Thirteen-year-old Tim Harper’s lifetime dream was to pitch for the Kansas City Royals. Yesterday, against the Detroit Tigers, he got his wish and then some.
The Branson, Missouri, native, who was struck with leukemia two years ago, had requested through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to throw out the first pitch at a Royals game. After the pitch landed a few feet in front of home plate, Royals manager Trey Hillman decided that was good enough for him, and left scheduled starter Zack Greinke in the bullpen.
“Our scouts were really impressed with the kid’s mechanics, and we made the decision to leave him in," said Hillman. "It might’ve landed a couple of feet in front of the mound, but believe me, that was the most impressive pitching we’ve seen this year. Our guns hadn’t topped 24 mph all spring for anyone other than Zack, so it was refreshing to see someone with a live arm out there. We need more like this kid.”
A confused Harper took the mound in the bottom of the first against a potent Tigers lineup, and proceeded to give up 13 runs to the first 13 batters he faced. But Hillman was adamant that his new pitcher get out of his own jam.
“It was a learning experience, something every young pitcher goes through," said the Royals skipper.
The Tigers went on to score 36 more runs before the manager decided to bring in reliever Roman Colon, who proceeded to give up an additional 28 runs before closing out the inning on a pop fly.
During the post-game press conference, Hillman was asked whether this was merely a stunt to keep people attending the game interested in an otherwise boring game.
“Not at all. I mean, this isn’t some Disney movie," he said. "This kid is literally one of the best pitchers we have on our squad, and I am not kidding. You guys haven’t seen the rest of our staff. It’s really, really, really, horrible.”
Harper expressed disappointment over his outing.
"If only I hadn't lost my throwing arm to the disease, I think I could have done a lot better," he said. "But I could tell the guys were excited to have me on the team."
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today: Florida Marlins (2009: 87-75, 2nd in NL East).
Several Boston Red Sox players believe that Yankees ace CCSabathiawas doctoring the ball with potato chip grease during Sunday's opener at Fenway Park.
"It was so obvious he was doing it." said Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "The ball was all shiny and it was darting all around in the early innings. Every time I took a ball it smelled like salt and vinegar flying by."
Sabathia only allowed one run in the first four innings, prompting Boston manager Terry Francona to ask the home plate umpire to check him for delicious treats. Umpire Joe West instead warned Sabathia, and cameras between innings showed the pitcher downing various items chips, cookies, cupcakes, leg of lamb that he appeared to have had stowed in his uniform.
In the fifth Sabathia yielded another run before getting rocked in the sixth inning on the way to a Yankee loss.
"Once all the chip grease was off his fingers, we took it to him," said Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis. "He couldn't make the ball move the same way. Plus, I think he was hungry and depressed."
But Boston hitters saySabathiawas not just guilty of using potato chip grease. Some pointed out traces of caramel, nougat, and Oreo cookie crumbs left behind on their bats.This is not the first timeSabathiahas been linked to performance-enhancing substances. Last season, several empty boxes of Vienna Fingers were found in his locker room.
Major League Baseball plans to investigate, according to spokesman Rich Levin, saying the issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Levin affirmed that no foreign substance will be tolerated, whether it be salty or savory.
"Maybe it looked like potato chip grease, but I swear I don't keep any of that stuff on the field or in the pockets of my uniform," saidSabathiaduring a press conference. "It was probably just sweat. I sweat a lot."
Addressing the dark, chocolatey stains around his mouth,Sabathiatold reporters they were "just a birthmark" and then licked it away.
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today:Texas Rangers (2009: 87-75, 2nd in AL West).
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today: Atlanta Braves (2009: 86-76, 3rd in NL East).
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today: Detroit Tigers (2009: 86-77, 2nd in AL Central)
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today:Tampa Bay Rays (2009: 84-78, 3rd in AL East)
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010. Today:Seattle Mariners (2009: 85-77, 3rd in AL West)