The Pirates had some extra help in the dugout Tuesday night, with Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski and former center fielder Bill Virdon added to the coaching staff.
According to the Tribune-Review, the Pirates got permission from the Twins to add a couple of extra coaches for their series against Minnesota.
“This isn’t a fantasy camp thing; this isn’t spring training,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re going to have them here to help coach and teach and have them at least feel part of it more throughout the game. We brought them in for them to bring us something, and hopefully we can give them something in return and everybody wins.”
Mazeroski, maybe the best defensive second baseman in major league history, was selected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 2001. He spent his entire 17-year career with the Pirates. Virdon was never an All-Star in the bigs, but his glove made him a regular in center for 11 seasons. He was also a two-time Manager of the Year, first with the Yankees and later with the Astros.
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. 😉