I got to the Dbacks’ camp pretty early yesterday. Earlier than a lot of writers did. But almost all the players were there before I was. That’s just what they do this time of year And one player — Juan Pierre — was at White Sox camp earlier than all of the other players are:
One of the hardest working players in baseball, this is how his day begins every morning during spring training. He’s a man with an internal clock that’s always ticking, ready to rock well before the rooster crows.
“It’s just a routine. Something I follow and believe in. It’s kept me around this long,” says the speedy White Sox outfielder, who stole a career-high 68 bases in 2010, his 11th in the big leagues and first on the South Side.
Nothing stops Pierre from his early morning ritual. Well, except for one thing: The front door.
And that’s because it’s locked. Pierre gets to the clubhouse before even the security guys get there. Before 6AM each day, ready to work his butt off.
There is a lot of false hustle in spring training. Guys who reported to camp early, maybe because they’re truly dedicated, but maybe because they were bored. Guys who show up early each day, maybe because they want to work like Pierre does, but maybe because they want to hang out in the clubhouse and read the paper and b.s. with the guys as they stroll in. The managers know who’s who, however. In this case the media seems to have figured it out too.
And in this case there’s an explanation for why Juan Pierre, for all of his deficiencies as a ballplayer, manages to put together a nice year every couple of years and why he always has the confidence of his managers and coaches. The dude works. And sometimes work makes up for everything.
Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.
No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.
Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.
Set some time aside to read this today.
This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.
De La Rosa has had elbow issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.
I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.
He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.