ATLANTA -- Life was much simpler 41 years ago when Willie Mays hit his 600th home run for the Giants.
Unlike Wednesday, when Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees reached the 600 level, there was no need for conjecture over performance-enhancing drug use or the significance of such a milestone.
When Mays went deep on Sept. 22, 1969, at San Diego to become the only player other than Babe Ruth to hit as many as 600 home runs, everybody could appreciate the feat.
"We all knew we were seeing history," said Jack Hiatt, the Giants' former Minor League director who was San Francisco's starting catcher that night. "We knew we were playing with probably the greatest player in baseball."
Placing 600 home runs in perspective, former Giants infielder Tito Fuentes said, "When I played, 500 was elite."
Mays went 21 at-bats between homer No. 599 and 600, which led to one of Hiatt's most vivid memories of that period. Frank Torre, Joe Torre's brother, was a sales representative for Adirondack -- the manufacturer of the bats Mays used at the time. Adirondack planned for Torre to give Mays a lavish trophy once he hit No. 600.
But due to Mays' power drought, Torre did more traveling than he anticipated. Meanwhile, at every stop, the trophy had to be removed from a crate, then carefully repackaged.
"That thing was monstrous," Hiatt recalled. "It had to be six feet tall."
Mays hit his milestone homer off Mike Corkins, an ex-Giants farmhand whom Fuentes remembered well."He hit me three times in one game," said Fuentes, who led off and played third base on Mays' big night. "He was good friends with Bobby Bonds. He wasn't throwing at me. He was wild. Besides, I wasn't going to charge the mound against that guy."
Corkins stood 6-foot-1 and weighed 190 pounds; Fuentes was 5-11, 175.
Wellemeyer activated from DL, Bautista out
ATLANTA -- The Giants changed the makeup of their bullpen Thursday by activating right-hander Todd Wellemeyer from the 15-day disabled list and designating right-hander Denny Bautista for assignment.
Wellemeyer, who began the season as San Francisco's No. 5 starter and held that role until he strained his right quadriceps on June 10 at Cincinnati, will be manager Bruce Bochy's leading option when he needs a long reliever -- which hasn't been very often.
"It's nice to have that luxury, though we've been doing a good job without given it," Bochy said.
Wellemeyer was 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts) before he was hurt. Rejoining the Giants at this juncture, as the postseason races begin to intensify, excites him.
"It's always more fun to pitch when there's something on the line," he said.
Bautista's statistics actually were decent -- most of them. He was 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in 31 relief appearances. Opponents hit only .205 against him, and he accumulated 44 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings. But he also issued 27 walks (four intentionally) and hit three batters, which prompted his dismissal.
Noting that a pitcher would inevitably have to be dropped from the roster upon Wellemeyer's return, Bochy said, "I think it's fair to say that of the pitchers we had, Bautista was struggling the most." But, Bochy added, "There were times he saved us."
Posey downplays return trip home
ATLANTA -- In his first visit to his native Georgia as a Major Leaguer, Buster Posey reacted the way he does to virtually everything.He refused to get caught up in the hype.
Posey said that his immediate family and some close friends were planning on attending Thursday's series opener at Atlanta, a three-hour drive north of his hometown of Leesburg.
But Posey wouldn't divulge how many tickets he had left, referring to his outlay as "the usual amount."
Besides, Posey managed to avoid the distraction of ticket requests by delegating that task to others."You guys know me a little bit by now," Posey said. "People know that my focus is on what's going on out here."
Left-hander Dontrelle Willis, trying to pitch his way back into shape in the Arizona Rookie League, tore a fingernail on his throwing hand and walked the only batter he faced Wednesday. Willis is expected to receive extra rest and won't pitch until the nail is healed. ... Manager Bruce Bochy said that left-hander Dan Runzler, recovering from a dislocated left patella, might face hitters Friday in extra batting practice before beginning an injury rehabilitation assignment. ... Friday's starting time has been changed to 4:50 p.m. PT to accommodate a pregame ceremony honoring Tom Glavine, whose number is being retired by the Braves.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.