Last month Tommy Hanson took a bereavement leave from the Angels following the death of his stepbrother, returning to the team after six days away. He made two starts, pitching relatively well, but then decided he wasn’t fully ready to return, leaving the team again for what proved to be another three weeks.
Hanson is back with the Angels now and expected to start Friday against the Astros. And the right-hander opened up to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times about what he went through since his 26-year-old stepbrother’s death:
I was having mental issues with the death of my younger brother. I was just trying to get through it. I didn’t know how to handle it. That was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me. I didn’t know how to cope with it. … Physically, I feel great. I’m in great shape. I just had to deal with the issues going on in my head.
MLB instituting bereavement leave a few years back was a good idea, but players regularly being placed on the bereavement list can make it easy to forget that they’re simply guys who just lost someone close to them and in many cases aren’t prepared to return to work after 3-7 days. Kudos to the Angels for giving Hanson all the time he needed away from the team and here’s hoping he’s found some peace in the month since his stepbrother’s death.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.