May 9, 2009
As the nation prepares to celebrate matriarchs far and wide, Major League Baseball saw this week the suspension of Manny Ramirez, A-Rod's return to the diamond and the first managerial change of the season. Former Vol slugger Todd Helton has continued to put bat to ball and other Big Orange alumni Luke Hochevar, J.P. Arencibia and Rick Honeycutt share in Helton's success. These four Vols are thriving as America's pastime welcomes May with open arms.
Todd Helton, first-baseman- Colorado Rockies
Former Vol all-star Todd Helton has continued to improve from a slow start to the season. After going .444 at the plate last week, Helton has slugged an impressive .632 in his last 10 games. To add to his third-ranked National League season batting average of .355, the Knoxville-native boasts 13 runs and 17 RBIs on the season. Helton hit his third homer of the year Wednesday May 6 against San Francisco Giants and was .750 on the day.
Luke Hochevar, right-handed pitcher- Omaha Royals
Perhaps the most-impressive pitcher in the Pacific Coast League, Luke Hochevar has continued to strike fear into the heart of batters everywhere. Hochevar leads the league in several statistical categories- wins (5), ERA (0.90), innings pitched (40.0) and starts (6), and is tied for third in strikeouts (30). His undefeated record boasts a 1.04 ERA with runners in scoring position and the right-hander hasn't given up a run in the last 21 innings pitched. He earned the PCL Pitcher of the Week honor May 4 for his eight-inning nine strikeout effort against the Memphis Redbirds.
J.P. Arencibia, catcher- Las Vegas 51s
Recent Vol slugger and All-America J.P. Arencibia has scrapped his way fourth in doubles in the PCL. With 10 extra base hits on the season- all doubles, Arencibia ties for fourth playing the least number of games among those in the top 5. While the 2005 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year has struggled at the plate so far this season, he has hit an impressive .308 against left-handers. In addition to his doubles, Arencibia has 12 RBIs and 12 runs on the season. Earning three varsity letters from 2005-2007, Arencibia left an impressive legacy on The Hill.
Rick Honeycutt, pitching coach- Los Angeles Dodgers
With 237 strikeouts this season, Rick Honeycutt's staff has led the Los Angeles Dodgers to baseball's best record at 21-10. Honeycutt's pitchers also managed to only give up 22 homers on the year and combine for a 5.05 ERA. Honeycutt is in his third year in with the Dodgers and the team has found much success on the mound since his arrival. As a Vol, the Tennessee State Hall of Fame member was an ace on the mound as well as a big bat in the Big Orange lineup. Honeycutt earned the SEC batting title in 1976 with a .404 average.