Emilio Bonifacio had a monster game Monday against the team that traded him to the Marlins, going 4-for-6 with an inside-the-park homer, three steals, and four runs versus the Nationals. Swiping three bags and turning a would-be triple into a homer has fans, media members, and teammates wondering if Bonifacio is one of the fastest men in baseball.
However, even world-class speed doesn't always equal tremendous success on the bases and Bonifacio's average of 36 steals per 600 plate appearances in the minors is hardly extraordinary, especially with a 75-percent success rate. Also of note is that prior to his huge Marlins debut Bonifacio had hit just .240/.300/.328 in 60 games as a major leaguer after batting .285/.341/.361 in the minors.
Bonifacio hardly projects as a strong leadoff man right now and it's awfully tough to keep running like crazy when you're only on base one-third of the time. Plus, a 75-percent success rate in the minors equals a lot of being gunned down in the majors, so manager Fredi Gonzalez may not leave the green light on at all times. Bonifacio definitely has plenty of fantasy value, but don't go nuts for him just yet.
While the "Emilio Good Face" hype train leaves the station, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Texas got to Cliff Lee for seven runs Monday, which is quite a change from last year when he allowed a grand total of four runs through seven starts on the way to winning the AL Cy Young award. Lee began last year 6-0 with a 0.67 ERA and ended up 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA while never allowing more than six runs in any of his 31 starts. He's now 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA and also struggled this spring.
* Meanwhile, the Opening Day starter in Cleveland for the past three years made his Yankees debut Monday and CC Sabathia struggled just as much as Lee. Not only did Sabathia cough up six runs while failing to make it out of the fifth inning, he walked five batters, recorded zero strikeouts for the first time since mid-2005, and was spotted afterward with a heat pack on his ample abdomen.
* I'm still betting that Chris Ray will replace George Sherrill as the Orioles' closer by midseason, but he certainly didn't gain any ground Monday. After throwing 13 scoreless innings during spring training, Ray served up a two-run blast to Hideki Matsui while being asked to work the seventh inning. Sherrill's job is secure for now, but definitely keep an eye on the Orioles' boxscores to track Ray's status.
* Tony La Russa's faith in Jason Motte will be tested right away after the rookie closer blew his first save chance in dramatic fashion Monday, allowing four runs on three doubles to turn a 4-2 lead into a 6-4 loss. Motte was overpowering this spring and has 233 strikeouts in 175.2 innings since giving up his hitting career in 2006, so he can still get the job done if the Cardinals show some patience.
* Brandon Webb had a rough first outing Monday, as Colorado got to him for six runs in four innings. Normally a bad Opening Day performance is of little concern for one of the game's truly elite pitchers, but Webb has now struggled dating all the way back to last August. He had a 4.85 ERA and poor 30/20 K/BB ratio over his final seven starts last year and posted a 5.82 ERA in four outings this spring.
AL Quick Hits: Alex Rodriguez is shooting for a late-April return after taking light swings Sunday for the first time since hip surgery … Adam Lind set an Opening Day team record Monday with six RBIs, going 4-for-5 with a homer … Thanks to that run support, Roy Halladay beat the Tigers despite allowing five runs … Felix Hernandez held Minnesota to one run in eight dominant innings Monday despite limping for most of the game after tweaking his ankle … Cesar Izturis went deep Monday to match his 2008 homer total from 414 at-bats … Nomar Garciaparra started at first base Monday against left-hander Joe Saunders, pushing Travis Buck to the bench … Ichiro Suzuki (ulcer) is scheduled to undergo blood tests Wednesday to determine his recovery timetable … One of my favorite breakout picks, Adam Jones, went 3-for-3 with two walks and three runs Monday … Utility man Jamey Carroll is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken left hand.
NL Quick Hits: Johan Santana wasn't at his best Monday, but got some bullpen support for a change and has gone 18 straight starts without a loss … Alfonso Soriano kicked off the Cubs' year with a leadoff homer off Roy Oswalt … Hitting third in the Marlins' lineup Monday, former leadoff man Hanley Ramirez smacked his first career grand slam … Tony Clark homered from both sides of the plate Monday after getting a surprise start over Mark Reynolds … Felipe Lopez also went deep from both sides of the plate for Arizona after homering just six times in 481 at-bats last year … Usually a third baseman, Ian Stewart got the nod at second base Monday over Clint Barmes … Manager Ken Macha said Monday that Trevor Hoffman (oblique) likely won't be ready to return from the disabled list when eligible on April 11, leaving Carlos Villanueva to fill in … One-time elite prospect Greg Miller was released Monday by the Dodgers.