The Padres hoped that Gregg Zaun would feel well enough after shoulder surgery to back up primary catcher Nick Hundley this season, but they are back to the drawing board now that the 39-year-old backstop has announced his retirement.
However, they can probably cross one option off their list.
Dan Hayes of the North County Times hears that the Padres did indeed reach out to Bengie Molina — confirming a report by Marty Caswell of XX1090 Sports Radio in San Diego — but were told that “he is retired.”
UPDATE: This could be some haggling on the part of Molina, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News spoke with the veteran catcher today, who said he’s “definitely not retired.”
There were some rumors earlier this winter that Molina was considering backing up his younger brother Yadier in St. Louis, but it looks like he’ll be comfortable calling it a career unless he can get a guaranteed deal for a fair salary.
Molina, 36, batted .249/.297/.326 with five homers and 36 RBI over 416 plate appearances between the Giants and Rangers last season, so it’s easy to see why he didn’t receive much interest this winter. If he’s truly done, he’ll hang ’em with two Gold Glove awards, a .275 career batting average, 1,317 hits and 144 home runs over 13 major league seasons. Oh, and he hit for the cycle last July.
As for the Padres, Rob Johnson, who was acquired from the Mariners in December, appears to be the in-house favorite for the backup job right now, though non-roster invitees Kyle Philips and Guillermo Quiroz could also be in the mix.
Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.
[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.
He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.
Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.