Sneak Attack from Down Under
Cameron Cairncross is a 20-year-old lefthander from Australia who's pitching for Waterloo ( Iowa), a Padres Class A team. He has been playing baseball for only five years, but he might have the best pickoff move in pro ball. Last year Cairncross picked off 48 runners, with only nine balks. As of Sunday he had 18 pickoffs this year (five balks). He has a deceptive leg kick that comes close to being a balk. "I picked off one runner who had taken only three steps off first," he says. "He was looking at home when he was tagged. He never moved."
There are some great names in the minor leagues—Boise's Elgin Bobo, San Bernardino's Arquimedez Pozo and, for the more traditional, Ted Williams of Calgary—but the best moniker belongs to Motorboat Jones, an outfielder for the Class A Charleston (W.Va.) Wheelers, a Reds affiliate. He says he got the sobriquet as a child from his grandmother "because I made sounds like a motorboat." His real name is Eugene, but "my mom calls me Motor," says Jones, "and my teammates call me Boat."
From Russia with Gloves
Manager Bill Lachemann of the Angels' rookie league team, in Mesa, Ariz., became impressed with two 23-year-old Russian players on his team after watching them for only three days. "Their skill level is about that of a 19-year-old, but they want to learn," says Lachemann. The two, third baseman Yevgeny Puchkof and shortstop Ilya Bogatyrev, already have nicknames, says Lachemann: "Bogatyrev is Bogey. Puchkof is Poochey."
Porky and Buss
Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, the Iowa-based Class A Midwest League affiliates of the Padres and Reds, respectively, are only 60 miles apart, and they have a little side bet going on their 14-game season series. The front-office staff of the team that loses the series must kiss a pig. "I can't even look at a package of bacon without shuddering," says Waterloo assistant general manager Jeff Nelson, whose team has lost five of the first eight games in the series.
By the Numbers
?Through Sunday, manager Bob Boone of Triple A Tacoma, an A's affiliate, was 4-9 against the Mariners' Calgary farm team, partly because his son, Bret, who bats cleanup for Calgary, was hitting .380 (19 for 50) with two doubles, a triple, two homers and 11 RBIs against Tacoma.