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Friday, May 18, 2007

First Baseman Ryan Garko and The Cleveland Indians Continue To Play Well

By David

Ryan Garko, 26-year old first baseman for the surging Cleveland Indians, continued his success Friday night against interstate rival Cincinnati.

After thumping Cinci by the final score of 9-4 this evening, the Indians have improved to 25-14 on the season. They are now one-game ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central and 2.5 games behind the Red Sox for the best record in the American League.

The Tribe are an amazing 15-3 at Jacobs Field and 9-2 against their division foes. Center Fielder Grady Sizemore and designated hitter Travis Hafner headline the group of youngsters who have re-energized the city of Cleveland. A credible argument can be made that the Indians have the best young position players in the majors and will be among baseball's best teams for several years to come.

Last night in the battle of Ohio, Ryan Garko went two for three with a three-run home run and improved his average to .321. All-star center fielder Grady Sizemore went four for five with a two-run dinger, three runs batted in and three runs scored. A recent Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci stated that ''he's without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation.'' If Sizemore can continue on his torrid pace he will in deed live up to the hype.

The rest of the Indians offense includes Travis Hafner who belted 42 home runs and drove in 117 runs last season while sporting a .659 slugging percentage and .439 on base percentage, all-star catcher Victor Martinez who consistently ranks among the best hitting catchers in baseball , 24-year old shortstop Jhonny Peralta who is mounting a strong comeback season after struggling last year, and 23-year old third baseman Andy Marte who has a bright future with the club.

When you sprinkle in veterans like Trot Nixon, David Dellucci and Casey Blake Cleveland's offense is a recipe for success.

Pitching wise the Indians starting rotation will not over power you, but they'll get the job done when counted on. Left-hander C.C. Sabathia is the ace of a staff that has combined to go 17-8 on the young season. C.C. has started off the season strong going 6-1 with a 3.65 ERA.

23-year old righty Fausto Carmona who went 1-10 with a 5.42 ERA last season, is now 5-1 with a 2.55 earned run average in seven games. In his last victory Thursday against the Twins he pitched a complete game shutout against baseball's best pitcher Johan Santana.

Still, for the Indians to win the division this year and advance far in the playoffs they will need to resolve their bullpen woes. Closer Joe Borowski is 0-2 this season with a nine ERA and twelve saves. Look for general manager Mark Shapiro to make a trade by the end of July if his pen continues to pitch ineffectively.

Giambi's reported remarks to be investigated by baseball

Finally, a MLB player has come out of the shadows and said something sensible regarding the steroids issue.

Owners, players and the commissioner's office should be embarrassed by their actions during the steroid era and they haven't made their case any better by not taking the offensive to clean up their sport.

The example they set for young players just beginning their careers and who look up to these players as their role models is deplorable.

Yankees slugger Jason Giambi should not be quieted by MLB for telling the truth. There needs to be more players and executives who come out and tell the truth about what really happened in the last decade. A formal apology to all fans would be appropriate.

By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer

May 18, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- The baseball commissioner's office intends to investigate reported remarks by Yankees slugger Jason Giambi that the sport should apologize for use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Rob Manfred, executive vice president for labor relations in the commissioner's office, spoke Friday with Yankees president Randy Levine about the matter, a baseball official with knowledge of the conversation said, speaking on condition of anonymity because baseball officials didn't want the matter publicly discussed.

"I was wrong for doing that stuff," Giambi was quoted as saying in Friday's editions of USA Today. "What we should have done a long time ago was stand up -- players, ownership, everybody -- and said: 'We made a mistake.'

"We should have apologized back then and made sure we had a rule in place and gone forward. ... Steroids and all of that was a part of history. But it was a topic that everybody wanted to avoid. Nobody wanted to talk about it."

Giambi told a grand jury during the BALCO investigation in December 2003 that he used steroids and human growth hormone, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in December 2004. Before the start of spring training in 2005, Giambi made repeated general apologies at a news conference but wouldn't discuss whether he used steroids or admitted to the grand jury in 2003 that he did.

"The commissioner's office, I think, is going to be looking into this, and so at this point I just can't comment," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said before Friday's game against the Mets. "Let the commissioner go through the process he needs to go through, and we'll go from there."

Giambi refused to talk about the USA Today story on Friday.

Cashman was troubled by the notion that fans are owed an apology by Major League Baseball.

"There's an implication that there was a lot of people that were involved that would know that, what was going on, and I can tell you that's false," Cashman said. "We've spoken to that in the past, so I do have a problem with that, without a doubt, because I can tell you -- I can speak from being right there, too -- that whatever goes on individually with these guys, is really on them."

Giambi, whom USA Today said was interviewed on Wednesday, was quoted by the paper as saying he's thankful for baseball's testing program for steroids and amphetamines that was revised before the 2006 season. MLB does not test for human growth hormone and Giambi said he does not use the drug.

"Unfortunately, (the rumors) are going to be a part of it. But that's OK. I'm probably tested more than anybody else. I'm not hiding anything," he was quoted as saying. "That stuff didn't help me hit home runs. I don't care what people say, nothing is going to give you that gift of hitting a baseball."

Updated on Friday, May 18, 2007 7:20 pm EDT

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