CHICAGO — Angels right fielder Vladimir Guerrero and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz are Dominican Republic natives and good friends. They hung out at Ortiz's place in the Boston area when the Angels were in town earlier this week, and spent a lot of time watching television, particularly the news reports of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast.
The destruction to the communities and the people there reminded them of the damage done to their home country by hurricanes over the years, including Hurricane David about 25 years ago.
"We were only 4," Ortiz told reporters Thursday during a news conference at Fenway Park. "Vladi says he doesn't remember it, but that his family always talked about the help they received from the U.S."
The Dominican was hit hard by another hurricane last year, and the U.S. provided help that didn't go unnoticed by Ortiz.
"In our country, we go through a lot of things like that, big time," Ortiz said. "And America always comes through for our people. Now is the time for us to step forward. We are going to challenge all baseball players to come around and do the same thing, especially every player from the Dominican Republic. We have received help from the U.S. and now these people are struggling."
Guerrero and Ortiz announced earlier this week they would donate $50,000 each to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
"This country has done so much for me and my family," Guerrero said in a statement. "We have to help these people, and we hope others will too."
The amount of money pledged by Guerrero and Ortiz might not make much of a dent in their bank accounts—Guerrero makes $14 million per season and Ortiz $5 million. But their efforts to try to entice others to help brought comparison to 9/11.
"When 9/11 happened, nobody expected anything like that," Ortiz said. "No one was prepared for anything like that . . . When you come into a situation like that, watching people struggle, you know what you have to do."
WHAT'S IN A NAME? Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar was one of the replacement players who went to spring training in 1994 when the major leaguers went on strike. Some of those players used an alias, and Millar used the name Mike Butcher, who pitched for the Angels in the early 1990s and is now the club's minor-league roving pitching instructor.
Butcher said he doesn't know Millar and doesn't know why Millar used his name. Millar was not available for comment.
Lou Merloni, a former Red Sox player who began this season with the Angels before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, was a replacement player who used the name Joey DePalma.
Following are other fake names used by replacement players who have played in the big leagues:
Bob Bleacher (fake)-Joe Slusarski (real name), Eddie Chamura-Tom Martin, Ray Clem-Scarborough Green, Don Cross-Damian Miller, Andy Gabriel-Angel Echevarria, Lee Grove-Kerry Lightenberg, Jack Harten-Brian Daubach, Brian Hiller-Benny Agbayani, Alan Hunt-Rick Reed, Jimmy Ladd-Shane Spencer, Jerry Legler-Frank Menechino, Frankie Nina-Rich Loiselle, Todd Pearl-Jeff Tam, Carl Rhoads-Dave Steib, Fred Rivers-Charles Gipson, Keith Shetter-Matt Herges, Joel Shreiner-Alex Hernandez, Fuller Starr-Corey Lidle, Sonny Young-Chris Truby.
PINIELLA IN PINSTRIPES? Even though Yankees manager Joe Torre still has two years and about $13 million left on his contract, there are rumblings in New York that Torre could be on the way out and replaced by former Yankee Lou Piniella.
Piniella has gotten Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's attention by managing his Tampa Bay Devil Rays to 11 victories in 16 games against the Yankees this season. Piniella still has a year remaining on his contract with Tampa Bay.