A story in the Chicago Sun-Times a couple of days ago — just coming to my attention via a fun thread over at Baseball Think Factory — is seven shades of awesome. I’ll let you read it for yourself, but the critical components are as follows:
- Former Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson quitting before a game and having half of his roster quit with him;
- Pitchers playing as position players;
- Position players pitching;
- One of those position players being 47-year-old Jose Canseco;
- Kevin Costner: cheapskate?
- Everyone being released or traded the next day and, presumably, Bugs Bunny or an elephant or something covering the rest of the season’s games.
Make sure you go over to the BTF thread too, as the sharpshooters over there offer lots of good random information about players in the story and the independent leagues in general.
And Dodgers fans: this probably puts your team’s financial difficulties into a more comfy perspective.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.