Colby Rasmus has been in Toronto since Wednesday, but the former first-round pick’s departure remains a hot topic in St. Louis and everyone seems to want to weigh in.
Andy Van Slyke, who was also selected in the first round by the Cardinals (back in 1979), was quite critical of the entire situation in a Saturday conversation with Hall of Fame writer Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Van Slyke played 13 major league seasons, mostly with the Pirates. He hung up his cleats in 1995 having registered a .274/.349/.443 career batting line with 164 home runs, 792 RBI, five Gold Gloves and three All-Star appearances. The 50-year-old now makes frequent appearances as a baseball analyst on St. Louis-area radio programs.
Here are Van Slyke’s comments to Hummel:
“According to what I read, he’s never been happier (being traded) since he’s been a Cardinal,” Van Slyke told Hummel. “How can you be happy being traded from the St Louis Cardinals? It’s the most nonsensical thing I could ever imagine. I couldn’t have been more upset than when I got traded (to Pittsburgh). It took me a month to get over it. … Shows you how totally emotionally different a player he is than I was. He’s going from a potential playoff team to a team that hasn’t won anything in 20 years. If he stays where he is emotionally, he’s going to be the same player he is right how. His whole game is derived from emotion. He doesn’t use his intellectual mind; he uses his emotional mind. No wonder he’s never performed the way he should have.
Then his father says the Cardinals have changed his game. Well, I would hope so. He and his father think he’s still playing in high school. He continues to throw the ball to the wrong base and not break up double plays. You can’t do those things at the big-league level. It’s up to the Toronto organization to keep him accountable, like Tony (La Russa) and his coaches tried to do.”
Rasmus, 25 in August, is 0-for-12 with one walk and five strikeouts since Wednesday’s eight-player trade was finalized, but he remains a five-tool talent and seems likely to prosper in his new locale.
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.