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Article:Baseball Notebook: Spring Training Notebook 3/14

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Mets Sluggers Off to Slow Start

The players who comprise the heart of the New York Mets batting order have not done well so far this spring with David Wright, Carlos Delgado, and Carlos Beltran having no home runs and 3 runs batted in combined. Beltran and Delgado have 2 hits in 22 trips to the plate between them.

Eight Mets have hit one home run each this spring with Jose Reyes being the only starter from last season among them. Angel Pagan leads the Mets and the majors in hits with 18 and leads the Mets in runs batted in with 10. No other Met has more than 4 runs batted in.

Despite the offense being off to a slow start the Mets are 4th in NL in spring training with a 9-6 record. Nine pitchers have won the nine games for the Mets with John Maine being the only starter from last season with a win. Johan Santana leads the projected starters for the 2008 season in ERA with a 4.00 mark. Oliver Perez is off to a bad start and has allowed 7 runs and 14 hits in 8 2/3 innings this spring and has a 7.27 ERA.

Ichiro Suzuki Notches First Hit of the Spring

Ichiro Suzuki finally ended his long slump and got his first hit of the exhibition season. He is now 1 for 25 for the spring and is hitting 0.40. He is 28th in batting average among the Mariners with only four pitchers below him in batting average.

Mike Morse, also of the Seattle Mariners, is tied now for the lead in hits this spring with Angel Pagan with both having 18 hits. Morse has only 61 major league at bats with the Mariners over the last two seasons.

Morse is leading the Mariners in runs scored with 9, tied for team lead in home runs with 2, leads in runs batted in with 10, total bases with 28, leads in walks with 7, is leader in on base percentage with a .658 mark, leads in slugging at .903 and batting average at .581 which also is the top mark in the majors this spring among hitters with at least 30 at bats.

Looking at Statistics


Hits: Angel Pagan, Mike Morse - 18

Doubles: Jorge Cantu - 7

Triples: Rafael Furcal - 3

Home Runs: Ivan Rodriguez - 6

Runs Batted In: Josh Hamilton - 12

Total Bases: Ivan Rodriguez, Brian Anderson - 30

Strikeouts: Rickie Weeks - 15 (in 33 at bats; he currently has a .121 batting average)

Stolen Bases: Brian Roberts, Eugenio Velez - 7

On Base Percentage (at least 30 at bats): Mike Morse - .658

Slugging Percentage (at least 30 at bats): Albert Pujols - .933

Batting Average (at least 30 at bats): Mike Morse - .581

Extra Base Hits - Nick Swisher - 9


Wins: Jered Weaver - 3 (19 pitchers currenlty have 2 wins)

Losses: Barry Zito - 3 (17 pitchers tied with 2 losses)

ERA (10 innings or more pitched): Chris Narveson 0.75 (in 12 innings; he plays for the Milwaukee Brewers)

Saves: Freddy Dolsi - 3 (Currently plays for the Detroit Tigers)

Hits: Jeremy Affeldt, Kyle Kendrick - 19

Earned Runs: Jeremy Affeldt - 15

Home Runs: Woody Williams, Buddy Carlyle, J.D. Durbin - 4

Walks: Noah Lowry - 12

Strikeouts - Edinson Volquez - 13 (Currently plays for the Cincinnati Reds

Grandson Hits Live Pitching the First Time

My grandson Matthew, who is pictured in my avatar at, called me the other day telling me about hitting for the first time against live pitching. He played tee ball for 3 years and against pitching machines for 2 years before finally getting to face live pitching.

He told me that he hit the ball well the first time he batted. Now comes the difficult part of learning plate discipline with pitchers trying to learn to pitch and having to decide in a split second whether to swing or not at a pitch. To me this has to be one of the keys to a good hitter. If he is swinging outside the strike zone a player is not going to get good contact, unless their name is Vladimir Guerrero.

I wish everyone reading these posts could see Matthew play baseball. He is not only a good player but enjoys every minute he is on the field. He smiles when he is on the field and plays shortstop and third base mostly, but his coach may use him as a catcher and pitcher this year.

It seems hard to believe but he said the players are on his team are so good that nobody missed a ball in practice. Matthew used to be a Barry Bonds fan, but is more of an Albert Pujols fan since he realized Bonds is not much of a role model.

It is hard to believe Matthew is in his 6th season of youth baseball at the age of 9, but that is what it takes to succeed by playing year after year and improving each year. The sad part for me is that Matthew is living in Louisiana while I am 673 miles away here in Knoxville, Tennessee. Last season, I took him to every practice and every game, and this year it would be fortunate for me to see even one game because of the high cost of gasoline for a round trip of over 1300 miles.

My daughter is planning to film some of his games and send them via email so I can at least get an idea of what it will be like to see the games. My only advice for Matthew is to follow his dream of being a major league baseball player as far as it takes him. If he does make the major leagues someday I hope to be around then but will have to live past 70 for that to happen since he can't even sign a contract for at least 9 years and then it may take 3 or 4 years or more to actually get to the major leagues. The main thing right now is for him to have fun and play the best baseball he can play.

Tennessee Smokies Play First Home Game April 9th

Jeff Samardzija was sent down by the Chicago Cubs to the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League. Samardzija had a 21-6 record while pitching three years for Notre Dame. He has a 7-13 record in the minor leagues but actually pitched better for the AA Smokies than he did in A ball with Daytona of the Florida State League. It will be interesting to see what other players will make up the Smokies roster in 2008. Smokies have the option of sitting on grass berm for $5 or sitting in the bleachers for $7 or sitting in field level boxes for $9. Seniors also pay $5 for sitting on grass but save a dollar if sitting in bleachers or field level boxes.

There will be fireworks on Friday nights when the Smokies are at home. There will be several $1 hot dog nights. I don't believe they have that promotion at major league stadiums. A friend of mine told me he went to a major league game and ordered some hot dogs and drinks for several people and figured $20 would cover it. The vendor told him that he had to be kidding and told him it would be $46 and asked if he had a credit card. The best thing to do is to eat either before or after the game at a fast food place where you can get a hot dog for $1.50.

The best thing about minor league baseball is that it is played in its purest form. There are no players making millions of dollars and no player is guaranteed they will ever make the majors so they have to hustle and play their very best to make it to the big show. I have seen a lot more minor league games than major league games but their games may be even more enjoyable since the players are hungry to move up to the major leagues and they play like it.

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