Wednesday, May 30, 2007

To Rest Or Not To Rest…That Should Not Be A Question!

Good Times In Boston
Ask Casey Blake if he would like to sit out a game. What do you think he will say? He would probably protect his Wichita State buddy and manager Eric Wedge and say something politically correct like, “I come to play everyday, but I understand the skipper has to juggle the lineup on occasion. I’ll be ready if he needs me.” What a crock that would be! We have gone through the “Marte Experiment” at 3rd base. Casey has been asked to play 1st base, right field, and 3rd base. He has responded with a strong season. So he continues to fine-tune his game, gets named the American League Player Of The Week, and on the same day, Wedge sits him in the middle of a series with the Boston Red Sox. Casey Blake hits right-handed pitching almost as well as he hits left-handed pitching. It appeared that he may have been hit by a pitch on the hand in the top of the ninth inning Monday night while allegedly swinging at a third strike, according to 1st base umpire Chuck Merriweather. “You better sit tonight and rest that hand, Casey. Which hand was it, anyway?” Come the 8th inning and 3rd baseman Mike Rouse, who hasn’t been seeing the ball well at all since spring training, has gone 0 for 2. Casey gets a pinch hit single. “How’s the hand now, Casey?” Kansas City is in town next week, rest him a game then if he has to rest. If I am Grady Sizemore who has played every inning of every game so far this season, I make sure Wedge doesn’t see me limp away from 2nd base while breaking up a double play. If I have to sneeze or cough, I make sure Wedge is out of ear-shot. Last week, Ryan Garko wins a game for the team and sits the next night. Who takes his place in the batting lineup? Another right-handed hitter…brilliant!
Little league may have a “two inning minimum” for all players but at the major league level, play to win! And where is it written that Travis Hafner, who’s sole job is to hit baseballs (except for an occasional fill-in at 1st base) and is mired in a terrible slump, has to bat 3rd? Why isn’t Victor Martinez (.308 AVG, .380 OBP, .503 SLG, switch hitter) batting 3rd and Hafner 4th?
With Detroit on our heels and Chicago and Minnesota are busy deciding if they want to join the division race, this series vs. Boston is very important. We can’t lay down for 3 games and expect to put any distance between ourselves and the rest of the division. The Red Sox will be our biggest roadblock to the World Series if we make it to the playoffs. This team needs to know that they can play and beat them. The “mission statement” for the season has been coined as “One Game at a Time.” How about, “Play To Win Every Game, One Victory At A Time!”

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