04/25/2007 10:48 PM ET
Miguel Tejada keeps on ticking
When you think "Iron Man" in the world of Major League Baseball, two names often come to mind -- Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken Jr. But baseball's Iron man these days is another shortstop in Baltimore -- Miguel Tejada.
Miguel Tejada currently has the seventh-longest consecutive games streak in history. (Don Wright/AP)
On Tuesday, Tejada took the field to play in his 1,100th consecutive game, which ranks as the seventh-longest streak in baseball history. And he's moving up the list quickly. This weekend, if he continues to be in the lineup, Tejada will pass Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, and Billy Williams and Steve Garvey are in sight, too.
"The first day that I started it, I didn't believe I could play in so many games," Tejada told MLB.com. "But like I've said, I like to play every day, and every day I thank God for not being in pain and not being hurt. I'm just happy to see my career going one day at a time."
And with the one day at a time attitude, Tejada isn't really looking ahead at Ripken's streak quite yet. Ripken played in 2,632 straight games from 1982 to 1998.
"I'm not doing it because I want to catch Cal," said Tejada. "I'm just doing it because I'm healthy, I want to play and I think I can play every day. One day, it's going to stop, but God's going to decide it. I'm not going to decide it, because if I'm never hurt, I'm going to be in the lineup every day if the manager decides to put me in there."
For Tejada, the idea of even being mentioned in the same breath as Ripken, Gehrig and other greats is an honor.
"For me, that's really amazing. I'm really happy with myself and I'm really happy to be in that situation," he said of passing Sewell. "I know it's not easy, and there are a lot of sick days and a lot of headaches, like today. A lot of colds, but they give me the opportunity to be strong and be in the field. I'm happy to be there."
Bonds sees the focus in A-Rod's eyes: No player is enjoying Alex Rodriguez's torrid start more than Barry Bonds. Rodriguez, with 14 home runs in his first 19 games, could challenge Bonds' single-season home run record of 73.
"I would be ecstatic. It wouldn't bother me one bit," Bonds told the San Francisco Chronicle when asked how he felt about his record being eclipsed.
When asked if he was serious, he said, "Man, that's what the game's about, excitement, bringing people to the stadium. Somebody else does it, that's awesome. Go on, A-Rod, do your damn thing. Keep that look in your eyes because it's solid.
"A-Rod, I'm so happy for him. It's great. It's phenomenal to watch. I hope you guys enjoy it, too, because it is just phenomenal. I hope he hits 100, I really do."
Bonds recognizes how locked in at the plate Rodriguez is.
The key is, he said, "just keeping your head straight, man. That's the most important thing. Don't get too up, too down. Just keep yourself in that same mode and keep your focus. That's the main thing, and A-Rod's a great player, and if anyone is capable of doing that, it's him. I can see it on TV. I've seen his face. You can see that his eyes are just different.
"It's phenomenal to watch."
Hudson's thinking less, winning more: Tim Hudson is off to his best start since joining the Braves. He has a 3-0 record with a sparkling 0.62 ERA in four starts. Things figure to keep going smooth for Hudson, as he makes his fifth start of the season versus the Marlins on Wednesday, a team against which he is 5-0 with a 1.90 ERA in eight starts.
"When things are going well, you don't have to think about anything but throwing the ball," Hudson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Last year, I was thinking about all kinds of things out there. You can't do that at this level."
Hudson ripped off seven wins without a loss in his 20-win season of 2000 when he was a member of the Oakland A's.
No sophomore jinx for Saito: Many felt that Takashi Saito would struggle in his second go-round versus Major League hitters. But the 37-year-old product of the Japanese League, who teammates call Sammy, has answered all challenges and has converted all six of his save opportunities this season.
"Does anybody think a player will come to a new league and not make adjustments himself, bring something new to the party in his second year?" Dodgers manager Grady Little told the Los Angeles Times. "Sammy doesn't use the same repertoire he did last year. He varies his location. He varies his pitch selection. He varies how he pitches to each hitter.
"The only thing he does consistently is that he is consistently good."
Saito succeeded in Japan with a high fastball. Now, he is best known for his slider.
"You can have a fastball and still not be able to get hitters out, because you're not throwing off the batter's timing," Saito said. "I mix speeds and locations."
Saito has earned the respect of other pitchers on the Dodgers' staff.
"Sammy is extremely smart," Penny said. "He really knows how to pitch. That's more and more obvious the longer you watch him."
Strikeouts are a good sign for Konerko: Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko says a few strikeouts are not necessarily a bad thing.
"I'll strike out 100 times. It will be somewhere between 100 and 200," Konerko told the Chicago Tribune. "No big deal."
Consider that in 2005 Konerko struck out a career-high 108 times, but in that season, he also hit 40 home runs and drove in 100 en route to a World Series championship for the Sox.
"Obviously, you don't want to strike out in a key situation," he said. "It sounds funny, but a lot of times when I'm doing the right thing at the plate my strikeouts are higher than when I'm doing the wrong thing.
"When I'm doing the wrong thing, the ball gets put in play on the ground. When I'm doing the right thing, I have good at-bats and hit. But my bad at-bats that go bad are strikeouts just because of what I'm doing."
Konerko says that he's not alone in this type of thinking.
"Jim [Thome] will say the same thing," he said. "Jim is the epitome of that. You don't see him roll over a lot. You'll see him strike out a lot, but he's just missing balls. It's a good thing. If you're driving the ball, you'll strike out sometimes. "
Sanchez: Clutch hitting comes from feeling good at the plate: Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Freddy Sanchez, the defending National League batting champion, was also one of the game's top clutch-hitters in 2006 -- sporting a .386 mark with runners in scoring position. Only St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols had a better mark, hitting .397 in those spots.
But Sanchez says that clutch hitting has more to do with how you feel on a given day, not necessarily a trend of coming through in big spots.
"To me, it's pretty simple," Sanchez told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "If you're hot going into that clutch situation, you have a good chance. You're already feeling good. Obviously, there are times when a hitter can tense up, and there are some better mentally prepared than others. All I can say is that, for me, when I go up to the plate, it's not about the men on base. It's about how I'm feeling."
-- Red Line Editorial