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.”