Sunday, April 25, 2004

Marlins managing Phillies

McKeon: 'We don't throw at people, we just keep beating you'

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The Marlins - picked by few to win the National League East let alone repeat as World Series champions this season - were the first team to 11 wins.

Six of those 11 wins came against the underachieving Phillies.

"They're playing with a lot of confidence, and they should," Phillies third baseman David Bell said. "They have a good team.

"We have a good team, too, and we can beat them."

Can they?

Dating to last season, Philadelphia has lost 18 of its past 20 against the Marlins.

A bench-clearing brawl Thursday, started when Phillies starter Brett Myers threw inside to Alex Gonzalez, only heightens expectations for the remaining 13 games between the teams this season.

The Marlins return to Citizens Bank Park for a two-game series July 21.

"In this game, what goes around comes around," Florida manager Jack McKeon said. "We don't throw at people. We just keep beating you."

DOUBLE STANDARD: When Cubs manager Dusty Baker bungled a double-switch against the Reds on April 16 - a mixup that led to Baker's ejection for arguing with umpire C.B. Bucknor - White Sox rookie manager Ozzie Guillen was just glad it wasn't him.

"If that happened to us," Guillen said, "shoot, everybody would say, 'We told you. We told the general manager this guy (Guillen) doesn't have experience.' "

"BIG CAT" UPDATE: Veteran first baseman Andres Galarraga has experienced a recurrence of the non-Hodgkins lymphoma that sidelined him during the entire 1999 season and reappeared in 2002.

Edgardo Alfonzo, a fellow Venezuelan and former Giants teammate, gave an encouraging update on Galarraga's condition last week. "The last time I talked with him, he told me he was clean," said Alfonso, the Giants third baseman. "He told me he hopes to come back after the All-Star break, preferably with a team closer to home."

Galarraga batted .301 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI with the Giants last season. The West Palm Beach, Fla.-resident is two home runs shy of 400 for his career.

TURF WOES: The new artificial surface installed in the Metrodome before the season has drawn less than favorable reviews from some inside the Twins clubhouse.

Outfielders Torii Hunter (strained hamstring) and Shannon Stewart (hamstring strain) blamed the surface for their injuries. The surface is playable once laid, but can take up to three months to settle sufficiently.

NOT SO BAD: Surgery on Rockies center fielder Preston Wilson's left knee went better than expected Monday.

Wilson was believed to have a torn meniscus, but doctors found three loose cartilage particles instead. The All-Star could return to the Rockies lineup by June 1.

ODDS AND ENDS: Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker, who owns eight thoroughbreds, is picking The Cliff's Edge to win the Kentucky Derby, followed by Tapit and Wimbledon. ... Jim Wolf, whose younger brother Randy pitches for the Phillies, has been hired as a full-time major league umpire. He can work Phillies games, but cannot be behind the plate when his brother pitches. ... Ameriquest Mortgage Company is close to securing the naming rights for The Ballpark in Arlington. ... Actor Martin Sheen and members of The West Wing crew were filmed during pregame ceremonies Friday at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet, threw out the first pitch. The scene will appear in the season finale.

Hot corner

As bad as Jermaine Dye was last year for the Oakland Athletics (see Stats Sheet, below), he has finally bounced back to become the slugger the A's traded for a couple years (and a broken leg) ago. He's near the AL lead in homers and RBI while batting over .300.

No-so-hot corner

A lot of team's bullpens have struggled so far this season, but from opening day - when the bullpen blew a lead - on, the Cleveland Indians' pen has been particularly flammable. While David Riske (9.00 ERA), Rafael Betancourt (11.17) and Scott Stewart (15.43) have been the main culprits, it hasn't quite mattered whom the team has run out there. Case in point: right-hander Jason Anderson, just up from Triple-A Buffalo, was greeted in his first appearance Friday by the Detroit Tigers by giving up five runs in just an inning. But there was some relief - in a blowout loss earlier in the week, backup catcher Tim Laker (below) pitched a scoreless inning.

By the numbers

• The Tigers have not finished with a winning record in April since 1993.

• A's pitcher Tim Hudson threw five double-play balls Wednesday, most for any pitcher since Shawn Estes in 2000.

• The Blue Jays' 4-11 start was the worst in team history.

• Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen had as many RBI (26) as total runs scored by the Expos through Thursday.

• Indians pitcher Jake Westbrook threw 83 pitches and retired all 21 Tigers batters he faced in relief on Monday.

MLB power rankings

1. Florida MarlinsBowa's had his Phil of Fish.
2. Minnesota Twins Call 'em the Blanco Brigade.
3. Baltimore Orioles Biggest acquisition: Ponson.
4. Oakland AthleticsIf they could just stop colliding ...
5. Los Angeles DodgersBeltre finally living up to potential.
6. Boston Red SoxJays shell Schilling.
7. Cincinnati RedsCan weatherman get credit for a save?
8. Chicago CubsWill Prior return or won't he?
9. Chicago White SoxBloodied Yanks' noses.
10. Houston AstrosNo place like home for Clemens.
11. N.Y. YankeesEnjoy .500 start while you can.
12. St. Louis CardinalsRolen off to MVP start.
13. Atlanta BravesMarcus Giles carrying offense.
14. Anaheim AngelsGlaus finally healthy - and it shows.
15. Detroit Tigers Urbina back sooner than expected.
16. San Diego PadresPetco Power unleashed!
17. Pittsburgh PiratesSo far, they're the Yanks without the payroll.
18. Colorado Rockies It's like Castilla's back at Coors. Oh wait, he is.
19. Texas RangersHolding up without A-Rod, so far.
20. Tampa Bay Devil RaysDo they play the Yankees, like, 75 times?
21. N.Y. MetsHanging in there, sort of.
22. Milwaukee BrewersSexson deal plugged lots of holes.
23. San Francisco GiantsThey can't be this bad, can they?
24. Arizona D'backsThey can't be this bad, can they?
25. Seattle MarinersThey can't ... well, they are in a tough division.
26. Cleveland IndiansDodged a bullet with Sabathia.
27. Kansas City RoyalsLots of lefties, but no pitching.
28. Philadelphia PhilliesUh-oh, better pretend to be a small market again.
29. Toronto Blue JaysWhat's up with Wells, Delgado?
30. Montreal ExposFrank Robinson deserves better.

Stat sheet

You often hear it this time of year - whether a player is struggling or surging - it's early. Well, you know, it is. For point of comparison, let's look at some key stats from April 2003, and compare them with final-season numbers:

Miguel Tejada, Athletics

April 2003: .155, 4 HR, 12 RBI.

Final: .278, 27, 106

J.T. Snow, Giants

April 2003: .371

Final: .273

Dmitri Young, Tigers

April 2003: .159, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Final: .297, 29, 85

Runelvys Hernandez, Royals

April 2003: 2-0, 0.60 ERA

Final: 7-5, 4.65

Livan Hernandez, Expos

April 2003: 1-1, 4.70

Final: 15-10, 3.20

Mark Teixiera, Rangers

April 2003: .175, 2 HR, 7 RBI

Final: .259, 26, 84

Derek Lowe, Red Sox

April 2003: 3-2, 6.04

Final: 17-7, 4.47

Damian Moss, Giants

April 2003: 4-0, 2.35

Final: 10-12, 5.16

Jeff Weaver, Yankees

April 2003: 2-0, 3.25

Final: 7-9, 5.99

On the other hand, some books you could judge from their covers. Who would have thought a year ago that these stats would have held up?

Esteban Loaiza, White Sox

April 2003: 4-0, 1.24

Final: 21-9, 2.90

Jermaine Dye, Athletics

April 2003: .189, 1 HR, 6 RBI

Final: .172, 4, 20

Danny Graves, Reds

April 2003: 0-2, 8.02

Final: 4-15, 5.33

Rick Reed, Twins

April 2003: 1-3, 7.52

Final: 6-12, 5.07


Information from notes submitted by other baseball writers was used in this report.

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