Last week Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd criticized Jhoulys Chacin for being one of the few players not reporting to spring training in the best shape of his life, saying that he wasn’t pleased with the right-hander’s offseason workouts and added weight.
Chacin spoke to Rafael Rojas Cremonesi of the Venezuelan newspaper Meridiano and SB Nation blog Purple Row, refuting O’Dowd’s comments:
I came to Arizona this past Monday. I have not stopped training during the winter, both in my country and here. I have always done the best job I could all throughout these past few months. I don’t know where these comments came from, I believe they’re the result of what other people have told him, instead of his own personal evaluation.
I am looking forward to meeting O’Dowd personally and I am confident that he will have a different conclusion after a first-hand evaluation. He will realize he made conclusions based on incorrect claims made by other people. There’s a myth in the baseball world which states Latin players do not work at their hardest during the winter. We return to our home countries and people think all we do is party. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Chacin added that he’s currently 226 pounds, which is actually two pounds lighter than when he reported to spring training last year and four pounds lighter than his weight at the end of the season. O’Dowd indicated that Chacin reported to spring training at 218 pounds last year, so clearly there’s been a mixup somewhere along the way.
And while there are probably better ways for both sides to address the situation than going through the media, I give Chacin a lot of credit for responding in what seems like a very calm, intelligent manner to that public criticism from his boss. Whether or not he’s actually in worse shape this year is another issue, of course.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.