There’s a story in today’s Delco Times about Mike Sweeney. About how great a guy he is. About how he adds so much to the Phillies’ team chemistry and has made the clubhouse a happier, friendlier place to be. Because of him, they’re “the feel-good Phillies.”
No mention whatsoever, though, of the fact that back in May Sweeney was challenging his teammates to fights and browbeating and intimidating reporters who said negative things about his team as the Mariners disintegrated scarcely a month into the season.
My point is not that Sweeney is not a nice guy and a good person — by all accounts he is. It’s that it’s a hell of a lot easier to be a great and friendly teammate when you’re winning (like Sweeney’s Phillies are) than it is when you’re losing (like Sweeney’s Mariners were).
We should try to keep that in mind whenever we see feel good (or feel bad) stories about ballplayers. They’re human just like the rest of us, and these stories tell us less about their subjects than they do about their subject’s circumstances.
On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.
Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:
“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”
“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”
“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”
Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.
Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.
Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.
Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.