Cargo and the (not) Big C

or, ballplayers are human, too.

Back in May, All-Star Carlos Gonzalez left a game against the Mets, citing pain in his finger. Met fans will recall, of course, that this was after he already bashed a home run. Since then, he’s been in and out of the lineup, on and off the DL.

Fast forward to this week, and we discover that Mr. Cargo actually had a non-cancerous growth removed from his finger, and is starting to swing the bat again. “Fatty mass with tentacles” was the unofficial description; post-traumatic neuroma the medical explanation. Cargo said it looked like a cheeto, which he eats too many of. Scary, nonetheless.

In Oakland, I cited the diminishing production of jack-of-all-trades Alberto Callaspo last week. Well, last Sunday Alberto’s wife delivered their third child. Since then, he’s gone on an 8-for-14 tear, including a perfect 2-for-2 with 2 walks against Yu Darvish.

This is to say, folks, ballplayers are humans too, and bring the same sets of problems to the ballpark that we do to our offices each day: family squabbles, money troubles, health woes. So while it is easy to classify these few hundred men as pampered millionaires, (which in some respects they no doubt are), as the old adage goes, they still put their socks on one at a time just like the rest of us (also true of people you insult on the message boards and flip off in traffic).

The death of the greatest Padre, Tony Gwynn, should have also reminded us that his son is playing for Philadelphia. How did Tony Gwynn, Jr. feel standing in the outfield last week?

So we wish a speedy recovery to Carlos Gonzalez; we say felicidades to Mr. Callaspo and his spouse on the arrival of their new baby; and we send our prayers to the Gwynn family for their loss (let’s make Tony an honorary Venezuelan this week).

On to our VZ news for the week:

It will be a running battle between two Venezuelan-laden teams for the American League Central division this summer. The Royals, featuring Omar Infante, Alcides Escobar, and Salvador Perez took 3 of 4 from the Tigers, who of course have Victor Martinez (18 home runs), Miguel Cabrera, and now getting a look at shortstop, Eugenio Sanchez. Eugenio has been tutored by Tigers first base coach and Caracas legend Omar Vizquel; the 11-time Gold Glover sharing defensive tips with his young countryman here and in the winter with the Leones de Caracas. Apparently Suarez fits well in the clubhouse with his fellow Venezuelans and the rest of the team; if he hits on a regular basis, he could stick.

Maracay man Anibal Sanchez finally stopped the bleeding after 3 straight losses to the Royals; he righted the Detroit ship on Thursday to raise his record to 4-2 and lower his ERA to 2.33.

In a showdown between the Cabreras on Friday, Miguel (not known for his defense, but not too bad, really) turned two double plays (including one he initiated from first base) and Asdrubal turned one in the Tigers 4-2 win over Cleveland. At the plate, Asdrubal, who is a fairly big dude for a shortstop, popped his 8th home run, while V-Mart knocked his 18th for the visitors. Miguel Cabrera scored two runs, no doubt driven in by big Vic.

In Chi-town, where the Cubans dominate the South Side, huzzah for Venezuela’s Luis Valbuena, holding down third for the hapless Cubbies. This will likely be the third season Luis plays more than 100 games in the Big Show, and he’ll play his 500th MLB game next week. As if to celebrate, he’s hitting at .282, nearly 50 points above his career average. Let’s hope he maintains that; at age 28, he just may be one of those slowly-maturing lefties (takes one to know one; I’m still getting there at age 49.5!). Valbuena even got slotted at leadoff this week when speedy Emilio Bonifacio went down with an injury. Again, the presence of countryman Jose Castro as a Cubs coach may be having a calming effect on Luis.

Finally, special kudos today to the man I dubbed Shutout Alvarez. His real first name is Henderson (as in Rickey) and he’s given up just 2 runs in his last 39 innings at Marlins Park, whose spacious parameters are quite pitcher-friendly. “Shutout” shut down the hapless Mets again last night on 94 pitches in just over six innings and  only left the game because  may have tweaked the leg which he injured in his last start. (Met announcers described his exit as a “stiff limp.”) Nonetheless, he got the victory (4-3, 2.39 ERA) and continues to show All Star form, especially at home.

Can anyone give me a good reason why Maracay native Jose Altuve of the Astros should not be the starting second baseman for the American League in the All-Star game? He has 101 hits in 72 games and is at .336 with 26 stolen bases. Still time to vote, folks.

Frankie Rodriguez, you’re not forgotten. Quite a comeback story, with 24 saves. Who’da thunk it?

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About vzbaseball

Writer, Musician, Baseball Fanatic. Lonely Planet, Fodor's, scouring the nation and globe for stories. Big fish, small pond.
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