The Rundown

At age 41, former Royal Raul Ibañez is tearing it up

Updated: 2013-07-07T04:49:06Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Doubt Raul Ibañez at your own risk.

Some people may have wondered about Ibañez, a Mariners outfielder, at the end of April. He was hitting .158 with two homers and five RBIs, and Father Time appeared to have caught up to the former Royal.

However, Ibañez never lost faith in himself, saying at the time: “I’ve gotten to the point where, no one likes being knocked down, but I embrace getting knocked down, because I loooove, I absolutely love, getting back up. There’s more character in getting back up. It takes more character, more will, more determination to get back up than when everything is great.”

Apparently, Ibañez’s faith was not misguided. Since the start of May, he is hitting .287 with 19 homers and 44 RBIs. Heading into Saturday’s games, Ibañez had an 11-game hitting streak as well.

Those are solid numbers for anyone, let alone a player who turned 41 on June 2. (Hard to believe, but it’s now nearly 10 years ago that he left the Royals.)

According to MLB.com, Ibañez is the only player to be in his age-40 or older season and have at least 20 homers and 40 RBIs before the All-Star break.

Ibañez tied Dave Winfield (1993) for the fifth-most homers in a full year for a player in his age-41 or older season. He trails Ted Williams (29 in 1960), Barry Bonds (28 in 2007 and 26 in ’06), and Darrell Evans (22 in 1988).

Pretty impressive company, right? Well, Ibañez is not impressed.

“It is what it is,” Ibañez told the Seattle Times. “I try not to dwell on it a whole lot and just keep plugging away and doing my thing. The preparation, the work in the cage, continuing trying to have the right approach and hit the ball on the barrel, that’s pretty much all you can do.”

Three up

• Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has hit .404 with five homers and 28 RBIs since June 1.

• Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez has a 1.62 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings over his last five starts.

• Baltimore’s Chris Davis hit his 33rd home run on Saturday. He had 33 all last season.

Three down

• The Padres have been outscored 39-12 in a seven-game losing streak heading into Saturday.

• Colorado first baseman Jordan Pacheco was six for his last 41 (.146) with no walks heading into Saturday.

• In his last five starts, the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn has a 6.16 ERA.

Statistically speaking

• Raul Ibañez has five career homers on Independence Day: 2002 (with the Royals), 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2013.

• The Angels are the only AL team that have put together two winning streaks of at least seven games this season.

• The Astros have struck out 10 or more times in 41 games this year.

• The Braves are batting .404 (23 for 57) with four homers and 66 RBIs with the bases loaded this year.

• The Rangers are 9-31 in games in which they have scored three runs or fewer.

• Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones is on pace to draw 17 walks this season, which would be the fewest by a player with at least 650 plate appearances since Minnesota’s Christian Guzman had 17 in 656 plate appearances in 2002.

On deck

• Cubs pitcher Matt Garza, who is likely to be coveted by multiple teams before the trade deadline, will start Monday night against the White Sox.

• The Red Sox travel to Oakland on Friday for a three-game series between the division leaders.

• The Royals’ Miguel Tejada is the active leader in most double plays grounded into (274). He trails the great Roberto Clemente by one in that category.

You need to know

• Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay set a new club record this week after posting his 227th consecutive errorless games in center field; Jay broke the record of 226 set by Curt Flood (1965-67).

• Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has had three games this season in which he has gone four for four with at least two homers. No player has ever had three such games in one season.

• According to Trent McCotter of SABR, Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig has the second-most hits of any player in his first calendar month in the bigs with 44. Joe DiMaggio tops the list with 48 knocks in May 1936.

• The Mariners designated first baseman Alex Liddi for assignment (before he was traded to the Orioles on Saturday). That marks the second time in a month that Seattle has jettisoned one of its former minor league players of the year. In addition to Liddi (2009), third baseman Vinnie Catricala (2011) was designated for assignment earlier.

• Rays manager Joe Maddon is a partner in a new Italian restaurant that will open in south Tampa.

Words of wisdom

“Obviously, we’ve seen everything you’ve seen. We’ve felt the frustration that the fans have felt. The players have felt the disgust that the fans have felt at times, and we’re very cognizant of how we’ve played. So if that (continues), you will see some changes.”

| White Sox general manager Rick Hahn

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com.

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