Aside from reporting to camp in “The Best Shape Of His Life” shaving your head for charity might be the biggest trend of spring training this year.
Jose Reyes did it first, live on MLB Network no less, and then Josh Johnson did it with considerably less fanfare. And now Rays manager Joe Maddon is joining the fun in the name of raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children’s Hospital.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Maddon will shave his head Thursday and “will encourage other players, coaches and team officials to do so as well.”
Or as Maddon put it: “It’s under the heading, fortune favors the bald.”
Third base coach Tom Foley and bench coach Dave Martinez are already on board, although presumably Martinez’s spectacular mountain-man beard will be staying put.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.