While the New York Daily News’ T.J. Quinn reports the grand jury investigating Barry Bonds for perjury and tax evasion has been given a further 6 months to prepare for an indictment, the New York Times’ Jack Curry opts for a far fluffier tale, a profile of the man responsible for more Bonds long balls than any other individual. No, not Greg Anderson, but rather, Giants batting practice pitcher John Yandle.
Yandle has pitched to Bonds for the last 15 years, so he has allowed more home runs to Bonds than anyone. None of them have been catalogued. None appear on the back of Bonds™s baseball card. But Yandle has twisted his neck a staggering number of times to watch baseballs disappear.
œIt™s hundreds and hundreds, Yandle said. œIt™s a good trivia question. I™m sure he™s hit more than the seven hundred and whatever homers off me.
There are several reasons why Bonds likes hitting off Yandle, reasons why Yandle has been allowed inside Bonds™s cloistered world. Yandle is left-handed, he throws hard and his pitches move, traits that make him more challenging than the sore-armed coaches who toss 60-mile-an-hour lollipops.
When Yandle stands in front of the mound and throws, he surprises some hitters. Orlando Hudson of the Arizona Diamondbacks actually asked Yandle to throw softer during All-Star Game workouts. Yandle™s fastball hums in at 80 m.p.h., but since he pitches from 50 feet, he said it translates to 90 m.p.h. That is an above-average major league fastball.
œEach year, I just move up a little closer, Yandle said. œThat™s my secret.
Yandle™s job is simple: throw hard strikes, lots of them. So Yandle uncorks a fastball to Bonds. Gone. Then another. Gone. Three more fastballs. Going, going, gone. Yandle does not mind being Bonds™s version of a pitching dummy, but he does fantasize about stifling Bonds one day.
œHe™s 42 and I™m 52, Yandle said. œHe owns me right now, even from 50 feet. I tell him I™m going to keep going and, when he™s 80 and I™m 90, we™re getting back out there and it™s going to be a different story.