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Hidalgo named Player of Week
04/12/2004  9:18 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- The last time Richard Hidalgo was named National League Player of the Week, he batted .483 with five doubles, four homers, 11 runs scored and a 1.069 slugging percentage.

That was September 2000, when the right fielder was in the midst of a month-long tear during which he batted .476, hit 11 home runs and logged 31 RBIs. He played in 29 games that month, and he hit safely in 28. As a result, he was close to a unanimous choice as the NL's Player of the Month.

It's too early to predict how Hidalgo will finish this month, but if he does as well as he did in the first week, the Astros should be in good hands for at least the next 17 games, 14 of which are against NL Central rivals.

Hidalgo was named the first NL Player of the Week of the 2004 season after compiling a .500 batting average (12-for-24) with six runs scored, two homers, nine RBIs and five multi-hit games. He compiled an .833 slugging percentage and a .538 on-base percentage.

Hidalgo's hits were not just plentiful, they were also timely. He was key to the Astros' first win of the season on April 7 versus the Giants, contributing a 2-for-4 game that included a solo homer off Jerome Williams in a 10-1 win.

Hidalgo was 3-for-6 with four RBIs during the Astros' 11-7 win over the Brewers on Friday in Milwaukee. On Sunday, his biggest contribution was probably his prior reputation, which moved Doug Davis to intentionally walk him to load the bases for Lance Berkman, who launched a grand slam to give the Astros a comfortable lead.

In his first at-bat Monday in St. Louis, Hidalgo launched his third homer of the year off Woody Williams to give Houston an immediate 4-0 lead.

"I see those guys on base, and I try to do my best to bring them in," Hidalgo said. "I just stay focused on that. Last year, I left a lot of guys on base. I'm trying to focus more this year and bring them in."

If the 28-year-old right fielder is trying to make people forget about his dismal two-year stretch from 2001-02, he is succeeding.

Hidalgo began that process last year, when he ended the season as the Astros' only .300 hitter, led all Major Leaguers in outfield assists and in turn was named the club MVP. This year, he arrived to Spring Training 10 days early to get a head start on workouts, performed solidly during the month of Grapefruit League games and appears to be transitioning that success into the regular season.

"He really deserves a lot of credit," general manager Gerry Hunsicker said. "From where he was two years ago to where he is today is a credit to the determination and confidence in himself.

"I can't think of a more deserving player to receive this award. Hopefully, this will be the first of many Players of the Week for us."

Jeff Bagwell was also nominated for Player of the Week honors after compiling a .435 average (10-for-23) with two homers and eight RBIs through the fist six games of the season. The Cardinals' Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols were also considered, along with LA's Adrian Beltre and Paul Lo Duca, Cincinnati's Adam Dunn and Atlanta's Marcus Giles. Among the pitchers nominated were the Mets' Tom Glavine, the Rockies' Shawn Estes and the Cubs' Kerry Wood.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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