Batting clean-up last night, Micah Hoffpauir of the Cubs homered to erase Cincinnati's only lead (off his rival Micah, Owings, no less), walked, then lifted a sacrifice fly to put his team back in front. "He's going to get 350 at-bats this year," Lou Piniella told me as Hoffpauir's dominant Spring Training ended. "A little first, a little left, a little right." Lou being Lou, of course, after Hoffpauir showed what he could do with those 350 at-bats, he was due up with the bases loaded and a lefty reliever on the mound. So Lou pinch-hit Reed Johnson for him, and Johnson promptly struck out. Sigh.
Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan never counts chickens in advance, certainly not in Pittsburgh, but even in the middle of the spring he was insistent he had been able to help Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf -- especially Karstens -- with arm slots and release points. Are the last two nights against Florida indicators that he was right, or just the odds breaking against the Marlins?
The latest Pedro Martinez story -- about some vague interest by the Angels -- is probably overblown, to say the least. A National League General Manager who was incorrectly rumored to be interested, said a month ago that people sure were getting hopped up over him handcuffing the Dutch team -- during the first week of Spring Training -- and not hitting 90 on the radar gun as he did so.
So far this year Daniel Murphy has dropped a fly in left to cost Johan Santana a game, and, last night, after getting picked off by Yadier Molina, and then deciding that the only way to get past Molina at the plate was not to slide but rather enact a dance move, managed to slide out from under a crucial fly ball in St. Louis. The Mets are in awe of the youngster's plate discipline but after Murphy's tight night, manager Jerry Manuel suggested he needed to relax and admitted, "I guess I'm a little concerned."
Another Cubs note. If you're wondering how they hope to keep Rich Harden intact into the second half of the season, yes, they will occasionally skip his starts or give him extra days off. Kind of like the Chien-Ming Wang plan. Only without the euphemistic "tune-up in Florida." And replacing him in the rotation at some point, more likely with Phil Hughes than Ian Kennedy. But Wang is just fine -- there's nothing to see here.
A last question. Does it seem to you like the Angels treat Brandon Wood as if he owed them money? Like they let him up every once in awhile so he can breathe, before they stick him back under the water?
By the way, the title of this post is facetious -- it comes from an obscure reference in the movie "All About Eve." No actual confidences were violated in the writing of this blog.
FAN OF THE DAY:
Hats off to Ben Erdel. As part of his big night at Yankee Stadium last night, Brett Gardner let one of his Louisville Sluggers fly into the stands. Mr. Erdel and a much younger gentleman both had their hands on the rare souvenir -- although only the younger gentleman had just managed to avoid getting hit with the helicoptering bat. Mr. Erdel took the bat, took a few steps, and then thought better of it, and generously did the right thing.
The younger gentleman now has a singular thrill from his first Yankee homestand, exceeding his previous one -- being my nephew.
Here is Nephew, Jacob Smith, far left, and his bat, which was not stolen by either Katy Tur or Maegen Carberry.
And here is Mr. Erdel, whose second prize is a blog posting (and a clear conscience, and one happy kid left in his wake). Thank you, Sir.