Hume has top billing on Palmeiro's hit list

NL Notebook

Baseball Week

July 03, 2005

When the Orioles were in Cincinnati last month, Reds bullpen coach Tom Hume approached Rafael Palmeiro with some baseballs to sign.

They chatted, and Hume asked Palmeiro to confirm something he had heard a few years ago.

Was it true that the first hit of Palmeiro's illustrious career had come against Hume when he pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies? "Line-drive single to left field," Palmeiro responded.

For the record, there were two outs in the eighth inning on Sept. 8, 1986 when Palmeiro singled in his fourth at-bat of the game, a 7-4 Chicago Cubs win. Palmeiro's hit against Hume scored Leon Durham for his first career RBI.

Hume, who won 57 games in 11 seasons with the Reds and Phillies, has seen several historic baseball moments up close. He witnessed the 500th homers of Mike Schmidt and Ken Griffey. And he pitched for the Reds when Pete Rose made history on a nearly nightly basis. But he's only jump-started one potential Hall of Fame career.

A few current Reds players, including reliever Kent Mercker, teased Hume when they learned about his appearance against Palmeiro.

"Mercker said, `Just think, if you had gotten him out, you might have ruined his career.' "

Instead, Palmeiro is on the cusp of 3,000 hits. And Hume is paying attention, but not just because, in a small way, he'll always be linked to Palmeiro.

"Just watching a guy like that, you know he is somebody you pull for," said Hume. "What he has done for the game and from the things you read about him, you know he is a good guy."

Biggio's bumps

Here are some official numbers linked to the record 268 times Houston's Craig Biggio has been hit with a pitch. He passed former Oriole Don Baylor and set the modern-day record Wednesday in the fourth inning when he was nicked in the left elbow by Colorado's Byung Hyun Kim.

He has been hit by 202 different pitchers since his first plunking on April 22, 1989. Twenty times he has been hit twice in a game. Pedro Astacio is one of 12 pitchers to have plunked him twice in the same game; Astacio did it twice. And two sets of brothers (Al and Mark Leiter and Andy and Alan Benes) have hit Biggio.

Schmidt dilemma

Jason Schmidt may not be traded at the end of the month, but he surely won't be a free agent this winter. The Giants have a $10.5 million option for 2006, with a $3.5 million buyout. That means they'd save only $7 million next year in a weak buyer's market. With a potentially healthy Barry Bonds, the Giants think they can compete in 2006. So they'll need Schmidt, not prospects and an overpaid mediocre starter.

Quick hits

The Nationals have inquired about Roger Clemens' availability and, like everyone else, were told by Houston that the Rocket was grounded. ... D.J. Houlton has entrenched himself into a semi-permanent spot as the Dodgers' fifth starter. ... Nationals closer Chad Cordero had 15 big-league saves coming into 2005. He had a major league record-tying 15 in June alone.

League notebooks are compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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