“Manny would call you and tell you, ‘I’ll meet you in a little bit to go
eat at 12.’ You would be there until two and Manny wouldn’t show up.
That’s him, that’s the way he is.”
— David Ortiz, providing a longer synonym for “Manny being Manny.”
Not that the quote is some great revelation. I mostly use it as an excuse to link to Rob Bradford’s lengthy piece in which Ortiz talks a lot about Ramirez and their relationship.
The thing that sticks out: yet another example of an off-the-field narrative writers like to give us — in this case, Manny and Big Papi are big buddies — being shown to be a lot more complicated than was initially portrayed. They were friendly at the ballpark and had no relationship to speak of off the field. Not chilly or anything, they’re just different people.
It’s this kind of thing that makes me dismiss most of the human interest angles you hear about current players. At least those who are at the top of their game or are currently capturing the zeitgeist. There’s so much PR involved on the players’ side and so many preconceived narratives on the writers’ side that I think it’s pretty rare that we get a great deal of insight from these kinds of things. Only now, when Manny and Big Papi are in the twilight of their careers, does the initial narrative start to melt away.
Sports Illustrated does it pretty well when they go super in-depth on guys, and when the focus is some external event — like a tragedy or something off-the-wall — we often get an insightful glimpse into the minds and lives of top players. But for the most part we’re best served to wait for the biography to figure out what’s really going on in these players’ lives.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.