Sports Illustrated runs a fascinating profile of Jayson Werth this week. It’s very long, very good and is worth a full and thoughtful read, but one passage from the first page stood out at me:
Werth is quick to deflect questions that demand introspection. He
agreed to an interview only if no questions involved his wife, his two
kids or any aspect of his private life. The rest of his relatives are
off limits too. Asked–gingerly–if he would pass along the number of his
mother, the former track star Kim Schofield Werth, he snaps, “My mom is
unavailable. She just got her phone number unlisted and moved from
Illinois to the Ozarks.” Ditto his stepfather, the former big leaguer
Dennis Werth: “I’ve got his number in my cell, but I’m not giving it
“I don’t see why he has to share his thoughts about me with the rest of the world.”
If I were thrust out into to the public spotlight like that I would probably feel equally protective of my privacy and my family, so I have no criticism of Werth for this.
But, to the extent people are still thinking that it would be a great idea to sign a big long term deal with the Yankees, the quoted passage is a pretty good indication that life for Werth in New York would be something approaching hell. The press simply demands more of a player there, and to survive as a big money player in the Big Apple you either have to (a) be a smooth and professional PR assassin like Derek Jeter; or (b) you have to be a self-effacing and personable character like Nick Swisher or someone.
Based on this glimpse of Werth — and I admit, it’s only a glimpse — he doesn’t seem to fall in the “New York-Friendly” category of superstars.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.