Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mark Fidrych Death Blamed on Spinning Shaft

Former major league pitcher Mark Fidrych -- who went into the trucking business nearly 25 years ago after losing his baseball career to injuries -- was likely killed instantly when his shirt became entangled in a powerful, turning mechanical shaft beheath his vehicle, his mechanic explained Tuesday.

"It was one of those 'I didn't mean to do that' mistakes that in this business will kill you," said Alan Anderson, service manager at Ballard Truck Center in Worcester, Mass., in an exclusive interview with MLBNewsOnline.com.

"It just sucked him in. It's an awful way to go," said Anderson, who sold the truck to Fidrych in 1986.

The shaft, which runs from the engine to a gearbox that hydraulically raises and lowers the dump truck box, generally should not be in operation while personnel are under the truck, Anderson said.

He described Fidrych as a close friend and remembered that he taught the former Tigers Rookie of the Year and Red Sox farmhand to drive the truck when he sold it to him new.

"I was shocked. It's a terrible loss," Anderson said.

State police, who are assisting in the investigation, withheld a statement pending results of an autopsy being awaited by the district attorney's office. The district attorney's office expected no update before Wednesday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stephen Strasburg: What's Not to Like? Well...

With masterful control, a 100-mph fastball and an ability to strikeout an average of two batters an inning, what's not to like about anticipated No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg.

Well, to hear The New York Times tell it, his problem is the company he keeps.

Columnists Fred Bierman and Benjamin Hoffman -- writing in the current edition of the newspaper's weekly "Spotlight" feature -- note that the 6-foot-five, 220-pound righty is represented by agent Scott Boros, who has been known to hold out for multi-million-dollar signing bonuses.

Having a 7-0 win-loss mark and 1.49 ERA for the San Diego State Aztecs, the starting figure for Strasburg's services could approach a record $20 million, if anyone is willing to pay it, let alone the lowly Washington Nationals, who have the first selection in the June draft.

Even if Strasburg slides down the pecking order to wealthier buyers, Boros likely will continue to hold teams' feet to the fire. Bierman and Hoffman point out that Boros has gone so far as to let clients such as J.D. Drew and Luke Hochever -- to name just two -- play for independent minor league teams before allowing them to sign a contract without meeting Boros' price.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Twins C Joe Mauer Closer to Return

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer, rehabbing from back inflammation, remains on the disabled list but is making progress toward rejoining his teammates on the field.

Mauer took batting practice and worked behind the plate Wednesday night, both firsts in his recovery from the back problems that have his sidelined. The batting and catching sessions took place at the Twins' minor-league camp in Florida.

Mauer hit one ball out of the park in the batting practice session, which was his first since September. Mauer's biggest issue remains with running, an activity that causes much pain and which he hasn't been able to do comfortably since December.