Kawakami makes scoreless debut
When Adam LaRoche was traded to Pittsburgh, I said, “Please do whatever you can to keep my dad interested in the Pirates until at least the end of May.”
Two years later, Dad’s positive remarks about the Pirates still solely center around PNC Park and their Friday night fireworks displays. It’s been 17 years since the late John McSherry incorrectly ruled Sid Bream to be safe and still it’s downright painful to be a Pirates fan.
(NOTE: As somebody pointed out after this post was published, it was actually Randy Marsh who made the call. McSherry started behind the plate and then began feeling ill. Personally, I didn’t begin feeling ill until Bonds unleashed that toss, which certainly didn’t appear to have the assistance of any banned performance-enhancing aids.)
But the Buccos do have a great Spring Training park and it’s a beautiful Friday afternoon for baseball. Kenshin Kawakami worked a perfect first inning and allowed just a bloop single off LaRoche’s back in his scoreless two-inning sting.
Kawakami threw 18 of his 29 pitches for strikes and ended his afternoon with a strikeout of Jose Tabata. While pitching in the United States for the first time, the Japanese hurler made a solid first impression.
In a few innings we’ll gain a better understanding about why members of the Braves front office are so high on Kris Medlen, who actually looks younger than Brent Lillibridge,
Medlen has been described as a poor man’s Greg Madddux. The 24-year-old right-hander stands 5-10, weighs approximately 185 pounds and has a baby face that might lead some cinema workers to card him if he attempted to purchase tickets to a rated-R movie.
After moving into Double-A Mississippi’s starting rotation midway through the 2008 season, Medlen worked 92 1/3 innings, recorded 90 strikeouts and issued 21 walks. In the 25 innings he worked during the Arizona Fall League, he registered 25 strikeouts, issued one walk and limited opponents to a .203 batting average.
“If he was 6-foot tall, you’d be hearing a lot more about this guy,” one National League scout said.
When asked this morning about who he is considering to use as his leadoff hitter, Braves manager Bobby Cox mentioned Josh Anderson, Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. It still appears Anderson is the favorite.
But the fact that Anderson has recorded a .340 on-base percentage during his Minor League career provides some concern. He doesn’t possess the same plate discipline as Gregor Blanco and there’s reason to wonder what his OBP would be over the course of an entire big league season.
Some of you have said you would have the perfect leadoff hitter if you meshed the best traits presented by Anderson and Blanco. Over the past few days, I’ve heard some of the Braves coaches (not Cox) say the same thing.
– Mark Bowman