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Tony LaRussa Spits The Truth

It’s the first week of the season!

That guy’s face at 4:20 is pretty priceless.

Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Beltran. Some of those guys are past their prime, but that’s not a bad list of major league talent. They have 40 All-Star Games, six batting titles and six MVPs between them. Yet, as of about 3 p.m. West Coast time on Thursday, they are each hitting at least 100 points below their career mark in batting average.

Delmon Young, Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Ryan Ludwick, Vernon Wells and Adam Jones are hitting less than .140. Shin-Soo Choo and Kevin Youkilis have hit .300 or better in each of the past three seasons, but they are playing see-saw with the .100 mark right now. Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon have combined for two hits in 36 at-bats.

In a five- or six-game season, these numbers have little weight to them and therefore look worse than what they actually mean: The player is in a typical offensive slump.

Every year, a bunch of high-caliber players get off to a slow start, and reporters always throw out the “watsamatta” question. It’s difficult to find an intriguing story this early, so reporters — myself included when I actually was one — look for anything. Fans want to know why their team’s big bats are playing dead at the start, so “watsamatta” is prevalent. It’s easy, it’s quick. It’s the microwave dinner of  sports Q and A.

But I also don’t blame LaRussa for stomping off. He was asked different variations of basically the same question four times (at 0:12, 1:03, 1:51 and 3:29). He got fed up. He realizes — and I’m sure many people who watch baseball do as well — that this low production happens EVERY season to different players on every team. And every year, players with a track record for putting up big numbers by season’s end figure it out and make us all forget about their tough April. It’s no different in 2011.

It’s the first week of the season!

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