Ballplayers talk about the clubhouse being their sanctuary. The place where they can escape the spotlight and the distractions. Where they can tune out the world and focus on the task at hand: pitched athletic competition and managing the grind of a long, grueling season.
If that makes you picture guys sitting quietly and gathering their thoughts or starting at nothing while managing an intense swelling of emotion and feeling which they’ll then attempt to channel into physical activity, well, you’re right. That happens. Definitely happens. I’ve seen it.
But sometimes it also involves wailing some Backstreet Boys while playing cards. That definitely happens too.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is the new black, apparently. Matt Harvey underwent his surgery for it this week and now Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer will as well. He’s out for the year.
Zimmer was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft and was ranked as a top-25 prospect according to both Baseball America and MLB.com heading into the 2014 season. He experienced numerous arm problems that year, however, and had “minor” shoulder surgery in that October. He pitched well, primarily in relief, across two levels in 2015 but has only pitched sparingly this season. He turns 25 in September.
While the timeline for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery could have him back for spring training, recovery from it is unpredictable and it’s certainly going to cut into any offseason program Zimmer was going to pursue. Tough break for a kid who has had a few of them already.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers are open to trading Yasiel Puig. Nothing is imminent, of course, but the fact that the club is even weighing the possibility is big news.
Nor is it terribly difficult to understand. Puig has had flashes of superstardom and still has the potential to be star, but it’s obvious that his development has stalled. Injuries are a part of that but not all of it and he has declined in each of the past three years. He’s hitting .257/.321/.379 with only seven homers on the year and is on pace for his worst season as a big leaguer.
That said, at the moment, a club could still look at Puig and think that there are good days ahead and that a change of scenery would do him good. They could even imagine him, I would assume, breaking out and being a fairly cost effective superstar. He’s still only 25. If he has another season or two like this, however, his value would plummet.
The timing of this could prove to be a gamble. The Dodgers would be selling low on Puig now if they did sell. They’re also in the playoff hunt and that same “squint-and-you-can-see-a-superstar” thing might make more optimistic members of the Dodgers front office think that a hot month or two from Puig in Dodger blue is worth hanging on to him. Regardless of their own internal calculus, it may be better to try to trade him in the winter. Teams are far more able to picture change-of-scenery candidates then and, of course, you’re dealing with 29 other teams on the market, not just teams looking to add a bat at the deadline.
Whatever happens, there are going to be some fascinating and difficult decisions to make about this difficult player in the coming weeks.