Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton made some amends while in Tampa Bay for the AL division series against the Rays, the franchise that selected him with the first overall draft pick in 1999.
Hamilton has made an inspiring comeback from the devastating depths of drug and alcohol addictions after being drafted and then getting hurt. He has openly told his story, including in the book “Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back.”
But this week while playing in Tampa, Hamilton felt he owed an apology to a few trainers and other officials who are still with the team that were there when he went through his troubles. Hamilton was part of the Tampa Bay organization until he was taken by the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft in December 2006.
“They were doing their job when I was coming up through there,” Hamilton said Thursday. “They were there for me and trying to help me, and obviously (there were) things I shouldn’t have done to interrupt the process. So just trying to make some amends for that.”
Hamilton, who was the AL MVP last year when the Rangers went to their first World Series, said he felt good about how the conversations went.
ONE AND DONE
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is not one to hide how he feels. So when he was asked what he thought about the possibility of adding another playoff round next year, he couldn’t help himself.
“I’ll get in trouble for this, because I am not in favor of a one-game playoff. I am not in favor of that,” Leyland said. “That’s probably going to happen, but I am not in favor of the one-game playoff.”
Leyland is a member of Commissioner Bud Selig’s special committee for on-field matters.One of the changes being explored is adding a wild-card team in each league, with the two teams with the best records after the division winners in each league meeting in a one-game playoff before moving on to the division series.
“I might not be on the committee tomorrow,” Leyland said with a laugh.
Former Brewers owner and current Commissioner Bud Selig will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 of the NL division series between Arizona and Milwaukee on Friday.
Selig has repeatedly said he will step down as commissioner when his contract ends next year.
He remains very much a part of baseball’s history in Milwaukee after he was awarded the Seattle Pilots franchise in bankruptcy court in April 1970 and moved it to County Stadium.
Under Selig’s watch, the Brewers reached the 1982 World Series and opened a retractable-roof ballpark, Miller Park, in 2001. Selig’s family sold the franchise to Los Angeles investment banker Mark Attanasio and his group of investors in 2004.
Milwaukee radio broadcaster Bob Uecker threw out the first pitch of Game 1 and Hall of Famer Robin Yount did the same for Game 2.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa hopes that squirrel that ran across the field in St. Louis during Game 4 of the NL division series shows up at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night.
“Allen Craig has a pet tortoise, and my understanding is that the squirrel was the tortoise’s pass to the game, and they’re supposed to be here tomorrow together, and I don’t know if the tortoise took a walk and the squirrel panicked,” La Russa joked. “I don’t know the rest of that story, but I think that the squirrel is attached to Craig’s tortoise, and I’m expecting them to be here tomorrow. Maybe they have a suite so they won’t be running on the field. I’ve never met it. I actually want to meet the tortoise. The squirrel, too.”
A squirrel darted across home plate in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game between the Phillies and Cardinals shortly after Roy Oswalt delivered a pitch. Plate umpire Angel Hernandez called it a ball, and Oswalt and manager Charlie Manuel argued. Skip Schumaker flied out to center on the next pitch.
It was the third time one of the rodents was spotted at Busch Stadium. Earlier Wednesday, one — possibly the same one — was seen beyond the center field wall and Tuesday night, a squirrel was seen scampering in foul territory along the third base line.
Prince Fielder is a free agent after this season ends and he doesn’t want Game 5 on Friday against Arizona to potentially be his last with Milwaukee.
Fielder has said this is probably his final year in Milwaukee, which drafted him in the first round in 2002, and he wanted to go out with a strong performance in the postseason. He hit a two-run homer in Game 1 of the series, but has gone 3 of 11 in the last three games.
“I think he’s done a great job, but obviously as a player it’s tough. It’s tough hearing things like that, questioning about contract or whether you’re going to come back or not,” Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo said. “Whatever happens, whether he stays or not, he’ll know he enjoyed being here, no matter what.”
Fielder said after the Game 4 loss that it would be cool to play a pivotal role in a series-clinching victory, but would settle for an NL championship series berth.
“That would be cool, but I don’t necessarily have to do something,” Fielder said. “I just want to win. I don’t care who does it.”
Jorge Posada’s trying regular season has given way to one more productive playoff run.
In what could be his final year with the New York Yankees, the 40-year-old Posada, a five-time World Series champion, is relishing his role as the starting designated hitter for every game in the first round against the Detroit Tigers.
Heading into Game 5 of the AL division series, Posada had four hits in 10 at-bats — including his first postseason triple — and four walks. That came after he hit .235 in 344 at-bats with 14 homers and 44 RBIs this season.
“One of the reasons we’ve used him as our DH is, we talked about his experience and what he did off of right-handers this year,” manager Joe Girardi said. “His real struggles came off of left-handers. But I’m not surprised. Jorge has been here a lot of times.”
The switch-hitter batted .269 (75 for 279) from the left side and .092 (6 for 71) right-handed this season. He drove in only three runs against left-handed pitching.
Second on the career list with 124 postseason games, Posada is in the final year of his contract and is not expected to be brought back by the Yankees next season after struggling in a diminished role.
First, he was told last offseason that he would not catch this year, and he played in only one game behind the plate after spending much of the first 16 seasons of his career as the club’s primary catcher. In May, he pulled himself out of the lineup after he was listed ninth in the batting order, and toward the end of the season he was benched to give top prospect Jesus Montero an opportunity to serve as the designated hitter.
Ratings improved slightly on the sixth day of the division series, and TBS was hopeful three Game 5s will cause a larger rise.
St. Louis’ 5-3 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night averaged a 3.0 rating, the same as for San Francisco’s 3-2 victory over Atlanta last year. There was no equivalent telecast last season to Arizona’s 10-6 win over Milwaukee, which started at 9:37 p.m. and received a 2.5 rating.
Through six days, TBS and TNT are averaging a 2.3 rating for 16 games, down 15 percent from a 2.7 for 14 games last year. Viewers averaged 3.57 million, down 17 percent from 4.29 million last year.
The three Game 5s is the most played in the opening round since there were three in 2001. All four first-round series have never gone the distance since divisional play began in 1995.
The 19 games played in the division series this year topped the 18 played in 2001 and 2003.