Fun story from Jeff Passan at Yahoo!. In the course of his Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler feature he passes along a tale from last year when Matt Harvey was a rookie and Jon Rauch was a reliever for the Mets. It seems that Harvey was trying to take a nap in the clubhouse and Rauch tried to haze him by tossing a bucket of ice water on him. Passan:
[Harvey] bounded up and challenged Rauch to a fight. Right there. Right then. He gave up 7 inches, about 75 pounds and a gallon or so of bad ink. It didn’t matter that he was a rookie. Harvey would not be a joke. He would not be a punch line in Rauch’s re-telling. He would not let some mediocre clown play him.
Rauch backed away.
Great stuff. Of course it makes me wonder what would have happend if it was another player who challenged the veteran like that. One not as good as Harvey or as important to the Mets’ future. Or if Rauch wasn’t Rauch but was, instead, someone a bit more established and respected overall. Is Harvey a punk who can’t take a joke then? I’d think not as I feel like veterans hazing rookies in all sports is about as dumb as it gets and if I were Harvey I’d do the same thing, but I’m sure some would spin it that way if it were, I dunno, Jordany Valdespin.
None of which says anything about Harvey or Rauch or Passan or anyone here. Just an observation about how stories like this tend to come out in such a way as to serve a story. The Mets’ mastery of the Braves yesterday can be likened to someone getting off the matt and refusing to take any more crap, if one were so inclined. If one were also so inclined this story could later be viewed in another way at another time for another story. It all depends on how Harvey’s career goes.
Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.
While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.
Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.
I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.
On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.