|Rickey back on field for softball game|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 08 July 2007 16:59|
``It's good to be in a uniform and go out and play the game and have some fun whether it's softball or baseball,'' Henderson said. ``I enjoy myself out there.''
The 48-year-old Henderson played in the independent Golden Baseball League two years ago, trying to attract the attention of big league teams. He hasn't played in the majors since appearing in 30 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, his 25th year at baseball's highest level.
``I always wanted to come back,'' he said. ``They don't give me the opportunity to try to come back. They feel that I have accomplished so much in the game so it's really not necessary for me to continue playing. Right now I'm using some of the skills to teach some of the young kids to play.''
Henderson, a special instructor for the Mets this season, is the career leader in runs scored (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406) and is second behind Barry Bonds in walks with 2,190. He also has 3,055 career hits, 297 home runs, won the 1990 AL MVP award and made 10 All-Star games. He won an AL Gold Glove in 1981 as an outfielder with Oakland.
HOME RUN DERBY: Miguel Cabrera is out, while Albert Pujols and Alex Rios are in for the Home Run Derby on Monday night.
Cabrera pulled out Sunday with a jammed left shoulder that forced him to miss Florida's game Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. There was no replacement immediately announced. Cabrera has 18 homers, the most by a Marlins player at the break since Carlos Delgado had the same total in 2005.
``I tried to swing the bat today, but it hurt when I swung,'' he said. ``I felt it was going to be this bad today. I feel sore. Let's see how I feel at the All-Star game.''
Pujols and Rios were the final two participants added to the original field earlier Sunday even though Pujols is mired in a career-worst power slump. The St. Louis slugger has 16 homers on the season but hasn't gone deep in 22 games.
``I know it's not going to be long before I hit one, but I'm not going to go out there and look for it,'' Pujols said.
Rios is hitting .294 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs. The All-Star outfielder drove in the winning run in the Blue Jays' 1-0 victory over Cleveland on Sunday.
Rios, Minnesota's Justin Morneau, Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels and Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers are the AL's representatives for the Derby. Pujols, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder of the Brewers are the NL contestants.
POWER SHORTAGE: Going into Sunday night's Atlanta-San Diego game, an average of 1.97 home runs were hit prior to the All-Star break, down 12 percent from the 2.23 average prior to the All-Star break last year.
This year's pre-break average is the lowest since 1993's 1.73. With unusually cold weather in much of the country this year, home runs in April fell 20 percent, from an average of 2.31 to 1.84 per game.
STATUE TIME: Ernie Banks is pleased the Chicago Cubs plan to put up a statue of him outside Wrigley Field.
Banks, a Hall of Famer, is known as ``Mr. Cub,'' the most beloved retired player on a franchise that hasn't won the World Series since 1908.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said on the field Sunday after the celebrity softball game that his Rainbow/PUSH Organization had approached the Cubs.
``There was really no real resistance,'' Jackson said.
INCREASING DIVERSITY: Less than a week after National Association for the Advancement of Colored People interim president Dennis Hayes criticized commissioner Bud Selig for not spending enough on youth baseball, Jackson said MLB should spend money to assist high school programs.
``I think the key for more African-Americans for baseball is for baseball to invest more in high school baseball,'' Jackson said. ``Many of the urban school systems have cut back on art, music and baseball and tend to emphasize basketball, and kids become good at what they have the opportunity to do. So most urban systems do not have a baseball team.''
A study by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports said 8.4 percent of major league players last season were black, the lowest level in at least two decades.
HALL MONITOR: Rich Gossage, in prime position to gain election to the Hall of Fame next year, is taking a more low-key approach.
Gossage failed to get the necessary 75 percent in his first eight times on the ballot, but his percentage increased from 33.3 in 2000 to 71.2 percent this year, when he fell 21 votes shut. The highest percentage for a player who wasn't elected in a later year was 63.4 by Gil Hodges in 1983, his final time on the ballot.
``I just have to wait and see. It's totally out of my hands. I've been kind of vocal about it. I think they've forgotten how the role has changed,'' he said.
Closing has evolved since Gossage pitched. Nowadays, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and other top closers often are asked to get just three outs.
``They should be comparing them to us, not us to them,'' Gossage said. ``I would have loved to have seen what I could have done if I'd pitched only the ninth inning, because you get in a good grove and you stay fresh and you stay strong. I saw the total evolution of the 'pen from when I broke in in 1972, where the bullpen was a junk pile down there, where you didn't want to be in the bullpen.''
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and AP Sports Writer R.B. Fallstrom contributed to this report.