The moral? Teams do what they can to coddle young pitchers, especially those with a violent delivery or a history of arm trouble. That approach often goes out the window in the heat of a pennant race. "I'm conscious of protecting young arms," says Astros manager Larry Dierker, "but when you have a chance to win it all, you almost have to do whatever you can. You can protect guys through the minor leagues, but it's hard to protect them in the majors."
Hot in the Desert
April 23-25, Marlins at Diamondbacks
Maybe it's the dry heat. Maybe it's the allergen-free air. Whatever the reason, Florida loves to hit in Arizona. Every Marlins regular except rightfielder Eric Owens (.289) and catcher Charles Johnson (.200) has a career average of .333 or better at Bank One Ballpark. Leading the way are centerfielder Preston Wilson, who has batted 514 and homered four times, and third baseman Mike Lowell, who has hit .478 with five home runs and 13 RBIs. The most surprising bat in the bunch belongs to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, a .237 career hitter in every other ballpark. His average in 34 at bats at the BOB is .353.