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Kevin Frandsen made his Major League debut last night, going 3-for-4 with three runs and got hit by a pitch. Hitting second in the lineup, he grounded into a double play in his first at-bat, but he was solid after that. He won’t hit for power, but he has a nice stroke. Somewhere his brother D.J. is smiling. D.J. Frandsen passed away in September of 2004 due to complications from a Wilms tumor, the most common form of Kidney cancer in children. He was 25 and had suffered for 19 years, losing both kidneys and surviving a transplant. As all parents are, Frandsen’s were very emotional as Kevin stood in the box for the first time as a major leaguer. As he approached the plate, he tapped his upper back. He has a tattoo there that says simply, "D.J." Frandsen is a talented player with amazing make-up. Being brought up due to an injury to Ray Durham, Frandsen may not stay in the big leagues after Durham is healthy. Look for Frandsen to be a mainstay in the Giants infield beginning maybe next year. Good luck to him.
On the other side of the spectrum, the "bat-throwing" incident involving Delmon is exactly what he and baseball don’t need. Delmon is a great player, but he can’t let his frustration with not being called up to The Show affect his play. There are a lot of Devil Rays fans waiting for him to help turn the organization into a winning one. I won’t be surprised with any suspension longer than 20 games. Some said that Eijah Dukes was a bad influence on Young when they played together last season (when Young had his first run-in with an ump, chest-bumping an umpire while at double-A Montgomery), but Dukes has made great strides and has been on his best behavior this year. Young will probably get a whoopin’ from big brother Dmitri. Let’s hope that he learns from this experience. He will be a special player, but whether he ends up being viewed by baseball fans as the next Ken Griffey Jr. or the next Barry Bonds will depend on how he let’s this incident change him (or not change him).
Rich Harden’s injury doesn’t come at a good time for the A’s. Aside from Swisher and Chavez, the offense is still trying to find itself (the series with the Royals should help) and the other starters in the rotation have struggled to find consistency. Esteban Loaiza has struggled and hasn’t found his velocity, Huston Street has yet to return fom a minor pec injury, and Joe Blanton is waiting for April to end and hoping May of ’06 is better than May of ’05 (he went 0-2 in five May starts last season with an ERA of 13.26). In my opinion, Barry Zito isn’t worrying about a trade or where he’s going to play next season, but he also isn’t pitching as well as he could and should be. The A’s are undefeated in Harden starts and face the division rival Angels and a tough Cleveland Indians team this week. The A’s (and my fantasy team) need Harden back healthy fast. He’s earning comparisons to Mark Prior for all the right and wrong reasons… The good news is that Frank Thomas looks like he’s shaking the rust off and Dan Johnson is improving like the team knew he would.
I want to touch on Albert Pujols a little bit (I’m going to try and write a longer blog on him soon). Great to see him starting at a record pace. 13 homers in April? Good Lord! If the new Busch turns out to be the hitter’s park it seems to be right now, Pujols could hit 50+ homers every year. He has 214 homers in his first six years and he’s only 26. I won’t say he will do it, because you never know when he’ll start getting the Bonds treatment, but I won’t be surprised if he hits 60 homers this year. He is the greatest right-handed hitter of all time (I thought this last year, before Kurkjian and Gammons started saying it.) LaRussa says he’s the greatest player he’s ever coached. Stockton Ports’ coach Todd Steverson was the Cardinals’ minor league hitting coach during Pujols’ only year in the minors. He said that you could tell when Pujols was taking soft-toss that he had something extra in his swing and that he was a tireless worker. This proves that talent + hard work = success. Young players of any sport should look up to Pujols, not only for his performance on the field, but also because of his contributions off it. The Pujols Family Foundation is committed to "the love, care, and development of people with Down Syndrome and their families", as well as helping Dominican families living in poverty. Isabella Pujols, Albert’s adopted daughter (born to his wife Diedre before she met and later married Albert) has Down Syndrome. Albert has very strong faith and is as great a man as he is a baseball player. He will carry the torch, if he isn’t already, along with players like A-Rod and David Wright into the Post-Steroids era.
Last topic this week-Barry Bonds. I’m not sure how many A’s fans are Giants fans as well, but I am. No matter what the circumstances, until concrete evidence comes out proving that he took steroids, I won’t say he did. You can assume what you want and we are all entitled to our own opinions. I won’t tell you that you are crazy if you think Barry juiced. It’s unjust to condemn him without a positive test. Barry may be the most hated figure in baseball ever and I’ve talked to someone who interacted with him in the Giants club house on a regular basis that says Barry and his attitude brought this upon himself. I root for Barry and will continue to root for him. I didn’t get the privilege of watching Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Satchel Paige, or any of the other great players that have been integral parts of baseball. I do get the privilege to watch Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez and Albert Pujols. I get to see their greatness with my own eyes (thanks to MLB.com, MLB TV and ESPN). I get a sense of satisfaction and honor watching history take place. My dad told me stories about some of the greats from baseball’s past that he watched and I’ll be able to tell my kids about the players I’m watching. Why shouldn’t I cherish that? Great players do things both at the plate and on the mound that leave me shaking my head in awe.
Hope you enjoyed my first blog. Check in early next week for my next post. Thanks to my buddy Brian for letting me borrow his laptop during the NFL Draft to write all of this! (We died a little inside when the Raiders passed on Matt Leinart, but we will survive.)