Michael Bourn frustrated by Red Sox support in Houston

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Here’s Astros outfielder Michael Bourn, venting on the large contingent of Red Sox fans that has overtaken Houston’s Minute Maid Park this weekend:

“Their fan base is huge. When we are playing the Red Sox, you hear ‘Let’s go Red Sox!’ loud. I’m like, ‘We’re in our home stands.’ I want to hear, ‘Let’s go Astros!’ I don’t want to hear a visiting team overtaking our team. We have to get our fans to come out and the only way we can do that is by winning.”

It’s a frustration that many losing teams know well, and the Astros don’t appear likely to climb out of the gutter anytime soon. They have an organization-wide lack of talent and a changing ownership situation. Attendance is not going to be strong at Minute Maid Park while the rebuilding effort is in full swing.

The ‘Stros drew 2.8 million fans in 2005, when they made it all the way to the World Series. In 2006, 3.02 million packed into Minute Maid. This season, it’s looking like they’ll have trouble topping 2.3 million.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉