Craig Biggio began the final road trip of his 20-year career on Thursday night in St. Louis with the pleasant thought that he won't have to endure any more of them.
09/21/2007 11:30 AM ET
Biggio begins final road trip
"I love the game, but I hate the travel," Biggio told the Houston Chronicle. "The travel is a pain in the neck. That's the price you've got to pay."
Biggio started Thursday night and will start again on Sunday. The Cardinals also plan to honor the Astros' future Hall of Famer during the series.
"They're some of the classiest fans in the game," Biggio said. "As a visiting player, if you make a good play, they clap for you. They appreciate you playing the game the right way."
In past years, a late-season series between the two teams has had playoff implications. This year, however, both teams are out of the race in the Central Division.
"It's sort of crazy to think about this year, and we're out of it, and it looks like they're out of it, too," Biggio said. "It's the first time in a long time either club has seen this side of things."
Conine to make final appearance in Miami: Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine will make his final appearance in Miami as the Mets play a three-game series against the Marlins. An original member of the expansion Marlins, Conine also played on the 1997 and 2003 World Series championship teams. Conine has announced that this will be his final season in the Majors.
"If the South Florida fans see me after this weekend, it will be in the playoffs," Conine told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Conine, his wife and three children still live in Weston, Fla.
"It probably won't hit me until January when it is time to get ready for spring training," Conine said, "but this is it. I feel good about it."
Conine and his wife will remain active in Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, and he has Conine's Bar and Grill in Hollywood, Fla. He didn't rule out staying in baseball.
"I don't think it will be on the field," Conine said. "I have traveled enough."
Lo Duca turns to rally clippers: After the Mets lost their fifth straight game Tuesday night, catcher Paul Lo Duca felt it was time to do something drastic. So instead of watching television after the game in his hotel room, Lo Duca shaved his head with a pair of electric clippers.
"I thought about a mohawk," Lo Duca told Newsday. "But I didn't want to make a mockery of it."
Earlier in the season, many members of the Mets shaved their head to break out of a team slump. This time, it was a solo act for Lo Duca.
"I think everybody knows what we need to do," he said. "I don't care how we do it. Whether we play sandlot style or what. We've just got to get it done."
As for the haircut, Lo Duca suffered a few nicks, but he isn't really concerned with how he looks over the next few weeks.
"It took me a while," Lo Duca said. "You know those magnifying mirrors in the hotel? That was helpful."
Mulder to have second surgery: Throughout Mark Mulder's efforts to come back from rotator cuff surgery, something just wasn't right.
A meeting with team physician George Paletta earlier this week confirmed that while there had been a complete healing of the labrum, there was only a partial healing of the rotator cuff. The news actually came as a surprise to Mulder, who will now have a second surgery on his shoulder to clean up the damaged tissue in the rotator cuff.
"It was such a grind mentally trying to get my arm strength where it needed to be, and I couldn't do it," Mulder told MLB.com. "I was kind of expecting to go in and them to say 'Everything looks OK, it just needs some more time.' In a way, it kind of explains a lot, also."
The second surgery, while not an ideal situation, isn't something that concerns Mulder. "There's disappointment, because I worked as hard as I tried to work to get back," he said. "I knew the whole time I just couldn't get my arm where it quite needed to be. This will have no effect on next season though. If it did, it would be a lot tougher."
Rogers tied for pickoff record: Kenny Rogers has missed a good chunk of time this season, so he knows he won't be winning a Gold Glove Award this year.
Even so, Rogers still takes pride in his defense and on Monday night he tied a Major League record when he picked off Jason Michaels at first base.
It was the 91st time Rogers has picked a runner off base, tying him with Mark Langston for most all-time -- or at least since they started keeping the statistic in 1974.
"Especially left-handers, if you don't have one, you're cutting yourself short on the ability to benefit yourself and your team," Rogers told MLB.com. "It's an added weapon, and whether you use it once or twice a year that it works, that couple times a year can be impactful on your wins and losses and all your numbers. It's a weapon -- a little one, but it's a weapon."
Uggla, Ramirez on verge of history: Dan Uggla hit a game-winning double in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Marlins to a wild 8-7 victory over the Mets Thursday night. The Marlins gave up four runs in the top of the ninth and then scored three in their half of the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
"It is very satisfying to get a win that way," Uggla told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Uggla and Hanley Ramirez have a chance to make history this season. Uggla has 30 home runs and Ramirez has 28. If Ramirez hits two more long balls, they will become the first middle infield combination in history to hit 30 home runs.
"That would be pretty cool," Uggla said. "I didn't know anything about it."
Angels' Figgins among top hitters: The American League batting title features a hot race between Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and Detroit's Magglio Ordonez. The two are tied with a .353 mark. But hot on their heels is Chone Figgins of the Angels, who has recovered from a slow start to have a .346 average. If Figgins was to win the batting title, he would become the first Angels player since Alex Johnson in 1970 to win the crown. However, Figgins does not think he can beat out the two guys ahead of him.
"Not the way those guys hit. Those guys are special," Figgins told the Orange County Register.
"For me, I just want to qualify and finish in the top 10, top 15, whatever. That way you can look back at 2007 and say, "I finished in the Top 10 or whatever."
Figgins currently does not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Injuries earlier in the season have him 36 plate appearances short with nine games to play. Further complicating things is that a bruised left wrist makes it painful for the switch-hitter to bat lefty, meaning he has sat out versus southpaws recently.
"I took some early work today (batting) and it felt good," Figgins said. "I didn't feel it (the bone bruise in his left wrist) at all today, but it'll be different tomorrow when the adrenaline's going."
Texas on Hunter's mind: At the end of the season, Torii Hunter will be a free agent. The Texas Rangers will be in the market for a center fielder. Is there a chance Hunter could be wearing a Texas uniform next season?
Hunter lives with his wife and three children in Prosper, Texas, located about 50 miles north of Arlington, during the offseason. Playing for the Rangers is something that has crossed Hunter's mind.
"I haven't thought about it a little bit," Hunter told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of playing for the Rangers. "I've thought about it a lot a bit. I'm going to be a free agent and I'm just watching. I'm watching to see what all the teams out there are going to do."
Hunter has said he wants to go to a winning team, something the Rangers have struggled to do on the field since last going to the playoffs in 1999. However, playing close to home may be more important to Hunter.
"My family's there and that's the main thing," Hunter said. "My family wants me there. My kids want me there. But at the same, we're just seeing what the situation looks like because I do have to be in a winning situation. Any player wants that."
Gonzalez, Owings provide depth in Arizona: While several members of the Arizona starting rotation are struggling, two pitchers who have done well for the Diamondbacks are Edgar Gonzalez and Micah Owings.
In his last two starts, Gonzalez is 1-1 with a 1.63 ERA while Owings threw a shutout in his last start on Tuesday against San Francisco.
"We have multiple options now with guys pitching much better," manager Bob Melvin told the Arizona Republic. "It's a good problem to have."
Gonzalez is next scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Dodgers. With an off day on Monday, Melvin has the opportunity to move some pitchers around for the final six games of the season.
Eckstein has a fan in Rollins: Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein have seen a lot of each other over the years. From the Florida State League all the way to the Major Leagues, there has been a mutual admiration from both sides. Well, kind of.
"I couldn't stand him then, either," Rollins told the Philadelphia Daily News. "He always did something to beat you. I used to try to get him when he was making doubleplays. But he was just quick enough and just smart enough that no matter how close I got, he was gone before I got him."
In reality, Rollins admits that if he finds himself down that it's Eckstein he wants to watch.
"Especially if I've been struggling, that's the guy I look at," said Rollins. "Just the way it looks like he's approaching an at-bat. OK, what can I take out of this at-bat? He's working the pitcher real good. I haven't done that lately. Get up there and work the pitcher. I don't bunt, but if he can do it, maybe I should try."
Nathan turns to sinking fastball: Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan, while maintaining the same velocity (94-96 mph) on his pitches this season as in years past, has seen a significant decrease in his strikeout totals. If you're looking for an explanation, it might be in his decision to use his trademark slider -- a big strikeout pitch -- less often than in the past. Instead, he's been using a sinking fastball.
"If I feel a guy is cheating toward that pitch, I can go to the sinker," Nathan told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Strangely enough, the sinker is often thrown just as hard as the fastball.
"A lot of my sinkers have been harder than my four-seamer [fastball]," Nathan said. "I threw one [Tuesday] that I actually [saw] it at 96. I don't know if it's arm angle or how it's coming out of my hand, but it's a pitch I can consistently throw pretty hard."
Lewis gets storybook first win: Cleveland Indians rookie pitcher Jensen Lewis, who is living the dream by playing he grew up watching, picked up his first Major League victory on Tuesday night in a huge game against the Detroit Tigers.
"It's huge," Lewis told MLB.com. "Especially against Detroit and at home. So many variables came together. It's storybook how it's all happening."
With a legitimate chance to be on the Indians' postseason roster, Lewis came up big on Tuesday when he struck out Gary Sheffield in the sixth and eighth innings.
Zack is back:. Zack Greinke, who spent much of the season in the Royals' bullpen this season, reminded fans that he has the potential to be one of the AL's top starters.
Greinke tossed eight shutout innings in the Royals' 3-0 victory over the White Sox in a game that lasted only one hour and 55 minutes.
"I don't think you can do any better than that, I don't care who you are," Royals manager Buddy Bell told MLB.com.
Greinke set a career-high with 10 strikeouts.
"This kid was unbelievable today," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
-- Red Line Editorial