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Inside Baseball

The Bottom Half

June 17, 2007|Peter Yoon

OFF THE WALL

Looking back

* When the St. Louis Cardinals opened a three-game series Friday at Oakland, it marked the first time since he left the Athletics after the 1995 season that Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa was in Oakland for a regular-season game. He reminisced about the 10 seasons he spent there and leading the team to three consecutive World Series appearances and the 1989 title. "That was a magical time," he said. "There were great young players being developed in the system, and Sandy [Alderson, then the A's general manager] seemed to pick up just the right players during the season." The A's welcomed him back with a 14-2 shellacking.

Looking ahead

* Interleague play continues this week and the Detroit Tigers seem to have drawn the short straw this time. They are finishing up a three-game series today at Philadelphia, then travel to Washington, then play a weekend series at Atlanta, meaning they will play nine consecutive games in National League stadiums. That means they can't use a designated hitter and their pitchers have to bat. "I don't think an American League team should be asked to play nine straight days in National League cities," Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. "I think that's out of line. We're not built for that."

It's a fact

* When Roger Clemens, 44, and Julio Franco, 48, faced each other during the Subway Series, it was the oldest batter-pitcher matchup since Rube Walberg, 37, pitched to Nick Altrock, 57, in 1933. So who is Nick Altrock and why was he playing at that age? He was a pitcher who debuted in 1898 and played regularly through 1909. He made a handful of appearances between 1912-1918, and batted once in 1924 and once in 1929. By 1933, he was a manager and put himself in as a pinch-hitter in the final game of the season, becoming the first player to play in five decades.

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MINOR LEAGUE REPORT

DODGERS IN THE MINORS

TRAVIS DENKER, 2B

Inland Empire; Class A

Denker, a 21st-round draft pick in 2003 from Brea Olinda High, is having a bounce-back season. He is batting .337 with four home runs and 28 runs batted in and is batting .391 with runners in scoring position. He was chosen the Dodgers' minor league player of the month in May, when he batted .372 to lead all Dodgers minor leaguers. He had three home runs, seven doubles and 19 RBIs during the month, with three four-hit games. Last season he batted only .247 at two stops. He's 21 years old, so he has time to develop the power that he showed in 2005, when he hit 23 home runs with 77 RBIs in his first full season as a professional.

JAMES McDONALD, P

Inland Empire; Class A

A 6-foot-5 right hander, McDonald was selected the Dodgers' minor league pitcher of the month for May. He was 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings during the month. Opponents batted only .184 against him in his five May starts, and he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on May 27. He is 4-5 with a 3.88 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings for the season. McDonald, 22, was an 11th-round draft pick from Golden West College in 2002. He was moved to the outfield in 2005, but he batted only .224 in 46 games. He went back to the mound last season and was 5-10 with a 3.98 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 142 1/3 innings.

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