Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets

Terry Collins: “I don’t answer to fans”

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He doesn’t. But it’s one of those things that you tend to do better never actually saying. But Collins said it anyway yesterday, in response to the flap in which Mets players did not appear to have Jordany Valdespin’s back after he got plunked by a Pirates pitcher on Saturday night:

“I don’t answer to fans,” Collins said before the Mets’ 10-4 loss in St. Louis. “They don’t play this game. They have no idea what goes on. They have no idea what goes on in there. They have absolutely no idea what it means to be a professional teammate at this level.”

I don’t disagree with anything Collins said there. Nor do I disagree with the Mets not congratulating Valdespin on his homer Friday or retaliating for him being plunked afterward. He was showboating when the team was down by a substantial margin. And while I don’t much care for pitchers hitting guys on purpose, baseball players all knew that Valdespin was out of line per their unwritten rules and the Mets were acting in accord with those rules. Mike Francesa doesn’t like it? Cry me a freakin’ river. The guy is a clown.

At the same time, however, Collins has been around long enough, one would hope, to know that the response to this sort of flap should be to diffuse it with either wit or boring cliches. Not to be prickly about it and never, ever, to go after fans like that. By doing so he gave this little non-story new life — you can bet that Francesa and the yakkers will be all over it today — and has helped create a distraction.

Which maybe shouldn’t be all that surprising. Collins has been a better, more mature manager with the Mets than he was back in the day with Houston and Anaheim. But this prickly little thing is reminiscent of his mid-to-late 90s oeuvre.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.

Josh Hamilton leaves camp with a tweaked knee

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers poses during a spring training photo shoot on February 28, 2016 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Josh Hamilton was already a long shot to make the Texas Rangers roster, but his shot got even longer today, as he left camp to have his reconstructed left knee examined after experiencing pain.

As Jeff Wilson reports, Hamilton felt discomfort in the knee during the Rangers’ first full-squad spring training workout yesterday. Hamilton has had 10 knee operations in career. Which is a lot of knee operations in case you were unaware.

You have to wish good luck to Hamilton, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The guy has not played in the major leagues since 2015 and even then he didn’t play well, hitting .253 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 50 games. He appeared in one game last year for Double-A Frisco, on April 30. He’ll be paid $24 million this year, mostly by the Angels. One suspects that this will likewise be his last spring training.