Bonds deserves credit for exploiting the few hittable pitches he has gotten, says Atlanta righthander John Burkett, who adds, "The way our staff felt was that if you threw him a strike, it was going to be a home run. I'm not a hitter, but I think it would be tough to walk two or three times in a game, not really have any swings, and then all of a sudden, the pitcher throws you a strike and you whack it out of the park. That's pretty impressive concentration."
On May 13 Oakland A's manager Art Howe resorted to a tactic Ramirez and the Boston coaching staff said they had never seen. Unconvinced that his pitcher, righty reliever Jeff Tam, could keep Ramirez in the park, Howe ordered Ramirez intentionally walked with nobody on base and one out in the 10th inning of a tie game. The strategy worked: The Red Sox didn't score in that inning, but Boston won 5-4 in 11 innings.
Similarly, Connor issued a warning to the Blue Jays' pitchers about Ramirez before last weekend's three-game series. "If he comes up in the eighth inning, and we have a two-run lead with the bases loaded," said Connor, "we'll think about walking him."
It was a highly irregular idea, but one that Connor, as the Arizona Diamondbacks' pitching coach, saw manager Buck Showalter use with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 1998 game. The batter who provoked such a drastic maneuver? Bonds. That's what happens with outliers. Convention does not apply.
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