Batting around, from Astros to Zimmerman

An alphabetical journey through this season's important, irreverent and irrelevant stories

By The Letter

April 02, 2006|By ANDY KNOBEL | ANDY KNOBEL,SUN REPORTER

Astros. Houston visits the Chicago White Sox on June 23 in a matchup of 2005 World Series participants. Maybe Phil Garner's team will remember its bats this time.

Busch. Fans at the St. Louis Cardinals' new park will be able to eat at the Gashouse Grill and Dizzy's Diner. Though with the Arch so close, wouldn't you expect a McDonald's?

Clemens. Will Roger return at 43? Or will his last victory go down as that 17-0 masterpiece against South Africa?

Damon. Johnny and the New York Yankees visit Fenway Park on May 1. Don't expect to see a lot of those W.W.J.D.D. T-shirts.

Errors. After leading second basemen in errors for five straight seasons, the Washington Nationals' Alfonso Soriano gets to start a new streak in left field.

Faith Night. It's the minor league marketing rage this season, complete with bobblehead dolls of biblical figures. For Florida Marlins fans, every night is Faith Night.

Glavine. New York Mets pitcher Tom Terrific is 25 wins shy of 300 for his career. Can't see how hockey would've worked out this well.

Hernandez. Not-so-ancient Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix, 19, could be to baseball what LeBron James is to the NBA. For one thing, both go by the nickname "King."

Johjima. The Mariners' new catcher, Kenji, won seven Gold Gloves in Japan. Can he handle the transition to America as well as he has handled pitchers?

Kansas City. How bad are the Royals? They're the first team since the mid-1950s Pirates (K is also for Kiner) to lose 100 games three times in four seasons.

Leyland. A quarter-century ago, Jim left the Detroit Tigers' organization because his managerial prospects were blocked by Sparky Anderson. He's back now; Kirk Gibson, Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell aren't.

McCourt. Looking for a way to lure women to the park, Los Angeles Dodgers president Jamie, a Pikesville native, is backing a lipstick giveaway this summer. Didn't Brooklyn once try Leo the Lipstick Night?

National League. Eight different pennant winners the past eight seasons. Who's next? N for Nationals? Nope.

Oswalt. The Astros' Roy is trying to become the first pitcher since Glavine (1991-1993) to win 20 or more games in three straight seasons.

Prince. Brewers first baseman Fielder, Cecil's son, isn't the only son of a Toronto Blue Jay making waves. The San Diego Padres' new second baseman is Josh Barfield, Jesse's kid. Shouldn't Bobby Cox be managing these guys?

Quintero. First name: Mayque. The Nationals' prospect is the only player in professional baseball with Q in his first and last name.

Rollins. Joltin' Jimmy of the Philadelphia Phillies enters the season 20 games away from tying Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Would it count over two seasons? Call him Mr. Coffee ... Break.

Stitches. Pity the seamstress who has to provide the lettering for Royals infielders Tony Graffanino, Mark Grudzielanek and Doug Mientkiewicz.

Tejada. Miguel's consecutive-games-played streak is at 918, the longest among active players and the seventh longest of all time. If he slumps as he did late last season and this spring, should he sit? Sound familiar, Orioles fans?

Utley. Or underrated. Chase's 28 home runs last season tied for the most in history by a Phillies second baseman. The position's sure a strength in the Mid-Atlantic.

Valenzuela. Twenty-five years ago next Sunday, rookie Fernando was pressed into service on Opening Day after the scheduled Dodgers starter pulled a calf muscle. The left-hander two-hit the Astros, touching off Fernando-mania.

Walks. Bobby Abreu has 100 or more bases on balls for seven straight years, one short of the major league record. There sure was no pitching around him at the 2005 Home Run Derby.

X-rays. Nationals workhorse Livan Hernandez has led the NL in innings pitched for three straight years. Last September, he underwent knee surgery. Who knows how many more body parts could fall victim?

Youth. At 28, new Rangers general manager Jon Daniels is 19 years younger than Mets pinch hitter Julio Franco. Maybe Daniels can become a player when he's all washed up as an executive.

Zimmerman. Nationals rookie third baseman Ryan has been likened to Brooks Robinson. That might be stretching it, but he sure looks like an upgrade from Vinny Castilla.

andy.knobel@baltsun.com

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