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The Bleacher Bums: September 26, 2006 Archive

Watch out, Ernie Lombardi

Posted at 10:02 AM on September 26, 2006 by Ben Tesch (2 Comments)

Well, it's finally starting to happen. The Twins are in the playoffs and people are starting to look at the near-final numbers. You know all that talk about how great Detroit, St. Louis, and the Mets and Yankees are? Guess who's tied for the third best record in baseball? (And just think where we'd be if we didn't tank the first part?) Mauer is a few days away from becoming the first catcher to win a batting title since Ernie Lombardi in 1942. Gardenhire has now brought the Twins into the playoffs 4 times in his first 5 tries. Cito Gaston (89-93 Jays) and Larry Dierker (97-01 Astros) are the only other two to do that. There are some pretty gaudy statistical seasons that are happening by the team and several particular players. Any amazing/suprising facts that you'd like to share in the comments?

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For White, admitting the problem was the toughest step

Posted at 10:44 PM on September 26, 2006 by David Zingler

Rondell White knew something wasn’t right. June was nearing an end and the Twins DH was hitting 100 points below his career average and had yet to homer. His surgically repaired left shoulder was costing him precious bat speed. The proud veteran however, couldn’t bring himself to admit it.

“I knew it was my shoulder, I knew in my heart, but I never make excuses and thought I could play through it,” White explained. “I wasn’t going to say anything, but my agent said ‘say something, say something’, he knew my swing wasn’t the same. He asked me what was wrong; I told him my shoulder felt tight.”

When he finally went public with the problem, White felt he was greeted with skepticism. “Everybody thought I was crying wolf, that’s what I think,” the 34-year-old commented. “I think people thought I was making excuses, but I never make excuses.”

White’s problems began last August when a dislocated shoulder ended his season. The Georgian underwent rotator cuff and labrum surgery and a grueling rehabilitation process that offered no guarantees. In fact, White said that if he were a pitcher, his career would likely be over.

Following a minor league rehab stint in July, White began to feel like his old self. He’s hitting .316 with 7 homeruns in the second half playing mostly in leftfield. “I feel way better when I am in the field, but if they want me to DH, I’ll DH too,” the 14-year-veteran commented. “It’s a lot of stuff, man. I’ve been through a lot – an operation, rehabilitation – I wasn’t myself (the first half).”

The early struggles have made the second half success even sweeter for White. A member of the 1994 Expos team that was robbed of a postseason birth by the infamous player’s strike, White’s only playoff experience consists of a one game stint with the Yankees in their 2002 ALDS loss to Anaheim.

“I just remember that I went 1 for 3 with a homer,” White smiled when discussing his post-season past. “I am staying positive about it.”

He also hinted the Twins were ready for his former team if they happen to meet next week, “Everybody expects the Yankees to win the whole thing every year anyway,” White quipped. “We are going to go in there and do what we need to do and hopefully come out with a win.”

With his tumultuous campaign winding down, the veteran gave a candid evaluation of his season, “First half, an F+, second half a B+, overall I’ll give myself a D,” White stated. “I look at it more like first half and second half, you ask me after the playoffs, I’ll give you everything.”

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