Ozzie Guillen returned to Chicago yesterday and he was met by a zillion Chicago reporters who want to talk about his time with the White Sox. And the fact that, now that Ozzie is gone, the White Sox are in first place and playing great.
Ozzie has kind words for Robin Ventura and the Sox in general, but he wants you to know that their winning ways are not the result of addition by subtraction:
“It’s not fair when I see a couple of idiots say the team is playing better because so-and-so’s not here … I don’t blame them a bit about the way they think, but don’t say they’re winning because I’m not there. That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all. They have the same guys as last year. You talk about Greg Walker — how bad a hitting coach he was — well, I think a lot of Braves are doing pretty good.”
There’s video of all of this over at CSNChicago.com.
I still think the best thing Ozzie did yesterday, as mentioned in this morning’s recaps, was to point at the finger on which he wears his World Series ring when the Cubs fans booed him last night.
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. 😉