Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports:
Shortstop Elvis Andrus on Monday surged to the lead for most times invoking the spring training cliché “best shape of my career” by a Ranger.
One thing. Andrus appeared to be telling the truth . . . He joined a group of about a dozen teammates who religiously worked out daily at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He took up yoga and Pilates to increase his flexibility.
The difference is striking. Andrus dropped about 12 pounds and lost the puffy look to his face. He energetically bounced around the field during an informal workout that included seven projected starting position players.
Andrus hit a poor .263/.314/.333 last season and saw his stolen base success rate fall to 64 percent. He signed an eight-year, $120 million contract extension in April 2013.
(Thanks to Emily for the heads up)
Gregg Zaun made claimed on Friday that, when he was coming up witht he Orioles, veteran players such as Cal Ripken Jr. hazed and, in Zaun’s words, physically abused him. And, for the record, he claimed he was fine with it and that more of that should be happening to young ballplayers today.
Roch Kubatko of MASN spoke to Ripken about it and Ripken disputes Zaun’s account:
“I talked to him because he’s a friend of mine. I consider him a good friend,” Ripken said today. “I don’t know how it got all out of whack. He apologized and said he used the wrong words. There was no abuse, there was no hazing. It doesn’t do anything for team unity. He knows that and everybody who knows me knows that.”
There was “horseplay,” apparently, but Ripken denies that it was hazing or abuse and denies that it was limited to rookie players. Ripken specifically denied the anecdote Zaun told about there being “an imaginary line” on the charter flights which rookies could not cross, leading to abuse.
Brady Anderson, also named by Zaun, denied Zaun’s claims. He also called Zaun’s overall credibility into question by noting that, contrary to Zaun’s assertion, Anderson did not play in the instructional league together as Anderson was in the Red Sox’ organization at the time.
Kubatko quotes Zaun here as well, and Zaun — quite predictably — claims he was taken out of context by the “blogger” who transcribed Zaun’s comments on the radio show on which he was appearing. Not that he eliminated any actual words Zaun said but, rather, that he didn’t explain that Zaun described the alleged hazing with “enthusiasm.” Which, um, sure Zaun, that changes everything. More on that here.
So, I guess that’s that.
Joe Blanton retired — practically speaking anyway — last season. But he’s making a comeback with the Royals this spring. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has a story about him today. Guess what?
Blanton, 34, weighed more than 250 pounds early in his career. But he’s in stunningly good shape this spring and reported to Surprise weighing in the range of 215 to 220 pounds. He also pronounced himself emotionally and mentally reinvigorated by a summer away from the game.
Hmm . . . “stunningly good shape?” Is that — could that be . . . ?
Blanton is 34 years old and has a combined 5.09 ERA in 541 innings dating back to 2010, so any edge he can get will be helpful. Good luck, Joe.