Peek at the Week: New year, new hope
Sox open title defense; Rollins, Bonds chase milestones
The longest hitting streak in Major League history resumes Monday afternoon when Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins steps into the batter's box at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Actually, any baseball fan knows Rollins' streak isn't the "longest" in terms of consecutive games with a hit. Joe DiMaggio holds the record for the longest hitting streak, of course, but the 56-game binge he went on during the 1941 season consumed just 62 calendar days -- May 15 through July 16.
It has been more than seven months -- 224 days as of Monday -- since Rollins went hitless in a regular-season game. He went 0-for-4 in the Phils' 5-0 loss to the Giants on Aug. 22 at San Francisco. Rollins went 1-for-5 the following game and had at least one hit in the next 35 games, ending the 2005 season with a 36-game hitting streak.
His wait for No. 37 ends Monday, when the Phillies host the Cardinals on Opening Day.
As we take a Peek at the Week for baseball's opening week of the season, Rollins' streak is among the biggest storylines in a week full of them.
When he hits the field Monday, Rollins will be trying to extend the ninth-longest hitting streak in the Major Leagues, the longest since Paul Molitor hit in 39 consecutive games with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987 and the longest hitting streak anyone has taken into a new season.
At No. 8 on the list: a 37-gamer in 1945 by Tommy Holmes of the Boston Braves. To tie Holmes, Rollins must go through Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, and perhaps a couple of relievers.
Rollins is 4-for-14 during his career against Carpenter, which isn't too bad.
If all goes well for Rollins and he plays every game -- and every scheduled game is played -- he would tie Pete Rose's NL record of 44 games on April 13 in Atlanta and the DiMaggio mark would be eclipsed on April 26 against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.
Hey, it could happen.
Other things to look for in Week 1:
BONDSING IN PETCO
Giants at Padres
It is 708 home runs and counting for Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who resumes his chase of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the all-time big bopper list Monday afternoon in San Diego.
It should be pointed out that Bonds has hit more home runs in San Diego than any opposing city -- 81 in 784 career at-bats. That is one dinger for every nine-plus at-bats, which means Bonds probably won't catch Ruth during the first series of the regular season.
It should also be pointed out that 79 of those home runs were hit at Qualcomm Stadium, and that PETCO Park hasn't been nearly as friendly -- nine hits, including two home runs, in 41 career at-bats.
Bonds, who missed most of this past week with inflammation in his left elbow, is 5-for-20 in his career against Padres' Opening Day starter Jake Peavy. Three of those hits are home runs and Peavy has walked Bonds 11 times.
SOX IT TO YOU
Indians at White Sox
The World Series champion White Sox begin defense of their first title in 88 years Sunday night (8:05 p.m. ET) at U.S. Cellular Field against an Indians team regarded as the team most likely to dethrone the champs in the AL Central this season.
Gone is Frank Thomas, who spent his entire career with the Sox before signing with the Athletics during the offseason. His replacement is Jim Thome, who returns to the American League after spending three seasons with the Phillies.
The Sox struggled as a team in Spring Training (8-19 through Thursday), but Thome had a fine time in the Cactus League, going 19-for-47 with six home runs (all of which came in pairs over a three-day stretch this week) and 12 RBIs.
The Indians would like nothing better than to do something to the Sox that an opponent never did during Chicago's first 37 games in last year's magical season -- lead at some point in the game. En route to the MLB record for games without falling behind once, the White Sox won the season opener against the Indians, 1-0.
It was a sign of things to come as the champs won 35 regular-season games by one run.
Twins at Blue Jays
The revamped Toronto Blue Jays begin the season with high-priced free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett on the disabled list with a sore right elbow, but that shouldn't dampen the enthusiasm of Jays fans, who have spent the past 13 Octobers watching hockey games instead of baseball playoff games.
The first visitors to Rogers Centre this season are the Minnesota Twins, who bring 2004 AL Cy Young-winning lefty Johan Santana to meet 2003 AL Cy Young-winning right-hander Roy Halladay in an Opening Day matchup slated for Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. ET.
Halladay, who missed much of last season with a fractured left leg, gets his fourth consecutive Opening Day call for the Jays, who are trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 1993, when Toronto captured back-to-back World Series titles.
AN OLDER MAN
A's at Mariners
If the shin splints that deprived right-hander Felix Hernandez of his final Spring Training start don't hold him back, the Mariners' hard-throwing 19-year-old will make his first start of the season Friday night against the Athletics at Safeco Field -- his final start as a teenager.
Hernandez celebrates his 20th birthday on Saturday.
Felix already has more wins (four) than any teenager in the big leagues since Dwight Gooden won 17 games for the Mets in 1984. Hernandez is the first teen to start a Major League game since Todd Van Poppel on Sept. 11, 1991, for the Athletics.
Van Poppel didn't start another game in the Majors until he was 21.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.