Big Hurt bolsters offense and provides sound solution at DH

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com , 02/14/2007 10:00 AM ET

即便是像上一季藍鳥隊那麼強的進攻能力,他們仍然缺乏一般美聯球隊所該有的重要成員﹕一名真正的DH。
在上個球季多倫多總共用過14名不同的球員當過DH,然而在DH位置上總共只貢獻了16支全壘打和68支長打。只有雙城隊的DH更糟糕。

不用說,球隊一定非常想對DH這個位置進行升級。在11月,多倫多找到了Frank Thomas並和他簽下了兩年,價值一千八百一十二萬的合約,同時包括了2009年的選擇權。

“這讓我們終於有了固定的DH,”GM J.P Ricciardi在簽下Thomas之後說到。”這讓我們完成了一條非常強力同時可能是美聯最強之一的打線。”

去年,38歲的Thomas在他唯一的一個運動家球季裡擊出38支全壘打並掃進114分打點。在上一次Thomas作為DH單季擊出30轟並掃進100RBI是2000年,當年Brad Fullmer敲出32支全壘打並打進104分打點。

去年Thomas的成績讓他在美聯MVP的票選上拿到第四名也為他贏得一座MLB Player Association所頒發的美聯東山再起獎。

一個嚴重的踝關節傷勢讓Thomas在2004-05年間在白襪隊總共只出賽了108場。去年運動家和他簽下了一紙基本薪資五十萬美金,但是包含激勵條款的合約。

舊傷在上一季並未給他帶來嚴重的問題,這也讓Thomas可以在新的球季輕鬆的找到新東家。這名6呎5吋的DH表達了對藍鳥的興趣而Ricciardi就在這時候把握機會把Big Hurt帶到多倫多來。

“我沒想過他會離開奧克蘭,”教練Gibbons在這個冬天稍早說到。”我一直以為運動家會跟他續約,尤其當他去年表現出色並對球隊作出重大的貢獻。我想Ricciardi原本也是這麼想的。”

“這消息確實讓大家大吃一驚。”

Thomas加入了這個已經有全明星Vernon Wells和Troy Glaus的打線,去年他們兩人合計擊出70支全壘打。去年,藍鳥隊在全美聯長打率排第二(0.463)、打擊率第三(0.284)、以及第四的全壘打數(199)和上壘率(0.348)。

左外野手Reed Johnson對球隊能簽下Thomas來強化進攻感到非常興奮。

“當我跟我的經紀人談到這件事時,他就打趣道,”Johnson在十一月說道。”看看你後面的那些傢伙,你今年大概可以跑個200分回來。”

“當然這不是重點,”他笑著補充道,”但是這些傢伙就是那種當你上了一壘就跟站在得點圈沒兩樣的打者。”

過往的17個年頭裡,Thomas一共繳出了487支全壘打,458支二壘打,1579分打點以及0.305的生涯打擊率。在歷史上他的全壘打總數排到第23名,而距離成為史上第21名500轟的球員只差13發。而在DH這個位置上,距離史上第一的Edgar Martinez(243)也只有8支之遙。

Thomas的到來不只大大強化了藍鳥隊的DH,也讓幾乎所有的位置都有穩定的先發球員。進入春訓之後,只剩游擊手是由Royce Clayton和John McDonald來競爭決定誰可以先發的。

“今年以來,我們在位置上變得比較固定了,”Gibbons說到。”我們不會再依照對方的先發決定誰來打DH,所以現在我們在板凳上組成也有些許的不同。”

如果Thomas需要休息的話,藍鳥也簽下了左打的加拿大人Matt Stairs以作為DH的替補。Stairs也可以充作外野的替補。去年他分別在老虎、遊騎兵和皇家出賽,成績是0.247的打擊率,13支全壘打和51分打點。

其他位置的替補包括捕手Jason Phillips,他同時可以擔任Zaun和Overbay的替補。另外,Jason Smith在內野的四個位置都可以守,也可以從板凳出發提供左打的攻擊。

對多倫多來說,真正重要的是Thomas可以解決DH的問題,而讓其他球員可以專心在他們自己的位置上。而關鍵就是讓Big Hurt保持健康,而他不認為這會是問題。

“我不想讓別人認為我不能打,”Thomas在十一月28號說到。”人言可畏,他們總是說﹕這個腳踝,這個腳踝。NO!!! I’m back.去年我盡可能的去測試我的膝蓋而我回來並且做到那些我以前也能做到的事。 ”

附上原文﹕

As strong as the Blue Jays' offense was last season, they lacked a key component for any American League club: A true designated hitter.

Toronto used 14 different players in the DH role in 2006, and that group combined for a mere 16 home runs and 68 extra-base hits out of the position. Only the Twins' DHs produced fewer long balls last year.

Needless to say, the Blue Jays wanted an upgrade at DH, regardless of how prolific the rest of the lineup was last season. In November, Toronto found its man in Frank Thomas, who signed a two-year, $18.12 million contract that includes a vesting option for 2009.

"It was a chance for us to really define that role with one guy," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said after signing Thomas. "This really makes our lineup pretty potent, and one of the best in the American League."

Last year, the 38-year-old Thomas slugged 39 home runs and drove in 114 runs in his lone season with Oakland. The last time Toronto had a DH reach 30 homers and 100 RBIs was in 2000, when Brad Fullmer launched 32 long balls and knocked in 104 runs.

Thomas' work at the plate last season helped him finish fourth in AL Most Valuable Player voting and earned him the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award from the MLB Players Association.

A serious ankle injury limited Thomas to 108 games with the Chicago White Sox over the 2004-05 seasons, leading the A's to sign Thomas to an incentive-laden contract that had a base salary of $500,000.

The injury didn't present any serious problems last season, making it easier for Thomas to find suitors this offseason. The 6-foot-5 DH expressed an interest in the Jays, and Ricciardi jumped at the chance to add Thomas to Toronto's lineup.

"I didn't think he was going to leave Oakland," Jays manager John Gibbons said earlier this winter. "I thought they'd sign him up after he had the big year he had for them last year. I think it just kind of developed and happened kind of fast for J.P., too.

"All it does is stengthen us and lets us strike a little more fear into teams."

Thomas joins the heart of a lineup that already included All-Stars Vernon Wells and Troy Glaus, who combined for 70 home runs last season. In 2006, the Jays ranked second in the AL in slugging percentage (.463), third in batting average (.284) and fourth in home runs (199) and on-base percentage (.348).

Toronto left fielder and leadoff hitter Reed Johnson was excited about the possibilities on offense when he learned the Jays had signed Thomas.

"We were kind of joking around when I was talking to my agent," Johnson said in November. "He said, 'You might score 200 runs this year with all those guys hitting behind you.'"

"Obviously, that's not going to be the case," he added with a laugh. "But those guys are going to be the type of hitters where, when you're at first base, you're in scoring position."

Over 17 seasons, Thomas has hit .305 with 487 home runs, 458 doubles and 1,579 RBIs. Thomas currently ranks 23rd in baseball history in home runs, and he is just 13 shy of becoming just the 21st player to reach 500 long balls in a career. Thomas is also eight homers away from tying Edgar Martinez (243) for the most all-time as a DH.

Thomas not only gives Toronto a boost at DH, he also gives the Blue Jays a regular starter at nearly every position. Entering Spring Training, shortstop is the only spot where the Jays have more than one player -- Royce Clayton and John McDonald -- vying for a starting job.

"Going into this year, we're a little more locked in on positions," Gibbons said. "We no longer have a platoon in left or right, so our bench just shapes up a little bit differently."

Should Thomas require a day off, the Jays signed Canadian Matt Stairs, who could fill in occasionally as a left-handed option at DH. Stairs can also serve as a backup outfielder. Last year, Stairs hit .247 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in stints with the Tigers, Rangers and Royals.

The other projected reserves include catcher Jason Phillips, who can back up starters Gregg Zaun behind the plate and Lyle Overbay at first base, and Jason Smith, who can play all four infield positions and provides a left-handed bat off the bench.

What's important for Toronto is that Thomas can finally provide a sound solution at DH, and the other position players can remain in their respective roles. The key will be keeping the Big Hurt healthy, which he doesn't anticipate being an issue.

"I don't want people to think that I'm not able to play," Thomas said on Nov. 28. "There's a lot of critics out there saying, 'This ankle. This ankle.' No, I'm back. I tested this ankle every way possible last year and I was back doing the things I've always done."

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