Albert Pujols is so hobbled by plantar fasciitis in his left foot that simply watching him run is painful, so not surprisingly people are starting to ask the Angels first baseman (and now mostly designated hitter) if he plans to have offseason surgery.
Pujols more or less avoided answering, but did tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:
When we get to that point, we’ll talk about it. I’m definitely going to try to do something after the season to help me out and not play in that pain I’ve been playing in. There’s no doubt that I’ll be a full-time first baseman next year.
Pujols has been banged up for a while now, but he can barely move this season. He’s hitting .244 with 13 homers and a .736 OPS in 83 games for by far the worst production of his career and has resorted to playing DH nearly full time just to stay in the lineup. Plantar fasciitis is often overlooked in terms of absolutely wrecking an athlete, but it can be a very nasty injury that lingers.
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.