Sticking with Manny Ramirez, here’s some fun from Larry Bowa, Dodgers third base coach, who appeared on Sirius/XM’s Ripken Show today to talk about what it’s like to coach Manny Ramirez:
Larry Bowa: Believe me, when Manny’s up I hope for two things. I hope he hits a home run or he’s on third with less than two outs. Because that might be the most difficult player to navigate around the bases because you don’t know when he’s running hard, you don’t know what gate he’s gonna be in, you don’t know what his mood is . . . there’s times where I think he’s got a chance of scoring and then he’s rounding third, all of sudden you send him and between third and home something happens and he’s out by five, six feet.
Bowa went on to say that he “lies awake at night” worrying about Manny on the basepaths.
I know people disagree about Manny Ramirez, but there aren’t many things more funny in baseball than an agitated Larry Bowa, so I think this one has to go in the “pro” column on the great Manny ledger.
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. 😉