If Eric Patterson
had only known how much impact his tardiness would create in the 2007 playoff picture. When Corey's little brother was sent down
to the AA Tennessee Smokies playoffs as the consequence of his reporting late to the ballpark, little did he realize he just might have Wally Pipped
himself. In a quasi-punitive measure, Cubs GM Jim Hendry sent EPat out and recalled Sam Fuld
MLB teams use the roster expansion differently when a team is in the pennant chase than for a team playing out the string. Outside of the Geovanny Soto
"happening" (how cool is that?), teams in the race use the extra players to rest the bullpen in blowout games or play defense late in games or pinch run. Only the non-contenders like the Astros and Pirates are playing some of their promising minor leaguers to see what they look like at this level for next season. Being in the pennant chase, the Cubs didn't expect Patterson to see much action except as someone who could pinch run or maybe sacrifice bunt. Mostly it was a reward for a good minor league season and a chance to catch some important learning by observation at the major league level including some rare Chicago-style pennant fever. Invaluable experience for a young ballplayer. So when it was decided that his "opportunity" was not being respected it was rescinded, thus opening the door to the Sam Fuld
experience. Sam played most of the year with the AA Tennessee Smokies (335 AB, .372 OBP) but was promoted late in the season to AAA Iowa for 52 at bats and who's season at AAA Iowa was over when he was brought up.
As TCR readers know, Sam Fuld is an Arizona Phil
favorite. His strengths are a high baseball IQ, good defensive CF skills with a plus arm, he is tough to strikeout and is a good base-stealer. Az Phil also warned us about potential downside:
" ...he plays with a hyper-reckless abandon that has resulted in a number of season-ending or season-interrupting injuries over the past few seasons (torn labrum and fractured shoulder at Stanford in 2004..."
He had a great college career at Stanford
. Ron Santo has taken him under his wing as they both have had to deal with Type I diabetes
Yesterday's catch by Fuld, was a season highlight with a fearless race to the right centerfield brick wall on a ball crushed by Nyjer Morgan, a crash landing with his shoulder hitting the bricks and hat flying stage left. Then he showed enough moxie to bounce and not break (note that Mr. Floyd), followed by a one hop throw to double off the runner, Nate McLouth at first, to end the inning for reliever "Stevie Ire". It was a play that will be remembered in Cub fan lore for the ages. It's been a long time since fans had the opportunity to chant, "Sam-mie, Sam-mie", and it sure felt good.
...and I can only wonder how E-Pat felt, as he watched it last night on Sportscenter with the rest of us.