The San Diego Padres C Mike Piazza blasted his 400th HR yesterday. Jose Valverde threw a 94-mph bullet that Piazza lifted into a 416-foot home run into the second deck of left field at PETCO Park. The homerun was Piazza's 379th while performing his demanding and sometimes painful labors behind the plate. No catcher has hit that many out of the park. Only 40 previous sluggers had reached the 400 plateau.

"You do want to get it out of the way -- you don't want it to be an albatross," Piazza said, the homer his third as a Padre in 57 at-bats. "It's good to get it done and turn the page. I'm not looking towards 500 yet ... but I think I have a few more in me. I've been fooling them this long.

"I'm more philosophical the last few years. Being a late-round pick, my whole career has been a blessing. I'm more reflective, pragmatic. I've caught a lot of games, had a lot of injuries -- even today, getting conked."

"It's a very humbling feeling as well. I don't want to get too deep or sentimental, but if you work hard and stay focused, you can live your dream. There were 1,300 guys drafted ahead of me. I look at it that way when I talk to kids, [to] motivate them. You can live a dream."

"Stay positive. I've always maintained a good attitude. You're going to have frustration. But to me, you have to embrace frustration to make the good times better."


Thu 04/27/06, 6:00 am EST



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