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The Bleacher Bums: July 18, 2006 Archive

Getting thinner but getting the job done

Posted at 10:58 AM on July 18, 2006 by Ben Tesch (2 Comments)

Last night's game was fairly uneventful, but that's usually a good sign for the Twins. A couple of dingers by the Rays weren't enough to stop the bloop onslaught of the Twins, and with baseball's best bullpen you pretty much know the Devil Rays aren't going to come back. There was a little controversial bases loaded foul ball fan interference, but Rondell still ended up getting 2 of them home and received his usual holy-crap-he-got-a-hit standing ovation.

Fact #1: You can't seem to get Justin Morneau out. He's in Joe Mauer June territory now.

Fact #2: Today's game should be interesting. According to the Devil Rays, it will be only the second time since 1989 that two 10-game winners ages 22 or younger faced off in the same game. Who's the game's best young left-hander? Find out tonight at the Dome.

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Has the real Rondell White finally arrived?

Posted at 9:22 PM on July 18, 2006 by David Zingler

A trip to the minor leagues may have been just what Twins outfielder Rondell White needed. After a nightmare first half, the 34-year-old was sent to Triple A Rochester on what was officially called a rehab assignment.

“They’re hungry, trying to get to the big leagues,” White said of his minor league teammates. “There are guys who’ve never had one day in the big leagues. You can’t ever take it for granted and I haven’t taken it for granted, that’s why I’ve been here for 12 years I guess.”

White, whose 2005 season ended prematurely because of a dislocated shoulder, has had trouble catching up to big league fastballs this season. His surgically repaired shoulder was eventually deemed the problem. “I was working on my shoulder (at Rochester),” the Georgia native explained. “Hopefully things work out.”

White made his re-debut on Sunday and received a sign that things may finally start going his way. During his second at-bat, the veteran hit a high, but routine fly ball to leftfield. The much-maligned Metrodome roof provided the perfect camouflage for the airborne baseball however, which landed safely on the turf next to bewildered Indians outfielder Todd Hollandsworth. In the box score, it was called a double.

“Maybe in the second half, things will go my way,” White laughed when reminded of his unlikely double. “I hit a lot of balls hard the first half – hopefully things will work out.”

The good karma did not end there. In the 7th, the opening day clean-up hitter stepped up to the plate and belted his first homerun as a Twin. It may have taken 184 at-bats, but White knew the blast had to come eventually. “It had been awhile since I’d hit one, so it felt good just to help the team out,” the former All Star pointed out, “I just (decided), I’m not even going to think about (the drought). I’ll just go to the plate and whatever happens, happens. I had 187 (homers going in to the season) and thought I’d have 200 by the All Star break, but I have 188.”

Choosing to look at his return as a fresh start, White is happy to adjust to any role, “(I) just (want) to help out – playing the outfield, if they want to me to bunt, whatever.”

So far he's making good, driving in 3 on Monday and going 2 for 3 with a walk tonight. As a result, White's batting average, the object of scorn and butt of jokes throughout the first half, stands just a tick short of .200.

Because a rash of injuries has nearly wiped out the entire Twins outfield, the well-traveled veteran still has a chance to play a pivotal part in a successful Twins season. “You have to look at life, not just baseball,” White commented. “This is only one chapter in my life, I hopes it ends well.”

It's not all about M & M, you know.

Posted at 10:08 PM on July 18, 2006 by Josh Lee

Francisco Liriano came thiiiiiis close to getting his first complete-game shutout tonight, but Terry Tiffee, thinking less about the game and more about how he's going to tell his new twins apart, dropped the ball, allowing Tomaz Perez to reach base. A couple of batters later, Rocco Baldelli hit Perez home to spoil Santaninho's bid. Liriano had to settle for a one-run, three-hit whooping of a cowed Tampa Bay team, but I think he'll deal.

That wasn't necessarily the big story of the night, though. Josh Rabe, the eleventieth outfielder to be called up from AAA in the last week, got his first major league hit against the Devil Rays' Scott Kazmir. The umpire promptly tossed the game ball to the wrong dugout. Luckily, the batboy on the visitors' side returned the ball to its rightful recipient, because as we all know by now, letting resentment over sentimental game balls linger is bad for everyone.

Even that wasn't necessarily the big story of the night, though. Rondell "Starting the Next Chapter" White got two hits in his first two at-bats tonight, reaching a .200 batting average for the first time all season. After each of his two hits, White ended up getting doubled off of first when caught liners took him by surprise, but you can forgive the guy for being a little rusty on the basepaths, seeing as he saw so little of them in the first half of the season. White finished the night 2-for-3 to slip back to .199, but it's looking increasingly like he's not going to go out like Batista or Sierra.

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