Batting Leader Steve Moss Is Loving Life in Bridgeport
It has been nearly 30 years since Reggie Smith last terrorized major league pitchers with an often lethal bat which made him one of the all-time great switch-hitters.Â He helped get Boston to a World Series and the Los Angeles Dodgers to three more while hitting 314 regular-season home runs and topping 1,000 in both runs and runs batted in.
Â Â Â Â Â â€œReggie Smith is my mentorâ€, says Bridgeport left fielder Steve Moss, whose .348 average is a dozen points better than any other qualifier for the batting title.Â â€œHe has such a wealth of knowledge, and has devoted his life to hitting.Â I can call him any time.â€
Â Â Â Â Â Moss, young by Atlantic League standards at 26 and with his best years likely still ahead, is having his best season in a nine-year career.Â His top average prior to 2010 had been his .299 season in another independent league (Long Beach, CA, Golden League, 2008) and he had only a .259 career mark, topped out, except for four games in Tacoma, with two Double-A seasons in Huntsville, AL.
Â Â Â Â Â â€œI think it comes with ageâ€, Moss told me just outside the Bluefish clubhouse.Â He pointed to a better â€œpresence of mind; being more cognizant of what is happening; accepting (occasional) failure.Â Iâ€™m really happy.â€
It Was Nice Matt Watson Did Not Retire
Â Â Â Â Â One would think Matt Watson has retirement from baseball far from his mind right now as he savors his long-awaited first major league home run.Â â€œI was really close (to retiring),â€ the 31-year-old Lancaster resident told the hometown New Era just last week of his thinking during the offseason.Â It had been since â€˜05 that he had last tasted the major leagues, and then only for 48 at-bats.
Â Â Â Â Â Along with his wife, Nicole, they decided he should give it one more year so Watson devoted himself to better training.Â He had back issues when he reported to the Atlantic Leagueâ€™s Barnstormers, one of five teams on two continents (Asia) where he played last season.Â This season has been a whirlwind, too, but a positive one with play at Lancaster until May 28 (4-14-.317, .463 on-base percentage, 30 games), then a few weeks at Triple-A Sacramento (8-23-.313 in 28 games) before the parent Oakland Athletics brought him up.Â He is 1-for-7 with the Aâ€™s.
Â Â Â Â Â What makes Watsonâ€™s home run off Bostonâ€™s Clay Buchholz on Wednesday remarkable was the fact he had only one at-bat since July 7, a span of two weeks.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Harperâ€™s Homer Breaks 50-Inning Drought in Japan
Â Â Â Â Â One of Matt Watsonâ€™s teammates at both Lancaster and Sacramento earlier this season had a notable feat in Japan this week.Â Brett Harper hit a two-run homer for Yokohama, and what made it especially meaningful was the Chunichi Dragons had not given up a run in 50 innings.
Â Â Â Â Â (These are excerpts from the Atlantic League Notebook.Â Subscriptions to the full Notebook are available via www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com or www.WirzandAssociates.com.Â Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)