It’s so rare that you hear a team owner talk frankly about the big picture decisions that come with running a team. They all say they’re always trying to win. When they tear down and rebuild, they all talk about it being some inevitable process that was forced on them by the laws of Man and Nature, and that even so, the rebuilding will be brief and glorious and the team will be fun to watch as it happens. This strikes me as hooey most of the time, and an interview Jerry Reinsdorf gave to the White Sox beat guys yesterday bolsters that belief.
It’s a great read in which Reinsdorf notes that the Chisox could have gone either way this season, either letting their free agents go and packing it in or else going a bit nuts and loading up to catch Minnesota. Notably, he includes his thoughts about the profitability implications to all of that. It’s not often that you hear a team owner admit that, yeah, gutting the roster could make the team turn a profit and that rebuilding can often be a long slog during which some bad baseball is played, but Reinsdorf was pretty frank about it.
And best of all, he dropped a rather self-aware line:
“The idea of being bad for two or three years is a horrible thought when you’re 75 years old.”
One gets the sense that super rich dudes who own big businesses — especially sports teams — think they’re going to live forever. It’s nice to see that that’s not the case for everyone.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.