Big League Stew - MLB

I call shotgun on the A-Rod bandwagon.

Through 2½ weeks, Alex Rodriguez has out-homered eight teams, including Albert Pujols' team and Barry Bonds' team, and he's two behind Ryan Howard's team.

Here's a guess: In eight, maybe nine, years, when Rodriguez is on the verge of breaking Bonds' career home-run record, Bud Selig attends (whether he's commissioner or not) and so does Hank Aaron.

I hope they have pleasant weather that night at the new ballpark in Anaheim.

FIVE …

• I hate to keep bringing this up, and only do so to urge caution. Five weeks before Francisco Liriano was diagnosed with a blown elbow ligament last September, Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "It's a muscular problem … but we'll have him checked out again. It's muscles, not his elbow." The very next time he pitched, it was his elbow. On Thursday the Seattle Mariners announced Felix Hernandez had strained a forearm muscle.

• Three days before the last trading deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers already had been through Bill Mueller, Cesar Izturis, Willy Aybar, Ramon Martinez, Olmedo Saenz, Juan Guzman and Oscar Robles at third base. So, general manager Ned Colletti dealt Aybar and ineffective reliever Danys Baez to the Atlanta Braves for Wilson Betemit. Today, Aybar, sadly, has suffered a personal breakdown and Betemit a professional one, batting .118 with 10 strikeouts and one extra-base hit in 34 at-bats. Only Baez is contributing anything, and that's for the Baltimore Orioles, for whom he has eliminated some of the walks that got him into trouble with the Dodgers.

• Just how we saw it, the New York Mets are out in front in the National League East because of their … starting pitching. Well, not entirely. Like their city mates, the Mets are on pace to score 1,000 runs (without the DH and despite scoring only five runs in two games against the Washington Nationals a week ago). And, their bullpen has the best ERA (1.59) in baseball. But, so far so good on the starter front, with a test coming this weekend, when they'll start Mike Pelfrey tonight and Oliver Perez tomorrow afternoon against the Atlanta Braves.

Rich Hill: Left-handed, devastating curveball, 16 consecutive scoreless innings. The new Barry Zito?

• All hands: If the Los Angeles Angels are desperate for a bat in light of hand/finger injuries to Vladimir Guerrero, Howie Kendrick and Chone Figgins, they perhaps should at least consider Shawn Green, who discovered a mechanical flaw in his swing in the offseason and is batting .321 with seven extra-base hits for the Mets. An available hitter is rare this early in the season, but the Mets have organizational depth in the outfield with Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez.

… AND FLY

In retrospect, the Francisco Rodriguez foreign-substance flap looks rather overblown, considering Bobby Jenks cakes so much resin on the back of his cap he might as well duct tape the whole bag to his head.


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