Terry Francona was on “Mike and Mike in the Morning” today and he talked about the Red Sox banning beer in the clubhouse. He’s not all that impressed with the move:
“I think it’s a PR move. I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one … I don’t think it’s a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it. It’s probably more of a PR move just because, you know, the Red Sox (took) such a beating at the end of the year.”
Normally you hear a guy in Francona’s position takes the diplomatic approach regarding such things. But I get the impression that he’s not a big fan of, in effect, being the guy taking the fall for all the stuff that happened in the last month of the season. The guy essentially lost his job over it and every mention of chicken and beer is basically a slam of his management of the team. Never mind that one extra win against the Orioles would have prevented any of that from going down.
I’m glad Francona doesn’t feel constrained to comment on the Red Sox’ situation. And that candor makes me think he’s going to have a great year in the booth for ESPN. I’m actually looking forward to Sunday Night Baseball because of it.
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. 😉