Gardner not fooled by fake ball
We focus here mostly on local players in minor league baseball, but we can't let the exploits of Brett Gardner (College of Charleston) last week go unremarked.
Gardner, center fielder for the New York Yankees, got his first major league home run last week, a two-run shot in an 8-2 win at Toronto last Wednesday. Gardner also hit a triple in that game, and threw out a runner at the plate against the Blue Jays on Thursday night. On Friday night, he came off the bench to replace an ejected Johnny Damon. Trailing 4-1, he hit an inside-the-park home run and later tripled.
In the bigs, it's tradition for teammates to write a mistake-filled inscription on a fake ball after a player hits his first major league homer. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Gardner's Yankee teammates wrote this:
"1ST CAREER HR SOLO SHOT
OFF SAM RICHMAND
FOR BRETT GARDER
Of course, it was a two-run shot, the pitcher's name is Scott Richmond, Gardner was misspelled and the homer came on May 13. Don't worry, Yankees reliever Brett Tomko saved the real ball for Brett.
"I'll put it in my house, along with my first hit ball, I guess — I think that's a joke right there," Gardner said, inspecting the fake ball as he read the inscription and chuckled. "Supposed to be a joke. Not too funny, though."
Around the bases:
--Outfielder Chris Swauger (The Citadel) hit two homers last week for Class A Quad Cities of the Cardinals ... Shortstop Reese Havens (Bishop England HS/USC) survived a recent 0- for-12 stretch and drove in eight runs in two games Wednesday and Thursday, with a grand slam against Palm Beach on Wednesday ... Catcher Matt Wieters (Stratford HS) also had an 0-for-12 slump, but busted out with two homers and four RBIs against Syracuse on Thursday for Triple-A Norfolk ... First baseman Justin Smoak (Straford HS/USC) is hitting .391 with four homers and 18 RBIs vs. right-handers, and .242/ 1/2 against lefties at AA Frisco.
--Second baseman Drew Meyer (Bishop England HS/USC) was named the defensive player of the month for April for AAA Corpus Christi ... Pitcher Danny Meszaros (College of Charleston) is lighting it up as a closer for Class A Lexington in the South Atlantic League. Meszaros has not allowed an earned run in 12 1/3 innings, and has nine saves with two walks and 18 strikeouts and a .118 opponents' batting average ... Pitcher Jon Ellis (St. Andrews HS/The Citadel) worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings last Monday to beat Salt Lake City, running his record to 4-0 with a 3.18 ERA ... Pitcher Mike Cisco (Wando HS/USC), slowed by injury, has been assigned to Class A Clearwater by the Phillies.
--Third baseman Ben Lasater (College of Charleston) was named the Marlins' minor-league player of the month after hitting .410 with 13 doubles and five home runs and 18 RBIs in April for Class A Greensboro.
Reach Jeff Hartsell at firstname.lastname@example.org