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Met may be victim of fame's demands

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published April 29, 2007


The quote board

"What made Christopher Columbus famous? He took a chance. What the hell? If it turns out bad, it turns out bad and the consequences will be bad. I look at it as a chance to make our pitching stronger."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on the decision to put opening day starter Brett Myers in the bullpen.

"The first thing I do is make sure they don't give me the key to the minibar in my hotel room."

Reds OF Josh Hamilton, taking his drug and alcohol-plagued past with a sense of humor, when asked about what it's like going from city to city.

"Rule No. 1, don't collide with him. It's not a good career move."

Brewers OF Geoff Jenkins on colliding with 262-pound 1B Prince Fielder last year while chasing a popup. Jenkins suffered a slight concussion. Brewers C Johnny Estrada dodged serious injury in a collision with Fielder last week.

Sometimes in the game of baseball, fame can hit so fast.

The word out of New York is that slumping Mets 3B David Wright might be overextended with all his newfound fame at the age of 24.

Wright has four RBIs through 21 games. Since last year's All-Star break, counting the postseason, he has seven home runs, none this April. He had 20 at the break.

After last year's 26-homer, 117-RBI season, Wright has become one of the most visible faces in the game. He endorses Vitamin Water. He flew to San Diego in the offseason to get his picture taken for the cover of Sony PlayStation's MLB '07 video game. He had dinner at the White House. Delta Airlines has him endorsing one of their jets. Earlier this month, he was at Madame Tussauds, posing with a wax statue of himself.

But has all the attention become too much?

"It all depends on how he deals with it, " Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "Him and Jose (Reyes), too; they're still just babies. People tend to forget that. But this is New York, and that's the way it works here."

Said Wright: "None of that stuff gets in the way of any kind of preparation for me. Most (teammates) have families. I don't have a family. I'm single. So where they might be spending time in the offseason or on off days with their families and children, I have a chance to have an experience that's fun and maybe once-in-a-lifetime for me."

BONDS A MESS: As he chases Hank Aaron's career homer mark, Giants slugger Barry Bonds can't be resting easily these days. He's going too good, hitting .357 and being just 15 homers away from becoming baseball's home run king.

"I panic when I'm going good because I'm trying to figure out how long that's going to last, " Bonds said last week. "That's an old (saying) of my dad. Don't panic when it's bad because it's already bad. You can only make it worse. Panic when it's going good because it can only last for a day, it can last for two weeks or whatever."

MULTITASKING: Dodgers LHP and former Devil Rays pitcher Mark Hendrickson has filled in superbly in L.A.'s rotation for injured RHP Jason Schmidt. In three starts, Hendrickson has allowed just three runs in 152/3 innings.

It comes after Hendrickson had blossomed as a reliever. He owned a 1.25 ERA in his past nine appearances dating to last season out of the bullpen.

"Sometimes as a starter, you can out-think yourself and try to execute from a game plan, " Hendrickson said. "Coming out of the bullpen is more reaction, trusting what you see. You don't have a lot of time to put thought into the scouting reports or certain hitters."

He has used the same approach successfully in his starts, he said.

NOW THAT'S A LONG TIME: Monday was the 25th anniversary of Mets 1B Julio Franco's major-league debut. Franco, 48, went 1-for-4 for the Phillies in a 9-2 loss to the Cardinals. Franco singled off Bob Forsch in his first at-bat, but he said he didn't remember much because "the brain cells don't go that far."

NOW THAT'S A LONG TIME, PART II: When top pitching prospect Phil Hughes, the Yankees' first-round draft pick in 2004, made his major-league debut Thursday against Toronto, he became the first Yankees first-round pick to actually play for the team since Derek Jeter, who was their first-round pick in 1992. That's 12 years of lost first-rounders.

AROUND THE HORN: For the second time in 11 months, RHP Jake Peavy struck out 16 in a game the Padres lost, a 3-2 setback to Arizona on Wednesday. Peavy struck out nine straight from the second through the fourth and was one strike from Tom Seaver's major-league record of 10 consecutive strikeouts. ... Reigning AL MVP and Minnesota 1B Justin Morneau entered Saturday 3 for his past 25. His average dropped from .313 to .258 before a 3-for-4 day raised it back to .280. ... Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was ejected from Sunday's game against the Mets for the 127th time in his career. He is four ejections behind all-time leader John McGraw. ... Tigers OF Magglio Ordonez was 9-for-11 in a three road-game stretch this week, raising his average from .254 to .333.

Fast Facts:

 

A click away

Blogs are quickly becoming a part of baseball. They are a place to fling trade rumors, analyze stats and even provide a forum for players to get something off their chests. Here's a look at five blogs that are worth a click.

1. www.cheatersguideto baseball.com/

Derek Zumsteg, the author of the book by the same name, pointed out that Torii Hunter's champagne gift to the Royals was a no-no last week.

2. 38pitches.com/

On Red Sox RHP Curt Schilling's blog, you can read his reaction to last week's bloody sock rumor - that is, if you can handle Schill's long-winded, 1, 400-word diatribe. Aren't blogs supposed to be short and sweet?

3. mlbcontracts.blogspot. com/

The game's all about money, and this one breaks down every contract in the bigs.

4. barrybonds.mlb.com/ players/bonds_barry/ journal/latest.html

Barry Bonds' journal on his personal site is much less condescending and more digestible than the real thing.

5. insider.espn.go.com/ espn/blog/ index?nameolney_buster

Well worth the price of ESPN Insider admission, Buster Olney's blog takes you around the majors with one click.