A scout's take

mlb week

April 30, 2006

On Alex Rios, Toronto Blue Jays 25-year-old outfielder

Hitting -- "He struggled with the heater on the inner half of the plate last year. [Pitchers] were just teasing him away and then they'd drill him in and he'd either break his bat, pop up or K. This year he has a quieter approach and much better plate coverage. And when you make a mistake, he'll hit it out of the park."

Personality -- "He's a passive kid. Outstanding makeup, but passive. Sometimes you want to see a little fire and brimstone in him. Bringing in the catcher [fellow Puerto Rican Bengie Molina], that will be a steeling influence for Rios."

Strength/ability -- "I've watched him grow every year. He was a skin-and-bones kid. His body's now more mature, stronger. I've always liked his tools defensively. He has a plus arm, very accurate and look at the length of his stride: awesome. He's entering a season of maturity. I could see 20 homers and 20 stolen bases."

Note: "A scout's take" features the opinions of one major league scout on a particular player each week. A revolving roundtable of scouts is used. Because of potential tampering, the scouts will remain anonymous.

Say what?

"Gonna kick some [butt] some other time. How about that?"

Supremely confident Washington Nationals pitcher Billy Traber, 26, when asked, "Where do you go from here?" after allowing four runs in 1 1/3 innings in a loss Tuesday vs. the Cincinnati Reds. The correct answer was New Orleans. Traber was sent back to Triple-A the next day.

Numbing number

9

That's how many consecutive April wins Florida Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis had before losing, 3-1, Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was his 15th career April start. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only two other pitchers in baseball history have won the first nine April decisions of their careers. Rick Rhoden (Los Angeles Dodgers/Pittsburgh Pirates) won 13 from 1975 to 1981 and Elton "Icebox" Chamberlain (four teams) won nine from 1887 to 1891.

What's up?

Bonds at home and away

Barry Bonds' quest to pass Babe Ruth for second on the all-time homer list continues this week at home at AT&T Park. But then he gets two games at Miller Park in Milwaukee and three, starting Friday, in homer-happy Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Think Phillies fans might have something to say to Mr. Bonds? In the American League, the Chicago White Sox take their league-best record into Jacobs Field for a two-game series against the rival Cleveland Indians tomorrow and Tuesday.

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