Baseball / Japanese Baseball | NPB NOTEBOOK

Standridge keeps Ala. citizens close to heart

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Trussville, Ala., is a typical southern U.S. city. Spread out along the Cahaba River with scenic streets lined by trees that help form a picturesque escape in the northern half of the state.

Most in Osaka have never heard of the sleepy town that sits in the shadow of the much bigger Birmingham, a sprawling city that houses remnants of the steel industry that spurred its initial growth decades ago.

Jason Standridge is not among those people. The Hanshin Tigers pitcher may live in Osaka now, but he grew up around Birmingham and Trussville. So the news of the devastating tornadoes that ravaged the area last week jolted him a little bit.

Last week’s tornado outbreak in the southeastern U.S. was the second deadliest in the nation’s history. The storms killed 329 people across seven states.

“I didn’t hear about it until I saw it on the internet the next morning and I’m like, ‘What in the world is going on,’ ” Standridge said. “It was kind of scary, just thinking about it and thinking about all my family. But everybody that I’m close with, everything was OK.

“My local church is helping out all over the state and trying to bring in relief to people, bring in supplies and stuff like that. There’s really no lack of workers, because everybody’s pitching in around the state.”

Standridge was able to rest easier after confirming that his family was safe, though he heard of friends having cars displaced and, in one instance, garage doors pulled off.

“My family’s OK,” Standridge said. “It basically just kind of jumped right over us in northeast Birmingham. It kind of hit north Birmingham. It was really all over the state.”

Though focused on his job with the Tigers, Standridge is still thinking of the people back home. “We’re praying for the people back home,” Standridge said. “That’s still our home. Especially with the things we saw here, with the earthquakes and tsunami, as a person your heart goes out to those people, when they lose lives and they lose things.

“Being a believer in Jesus, it makes me realize life is really short and that there are so many things in life that are more important than things and houses and stuff like that. People’s lives are at stake. It makes me really feel that much more compassion for those people.”

Power outage: Kim Tae Kyun was supposed to add another power threat to the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Maybe he didn’t get the memo.

Kim — who had a respectable 21 home runs last season — is homerless so far this season. A state of affairs that is far too quickly becoming the norm for the Korean slugger.

Including the postseason, Kim hasn’t hit a home run since Sept. 18, 2010 at Kleenex Stadium against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

Kim has just three long balls since hitting six in June of 2010.

Three’s company: Hanshin Tigers trio Takashi Toritani, Takahiro Arai and Craig Brazell hit consecutive homers off Giants pitcher Shun Tono on Tuesday.

That marked the first time the Tigers hit three consecutive homers against the Giants since the 1985 season.

“All the pressure was on me,” Brazell joked. “If I didn’t hit a home run there, everyone was going to boo me.”

In 1985 it was Hiromi Makihara on the mound as the Tigers trio of Randy Bass, Masayuki Kakefu and Akinobu Okada left Koshien Stadium in order, with each blast going to straightway center.