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July 18, 2013

MLB: PEDs, Pirates and Puig headline second half

(Continued)

HOMER CRUSH

Baltimore's big bopper Chris Davis is off on a race of his own. With 37 homers before the break — tying Reggie Jackson (1969) for best ever in the AL — talk of the single-season home run record is bubbling again.

Crush Davis, however, doesn't have his sights set on Barry Bonds' 73 homers, he wants to top Roger Maris' 61, the number he thinks is the legitimate, untainted mark.

"After everything came out, I assumed 61 was the record," Davis said. "I think it's what a lot of fans would agree on."

Davis, whose previous career high for homers was last year's 33, needs 25 long balls in 66 games to reach 62. Of course, most of the rest of baseball goes with Bonds' number, including Davis' teammate Adam Jones.

"He still hit them over the fence," Jones said.

A HALF FOR THE AGED

Move over whippersnappers, the old guard is back — maybe.

Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Matt Harvey, Patrick Corbin and a record 39 first-time All-Stars grabbed the spotlight in the first half but expect to see some seasoned stars in the next few weeks that could impact the pennant races.

The injury-ravaged Yankees have hung around in the potent AL East with a "Who's on First?" lineup. Now they should get Derek Jeter back after a one-game false start and Alex Rodriguez's return from offseason hip surgery is imminent.

The St. Louis Cardinals have surged to baseball's best record in part behind the pitching of some pretty good rookies. Imagine how much better they'll be if 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter is fully recovered from a nerve injury and bad back.

Talking about back, how about Manny Ramirez — all the way from Taiwan? The twice suspended slugger is hitting .300 with three homers in eight games for Texas' top minor league club, Triple-A Round Rock, and the Rangers are in need of a big righty bat. Could it be the dreadlocked Ramirez?

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