Alex Rodriguez has started out slowly. He’s 3-for-22 with a homer and eight strikeouts. No one buries a player for a slow first week — or at least no one should — but Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York would like to remind us of A-Rod’s slow start:
Just imagine if this were a year ago. If Alex Rodriguez began the season with only three hits in 22 at-bats. If his average were only .136 after a week of the schedule had passed. If he were still perceived as an MLB outcast, there would be cries to cut him, that he can’t play without the juice and probably countless other accusations.
Marchand goes on to say “Let’s be clear: No one here is drawing an early broad stroke . . .” but he is TOTALLY doing that. Or at the very least making up for the fact that he couldn’t make such a broad stroke last season when everyone on the planet was waiting to pounce and never got the chance to.
I don’t know if A-Rod is done and if this year will be a lost one for him. He’s 40, and 40-year-olds who play super well aren’t terribly common. But I do know that “40 year-old can’t hit anymore” will be a way bigger story if and when it happens to Rodriguez, because some people really want to be able to write that it has happened to Rodriguez. Indeed, they wanted to do it last year.
There have been a lot of plunkings in the past couple of Diamondbacks-Dodgers games. None of them seemed intentional and, even with the historic bad blood between these two teams, the “rivalry,” such as it is, is at a low ebb now. There’s a new manager in Los Angeles and no incidents have taken place for a bit. Sometimes stuff just happens and it seems like, over the past two days, stuff has just been happening.
Still, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was jawing at the Diamondbacks dugout last night following three more plunkings of Dodgers hitters, primarily at Dbacks manager Chip Hale, who jawed back. After last night’s game Hale took exception to the jawing. From MLB.com:
I guess their pitching coach didn’t care for their guys getting hit. It was OK yesterday when our two guys got hit in the wrist, but tonight it wasn’t right even though the last pitch that [Jake] Barrett threw was a slider. Pitching in is part of the ballgame, we know that. I’m not going to allow anybody from the other team to yell towards my dugout, whoever he’s yelling at. It’s not acceptable.”
You can watch the video of the jawing here:
Whatever. I guess we will now have a debate about when it’s ok for a 60 year-old guy to yell at a 50 year-old. Imagine this happening in another sport.
Honeycutt shoulda just flipped Hale the bird. Hale shoulda just responded by making the wanking motion. End of story. Instead I’m sure we’ll get an etiquette lesson from some commentators with copious references to “respect” and stuff.
When Pablo Sandoval was placed on the DL yesterday with a shoulder strain that had not heretofore been mentioned by anyone anywhere, it was hard not to see it as a move meant to just get Sandoval out of the picture for a little while. Or a move initiated by Sandoval in order to send a message to the team. He may still be with the team while on the DL, but he won’t bea guy John Farrell has to worry about. He’ll, at best, be at the far end of the dugout, nearly out of sight, temporarily out of mind.
Today Jeff Passan has a column in which he reports that, yeah, there is a lot of bad blood here. Passan’s sources tell him that Sandoval does not want to be in Boston unless he can play every day, and the Red Sox have no intention of playing him unless he loses weight. And, indeed, even if he loses weight, he won’t get to play everyday unless Brock Holt and Travis Shaw struggle too. Both of them are hitting really well to start the season, by the way. Also: everyone agrees that the shoulder thing is mysterious and likely just posturing.
So this is the Carl Crawford situation all over again, but more expensive and probably worse in a lot of ways. Except this time there is no one as good as Adrian Gonzalez with whom to package Sandoval in a trade and no one as willing to take on so much bad money as Ned Colletti and the Dodgers. Boston is either going to have to release the guy or, at most, accept close to nothing to unload him to a team which can afford to take three months to let Sandoval get in shape and take hacks for purposes of having a big name on the team or maybe flipping him to a contender if he rejuvenates himself.
I suppose there are worse baseball divorces. I just can’t think of too many of them recently.