04/09/2007 11:38 PM ET
Batting champ Sanchez gets '07 started
After fighting nasty weather in Indianapolis to get at-bats last week, Freddy Sanchez rejoined the Pirates to test his sprained right knee in the Major Leagues instead of struggling through Triple-A.
Freddy Sanchez was the first Pirate to win the batting title since 1983. (Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
That decision paid off, as Sanchez had two hits and an RBI in the Pirates' 6-3 win over the Reds on Sunday.
"It's good to be back here; it's very good to be back here," Sanchez told MLB.com before the game. "I was hoping to get some more ABs down there, but it didn't work out. So, you know, you gotta get started sometime."
Manager Jim Tracy was more than happy to find a spot for Sanchez, who led the National League with a .344 batting average in 2006.
"Just go out there and be Freddy, and everything else will take care of itself," said Tracy. "He's pretty good at getting the ball in play; he's pretty good at that. You know, that's all he has control over. What happens after that is completely out of his control."
As for his knee, Sanchez doesn't seem too concerned.
"Once I'm on the field, I can't worry about the knee, the pain, the discomfort or anything like that," he said. "I've just gotta play."
Davies shows big-league stuff: Kyle Davies got a no-decision on Sunday but his outing against the Mets still drew praises all around. Davies went 6 2/3 innings and allowed just four hits and two runs in the Braves' 3-2 win. He tied a career-high with eight strikeouts.
"I don't know if you call it dominant, but he sure pitched well," manager Bobby Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This game was all about him."
Catcher Brian McCann, who also caught Davies in the Minors, was confident the pitcher would do better than the 3-7 record with an 8.38 ERA he posted in 2006.
"What he did today was awesome. I can't say enough about Kyle Davies," McCann said.
It was the completion of a nice turnaround for Davies, who was originally slated to start the year in the Minors, but who got recalled to replace the injured Lance Cormier.
"It was a wakeup call, being sent down," Davies said. "I'm trying not to think of the next day. I know when they give me the ball, I'm going to try to pitch like I did today."
Schmidt turned grief into positives: Losing a parent to cancer is difficult for any child. In addition to the feelings of loss, one often questions one's own mortality.
Jason Schmidt had all of those feelings, and now he's using his experience as a means to help others.
"For two to three years I was fearful," Schmidt told the Los Angeles Times. "Every time I'd get sick, I thought I had cancer. I never looked at it from a realistic point of view. I could have stubbed my toe and thought I had cancer."
Schmidt's mother died of cancer at the age of 53 and several other members of his family also contracted the disease. After the 2003 season, Schmidt underwent tests to see if he, too, had cancer.
"He had legitimate symptoms, and because of what he had gone through with his mom, we wanted him to take the right tests and put his mind at ease," trainer Stan Conte said.
Schmidt checked out okay and he ended up contributing time and money to charitable causes for brain cancer research.
"You hear of people getting cancer and never think it can happen to you or your family," Schmidt said. "When it does happen, there is nobody to help, nobody to say, 'This is what is going to happen.'
"I decided to help people. I was struck by what they go through, kids, older people, it can happen to anyone. We shared stories, and I tried to brighten their day."
Oswalt the ace comes through again: Roy Oswalt showed why he is the ace of the Houston staff Saturday night, as he snapped the Astros' four-game losing streak with a complete game win over the Cardinals, 5-1.
Oswalt had thrown only 86 pitches through the first eight innings and came to bat in the bottom of the eighth. While in the on-deck circle, he made sure not to look into the dugout to see if manager Phil Garner was going to possibly pinch-hit for him.
"I wasn't going to come out of the game unless I got in trouble in the ninth," Oswalt told the Houston Chronicle.
Oswalt never got into trouble in the ninth as he needed only eight pitches to earn his 12th complete game of his career.
"You had the feeling he was in control the whole game," Garner said. "We put a couple of runs on the board, and they came back and scored a run and you still felt like he had the game under control. It never did feel like we were in jeopardy."
Oswalt (1-0), said the key to the game was keeping his pitch count low in the first few innings.
"The first two innings were key innings," he said. "I got through the first two innings with (18) pitches and was trying to set up for late in the game. I was able to get to the seventh inning with (76) pitches and started to look to get to the ninth with less than a 100 pitches, and it worked out."
Carlos Lee, the Houston left fielder, said he just watched Oswalt work with a bit of awe throughout the game.
"It's amazing how (Oswalt) goes out and keeps going after hitters," Lee said. "He wants to throw strikes and let the guy hit the ball and let us work. He's by far the best pitcher to play behind. If I had a person to pick as far as who was the toughest against me, it was Roy.
"I'm glad I'm on his team now."
Gagne goes back-to-back: Eric Gagne pitched on consecutive nights Friday and Saturday and came away feeling good about his outings.
On Friday he threw 15 pitches for Double-A Frisco against Arkansas and followed that with a 17-pitch outing on Saturday, with 12 of those pitches being strikes. He did allow a home run and his velocity was a little down from the night before, but Gagne was generally pleased with his performance.
"My arm feels good," Gagne told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I was worried about my arm today because it was the first time in two years (to pitch in consecutive games). But it felt good to go out there on back-to-back days and be able to perform. It was a positive outing."
Gagne said the home run might lead people to think his outing was not very successful, but that is not really the case.
"A lot of people will look at the outcome [negatively]," he said, "but I got behind on the count and that's how you get hurt sometimes. I didn't want to walk anybody, but it was right down the middle and up a little."
The toughest part of his second outing was warming up, as temperatures were in the low 40s and he felt a little stiff from the night before.
"But that's normal," he said. "You worry about soreness. After two years, you don't know if it's just normal soreness. I know now it's just normal soreness. That's why they kept me on the DL, so I could really learn what I need to do on an everyday basis, what I'm supposed to feel like."
Hunter will be among those to honor Robinson: Minnesota Twins center fielder Torii Hunter will be among the many Major League players who will be wearing No. 42 on April 15, the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut.
Hunter thinks the tribute, which started when the Reds' Ken Griffey Jr. approached Commissioner Bud Selig, is a fantastic idea.
"It's pretty cool to bring his number out of retirement, and this year is dedicated to him, 60 years," Hunter told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It's good recognition. It's a good thing with the decline that we have with black Americans playing the game of baseball. Jackie Robinson, something that special, can kind of boost you back up.
"Hopefully, we'll get a lot of young, black youth to view this that day. If we can get it on TV a lot more and get it out there for the marketing part, maybe little kids would see that the history of baseball still lives."
Hirsh is no longer the wide-eyed rookie: The first time Jason Hirsh faced the San Diego Padres, it was his Major League debut and he was pinned with a loss.
On Friday night, Hirsh faced the Padres again and was matched up against Greg Maddux in San Diego's home opener.
Hirsh didn't let the sellout crowd or the fact he was pitching against Maddux get to him en route to leading the Colorado Rockies to a 4-3 win.
"It's the evolution of a player," Hirsh told the Rocky Mountain News. "Last year I was a wide-eyed rookie, thinking, 'Oh, my God.' Now I can get down to business and be the pitcher people want me to be."
Hirsh was effective throughout the game before being lifted with two outs in the seventh and runners on first and third with Colorado leading 4-1. Hirsh ended the night with a career-high eight strikeouts and did not allow a walk.
"He was pitching with a little edge on him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There has been a lot of talk (about the trade that brought him to Colorado as part of the trade that sent Jason Jennings to Houston). All he wanted to do was get an opportunity to go out and pitch."
While Hirsh was able to throw his low-90s fastball for strikes, the key to his outing was his ability to spot his changeup as well to keep Padres hitters off balance.
"The changeup was my No. 1 pitch by far," he said. "I had great command of it. I felt any situation, I could throw it. It's something you can look forward to seeing from me this year."
-- Red Line Editorial