Barry Bonds is in town so Milwaukee is buzzing, especially as he gets closer to the home run record. We?re all baseball fans in our clubhouse, so there?s a little added interest among players, too. I guess it will be interesting to see how much he plays while he?s here. If he hits one tonight, for example, I don?t know if he?ll be in the lineup on Saturday and Sunday.
I noticed that the Cubs had record crowds when Barry was in Chicago. Barry or no Barry, we?ve been getting big crowds in Milwaukee, especially for the weekends. I?d imagine we?ll have sellouts with Barry in town.
I?ve followed Barry?s career pretty closely over the last 10 years while playing against him. We?re both left-handed hitting left fielders in the NL so we have at least that in common.
But I?ve been watching Barry a lot longer than that. Growing up in Sacramento, the teams we followed were the A?s and Giants. I?ve followed every step of his career. He?s been a joy to watch as a fan and a player. His run has been unbelievable and, now, to see him this close to the all-time home run record is mind-boggling.
I?m excited for him. Barry has had a magnificent career and who knows if he?ll even play next year, so the games playing against him this season are kind of special for us. Since I?ve been in the Major Leagues, I?ve always had a great relationship with Barry. From Day One, he?s always been really friendly and joked around with me. I?ll never forget playing with him on the All-Star team in ?03 when I got a chance to talk to him for a long time about hitting. I imagine he?s got to be pretty satisfied right now.
I?ll never have anything bad to say about the man. Barry?s always been great to me and the guy is the best player I?ve ever seen.
I had a nice restful All-Star break back home in Phoenix. As expected, it was hot in Arizona ?- I think it went up to about 106 degrees ?- but it could have been worse. It was even hotter the week before. Someone told me it was up to 114.
So I didn?t exert myself too much. I had some friends over for a little barbeque, went in the pool and just really relaxed. I didn?t do too much of anything. A little R&R never hurts.
As for our club, we?ve won our first two series since the break and we?re right where we need to be. We?re playing well, especially at home. Everyone?s a little nervous about losing Sheeter for a little while. I?m guessing we?ll be without him for about a month. It?s natural to be concerned. Benny is our horse and we definitely need him as often as he can get out on the mound.
The positive I take from the situation is that Benny will get some rest for his whole body -? not just his finger. His legs, his shoulder and his elbow will be strong and ready for that stretch run when he gets back. We?ll have him well-rested and at full strength.
In the meantime, Yovanni Gallardo is going to do a great job filling in while Benny is out. He?s a strike thrower, he?s got great stuff and he also has tremendous poise on the mound. He?s only 21 and he made his first big-league appearance only a month ago, but he doesn?t seem fazed stepping into this role at all. He?s a competitor.
As you can imagine, this is turning into a really fun season for all of us on the Brewers. It?s just a lot more fun being the hunter instead of the huntee for a change. I?ve never really been on a contending team this late in the season. It?s been a long time since this organization has contended and we want to make the most of it. As someone who?s been around for a while, I can tell you that these opportunities don?t come around very often.
But it?s still way too early to get caught up in the standings or talk of a pennant race. That stuff is irrelevant right now. We just need to keep doing what we need to do, which is win ballgames.
When it gets to September you wouldn?t be human if you?re not watching the standings. But there?s plenty of baseball to be played between now and then. We need to keep focused on getting prepared and winning ballgames on a day-to-day basis. The key is playing well enough in July and August that we?ll be interested in looking at those standings come September.