Former White Sox (and Yankees and Rockies) pitcher Jose Contreras is one of those over-35-free agents. Rather than wait around to see who calls — or doesn’t — he’s working out for Japanese teams. The Softbank Hawks, specifically. The Hawks are generally a strong team — made the playoffs last year after a couple of seasons in the wilderness — and Contreras would, by far, be the biggest name among former Major Leaguers on the club.
Contreras always kind of reminded me an NPB pitcher — or what I sort of imagine NPB pitchers to be like — due to that quirky-herky-jerky delivery of his. There’s a lot of deception to his game — weird, changing arm angles and stuff — and he can cause timing problems for batters. Reminds me of Hideo Nomo or something.
Point is, I could see Contreras doing well in Japan simply because he has forgotten more about being crafty than most guys ever know.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.