Tony La Russa managed the White Sox from 1979-1986 and there’s already speculation about his possibly being interested in the job again following Ozzie Guillen’s departure, but the Cardinals skipper declined to address his status yesterday.
“We’re not going to be distracted because you’re not getting me to answer anything except about this series here,” La Russa told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “I have an issue with me answering any speculation because it’s exactly the opposite of what the club should be getting from a guy who is making out the lineup.”
Tough to blame La Russa for wanting to focus on his team’s playoff push, but then again simply denying any interest in the White Sox job would probably have taken exactly as much time as refusing to talk about the speculation. And when told refusing to comment might fuel the speculation even further, he replied: “It’s healthy to have fun, isn’t it? They say if you smile 10 times a day you’re healthy. I’m hope everyone is having fun.”
Strauss notes that La Russa has a “longstanding relationship with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf” and “Reinsdorf contacted La Russa about his interest in the job prior to hiring Guillen following the 2003 season.” La Russa is technically under contract for 2012, which would be his 17th season as Cardinals manager, but it’s a mutual option.
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. 😉