Derek Jeter looks “amazing”

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Reporters haven’t been able to do much better than “Bigfoot off in the distance” pictures of Derek Jeter working out down in Tampa, but the Yankees’ David Phelps has an early review of the Captain on the Comeback Trail:

“Derek looks amazing. That’s awesome . . . You can tell he’s determined to go out there and do well,” Phelps said. “If you had to place a bet on it, you know he’s going to go out there and have a good year. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play again. He’s having a lot of fun right now.”

No Yankees player is going to say “man, Jeter looks like he’s toast. Dude has nothing. He should probably hang it up.” But nor would they flat out lie, I suspect. If Jeter looked creaky and terrible, you’d probably here far more vague things about how “he’s a competitor” and how no one should ever count out Jeter and stuff.

So while, yes, Phelps is not exactly the most objective source on the planet, hearing raves like this should not be entirely discounted either. It’s not likely that a nearly 40-year-old shortstop is going to look like he’s 30 again, but — for as cliche as this sounds — if anyone can buck the odds, isn’t it going to be Jeter?

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉