For a while, a few years ago, there were some people who talked about Leo Mazzone being the first pitching coach to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The fever broke after he left Atlanta to take the Orioles’ job after the 2005 season and found little success. Most folks realize now that, while he was a good pitching coach, having the best pitching staff in the past 30 years or so helps a lot too. Dave Duncan is now your Hall of Fame candidate in that world.
Mazzone hasn’t worked as a pitching coach since the end of the 2007 season. It’s not clear why. Maybe he hasn’t been offered anything that sounds good to him. Maybe people in the game don’t like him or give Bobby Cox more credit for whatever the Braves staff did than Mazzone. There are a million possible explanations.
One other explanation: Mazzone is not too plugged-in to the network of major league baseball and thus doesn’t have anyone advocating for him. I mean, why else would he approach the Phillies like this:
You don’t get jobs in baseball based on public pleas. You get them because you’re either a hot property or because you know someone who will go to bat for you. I get the feeling that neither of those descriptions fit Mazzone at this point in his career.
On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.
Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:
“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”
“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”
“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”
Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.
Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.
WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.
Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.
Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.