Eric Hinske, who is starring with the Tampa Bay Rays after nearly being shunned by MLB as a free agent this season, was booed loudly by Toronto fans every time he stepped to the plate for his new team during a series against the Blue Jays this week.
And, while that irritated Rays manager Joe Maddon, Hinske wasn’t too hot and bothered.
“I never really put up the numbers that I did in my first year with Toronto (in 2002, when he was the AL’s rookie-of-the-year), so I’m sure that’s why they booed me, and I guess I understand that,” Hinske said in an interview at the Rogers Centre. “But I never tried to be anything but a team man in Toronto. I never said anything bad about anybody in Toronto. I just tried my best. It was unfortunate that things didn’t work out in Toronto. I never thought in my wildest dreams that, after the rookie year I had, I’d end up being so disliked by the fans in Toronto that they’d boo me.”
Maddon was downright upset by the booing.
“He’s one of the nicest guys in the history of United States and he gets booed in Canada,” Maddon said. “Makes no sense to me. What did he do? Did he skip town with a couple of barking tickets or something?
“Eric is a wonderful young man. One of the finest in the game. He doesn’t deserve booing from anybody.”
- And what the heck is wrong with the Jays’ newest multimillionaire, Alex Rios? He’s been unproductive (four hits in his first 30 at-bats) during the Jays’ most recent homestand, and to suggest he’s looking bad would be the epitome of understatement.. The Jays’ braintrust thinks the all-star has simply has developed a bad habit of taking his eyes off the ball. Weird for a major-leaguer.
- The Cincinatti Reds’ Joey Votto served noticed this week that another Canadian baseball player is on the verge of stardom. The rookie first baseman belted three home runs against the Chicago Cubs, becoming the first Torontonian and third Canadian (B.C.’s Larry Walker and Justin Morneau were the first two) to accomplish the feat. Well, make note of this Torontonian, as well: His name is Greg Byron, a senior who’s been dominating batters for Bethany College, an NAIA university in Kansas. Byron was 10-1 as a starting pitcher in his conference. He posted a miniscule earned-run average of 1.16, second in the nation, and was a first-team selection as a starting pitcher. Scouts are beginning to talk about the kid.
- The Reds are letting it be known that they are willing to trade one of their two sluggers, Ken Griffey Jr. or Adam Dunn. Or both. The Jays, we’re told, have interest. Heaven knows they need to bolster their anemic offence – and they’re refusing to offer home-run king Barry Bonds a contract.
- The Seattle Mariners have interest in reaquiring Griffey, who used to be their star player. Mariners president Chuck Armstrong is quoted as saying that adding a big-name player such as Griffey would increase Seattle’s falling attendance figures.
- The most vocal portion of the Mariners’ fan base has long advocated changes at the top, specifically targeting general manager Bill Bavasi, brother of former Jays president Peter Bavasi, and manager John McLaren, a former third-base coach in Toronto. Armstrong also sounded critical of them this week. “There’s a fine line with patience,” he said. “We already made (player) moves to address the problems. Maybe those moves will come back to bite us. We don’t know.”
- Three members of the Chicago White Sox — Nick Swisher, Bobby Jenks, and John Danks, have had their facial hair painted pink for Mother’s Day this Sunday, to raise awareness of breast cancer. And the same Sox will color their facial hair blue next month for Father’s Day, to raise awareness of prostate cancer.