Twins' Wilson Ramos makes a nice first impression | Notebook
Young Twins catcher Wilson Ramos had seven hits in his first two major-league games, but there's nowhere to play with Joe Mauer ahead of him.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Joe Mauer probably doesn't have to worry about getting his job back, or being Wally Pipped, but when he missed several games to rest a bruised heel, rookie Wilson Ramos seized the opportunity.
Ramos, one of the top catching prospects in the minors, had four hits in his major-league debut Sunday, then went 3 for 4 Monday. The last player to have seven hits in his first two games was the legendary Nanny Fernandez of the Boston Braves in 1942.
Fernandez went on to have a .248 career average in four seasons. The Twins have much higher aspirations for Ramos, but either he or Mauer will have to change positions for that to happen in Minneapolis.
One possible future scenario floated in the Minneapolis Star Tribune would have Mauer catching five days a week and spending one or two games a week at DH or in the outfield, with Ramos catching two days a week and spending the rest of his time as the Twins' right-handed designated hitter.
The year's most impressive turnaround belongs to Giants pitcher Barry Zito, who is 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA. Opponents have scored in just seven of the 45 innings in which he's pitched. Last year, Zito had to wait until July 7 to get his fifth win.
Zito entered this season with a 31-43 record for his first three seasons in San Francisco after signing a $126 million contract, and was briefly banished to the bullpen after starting 0-8 in 2008.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Zito admitted the contract got in his head.
"It was about money. It was about the microscope being on me more than ever before in my life," he said.
Analyzing the decline in his fastball, he said, "Body tension. It's like a hitter going up to the plate, and he's not loose, so he's going to force things. It's not going to work."
This year, Zito has learned to relax, and he's thriving.
Notes and quotes
• Ozzie Guillen managed his 1,000th game with the White Sox on Tuesday. He said that he'll never quit his job.
"I'm not a quitter," he told reporters. "When I want to quit, I'll do a lot of stupid things and make sure they fire me and get paid."
• Grady Sizemore's power, or lack of same, has become a growing concern in Cleveland. Sizemore averaged 25 homers his past five seasons, but had no homers in his first 100 at-bats this season, and no homers in 128 at-bats since hitting one on Aug. 27 last year.
• Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel had a fascinating observation while discussing starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick's great showing in spring training, which was followed by a rough start to the regular season.
"Here's the difference in spring training," Manuel told reporters. "I've seen hitters go to spring training, young hitters, and they'll be hitting the ball all over. And I'll tell my pitchers, 'Feed them fastballs. I want him to make the roster.' You know why? Because that might mess up their team for about 30 days. 'Here, feed him fastballs and let's see how far he can hit them.' "
Kendrick, incidentally, seems to be back on track, having pitched seven shutout innings to beat the Cardinals on Wednesday.
• Padres pitcher Chris Young is another example of how difficult it is to come back from shoulder surgery.
Young had an operation last August to fix an impingement, and seemed to be fine in spring training. In fact, in his first start this season, he limited the Diamondbacks to one hit in six innings.
But that remains Young's only appearance, and he has been shut down twice since then by shoulder pain. Even in that lone outing, "My stuff deteriorated late in that start," he said.
The Padres are evaluating Young's latest medical tests to see how to proceed next.
• While the Mariners are among several teams lamenting their offensive woes, the Diamondbacks have the opposite problem.
At the end of the week, they led the National League in runs (156), homers (40), doubles (64) and OPS (.814), while leading the majors in total bases (457) and slugging percentage (.467).
Yet the Diamondbacks stood just 13-15, largely because of their 5.47 team ERA, 29th in the majors. Their bullpen ERA of 6.61 was worst among the 30 teams by more than a run, and the staff had given up 43 homers, most in the majors.
• The A's struggling designated hitter, Eric Chavez, could lose his job to Jack Cust, currently with Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.