Junior and Me
Did you happen to notice that Ken Griffey Jr. homered a few days ago on Mother’s Day?
It continued a remarkable 21-year tradition of paying tribute to his parents Ken Sr. and Birdie.
Junior hit home runs #1 and #400 on his dad’s birthday.
He hit #500 on Father’s Day.
And the home run he hit last Sunday was the 7th he’s hit on Mother’s Day.
I got to know Junior quite well during the years that I hosted the Reds TV pre-game show, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit that I openly root for him.
As one prolific slugger after another gets tainted with steroid allegations, Junior appears to be clean as a whistle, and stands out as the true home run champion of his era with 614 HR (and counting).
If not for a series of injuries that caused him to miss more than 300 games during a 4-year period where he would have been near his physical prime (ages 31-34), Junior might have been the player to break Hank Aaron’s career home run record instead of a certain San Francisco Giant with a head the size of a float in the Macy’s Day Parade.
A few years ago, Junior was kind enough to allow me and photographer Kent Weaver to spend a few days at his home in Orlando for a series of stories about what he’s like away from the ballpark. You can watch one of those stories here. Scroll down that page a bit until you see “Griffey at Home” and click that. It might take a minute to load, but I think you’ll enjoy it.
And then there’s the story about the Pope t-shirt that my wife got for him. I’ll save that for another day.
* * * * *
Wednesday morning at 10:30, Clay Buchholz (2-0, 1.33 ERA) will take the mound for Pawtucket as the PawSox look to improve to 6-0 this year against the Toledo Mud Hens. The 24-year-old righty isn’t exactly thrilled about the start time.
“I guess it was about four days ago and everybody started complaining that we had a 10:30 game coming up,” Buchholz told me. “I joked and said, ‘I guarantee that I’ll have to pitch that game.’ Then I dug a little deeper and found out that I was actually pitching that day. It is what it is. I’m not really a morning person but I figure there aren’t too many hitters that want to climb into the box at 10:30 in the morning either.”
It will be Clay’s second start on this road trip, and he was sensational in Columbus, allowing 1 hit in 7 scoreless innings while striking out 8.
So far this year, hitters are batting .126 against him — the lowest opponent batting average of any qualifying pitcher in minor league baseball, and he’s working on a streak of 13.1 scoreless innings.
One of the reasons Clay’s been so dominant is that he is back to throwing all 4 of his pitches effectively.
Here was the breakdown in his last start: 50 fastballs, 15 curves, 5 sliders, and 16 changeups. His strikeouts came on 2 fastballs, 3 curves, 2 sliders, and 1 changeup.
In the start before that, he featured the slider more than the curve: 52 fastball, 7 curves, 15 sliders, 19 changeups. His strikeouts came on 4 fastballs, 1 curve, and 1 changeup.
Best of all, he didn’t give up a run in either game.
I hope you can turn the radio on at work and enjoy the broadcast. Pregame coverage begins at 10:15am on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.
Steve Hyder will look to climb to .500 in “Stump Steve.” He was a winner last night to improve to 12-13 this season.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.