Hamelin has quickly become the darling of Detroit fans, too. "He's a throwback to the '20s and '30s, the kind of guy who you expect to have a hot dog stuffed in his back pocket and mustard stains on his jersey," says Tigers bench coach Larry Parrish. "But he makes up for his big body with excellent hand-eye coordination and a gift for hitting the ball hard."
Hamelin, who says he might have signed with a Japanese team this winter had he known he would be released by the Royals, feels that in Detroit he's regained the status he had as a rookie. "I needed a fresh start, and now I feel like I did back in '94, when I thought I was going to get a hit every time up," he says. "I'm having that kind of fun again."
The Long and Short of It
With the recent exits from the baseball landscape of both Lee Smith (retired) and Fernando Valenzuela (waived), the Cardinals' Dennis Eckersley has moved up a notch in two career statistical categories among active pitchers. It's no surprise that Eckersley is now the saves leader, with 378, but he is also second in complete games, with 100, behind only Roger Clemens (105)—despite the fact that Eckersley has not started and finished a game since 1986.
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