Games » Baltimore OriolesMay5
Taking one for the team
About a month ago, I wrote that Wilson Betemit should be willing to get hit by a pitch (it was an 81-mph slider) with the bases loaded in a tie game.
Then I started thinking — what if I manned up, put my money (or my elbow) where my mouth was and stepped in front of one?
I made the mistake of telling Jason Kendall what I was thinking. His response? “You wearing an elbow pad?” as he rummaged through his locker.
“Uh, yeah, I guess so … what are you doing?”
“Getting you an elbow pad — we’re gonna get this done right now.”
But I decided that if I did this, I was getting it on video.
Kendall strongly suggested that I take it in the bicep (Dude, I ain’t got all that much happening in the bicep area.) Chris Getz suggested I turn and take it in the back. I thought maybe I should listen to Chris, since Jason’s a little intense. I’m not sure I should take advice from the Chuck Norris of baseball.
Then Matt Treanor heard about it. “You want to get hit by a pitch?” I explained I didn’t exactly want to, but after lipping off, thought I should. Matt’s response: “I’m in.”
I told Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer the plan, and he laughed until he cried.
I knew what I was doing — I used to lead my team every year in getting hit by pitches. It was either a brilliant strategy to increase my on-base percentage or I was too slow to get out of the way.
They all showed up early (apparently, the way to get ballplayers to show at your charity event is by offering to get smoked by a slider while they watch.) Seitzer and Kelly Heath dialed in the two-wheeled pitching machine and tried to set it to throw an 81-mph slider, but something was wrong with the power — it kept stopping, slowing down and speeding up.
I took it as a sign that God didn’t want this to happen, but Seitz and Kendall finally got the machine fixed.
Kelly got two readings of 81 mph, and Kevin told me to get in there before the machine got out of whack again. (Here’s a helpful hint: If you’re going to do something scary, thinking about it doesn’t help … as they say in the Special Forces, “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.”)
Look, I really did know what I was doing. I knew it was going to hurt. Pain and injury are two different things, just ask a ballplayer … or some juvenile cartoonists.
Watch the video and you’ll see what happened. A short review: The machine got one last surge, and instead of taking the 81-mph slider, I got 92 mph in the lower back.
(I hope you all appreciate the sacrifice I made when I gave up my six-pack abs to build up some protective fat around my waist. Talk about dedication — I’ve been training for this for 58 years.)
Word spread quickly. Players were requesting a look at the bruise. Ned Yost was impressed. Melky Cabrera came up, motioned me to lift my shirt, grinned and walked away, speaking Spanish and probably explaining what an idiot I am. Mike Aviles was upset that he wasn’t invited to see me wear one. (“Wearing” is the current slang for taking blame or getting hit by a pitch.)
So I figured that was it: I’d shown that I’m a man of my word and can take it like a pro. Then Treanor said, “For your next stunt, we put the gear on you and you try to block the plate while Kila tries to score.”
I decided it was time to pull the plug on “Jackass: The Baseball Edition.”
For the record: I still think Betemit should’ve worn that slider, but I now have a very good idea of why he didn’t.
Much less important than me getting drilled, but the Royals did play
The general feeling seemed to be that bringing up Eric Hosmer means the Royals are serious about winning now. According to Ned Yost, they still feel that Kila Ka’aihue is going to be productive, but he needs some time in the minors to work on his approach.
When it rains, run
In the first inning, Chris Getz scored from second on a single to short center from Melky Cabrera. There were no outs, and Adam Jones, the Orioles’ center fielder, was moving forward. Not a situation in which you normally get aggressive on the bases.
Melky moved up to second on the throw home and then he scored on a single from Gordon to right, once again challenging an outfielder who was moving forward and should’ve gotten off a good throw.
Now Gordon was on first, and Billy Butler hit a fly ball deep to right center. Alex tagged up, but didn’t challenge Adam Jones’ arm. So what was up? Does Jones have a weak arm or not?
The answer? Probably wet grass. The singles bounced to the outfield, making sure they were handling a wet ball, and the fly ball flew to the outfield, meaning Adam Jones had a dry ball. (I’ll try to ask someone about this tomorrow to find out if I’m actually right.)
A good teammate
I asked Mitch Maier about his playing time, and he had a surprising answer: If he wasn’t playing, that was a good sign for the team. Mitch not playing meant that all of the starting outfielders were healthy and having good seasons.
He said his job was staying ready and being a good teammate. He figured once it got hotter, they were going to need more rest, but a healthy, productive outfielder was going to play in 150 games, and that was fine with him if it helped the team get where it wants to be.
How do you not pull for a guy like that?