At Sports Illustrated's site, Tom Verducci writes a moving piece called "The Lost Slugger" about first baseman Carlos Delgado. Here's a snip:
Delgado has maintained a very reasoned position on what happened in the best years of his career. He doesn't want a do-over on the MVP award he didn't win. He is a happy man, content with his family, his decisions and his career. If he retired today, he would rank among the top 30 hitters all time in home runs, slugging, at-bats per home run and intentional walks. But he has plenty of baseball left in him. Last year, while turning 36, he played in 159 games, smashed 38 homers and racked up 310 total bases, his most since 2003. How much longer will he play?
"For sure, this year and another year," he said. "Then after that, I'll see where I am at. Then figure out what you want to do and take it from there."
He would like 1,700 RBIs, which would move him into the top 25. Already, he stands 50th on the RBI list. Already, he has Hall of Fame numbers.
"It would be a great honor," he said of enshrinement. "It would be flattering. It would be great recognition. But I catch myself if I start to think about it, because I can't control it and it's so far down the road. You start forcing yourself into doing this and that, instead of just going out and playing. At the end, somebody is going to decide anyway. I have no say. You just play the game, finish up strong, go home and hope five years later some people say, 'Hey, this guy has pretty good numbers.'"
With his throwing complete, Santana spent 10 minutes talking with the teammate Warthen calls Santana's "special project." Santana was trying to impart to fellow lefty Oliver Perez how vital it is to concentrate on delivering fastballs with exactitude to the inner half. Santana, who turns 30 in two weeks, has that elder statesman quality, the gravitas and temperament to talk reasonably and be heard.
"A great teammate," Warthen said.
The conversation done, Santana headed toward the back fields for some hitting drills. Perhaps the best pitcher on the planet walked unhurried and in plain sight, and hardly anyone noticed. The stealth superstar.