Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports that the Rangers have hired Shayne Kelley as a major league staff assistant and that one of his duties will be to serve as Josh Hamilton’s new accountability partner.
Kelley has a pretty diverse background, serving as the Royals’ minor league strength and conditioning coach for two seasons and the team chaplain at Alabama from 1996-1999. As such, part of his duties will also include helping out the Rangers’ coaching staff and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
Kelley will take over the role vacated by Jerry Narron, who took the hitting coach job with the Brewers this offseason. Hamilton’s father-in-law, Michael Dean Chadwick, originally volunteered to replace Narron, but had a change of heart last month after discussing the matter further with his family. Chadwick said at the time that he didn’t think an accountability partner was even necessary, but the matter is obviously of increased importance following Hamilton’s relapse with alcohol at a Dallas-Fort Worth area bar last Monday night.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said that Kelley has already begun his duties, as he traveled with Hamilton during his visit with MLB and MLBPA doctors yesterday in New York.
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.