Albert Pujols can thank four Sacramento-area pitchers for their part in making the three-time National League MVP a member of the 500 Home Run Club.
Pujols was playing with the St. Louis Cardinals when he homered off the local quartet. Home run No. 112 of his career was hit off Colorado Rockies right-hander Adam Bernero (Kennedy, Sacramento City) on Sept. 10, 2003.
During a nine-day stretch in 2008, Pujols homered off Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Manny Parra (Casa Roble, American River) and Tampa Bay Rays left-hander J.P. Howell (Jesuit). Parra allowed No. 289 on May 9 and Howell No. 291 on May 17.
Two years later on April 5, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mike Lincoln (Casa Roble, American River) gave up No. 368.
Had Parra, who is now with the Reds, not made the major leagues, Pujols could be sitting on 498 home runs. While Parra was with the Brewers, he allowed three solo home runs to the future Hall of Famer.
After hitting No. 289 two years and 90 homers earlier, Pujols victimized Parra again. Pujols went deep June 6 for No. 380 and a month later cranked out No. 386 on July 3.
Overall, 21 area pitchers have allowed 83 homers to the 26 members of the 500 Home Run Club, a select group that has combined to hit 15,055 home runs.
Where are they now?
After a 20-year major-league career pitching for the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Cardinals, Rockies and Angels, left-hander Darren Oliver (Rio Linda) retired following the 2013 season. He was 118-98 with seven saves and a 4.51 ERA.
• Vincent Catricala (Jesuit) also retired earlier this year and is enrolled in the Sacramento Police Academy. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Seattle Mariners in 2009 and became their Minor League Player of the Year in 2011. The third baseman finished his career in the A’s organization in 2013 with Double-A Midland, where he gained fame by striking out on one pitch when the home plate umpire invoked Rule 6.02 (c) and called not one but two automatic strikes.
• There are a number of local faces in new places:
The Cleveland Indians traded right-handed closer Preston Guilmet (Oakmont) to the Baltimore Orioles. Others changing organizations were first baseman Lars Anderson (Jesuit) from the Chicago White Sox to the Chicago Cubs, left-hander Dylan Chavez (Pleasant Grove) from the Boston Red Sox to the White Sox and right-hander Justin Souza (Galt, Sacramento City) from the Detroit Tigers to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
• Those promoted from short-season to full-season ball were outfielder Jimmy Bosco (Jesuit), infielders Zach Green (Jesuit) and Danny Hayes (Jesuit), catcher Jake Rodriguez (Elk Grove) and pitchers Andrew Cooper (Sierra), Brady Dragmire (Bradshaw Christian), Ben Eckels (Davis) and Tyler Linehan (Sheldon).
Moving from Class A to Advanced A were outfielder Cody Keefer (Davis), catcher Mike Marjama (Granite Bay, Sacramento City) and pitchers Martin Agosta (Jesuit) and Justin Haley (Bella Vista, Sierra).
Promoted from Advanced A to Double A were outfielder David Popkins (UC Davis),infielders Brock Stassi (Yuba City) and Ryan Rieger (Woodcreek) and pitcher Bryce Bandilla (Bella Vista).
Catcher Andrew Susac (Jesuit) and pitcher Bryan Evans (UC Davis) were promoted from Double A to Triple A.
Pitcher Eric Berger (Woodcreek) was released after a week with the River Cats but later picked up by the Atlanta Braves and sent to Double-A Mississippi.
Those released after the 2013 season were pitcher Corey MacDonald (Davis, Cosumnes River), infielders Andrew Ayers (Sacramento State), Matt Foat (Ponderosa, Sierra) and Mike Walker (Marysville), outfielders Joe Bonfe (Sierra), J.R. Higley (Jesuit, Sacramento City) and Pat Stover (Rocklin) and catcher Michael Turay (Davis).
• Pitcher Tyler Waldron has already made three stops this season. After making six appearances with Advanced-A Bradenton, he played one game for Double-A Altoonabefore going to Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pirates’ organization.
Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at email@example.com.