Carlos Beltran had his introductory news conference with the Yankees today and said all the things a guy who just signed with the Yankees is expected to say. It’s a great organization, it was his dream to play in pinstripes, etc. etc.
But of course, since Beltran spent so much time with the Mets, he was asked about his often turbulent time in Queens. Specifically, the topic of the smear-job the Mets did on Beltran with respect to a visit to Walter Reed Hospital during a trip to Washington came up.
The short version, for those who forgot: in 2010 Mets players made a trip to visit wounded veterans, but Beltran was in Puerto Rico on his off day to help launch his charity. The team knew this and actually have Beltran permission to miss the Walter Reed trip. And, for what it’s worth, the charity Beltran was launching that day just won Beltran the Clemente Award. Nevertheless, Mets sources anonymously trashed Beltran to the press, trying to make him out to be a team cancer or something. It was low, even by Mets standards.
Beltran talked about that today:
“The controversy about Walter Reed and the knee, the organization trying to prove as a player that I was a bad apple,” Beltran said. “I was this, I was that. I can deal with 0-for-4s and three strikeouts and talking to you guys. I can deal with that. When somebody is trying to hurt you in a personal way, trying to put things out there that are not me, we have trouble. Now it’s personal, you know what I’m saying? In that point, when they say all that about myself, of course I was hurt.”
Given the cheap shots the team fired at him back in 2010, I’d say that’s pretty restrained.
Welcome back to New York, Carlos.
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.