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Tuesday, May 5, 2009
A homer by any other name…

By Bruce Levine

To Ryan Theriot, better known these days as little Babe Ruth, hitting home runs should be all about having a nickname.

"They wanted to call me 'Delicious,' but Nick swisher already has that name," Theriot said. "Hey, I guess that's OK. Swisher hits home runs, too."

Whether it's Delicious, Theriot or the Ragin' Cajun, the Cubs' shortstop has opened up some eyes with his new-found power, hitting three home runs in four games. Before his tear, he hit only seven total home runs since making his starting debut with the Cubs in September 2006.

Theriot hasn't done much differently except get into a few new drills, which include driving the ball to left-centerfield, a suggestion first made 10 days ago by manager Lou Piniella. Having backed away from weights recently is a superstition that Theriot will stay with for now.

"I was in the weight room regularly all spring and in the early part of the season," Theriot said. "Two or three days before the first home run I hit, I hadn't worked out and I haven't been in there since."

The long list of oblique strains and tears are attributed by a lot of baseball people to unnecessary weight training.

"The hitting coach that I always go back to is [Class-AAA Iowa Cubs hitting coach] Von Joshua," Theriot said. "He told me that weight training, when he played [in the 70s], was taboo. If you worked out, they would send you home. They didn't want you big, and I guess they were right 'cause they had some good hitters in those days."

Theriot believes that baseball's best exercise is to swing the bat, something that Joshua has imparted to players like Theriot, infielder Mike Fontenot, first baseman/outfielder Micah Hoffpauir and catcher Geovany Soto, all of whom have come through the system to the big leagues.