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August 6, 2007 August 6, 2007

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AL Reactions To 755: San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds tied the Major League Baseball all-time record for home runs Saturday night, hitting his 755th career longball off of San Diego Padres starter Clay Hensley.

With the game taking place in San Diego, the reaction was mixed. The majority cheered, but a large portion of the crowd booed as well.

At Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark on Sunday, several pitchers and a pitching coach weighed in with their opinions on Bonds tying Hank Aaron’s legendary mark.

Brandon Knight spent parts of two seasons at the Major League level with the Yankees as a pitcher, but never faced Bonds. He is now a starter for the Patriots.

Knight: “I think it’s kind of cool. Nobody knows what’s going on for sure, and nobody knows how many pitchers were juicing while he was allegedly juicing and all that kind of stuff. It’s all going to come out in the wash one of these days, but it’s still history regardless. For a while, it’s going to be a “what if” kind of thing. Hopefully, A-Rod or somebody comes along and breaks the record so we don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

On what it would be like to face Bonds: “I never got to face him, but I definitely wonder what it would have been like.”

On facing players he’s suspected of using steroids: “I think everybody suspects people, it’s just one of those things. Unfortunately, it’s the era that we play in. I think for a lot of people who didn’t do anything, it kind of cheapens the experience for them. I will forever be known as a player who played in the juiced era.”

Jason Richardson, a Patriots reliever, is in his ninth professional season. He reached Triple-A last season with the Red Sox organization.

Richardson: “I think it’s good for baseball, it’s good that records are being broken. It’s been around for 30 or 31 years or however long. It’s kind of sad to see the situation…with the commissioner not clapping and his hands in his pockets because of whatever could be going on with steroids. So it’s kind of a sad day for baseball too. Back in the day, the commissioner would be out there shaking hands.”

On how he’d feel if he gave it up: “It’s just part of the game, it’s just another home run for me. I didn’t give up all 755 of them. Yeah, it would be cool to be a part of history, but it would be cool to be the guy that gave him an 0-for-4 with three punchouts the night before.”

On how he’d approach Bonds: “I’d go at him hard, just the way I would anybody else. If you beat me, you’re going to beat me with my best stuff. I’m not going to try to pitch around him unless the situation calls for it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Hector Almonte reached the big leagues with the Marlins, Expos and Red Sox. According to Almonte, he faced Bonds once in 1999, getting him to ground out to second base. Almonte is in his second season as a set-up man in Somerset.

Almonte: “In my case, being at the big league level, to see what he does is amazing. All the walks he has so far in his career is just amazing. If you took out the intentional walks and made them at-bats, I don’t know how many home runs he’d have so far.”

On if he approached Bonds any differently: “No, but it depends on what the manager tells me. When I pitch, my style is to attack the hitter. If they get it, they get it.”

On being a part of history: “In the year when Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th hit, he got 3,013 against me in San Diego. So I went through all that with the fans and all the cheering and all that. It’s fun to be in those situations.”

On how he’d feel if he gave up 755: “If that was the guy who gave up the home run’s last game, maybe they’d remember that. But he has to continue pitching, so he has to continue his history in baseball. When you’re in baseball, and you’re wearing a uniform on that field, you’re going to be history. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager, a coach, or anything. It wouldn’t bother me, being a part of history in a good way or a bad way.”

Paul Thorp was in the Yankees system for four and a half seasons before receiving his release in late June. He’s advanced as high as the Double-A level in his career and is now a reliever for Somerset.

Thorp: “Obviously, it’s a milestone. He’s only the second person ever to do it. He’s never been caught, but being a player, seeing the transformation he’s made from then to now raises suspicion. Everybody’s 95 percent sure that he’s probably used some sort of enhancement. But he’s never been caught, and you can’t prove it.

On how he’d feel if he gave up 755: “I’m probably more upset that I gave up a home run than I am anything else. Being out there, at that point in time, I’d probably be pissed. But the next day or later on, I’d go in the history books as the guy who gave up the 755th home run. But at the time, I’d be upset. But the day after when I got to think about it, it would probably be good.”

Steve Foucault is the Bears pitching coach, and spent six seasons in the big leagues. On July 11, 1976, Foucault surrendered career home run #754 to Hank Aaron, a walk-off tenth inning blast in Milwaukee’s County Stadium. It would be the next to last home run that Aaron would hit.

Foucault: “It was just another home run by a guy that’s hitting a lot of home runs, and he’ll probably hit a few more, too.”

On giving up #754 to Aaron: “At the time, you don’t even think about it, it’s just another home run to a guy that’s hit lots of them. But at that time, nobody thought about whether that would be his last one or not. Obviously, it wasn’t, but almost (laughs).”

“I threw him a breaking ball that wasn’t even on the plate, it was way off the plate. It was the tenth inning, there were two outs and there was nobody on, and the wind was blowing out at about 30 (mph). He just reached out and hooked it, and it got up in the wind and it just blew it out. And it was right down the foul line, it couldn’t have been within two feet of the foul line, and just barely over the fence.”

“It wouldn’t have bothered me (if it was his last home run). I think that might have been the only hit he ever got off of me, to be honest.”

(Certainly worth noting is that Foucault also gave up a home run to Bobby Bonds, Barry’s father.)

On his impression of facing Aaron: “His bat wasn’t real fast towards the end, but it was still pretty good. When he was younger, he had quick hands and he was a wrist hitter. He wasn’t a big powerful man, he just had strong hands and had strong wrists, and his bat was real quick.”

On how he’d approach Bonds: “I’d probably throw it right down the middle and hope he doesn’t square it up and hit it out of the yard (laughs). When you try to throw it down the middle, it usually doesn’t go down the middle, it goes to one corner or the other. Just try to keep the ball down, and hopefully he hits on the top part of the ball.”

Ferguson Talks Aaron: Camden manager Joe Ferguson, who was behind the plate for Hank Aaron’s 755th home run, shares his thoughts in this video from a Lancaster TV station.

Hernandez Signs With Bluefish: The Bluefish have signed switch-hitting OF Johnny Hernandez to a contract. Hernandez, 27, hasn’t played since 2003, when he hit .167 in 42 at-bats for Single-A Palm Beach.

P Mike Porzio has been placed on the inactive list as well.

Sunday Photo Gallery: I was in Newark for yesterday’s Patriots-Bears contest, won by Newark 5-4, and I snapped a few photos…

Somerset starter Keith Ramsey

Newark starter Jose Garcia, who outdueled Ramsey

Williamson On The Way?: The Yankees recently released P Scott Williamson, who was most recently with their Triple-A team. I’ve been told that the former MLB All-Star, and member of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, has already been contacted by at least one Atlantic League team.

Someone else to watch out for is P Jerome Williams, just released by the Washington Nationals organization.

Stay tuned…

Pot? Kettle On Line Two: When you’re a beat writer on a Phillies minor league team, “joke” and “independent baseball” should never appear in your article. After all, the Phillies have signed six players (Anderson, Rojas, Trujillo, Swindle, Knotts, Boyd) out of the Atlantic League this season.

Anyway, enjoy this piece from the Reading Eagle. – Mike Ashmore, mashmore98@gmail.com

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Comments»

1. BoosterBabe - August 6, 2007

Funny story I read in a Providence Journal article back in June regarding Barry Bonds.

Bridgeport’s own Matt Beech played for the Phillies from 97-99. They were playing in San Fran, Beech was pitching; there was an open base and then Phillies Mgr Terry Francona went out to the mound and told Beech to put him on. Matt commented “He hasn’t seen me”…..by the time Tito had sat back down in the dugout, the ball was outta there.

When I related this story to Matt, he laughed. And told me that he actually gave up 2 of those HRs to Bonds in his career, the other was in Philly.

I had stumbled upon this story while googling articles when the Giants were playing in Fenway back in June. I’m reading along, suddenly I see a familiar name! Made me laugh because I can hear him say it! He just shook his head and laughed.

Link to article here:
http://www.projo.com/redsox/content/sp_bb_soxside15_06-15-07_7U61DKU.368aaf4.html

2. BoosterBabe - August 6, 2007

Ok, previous post inspired me: Here’s a list of all the dates and stadiums where Bonds hit Home Runs off of pitchers who spent any time in the Atlantic League. I’m stating up front, I’m very Bridgeport-centric so if I miss a pitcher from one of the other teams, please add it to the list and accept my apologies!!! Link to my source is here: http://www.sportscity.com/MLB/Barry-Bonds-All-Time-Home-Runs/

I just copied the list into an excel spreadsheet and sorted it by pitcher and looked for familiar names. Nothing terribly scientific….here are my findings. Mr Beech holds the dubious honor of giving up more than any other Atlantic League pitcher, 2. And my apologies also, for getting Matt’s years with the Phillies above wrong: it was 96-98. He got hurt in 98 and actually rehabbed most of 99, until he blew out his elbow again, necessitating his 2nd TJ surgery. But that’s a story for another day.

Here’s the list of the AL pitchers I found on the Bonds All Time Home Run list. Again, if I missed any, please correct me. I’m sure I did miss a few.

110 9/9/90 Expos Mel Rojas Three Rivers Stadium
298 4/20/96 Cubs Jim Bullinger Wrigley Field
307 5/9/96 Cardinals Donovan Osborne Busch Stadium
326 8/18/96 Phillies Matt Beech Veterans Stadium
359 7/22/97 Phillies Matt Beech 3Com Park
366 9/1/97 Athletics T.J. Mathews UMAX Coliseum
372 9/22/97 Padres Will Cunnane Qualcomm Stadium
542 8/7/01 Reds Danny Graves Cinergy Field

3. BoosterBabe - August 6, 2007

And just one more Bonds stat, cuz I’m a stats geek:

The following pitchers each gave up 8 home runs to Barry Bonds over his career (as of 7/27, when the list cuts off). No single pitcher gave up more than 8 home runs to Barry Bonds:

Chan Ho Park
Curt Schilling
Greg Maddux
John Smoltz

It’s a meaningless piece of trivia, but now you can impress your friends by having this off the top of your head! You’re welcome! 🙂

4. Voltaire - August 6, 2007

Interesting. According to baseball-reference, Hector Almonte has never faced Barry Bonds.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/p-pvb.cgi?n1=almonhe01

5. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - August 6, 2007

I also noticed that last night when I was writing the story…I went to Retrosheet so I could get a date on when that happened, and then saw that he didn’t face him.

That’s why “according to Almonte” is in there.

I’m assuming that this happened in Spring Training…I’d have to think that someone would remember facing Barry Bonds, so that’s probably what it was.

6. BoosterBabe - August 6, 2007

I couldn’t believe anyone wouldn’t remember pitching to Bonds. I’m telling you, I mentioned the ProJo article to Matt Beech and he knew, right off the top of his head, he gave up 2 HRs to Bonds. And they were 10-11 years ago!


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