Jim Leyland will take his shirt off for charity

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Dana Wakiji of the Detroit News files this report from Curtis Granderson’s charity event:

The highlight of the evening was the live bachelor auction. Comedian
Jeff Dye, a third-place finisher on Season 6 of NBC’s “Last Comic
Standing,” did a quick set of comedy before serving as auctioneer for
bachelors Granderson, [Edwin] Jackson and [Ryan] Perry. Dye mentioned
that Jackson, like Perry, had tattoos. Jackson’s tattoos could only be
revealed by removing his shirt, so he asked his manager’s permission.

“You take your shirt off, I’ll take mine off,” [Jim] Leyland yelled
from the middle of the room. Jackson obliged by removing his shirt and
showing off his tattooed back and arms. He then demanded his manager
keep his word. Leyland came up to the stage and said he would remove
his shirt as long as the picture did not end up on TV or in the
newspaper.

And in what may be the greatest triumph of journalistic ethics in the
history of mankind, photos of a shirtless, 65-year-old, chain-smoking
Jim Leyland have indeed not shown up online. You can see all the Edwin
Jackson back tattoos you want, though.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉