There's a new face in Seattle, and it resembles a professional
wrestler's. Last week, after designating veteran first baseman
John Olerud for assignment, the Mariners called up a lumbering
6'4", 270-pound replacement with a shiny bald head and a
perfectly trimmed red goatee: Bucky Jacobsen. The 28-year-old
slugger had been tearing up the Pacific Coast League, hitting
.312 with 26 homers and 86 RBIs in 81 games for Triple A Tacoma.
Tied for last in the American League with the Blue Jays in homers
(69), Seattle desperately needed some bang in the batting order,
and Jacobsen delivered right away. Last Saturday, in his third
major league at bat, he slugged a two-run homer in a 6-5 loss to
Cleveland, and in his first three games was 5 for 8 with two
homers and five RBIs.
With his unmistakable look and big swing Jacobsen developed a
cultlike following during his eight-year minor league career. His
fans created a website, and his name was already being chanted at
Safeco Field on Saturday night. What kept him from getting to
Seattle sooner was primarily an inability to hit the curveball.
"I had some holes in my swing," says Jacobsen, "but I'm a better
hitter and a better overall player now."
Manager Bob Melvin, whose club was 34-56 through Sunday, plans to
use Jacobsen at first base and as a DH and a pinch hitter,
saying, "We didn't bring him up here to sit him." The winner of
the Triple A All-Star Home Run Derby, Jacobsen might be the only
thing Mariners fans have to cheer about in the second half.