Red Sox turn back to Japan, sign Atchison

Leave a comment

We assume they’ll keep him this time.
The Red Sox initially signed Scott Atchison as a minor league free agent after the 2007 season, only to sell him to the Hanshin Tigers a month later. He compiled a 2.77 ERA in two seasons out of the pen for the Tigers, but he expressed his desire to return to the U.S. after the conclusion of last season. The Red Sox still liked him and offered him a major league deal worth just more than the minimum. They’re also getting team options for 2011 and ’12.
Before heading east, the 33-year-old Atchison posted a 4.10 ERA and a 70/25 K/BB ratio in 68 innings as a major leaguer. He had a difficult time earning opportunities because he doesn’t throw much over 90 mph, but both his slider and curveball are major league pitches. If he picked up any new tricks in Japan, he has a chance to be a significant asset in middle relief.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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. 😉