Brewers 1B/OF Eric Thames homered in his fifth consecutive game in Monday’s series opener against the Cubs. It came on a 3-2 breaking ball thrown by starter John Lackey leading off the top of the third inning at Wrigley Field. Thus continues the odyssey of Thames, who went from major league washout to a feared slugger in Korea and carried that power back with him for a second stint in the majors.
Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio are suspicious. Though neither came right out and said it after Monday’s game, both hinted that something might be up with Thames.
In his post-game press conference, Lackey said (via the Chicago Tribune) that Thames’ home run was “kinda one of those things that makes you scratch your head.” Lackey seemingly very intentionally winked at the reporter who asked him the question.
Bosio appeared on the Mully and Hanley show and was asked about Starling Marte‘s recent suspension after testing positive for Nandrolone. Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports provides the transcript:
Well, the bottom line is [Thames] has hit the ball and we gotta figure out a way to get around [it]. All that other stuff, I’ll let other people worry about. But he’s doing stuff that I haven’t seen done for a long time.
You start thinking about Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez when he went to the Dodgers, Barry Bonds … You’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever play this game. So, yeah, it’s probably a ‘head-scratcher’ because nobody knows who this guy is. And when he was here before, his body has changed. But, like I said, I’ll leave that to everyone else and we’re just gonna try to worry about how to pitch him better and get him out.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Thames was given a drug test immediately after Monday’s game against the Cubs.
Entering Thursdays’ game against the Cardinals, Thames is hitting .408/.500/.959 with seven home runs and 12 RBI. And, for now, his 8-8 Brewers are neck-and-neck with the 8-7 defending world champion Cubs.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.