Potentially bad news coming out of Washington.
Rookie Jordan Zimmermann has been on the disabled list due to soreness in
his pitching elbow since July 19, which was concerning enough, but on
Saturday afternoon the Nationals announced that they were sending the
results of a second MRI to Dr. James Andrews.
Naturally, anytime you
hear elbow and Dr. James Andrews in the same sentence, it’s not a good
“There was some concerning facts on the MRI that was read by our team
Dr. Wiemi Douoguih,” interim GM Mike Rizzo said. “We’ve sent the films
over to Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, who is going to read them
Monday and we’ll have a more definitive answer on Monday where Jordan
is with his elbow.”
Rizzo couldn’t elaborate about what Dr. Douoguih saw, but it’s
clearly of great concern for the organization. Rizzo said his concern
about Zimmermann is “ramped up.”
The 3-5 record and 4.63 ERA might not show it, but the 23-year-old
right-hander has managed a pretty nice rookie season,
compiling 9.1 K/9 and a 92/29 K/BB ratio in 91 1/3 innings. What I find
most encouraging about his long-term potential is the fact that he
pitched that well with the league’s worst defense behind him, suffering through an unlucky 67.5% strand rate and .339 BABIP. If we
were to take defense out of the equation, he actually pitched to a 3.57 FIP. Hopefully he can still realize that potential.
Retired big league pitcher Barry Zito has a memoir coming out. Much of it will likely track the usual course of an athlete’s memoir. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and a few fun and/or sad and/or thoughtful anecdotes along the way. One bit of it, though, is not the stuff of the usual athlete memoir.
He writes that he ctually rooted against the San Francisco Giants — his own team — in the 2010 World Series. He did so because he was left off the postseason roster, felt miserable about it and let his ego consume him. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It was really hard to admit . . . I rooted against the team because my ego was in full control and if we lost then I could get out of there . . . It would a) prove they couldn’t do it without me, and b) take me out of the situation because I was so miserable coming to the field every day. I was so deep in shame. I wanted out of that situation so bad.”
Zito at that point was midway through a seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Giants after the 2006 season. Almost as soon as he signed it he transformed from one of the better pitchers in the game — he had a 124 ERA+ in eight seasons with the Oakland Athletics and won the 2002 Cy Young Award — to being a liability for the Giants. Indeed, he only had one season in San Francisco where, again, by ERA+, he was a league-average starter or better. In 2010 he went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA and was way worse than that down the stretch. It made perfect sense for the Giants to leave him off the 2010 postseason roster. And, of course, it worked out for them.
Things would improve. He’d still generally struggle as a Giant, but in 2012 he was a hero of the NLCS, pitching the Giants past the Cardinals in a must-win game. He then got the Game 1 start in the World Series and beat Justin Verlander as the Giants won that game and then swept the Tigers out of the series. As time went on he’d fine more personal happiness as well. When his contract ended following the 2013 season Zito took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle thanking Giants fans for their support. He’d leave the game in 2014 and pitch three more games for the Athletics in 2015 before retiring for good.
Not many baseball memoirs deliver hard truths like Zito’s appears willing to do. That’s pretty damn brave of him. And pretty damn admirable.