Cubs bullpen sparks early-season Lou Piniella eruption | Baseball notes
Much of the concern about the Cubs heading into the season centered on their bullpen. One exception was Sean Marshall, who pitched well in long relief in both games.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Much of the concern about the Cubs heading into the season centered on their bullpen. Sure enough, during an 0-2 start, their relievers allowed 10 runs in 8-2/3 innings, on eight hits and six walks.
One exception was Sean Marshall, who pitched well in long relief in both games. That prompted a question to manager Lou Piniella about whether Marshall's role could grow.
"We just played two games, sir," he snapped. "We're not in our 22nd game or our 42nd game. We've played two games, for God's sake. What do you want, roles to change in two games? Look, it was just a tough loss, and we'll leave it at that."
From experience with Piniella, when he drops a "sir" or a "son," you know he's really ticked.
Notes and quotes
• With Boston's Josh Beckett signing a four-year, $68 million extension last week, Cliff Lee is left as the clear No. 1 pitcher on next year's list of potential free agents. Other starters who could be free agents include Javier Vazquez, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Webb, Aaron Harang, Jorge De La Rosa, Rich Harden, Ben Sheets and Ted Lilly.
• Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria is emerging as a superstar, on and off the field. He is featured in two national television commercials (New Era caps and the "MLB2K10" video game) and has become the media go-to guy in the Rays' locker room.
Longoria's first homer of the season was an estimated 473-foot blast that became just the second ball to land in the upper deck above left field at Tropicana Field.
"That's unbelievable. But it doesn't surprise me; that guy is capable of doing anything," pitcher James Shields told the St. Petersburg Times. "He's the full package, man. I'm glad he's on my team."
• Good timing for Hideki Matsui. His new team, the Angels, will be at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, which just happens to be the day the Yankees are handing out their World Series rings. So Matsui, the World Series MVP, will get his, too.
• The Angels had a crazy promotion Tuesday in which fans were given a red fleece blanket, then were asked to wear them for five minutes during the fifth inning to qualify for the Guinness Record for largest crowd wearing fleece jackets.
The great part was that the entire stadium turned into a sea of red — except for the two rows behind home plate where the scouts sit. None of them put on the blankets.
• No big surprise that Albert Pujols went 4 for 5 with two homers, three RBI and four runs scored in the Cardinals' opener. In his 10 big-league openers, he is 17 for 35 (.486).
• Readers of T.J. Simers' column in the Los Angeles Times were informed of an interview that Manny Ramirez did with the L.A. press corps at a racetrack in West Virginia during a Dodgers' off-day in Pittsburgh. Ramirez, it was reported, said he supports Jamie McCourt, and not Frank McCourt in their heated divorce; he has a new agent, Carlos Lopez; says that the Giants are the favorites to win the NL West; and that he hates Boston.
Some pretty provocative stuff — until Simers revealed in his last paragraph that the Manny Ramirez they had talked to was a jockey at the racetrack.
• Pirates fans know not to get too excited about their team's season-opening win over the Dodgers. The Pirates have now won their opener in four straight seasons. In the previous three years, they went on to lose at least 94 games, extending their streak of losing seasons to 17.
• The Jays lost four straight games after Alex Anthopoulos replaced J.P. Ricciardi as general manager — two at the end of last year, and the first two this year. When the Jays finally recorded their first victory over Texas on Wednesday, Anthopoulos was on a flight to California on a scouting trip.
• Jason Heyward's home run on his first major-league swing on opening day in Atlanta figures to stand up as one of the most spine-tingling moments of the entire season.
Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez and reliever Peter Moylan, who had been watching the game on a TV in a room off the bullpen, scrambled out the door to retrieve the home-run ball when it landed in the bullpen.
After the game, Perez presented the ball, as well as manager Bobby Cox's signed lineup card, to Heyward.
"We were jumping around like we'd won the World Series," Perez told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.