Earlier this week Scott Rolen indicated that he’d prefer not to go on a minor-league rehab assignment before returning from the disabled list, but apparently the Reds have talked him into playing a few games at Triple-A.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Rolen will begin his rehab stint tomorrow and spend the weekend in Louisville, at which point the Reds will likely activate him from the DL if there hasn’t been a setback.
And that’s far from a sure thing, as Rolen has a lengthy history of shoulder problems that have derailed his career several times and hasn’t played since May 11. In fact, his latest shoulder injury was so bad and Rolen is so sick of dealing with the discomfort that there was initially some speculation that he might simply call it quits.
Instead he’ll do some rehab and give it one last try after hitting just .174 in 29 games before being shut down. Todd Frazier has a .900 OPS filling in at third base, so in theory at least Rolen shouldn’t be guaranteed playing time.
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. 😉