Reggie Jackson made headlines recently for saying in a Sports Illustrated interview that Alex Rodriguez’s numbers should be questioned because of performance-enhancing drugs and Kirby Puckett, Gary Carter, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton, and Phil Niekro shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.
That predictably caused a mini-uproar and he reportedly apologized personally to several of those offended parties, but today he issued an official statement–through the Yankees–apologizing in public to the whole group:
In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players. This was inappropriate and unfair to those players, some of which are very close friends of mine. I think there are ways to speak from the heart without hurting people, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t take greater care in expressing my views.
I have been proactively reaching out to make personal apologies to those within the Hall of Fame community that I offended, and to the Yankees organization for any disruption that I caused in the clubhouse. I continue to have a strong relationship with the club, and look forward to continuing in my role with the team. As always, I remain dedicated to the great game of baseball.
There’s been some hair-splitting about whether the Yankees telling Jackson to stay away from the team on their recent road trip qualified as a “ban” or just a request to let things cool off, but either way it’s pretty easy to connect the dots and assume that Jackson’s apology comes as a stipulation for his getting back into the team’s good graces.
It’s also worth noting that his apology doesn’t actually involve taking back anything he said about Rodriguez or the various Hall of Famers–two of whom are deceased–but rather focuses on the mistake being naming names and going public with his thoughts. Since the statement came through the Yankees presumably they’re satisfied with the wording and overall tone, and Jackson will resume his duties as “special advisor.”
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.