Hank Hysteria

Hank Blalock suddenly has become a hot commodity, at least judging by some comments on this blog.

Thanks to JDB for directing me to this link, which explains how the Rays are calling up Blalock from Triple-A Durham and how he could have exercised his opt-out clause.

Blalock, the former Texas Ranger who garnered little interest on the free-agent market, will replace Pat Burrell.

I'm not slamming Blalock, and I was intrigued by him over the winter as the Orioles figured to let the first base market play out, but he's supposed to tear up Triple-A pitching. He's supposed to be too good for the International League. His .349 average, 24 RBIs and 910 OPS makes perfect sense to me because...he's playing for the Durham Bulls.

Maybe that success carries over to the Rays - and we certainly hope not, since they play in the same division and really don't need the help - or maybe he hits .167, as he did in 42 spring training at-bats.

I'll wait to judge him on his swings in the Rays' lineup. Triple-A numbers are nice. They got Corey Patterson a ticket to Baltimore. But Blalock still has something to prove.

You could argue that he would have been an immediate upgrade for the Orioles because they've gotten such little production at first base, but I'll be interested to find out what he has left now that he's going to wear a major league uniform.

If he's a smash hit, the Rays will keep him. If he's a bust and the Rays let him go, the Orioles will probably stick with what they have or look elsewhere for help.

Either way, they need run production from that corner of the infield. It sort of goes with the job description.

I'm heading upstairs to take care of the four S's that my father always recited - the last three are shower, shave and shampoo - and head over to the ballpark. I'll post the lineup in a few hours. I'm going out on a limb and assume that Corey Patterson and Luke Scott are included in it.

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