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OFF THE WALL / THE BOTTOM HALF

August 19, 2007|Peter Yoon

Looking back

The Detroit Tigers, in the middle of a dogfight division race with Cleveland, were stricken with a mysterious flu bug this week that rendered second baseman Placido Polanco unable to play five consecutive games. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez also missed a game, as did recently released outfielder Craig Monroe. Pitchers Justin Verlander and Todd Jones also got it. It was so bad that the Yankees, who are playing the Tigers this weekend, advised their players and staff not to have too much close contact with the Tigers to avoid catching the virus. New York Manager Joe Torre said he called Detroit counterpart Jim Leyland to tell him it was "nothing personal."

Looking ahead

The Minnesota Twins today will wrap up their weekend-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of their 1987 World Series title by inducting third baseman Gary Gaetti into the Twins Hall of Fame. The weekend celebration has included a reenactment of their victory parade. Frank Viola, Kent Hrbek, Greg Gagne and Jeff Reardon, among others, took part. They also paid special tribute to Kirby Puckett, the Hall of Fame outfielder who died after suffering a stroke last year.

It's a fact

New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes stole his 60th base Thursday night, becoming the first infielder to steal 60 or more in three consecutive seasons since the modern stolen base rule came into effect in 1898, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Kenny Lofton (1992-94) is the last outfielder to get 60 in three consecutive seasons.

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UCLA PLAYERS IN THE MINORS

JOSH ROENICKE, P

Chattanooga; double A

Roenicke played mostly outfield for UCLA, but he's making his mark as a relief pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization. A 10th-round pick in 2006, Roenicke is 3-2 with 22 saves and a 2.47 earned-run average during two stops in the minors. He has 55 strikeouts and 18 walks in 43 2/3 innings. In 16 games since his promotion to double A, he has six saves and a 1.13 ERA. He has not given up a run in his last eight appearances, giving up only four hits and a walk while getting three saves. Double-A opponents are batting only .179 against him. He was a Florida State League All-Star with Class-A Sarasota, where he played the first half of the season.

HECTOR AMBRIZ, P

Visalia; Class A

Ambriz, 23, in his first full season as a professional, has won his last five decisions and is 6-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last 10 starts. He pitched six shutout innings in a no-decision in his last outing and pitched a five-hit shutout July 21. It was quite a turnaround from May and June, when he had a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts. For the season, he is 10-6 with a 3.51 ERA and has 122 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings. Ambriz, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-hander, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. He pitched in 15 games at the Rookie level and went 1-3 with a 1.91 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings.

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