Roch Around The Clock


December 16, 2005|By ROCH KUBATKO

A source in Minnesota - OK, it's Joe Christensen, who used to cover the Orioles for The Sun before returning to his Midwest roots - tells me that the Twins have signed Tony Batista. I guess they had too much range at third base.

Tony was a decent guy while playing for the Orioles, and we in the media loved watching him raise his arms above his head and perform his little dance at third base after the first pitch.

I don't think he endeared himself to club officials by advising Melvin Mora that the only way to get a substantial raise in the majors was to hit more home runs. Mora tried to pull everything the second half of the season and fell into a horrendous slump.

But wasn't it also Batista who helped to recruit Miguel Tejada to Baltimore, even though it was clear the Orioles weren't going to re-sign him?

I was covering the team during a road trip to Toronto when the Orioles acquired Batista, who simply had to change clubhouses at SkyDome in one of the most convenient transactions in baseball history. One of the first things I noticed about him was the jar of popcorn kernels he kept in his locker. Batista used them to improve his batting eye.

He'd actually have someone toss them to him in the cage or the tunnel leading to the dugout, and he'd take his swings, figuring if he could hit something that tiny, the ball would look huge by comparison - like B.J. Ryan's head. I can still see Larry Bigbie flipping the kernels to Batista, and having them scattered all around him. I noted how it must be a good sign that Batista entrusted Bigbie with such an important job.

"Yeah, I suppose so," Bigbie replied. "But now I have to pick them all up."

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