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Article:Notes from the diamond from last week

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This was a magical week for baseball. Two current players in the show coming back from cancer, a former pitcher turned broadcaster returns to the booth, an All Star calling it a career and a current shortstop passes a fellow country man. This is the week in baseball.

Lester, Sutcliffe, Davis return from battles with cancer - It’s the one word no one wants to hear. That word alone would have been a death sentence 50 years ago. Last week, two current Major Leaguers and one former Major Leaguer came back to the game after bouts with cancer.

Jon Lester made his mark in the history of the defending World Champs when he tossed his first no-hitter of his career, after fighting anaplastic large cell lymphoma in late August 2006, shutting down the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park last Monday night 7-0. It was the 18 th no-hitter in the history of the team, just a few months after teammate Clay Buchholz threw a no-no at Baltimore last September 1 st.

Rick Sutcliffe made a return to the ESPN broadcast booth from his bout with what his doctors are calling "curable and "maintainable" colon cancer. Sutcliffe played for several teams in the show but he is best known for his days with the Chicago Cubs and won the 1979 NL Rookie of the Year award before moving on to the broadcast booth.

Doug Davis came back to the Arizona Diamondbacks in grand fashion last Friday night against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field, coming back from thyroid cancer surgery and going eight strong innings to shut the Braves down 11-1. Davis had the thyroid removed and went on the disabled list April 8 th, after his start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He did two Minor League rehab starts and just over a week ago, tests revealed he was cancer free.

These three are to be applauded for what they went through and hope they remain healthy and productive.

Piazza calls it a career - For a guy that was basically unwanted by several big league teams, Mike Piazza did pretty good. The Los Angeles Dodgers thought he was worth something, drafting him in the 62 nd round as a favor to then-skipper Tommy Lasorda. Piazza, known better for his hitting than his arm, hit .306 in 16 seasons, was Rookie of the Year in 1993, hitting 427 home runs, including a record 396 as a catcher, and 1,335 RBIs. He did appear in an interleague game with the New York Yankees at Yankees Stadium, in which he hit a come backer to righthander Roger Clemens. Piazza broke his bat and Clemens picked up the broken lumber, threw it at Piazza, which started a rivalry that lasted at least 2 years. Clemens and Piazza would eventually hook up in the All Star Game in Houston as the starting battery, when Clemens pitched for the Astros.

Zito wins (FINALLY!) - Barry Zito can finally stop looking for his first win on milk cartons. The lefty entered the win column with 6 and a third innings of work in Miami last Friday night to take an 8-2 win over the Eastern Division leading Florida Marlins. Zito needed 103 pitches to avoid going 0-7 for the season in his fourth start this month and ninth overall. Now if he continues to pitch like that, he could regain the form that gave him the Cy Yong award as an Oakland Athletic. Stay tuned, sports fans.

Vizquel passes Luis Aparicio - If Luis Aparicio was the gold standard for shortstops, then San Francisco Giants‘ Omar Vizquel is platinum. The Giants star passed the former White Sox great, playing in both ends of a double header against Florida to raise his all time games played total to 2,584. The Giants organization plans to honor their shortstop at AT&T Park Friday when the Giants host Western Division foe San Diego. Aparicio plans to attend to honor a fellow Venezuelan.

Valverde gets knocked down (but he gets back up again!) - Talk about fireworks before the game! Houston reliever Jose Valverde got a scare of his life. No, he wasn’t sent down to Round Rock and he wasn’t forced to sit in traffic on the Katy freeway. Valverde took a line drive off his glove and face in the Astros 4-3 win over Philadelphia at Minute Maid Park Friday night,. After he was hit, Astros skipper Cecil Cooper wanted to take him out but Valverde was having no part of it. He stayed in the game, giving up another hit after the one that nearly knocked his head into nearby Tomball before getting a fly ball double play to pick up the save. Hope he’s got a good dental plan.


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