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June 1, 2010

Matt Stairs...Professional Hitter

I'm not sure how I missed it...but I did. Last weekend, journeyman Matt Stairs did the improbable.

He hit another home run.

I know, I know...the guy it a professional hitter who makes a living coming off the bench and taking care of business with one swing of the bat.

But after last season with Philadelphia, it didn't look like Stairs would ever suit up again.

He had taken a job as hitting coach at the University of Maine and started making plans to coach his daughter’s softball team...when his agent called. A few months later, the grizzled 42 year-old found himself fighting for a job with San Diego big league team.

He had dropped more than 30 pounds and was chasing a litany of obscure baseball records.

First, making the Padres would mean that Stairs would join his record tying twelfth Major League team. The other two players he shares the honor with (Mike Morgan and Ron Villone) are both pitchers...making Stairs the only position player to suit up for a dozen teams.

Next, with 259 career home runs in his rearview mirror, Stairs was looking for career home run number 260 with the Friars...a feat he accomplaished May 22.

You see, with his fourth inning bomb off Mariners pitcher Ian Snell, Stairs became just the second player to go deep for eleven different teams. And while it took him a sleepy 24.14 seconds to round the bases (big thanks Larry over at the Tater Trot Tracker)...I have a feeling the New Brunswick native is holding out for his next milestone.

The most career pinch hit home runs.

Currently, Cliff Johnson is the king when it comes to pinch hit home runs, Throughout his 15 year career, the former designated hitter had 20 home runs off the bench.

Stairs currently sits at 19.

“You need to accept pinch hitting,” Stairs told Yahoo! Sports back in March. “One at-bat is your time. The manager has the faith that I’m a guy in a certain situation."

“That is such a difficult role to succeed in, to be productive,” Padres manager Bud Black said in the same interview to Yahoo! Sports. “To come to the park at 2 and hit at 9:30, one at-bat, in most cases, against the other teams’ best relievers, it’s not easy to perform.”

Oh, and in case you were wondering which of his 12 teams Stairs didn’t hit a home run with…it would be that same team that drafted him.

The Montreal Expos.

BallHype: hype it up!

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