The at bat featured 18 pitches as well as nine pickoff throws to first and six aborted attempts by Goodwin before he stole second base. The single plate appearance lasted 14 minutes. "That wore me out," said Roberts, who finished the game 0 for 5. "I felt lazy the rest of the day."
Man in the Middle
"There is no justice," David Justice was saying last week, just when it appeared there was hardly anything but Justice. The Indians leftfielder was addressing how he had become a human headline. For, much to his own surprise, Justice has been a major part of two of the biggest off-the-field stories in baseball this season: the Trade that sent him to Cleveland and the Contract that will pay him $28 million over four years. As if that weren't enough, he has earned plenty of ink on the field, leading the American League in hitting at week's end with a .395 average. "It's not that I'm doing anything intentionally to grab the spotlight," Justice says. "Stuff like this just always seems to happen to me."
Justice's newsworthy season began on March 25 when the Braves sent him and centerfielder Marquis Grissom to Cleveland for centerfielder Kenny Lofton and reliever Alan Embree in a blockbuster deal. "A few minutes after the trade Dave and I got together and said, 'Time to go, we're no longer wanted here,' " Grissom says. "Dave wasn't totally shocked to be traded, but he'd been with that team his whole career, so that will affect anybody."
As a result of the deal Justice, who once replaced Atlanta icon Dale Murphy, was forced to patrol the turf recently vacated by Cleveland fan favorite Albert Belle. In his first American League game Justice cracked a triple and a two-run homer, making the transition to his new team as easily as metamorphosing from a Brave to an Indian. He has pieced together an All-Star-caliber early season, ranking first in the league in slugging percentage (.763), second in on-base percentage (.492), third in total bases (116), fifth in homers (14) and tied for seventh in RBIs (37). He had reached base with either a hit or a walk in 42 of his 43 starts through Sunday.
Last week Justice faced reporters once again when his scalding start netted him a contract extension that will carry him through the 2002 season. Along with Justice's deal, Cleveland also signed Grissom and first baseman Jim Thome to long-term extensions, all of which added up to an $81.1 million commitment to three players.
Indians manager Mike Hargrove joked that the franchise locked up Justice so he could never again break Cleveland's heart, as he did with his game-winning homer in Game 6 of the '95 World Series. "We all remember David ending our dream season with that one swing," Hargrove says. "No matter what happens this year, I'm glad Dave's on our side now."
When Justice is asked about a possible World Series reunion with Atlanta this fall, he smiles at the prospect. "I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see that happen," he says, "and if it does happen, I'll bet I hit a home run against the Braves to beat them and win the Series for Cleveland. I really believe that. Like I said, that's the kind of stuff that happens to me."
This Could Get Ugly
Somehow in the rare stolen moments when Felipe Lira wasn't pitching to Bip Roberts last week, he found time to take batting practice. After watching Lira bunt unsuccessfully for several minutes, Tigers coach Jerry White asked, "Uh, Felipe, do you hit righthanded or lefthanded?" Lira promptly stepped to the left side of the plate, and his bunting suddenly improved dramatically. However, when Lira began swinging away, he shifted back to the right side. How would Lira's baseball card read? Bats right, hunts left?