Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, reunited at last

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Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, and the rest of the Giants’ division-winning 2000 squad will be reunited April 11 in San Francisco as the team holds a 10th-anniversary celebration for AT&T Park (which was then called Pacific Bell Park).
Bonds and Kent famously didn’t get along (to say the least) during their hugely successful run with the Giants, which included Kent being named league MVP in 2000 and Bonds winning the next four MVP awards.
As if that alone didn’t provide enough drama, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that fellow anticipated attendees Marvin Benard, Bobby Estalella, and Armando Rios were “all part of the BALCO scandal with Bonds.”
Other players expected to attend include Rich Aurilia, Bill Mueller, Robb Nen, J.T. Snow, Kirk Rueter, Ellis Burks, Felipe Crespo, Shawn Estes, Aaron Fultz, Mark Gardner, and Ramon Martinez. That team won an NL-high 97 games before losing the Mets in the first round of the playoffs.

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. 😉