A colossal flop as Seattle’s designated hitter, Jack Cust was designated for assignment Friday to make room for Erik Bedard on the roster.
Cust had just three homers and 23 RBI in 225 at-bats for the Mariners. He was getting on base at a .344 clip, but his slugging percentage of .329 was barely above Ichiro’s .323 mark. (Of course, Ichiro’s OBP is just .317, so Cust did have more than 30 points of OPS on him.)
But Cust can’t offer anything defensively, and since he’s managed only 16 homers in 574 at-bats over the last two years, he may have trouble finding work again in the majors. He needs to some legitimate pop in combination with his willingness to take a walk, because with his lack of speed and the occasional mistake on the basepaths, he’s not going to score from first base very often.
Cust’s departure clears the way for the Mariners to give Wily Mo Pena a shot in a week or two. For now, they may shift Mike Carp to the DH spot more frequently, opening up playing time in left field for Greg Halman.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.