Roger Clemens route, taking his time and waiting for the right opportunity to suit up somewhere at the start of summer. ($91,950,000)
Brad Penny. The 33-year-old pitcher, after an 11-11 record and ghastly 5.30 earned run average for Detroit last season, is currently throwing for Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks after 30 major league teams basically said “Fukuoka” with a slightly different pronunciation. ($49,287,500)
Edgar Renteria. With prominent contributions to two World Series champions (Florida in 1997, San Francisco in 2010), Renteria has too much pride to be given minor league contract offers, as was the case this spring. Looks like we’ve seen the last of him on a ballfield. ($85,042,391)
Ivan Rodriguez. In his 21st major league season last year, I-Rod found himself warming up the Washington catcher’s spot for up-and-coming Wilson Ramos. Available in the spring, the Kansas City Royals considered him but backed off. When Humberto Quintero is a more desirable option, you know it’s time to quit. ($122,573,932)
Javier Vazquez. Like Derrek Lee, the case of Vazquez is a perplexing one because he was so good in the season’s second half, with a 1.92 ERA after June 16. But when he publicly stated that he was likely to retire after the season, perhaps the rest of baseball took him seriously. ($99,410,000)
Brandon Webb. The former Cy Young Award winner has been paid $18 million over the past three years for basically doing nothing. That’s obviously not Webb’s wish, as severe shoulder issues have sidelined him during this time. His agent attempted to showcase him this spring in an effort to generate interest, only to be met with yawns. ($31,550,000)
The ballpark seats 37,000 and, crucially, has a retractable roof that blunts the rain activity that hits the area on an almost daily basis. Aesthetically, Marlins Park is unique with its lime green outfield walls, its bulletproof backstop aquariums, its bizarre mechanized home run sculpture that looks like one of Terry Gilliam’s cartoons from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and an all-out nightclub (The Clevelander) operating behind the left-field wall, complete with bar, pool and go-go dancers wearing nothing but bikini bottoms and body paint (we kid you not; here’s the proof).
But back to the action on the field. Despite early murmurs that the ballpark would be hitter-friendlythe Marlins’ 10-8 warm-up loss to the New York Yankees constituted the most runs scored by Miami this spring, and the most they allowedit’s become apparent that pitchers will likely enjoy the facility more thanks to its expansive outfield. The typically opinionated Lance Berkman chimed in after his St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Marlins, 4-1, in the first official game at Marlins Park: “If they don’t move the fences in after this year, I’d be surprised.”
Tailigating, Vegan Style?
When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted
What's in a Name?
Wounded of the Week
He Said What?
The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
A Day-by-Day Review of the Week
Monday, April 2
Tuesday, April 3
Wednesday, April 4
Thursday, April 5
In his first major league appearance since September 2, 2010, Johan Santana pitches five shutout innings to help the Mets defeat the Atlanta Braves at New York, 1-0. The two-time Cy Young Award winner gives up two hits, two walks and strikes out five.
After converting all 52 of his save opportunities between the regular season and the playoffs last season, Detroit closer Jose Valverde blows a 2-0, ninth-inning lead in his first appearance of the 2012 season when the opposing Boston Red Sox rally to tie the gamebut earns credit for the win when Austin Jackson’s single in the bottom half of the frame wins the game for the Tigers. Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander had handed Valverde a 2-0 lead by allowing just two hits and a walk in eight shutout innings.Battling the flu, reigning NL Cy winner Clayton Kershaw can only go three innings in his start at San Diego before being removedbut keeps the Padres scoreless while hitting a double in his only plate appearance. The Los Angeles Dodgers rally to a 5-3 win on Matt Kemp’s two-run home run and three Padre errors.
Friday, April 6
Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, trying desperately to put his historically bad 2011 campaign behind him, homers at Arlington to tie the major league record for most career long balls hit on Opening Day with his eighth, placing himself alongside Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson in the recordbook. Dunn’s titanic blast into the second deck isn’t enough, as the White Sox lose to the Texas Rangers, 3-2.
Saturday, April 7
Jamie Moyer, 49, becomes the second oldest player to start a major league game, but takes the loss as the Houston Astros defeat him and the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park, 6-3. Moyer allows two home runsby Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez, neither of whom were alive when Moyer began his major league careerand extends his all-time record for most long balls allowed to 513. Satchel Paige started one game at age 58 for the Kansas City A’s in a quasi-promotional stunt in 1965.
Chicago Cub closer Carlos Marmol, who was tagged with a loss to Washington on Opening Day, blows an eighth-inning lead against the Nationals in the season’s second game and departs to a cascade of boos at Wrigley Field. The Cubs lose, 7-4.
The Detroit Tigers bluntly display why many believe they can win it all this year; Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder each hit two home runs off Boston starter Josh Beckett (who overall gives up a career-worst five) and four Tiger relievers shut down the Red Sox after Doug Fister leaves the game with an injury in the fourth inning. The Tigers rout the Red Sox at Comerica Park, 10-0.
Sunday, April 8
The Yankees are shut down by Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson at St. Petersburg, 3-0, as the Rays finish off their own sweep of the Bronx Bombers. It’s the first time both the Yankees and Red Sox have begun a season 0-3 since 1966.
Bringing Up the Rear
Will They Call it The Natural Record-Holder?
Know Your Little Havana
Game (on TV) Today
This Week's Challanger to Joe DiMaggio
TGG Goes to CafePress
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