No news has spun out since it was reported that Nolan Ryan was considering leaving the Texas Rangers as a result of him, apparently anyway, being bypassed in the chain of command for Jon Daniels. But Kirk Bohls of the Austin Statesmen spoke to a source who makes it sound like Ryan’s time with Texas is almost over:
Almost no one is betting he stays. One person very close to Ryan said it was “70-30” that he leaves, stung by his ill treatment. He’s never been one to make rash, emotional decisions.
He shrugged those massive shoulders that, combined with Earl Campbell-like thighs, made him one of the most feared pitchers in the game and said he would return home Tuesday to help with the Rangers’ two exhibition games in San Antonio later this week. Beyond that?
“I haven’t commented much on that,” he said in his distinctive Texas drawl, “so I’m going to leave that alone.”
There’s a Rangers exhibition series in San Antonio before Opening Day, and Ryan is supposed to be a big part of that. One gets the distinct impression that he’s gonna play his part there and then walk away as the season gets underway.
Which, well, whatever. I know there is an emotional connection between Ryan and the Rangers and, more importantly, Ryan and the Rangers fans. But if we’ve learned anything over the past decade or so, modern front offices are no place for nostalgia. If the decision makers with the Rangers don’t see Ryan as essential — and if we’re not dealing with some crazy dysfunctional management team here, which we aren’t — it’s hard to say what purpose Ryan staying really would serve.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.