In case you were wondering where former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke had gone, he reportedly was sitting in the stands at Dodger Stadium on Sunday night, watching his son Scott Van Slyke hit his first major-league home run.
And a timely blast it was: The 25-year-old Van Slyke took reliever Mark Rzepczynski deep in the seventh inning for a pinch-hit, go-ahead, three-run homer, the key moment in a 6-5 victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Having won four in a row, the Dodgers at 28-13 sport the best record in the majors. They're winning with MVP candidate Matt Kemp out because of an injury (one of many injuries) and they're doing it with six sons of former major leaguers on the roster.
Van Slyke's homer definitely made St. Louis Cardinals nation shout "Son of a ... !" considering it led to getting swept by the Dodgers. It also came on a 3-0 count when Van Slyke got a green light to swing from the bench. A rookie with a green light on 3-0? A son of a former Cardinals player, no less. And he totally pulled a reverse Jack Clark against Tom Niedenfuer in the '85 NLCS, didn't he?! Son of a ... !
"At first, I looked down at (third base coach) Tim Wallach, and maybe there was a little part of me that was surprised,'' the 25-year-old outfielder said. ''But once I got back in the box, I was really zoned in, trying to get a pitch I could do something with.''
That's what separates the pros from the regular Joes. And the sons of regular people from the sons of former major leaguers. Van Slyke's dad broke in with the Cardinals, though was playing with the Pirates by the time Scott was born in 1986. The junior Van Slyke was a 14th-round pick in 2005 and never has been considered a high-end prospect. But he's put up strong numbers in the minors, particularly since 2009. In addition to Van Slyke, the Dodgers have five other second generation (or later) ballplayers on their roster:
• Dee Gordon, son of Royals and Red Sox pitcher Tom Gordon.
• Justin Sellers, son of former Red Sox pitcher Jeff Sellers.
• Ivan DeJesus, son of former Cubs shortstop Ivan DeJesus.
• Jerry Hairston, son of former White Sox pinch hitter Jerry Hairston and grandson of Sam Hairston.
• Tony Gwynn, son of former (well, you know).
That doesn't even include Wallach's son, Matt Wallach, who was with the club in spring training. So, to fill out the roster after the likes of Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw, did Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti just ask around during an MLBPA alumni dinner for some tips on guys with kids in the minors?
[Jeff Passan's 10 Degrees: Examining dubious starts in MLB]
We're looking into whether the Dodgers have set some kind of major-league record for ancestry. But this is for sure: They're not kidding around in the NL West.
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