UPDATE: Albert Pujols' agent leaves Beverly Hills Sports Council

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Pujols headshot.jpgUPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that all of Lozano’s clients are expected to come along with him.

9:12 PM: Interesting news. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, agent Dan Lozano has left Beverly Hills Sports Council.

Lozano, who had been with the firm since 1989, has represented many high-profile players in the past, including Mike Piazza, but he currently represents the “golden ticket” of free agency in the form of Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols. Of course, Pujols is primed to be a free agent after 2011, a contract which figures to be the richest in the history of the sport.

Lozano told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the following after Ryan Howard inked a five-year, $125 million extension with the
Phillies in last month.

“It is our opinion, my opinion, that Albert is on an island all by
himself,” asserted Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, of Beverly Hills Sports
Council.


“We have to pay attention to any significant multi-year deal, especially
one signed by a big first baseman. But the reality is that there are no
comparables for Albert. He is on an island by himself.”

It’s not immediately clear whether Lozano will continue to work with Pujols following his departure from Beverly Hills Sports Council. I’m guessing he will. Unless, you know, he hates money or something.
 

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. 😉