Notes: Barajas returns for first time

Notes: Barajas returns for first time

PHOENIX -- Stacie Barajas had a feeling on the morning of Nov. 1, 2001, as her and husband Rod watched television in a New York City hotel.

She thought Rod, who was already experiencing the rookie ride of his life with a Diamondbacks team that was playing in the World Series, was on the verge of a special personal moment. Seven months pregnant, she glanced over and told Rod to rub her stomach.

"She said it was for good luck," Barajas said, remembering the hours before Game 5. "I was like, 'Why, I'm not playing. It's the World Series.' She said, 'For some reason, I think you're going to play. I'm like, there's no way I'm playing, but I'll rub your stomach anyway. Sure enough, I was in the game and played pretty well."

Barajas started for injured catcher Damian Miller that night. After hitting .160 that season in 106 at-bats, the rookie smacked a fifth-inning homer off Yankees starter Mike Mussina, one of two hits that night.

Two months later, the couple's first daughter, Aunalilia, was born.

"Every time we mention [that night], she says, 'I was in mommy's tummy,'" Barajas said.

Naturally, Barajas' return to Arizona for the first time since leaving after the 2003 season would bring back memories of the 2001 magic. Though his home run happened at Yankee Stadium, Barajas will never forget the feeling he had watching Luis Gonzalez single off Mariano Rivera.

"It's very special," he said. "Just walking on the field and seeing people and remembering the atmosphere here for Game 7. We had a full house, and everybody had white pompoms. The whole stadium was completely white. It was an incredible feeling. Being here brings me back to that night."

Like every Major Leaguer, Barajas recalls his career firsts. He hit his first career home run on Oct. 3, 1999. Then, spoken as a true catcher, he remembered another first.

"I threw my first guy out here," he said.

Howard hoping: Ryan Howard said he feels better, and he showed it with his pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning on Wednesday. He also stayed in the game on defense and batted a second time, grounding into a double play.

"I can't really tell until I test it by running and stuff," he said before the game. "It's getting there. I just had to rest it, I guess."

Howard had been resting his sore left quadriceps muscle -- except for pinch-hitting duties -- since playing Sunday. Assuming a visit to team doctor Michael Ciccotti goes well on Friday, Howard could be in the starting lineup Friday night against the Cubs. There's also a chance manager Charlie Manuel will give him another day, since the Cubs are starting lefty Rich Hill.

Howard just wants to get in there full-time as soon as possible.

"I want to know what's going on and try to find a solution and make it go away," he said. "It's too early to tell [whether] I'll be in the lineup. I hope the time off will help."

Moyer vs. Johnson II: The duel between ancient former Mariners Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson qualified as the oldest matchup of left-handed starters in baseball history, at a combined 88 years and 48 days.

The Elias Sports Bureau also provided this nugget: This is the second time the two have faced other. The last time was Sept. 21, 1989, when Johnson's Mariners beat Moyer's Rangers. The 17 years and 238 days between battles is the longest gap in baseball history.

Other than the two starters, Ken Griffey Jr. is the only player from that game who is still active. Of the players who appeared for either team that season, Omar Vizquel, Julio Franco, Sammy Sosa and Kenny Rogers remain.

Then he kissed me: During a between-innings break in Tuesday's game, The Crystals' "Then He Kissed Me" blared from the Chase Field speakers, and random couples pictured on the big scoreboard are supposed to kiss. The ritual has become common in ballparks.

Phillies pitchers Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer fell in this trap, when they were pictured on the top step of the visitors' dugout. Hamming it up with arms extended, Hamels gave a Moyer a brief hug. Don't worry, there was no tongue.

"That would have been a bigger issue," Hamels said.

"If that camera finds me, I'm bolting," added Gregg Dobbs, who was spared. "I love my teammates, but not in that sense."

Quotable:: "It was a personal victory." -- Dobbs, on hitting hit first home run as a Phillie, which came in Wednesday's 3-2 loss

Coming up: After a day off, the Phillies begin a 10-game homestand with a three-game series against the Cubs. Jon Lieber, Friday's scheduled starter, surrendered Barry Bonds' 744th career home run in his previous outing and allowed a total of four runs on seven hits and two walks, getting his first loss of 2007. The right-hander is 11-5 with a 4.46 ERA in 15 career starts vs. Chicago. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.