CSTB will have to go looking elsewhere for baseball comedy this season, as the Cubs are promising to keep their mouths shut. However, Dusty is confident that Wood will be back sooner than later, although Dusty’s estimation of when a pitcher is ready to go has always been questionable.
From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Kiley.
Kerry Wood re-enters the spotlight when he starts today against the Colorado Rockies. It will be his first Cactus League start since March 9, when he took himself out after two innings with what an MRI showed was bursitis and rotator-cuff inflammation in his right shoulder.
Wood has chosen not to talk to the media in recent weeks, telling people privately that he’s not mad at anybody in particular but that he feels more relaxed. He also has been annoyed by how some comments he considered harmless came back to bite him, and he is enjoying a breather from answering questions about his physical well-being.
Manager Dusty Baker said Wood isn’t the only Cub taking a more low-key approach to the season. Baker already has noted that he is going to be less forthcoming with his opinions.
”After last year’s fiasco, everybody is more low-key,” Baker said. ”It’s not only Kerry, it’s probably everybody. We all learned some valuable lessons last year.
”I get calls from guys and organizations about what they hear and read [about Wood] — that his arm is about to fall off. That’s about as far from the truth as anything.”
Wood gave up 3 runs on 8 hits over 5 innings on Wednesday against the Rockies. And I’m not sure about the lack of laffs at Wrigley in ’05 — not if Roger Cedeno makes the team.
From the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliot.
We asked Koch, released five days ago by the Blue Jays, if he was going to play with another team.
“Nope,” the relief pitcher said firmly.
“I’m going to make the Toronto Blue Jays pay every cent of my salary.”
The Jays are on the hook for Koch’s $950,000 US salary. If a team had an injury and needed an arm, it could add Koch at the prorated major-league minimum of $320,000.
“To be released after four outings? What’s four outings in the spring? Nothing,” Koch said. “They can pay my gas money for my car, they can pay to fill up my 240-gallon tank for my 30-foot Pursuit, they can gas up my jet boat and our three jet skis.”
That’s a lot of gas.
“Nothing against the city of Toronto or Jays fans,” Koch said. “I love the city and the fans treated me well.”
Whether this is bullet-proof bullpen bravado that closers need, or whether Koch will change his opinion a month down the road remains to be seen. But that’s what Koch was saying yesterday.
“I read in the paper they say I didn’t work hard,” Koch said. “Talk to any pitching coach or strength coach I’ve had. I lift, run a little, do agility drills and play long toss.
“I can’t run and haven’t run as much as everyone else in four years. Why? Because my back hurts. Say I threw a horse-bleep pitch, don’t attack my work ethic.”
Hideaki Sekiguchi, aka Billy, Bass Wolf of the amazing trio Guitar Wolf, passed away yesterday in Tokyo. A funeral will be held Tuesday morning at the following address :
Ohta-ku, Tokyo 143-0001
Greaseman, Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony, you can all fuck off. Nobody knows how to push the broadcasting envelope quite like former Phillies firebrand Larry Bowa. This morning on XM’s Baseball Channel, host Mike Patrick (joined by Buck Martinez) mentioned to Bowa that the local Gallahgers (!) had a menu featuing a Pedro Martini and a Carlos Beltran Burger.
“Ever have a drink or sandwich named after you, Larry?”
“Yeah…..there was the Larry Bowa Hot Dog….a lot of meat for your buck.”
With Mets 2B Kaz Matsui looking overmatched at the plate this spring (.208 BA thus far, no extra base hits in 53 at bats), the New York Times’ Pat Borzi raises the possibility of the speedy import batting 8th.
Willie Randolph has batted JosÃ© Reyes and Matsui first and second in his lineup throughout spring training, and a healthy Reyes has been productive, batting .328 with eight steals in eight attempts and 12 runs scored. But Randolph says the starting lineup “is not something etched in stone.”
It is a phrase he uses repeatedly when the conversation turns to the possibility of the second-year third baseman David Wright batting eighth – an eyebrow-raising spot in the lineup for a promising young power hitter who had 14 homers, 40 runs batted in and a .293 average in 69 games last year. In the future, Carlos Beltran and Wright could anchor the Mets’ lineup as the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, so the question is whether batting eighth is the proper apprenticeship for someone as valuable as Wright.
In the N.L., the No. 8 hitter, batting in front of the pitcher, can often go a long time without getting a good pitch to hit. “To me, it boils down to who’s the best guy for that spot,” Randolph said. “Everybody can have their opinion, but it’s what’s best for the ball club.
“David’s basically a rookie,” Randolph added. “We’ve all got to earn our chops.”
But what about Matsui? Is it possible that he could be dropped to the bottom of the order if he does not start hitting? Matsui has proved adept at situational hitting in recent games, collecting all five of his spring-training R.B.I. since his return. But he still walks less and strikes out more than a leadoff or No. 2 hitter should; he has only two walks in spring training and 13 strikeouts, the second most on the team and one more than Andres Galarraga had before he retired.
Randolph, who is still learning his players’ strengths and weaknesses, said Thursday that Wright, Matsui, right fielder Mike Cameron and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz were all possible candidates for the eighth spot in the order. But Randolph is likely to leave Matsui where he is for now. Matsui’s speed makes him tough to double up; he hit into only three double plays last year, the third-best ratio in the N.L. (one every 153.3 at-bats). And when he bats left-handed, he provides a shield for Reyes when he takes a lead off first base and prepares to steal.
Orioles 1B Rafael Palmiero has told the AP that in the wake of Jose Canseco’s best-seller,“this whole era over the last 10, 15 or 20 years has been tainted. Regardless of whether you did or you didn’t do anything, this whole era will have that label.” So maybe he should’ve kept a closer eye on Brady Anderson?
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was at his grandstanding best yesterday in USA Today, telling Hal Bodley that he’d favor an asterix being attatched to those records broken with the aid of steroids. Considering that two of George’s most highly paid employees, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, are admitted ‘roid users, it’s a good thing the Yankees haven’t set any records (or won any championships) recently that would require a disclaimer.
Wednesday’s Transcation Highlights :
Milwaukee released outfielder/pitcher Brooks Kieschnick. I know a team in New York that needs bullpen help and utility outfielders who can catch the ball. But enough about Queens College’s softball squad, they never listen to any of my suggestions.
Boston traded the enigmatic (ie. euphamism for relentlessly shitty) Byung-Hyun Kim to the Rockies for left-hander Chris Naverson and catcher Charles Johnson. Johnson was released soon afterwards, perhaps clearing the way for his signing with the Mets as a free-agent.
(Marichal, showing the Dodgers’ John Roseboro a pose that might work well in statue-form).
San Francisco announced they’ll retire Gaylord Perry’s number 36, along with errecting a statue in honor of Juan Marichal. The plaza / playground tribute to Will Shatter will just have to wait.
Los Angeles have sent catcher David Ross to Pittsburgh in exchange for approximately $750,000.00 (USD). Clearly, the acquisition of Jason Phillips was enough to provoke an entire overhaul of the L.A. roster (if not a team meeting called by Milton Bradley). Why the Pirates were so keen to acquire Ross is a myster ; they’ve already got Benito Santiago and Humberto Cota behind the plate, along with a bunch of decent catcing prospects. Pittsburgh also sent OF Ben Grieve, a former AL Rookie Of The Year, to Triple-A Indianapolis.
Oakland SS Bobby Crosby (above, right) is questionable for Opening Day after being hit on the wrist during Wednesday’s exhibition against Milwaukee. If Crosby isn’t good to go on Monday, former Met Marco Scutaro will get the start.
One goal created, another scored by the embattled David Beckham, as England won their 2nd World Cup qualifier in 4 days, beating Azerbaijan 2-0 at St. James Park. This result, however pales on the shocker scale compared to Israel’s deadlock with France. Said match follows France’s scoreless draw with Switzerland over the weekend — Group 4 proving more difficult for Raymond Domench’s side than most would’ve predicted. You can watch a tape delayed telecast of the action from Tel Aviv starting at 5pm EST on the Fox Soccer Channel.
(Israel’s Walid Badir letting uncomfortable tourist Fabien Barthez know that not only is the matched tied, but Linda Evangelista is really a man).
The U.S. National team will try to rebound from their weekend defeat in Mexico City with tonight’s WC qualifier against Guatemala, carried live on ESPN2 at 8pm eastern. Which may or may not beat the ratings for tomorrow night’s NIT final.
The Guardian’s Sean Ingle on Matt Taibbi’s best buddy, Pope John Paul, and the team(s) he supports.
“My flatmate and I were in the pub last week discussing the more unusual fans of our teams. In this discussion he claimed that the Pope supported his team: Fulham, and that in his younger days as a priest the Pope had actually attended a Fulham game. Is there any truth in this?” asks Brian Matthew Peers.
The Pope may only worship the one god, but he’s got flaky ties to at least three football teams – including Fulham.
According to local SW6 legend, John Paul II – who was a goalkeeper in his youth – stood on the terraces at Craven Cottage in the 1930s when he was studying as a priest in Roehampton. However, when the Daily Star reported this as fact (and cunningly doctored a photo of his holiness holding a Fulham scarf) they were reported to the Press Complaints Commission and forced to make a grovelling apology.
The story doesn’t end there, mind. In 1999, Ken Myers of the Fulham Independent Fanline phoned up the Vatican to ask about the rumours and later told the Sun: “I’d heard the Pope was a fan so, as it was Easter, I thought I’d give him a ring. I couldn’t believe it when I got through to his press spokesman. This guy even knew we were playing Wigan and was happy to talk about it.”
The Pope’s special envoy, Kieron Conroy, was a bit less forward, however. “The Pope wishes Fulham fans all the best,” he told Fleet Street’s finest. “He has written before hoping Fulham’s fortunes would be reversed and offers his support, such as he can give it.”
If that wasn’t inconclusive enough, the Pope also has been linked with Barcelona and Liverpool.
After performing mass at the Nou Camp in front of 120,000 people in November 1982, his holiness was presented with a lifelong Barca membership card – No.108,000 – from president Josep LluÃs NÃºÃ±ez – however rumours that he is a season-ticker holder are wide of the mark.
Meanwhile, more recently, Jerzy Dudek returned from the Vatican with the revelation that the Pope was a big Liverpool fan. “I spoke to a couple of guys who are very close to the Pope and they told me that he is always watching our games and that he is always thinking of me when Liverpool play,” he told the club’s official website.
Since Stephon Marbury scoring 45 in a losing effort to LA isn’t a hot enough story to hold our attention, let us instead turn to the New York Post’s Marc Berman and his conversation with Jeannie Buss.
In an interview by the Staples Center court before the Lakers hosted the Knicks, Buss spoke of the passion that Jackson ” a member of the Knicks’ two championship teams ” still has for the Big Apple.
“It was such a great time of his life,” Buss told The Post. “I totally see him back in New York. We were talking about Bill Bradley a couple of hours ago.”
Buss joined Jackson on his book-signing tour through New York in the fall.
“When he was in New York in October, he wanted to take me places, wanted to show me everything,” Buss said. “He’s got a love of the city. A friend of a friend sent to me a New York Knicks team picture when he was on the team. It had all the signatures but they needed Phil’s. We sat down. Told me all the stories.”
Asked if Jackson and Jeanie could be a package deal for the Knicks, she giggled and said, “Well, maybe if he gave me a ring I’d think of something like that. But I don’t think our relationship will be like that. I don’t think I can leave my family business.”
The Lakers executive admitted, though, that Jackson still could turn down all the jobs available because he seems unsure he wants to coach again.
“As close as I am to Phil, I still don’t know if he wants to coach,” she said, echoing the Tuesday comments of Jackson’s friend and biographer, Charley Rosen.
“What’s important to me is he’s healthy and feels good. . . . I can’t get a read one way or another [if he'll coach]. If he does, I want to make sure wherever he goes he has the support we gave him here.”
Buss said she once feared him leaving for the Knicks next season, thinking it was the end of their relationship. Now she’s fine with the idea, even if his returning to the Lakers would be her first choice.
She goes to New York twice a season for the NBA’s Board of Governor’s meetings.
“At the end of last season, when he wasn’t coming back, I didn’t know where our relationship would go,” she said. “I felt a lot of panic keeping him here. Now that we’ve gone though this year, our relationship is as strong as ever. Do I worry about him going to New York? I don’t have that concern anymore.”
In Salt Lake City, today’s news has Kirk Snyder sitting for a little while and free agent bust Carlos Boozer sitting for a much longer while.
The Daily Tribune’s Pat Caputo weighs in on MSU’s Tom Izzo and speculation that Cleveland’s new ownership group might try to make a play for the current King Of Kalamazoo. Conjecture is good and fine, but I seriously doubt Izzo is focused on anything other than Saturday’s game. Or at least that’s what I was saying to Chuck Fairbanks on the cell phone while shopping at Louis Vuitton.
Brian Turner calls our attention to the sordid tale of Indianapolis Colts wide-receiver Marvin Harrison’s alleged ass-whupping of 3 youthful autograph seekers.
Marvin Harrison’s sixth trip to Honolulu for the NFL’s Pro Bowl might be one of his more memorable for all the wrong reasons.
According to the lawsuit, the three boys approached Harrison outside a Louis Vuitton store at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for his autograph and to take his photograph. Harrison was on his cell phone at the time and told the boys to wait. Shortly thereafter, the two men with Harrison, who are not identified but remain part of the lawsuit nonetheless, arrived on the scene and the alleged assault ensued.
The lawsuit alleges that “without any provocation, the two yet to be identified males and subsequently Mr. Harrison violently and physically attacked the minor plaintiffs.”
I know this sounds like an open and shut case, but where were the parents during all of this? As someone who is fucking sick to death of autograph-hound adolescents interrupting my cell phone calls while shopping at Louis Vuitton, I applaud Harrison’s decisive measures …and suggest that these grifters and their ill-mannered offspring be the ones deserving of the full wrath of the legal justice system.
And while we’re on the subject of Hawaii, what kind of degenerates willingly attend the Pro Bowl? Other than Donovan McNabb, I mean. Or bring their kids to such a rotten event?