Gregg Zaun to retire

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Spring Training is usually thought of as a time for renewal, but there are always a handful of downer stories too. I think “cool catcher like Gregg Zaun retiring” qualifies as a downer. Sportsnet Ontario:

Sportsnet has learned that San Diego Padres catcher Gregg Zaun is set to retire from Major League Baseball.

Zaun is expected to officially announce his retirement Monday.

The 39-year-old catcher played 1232 games in his Major League career, posting a career batting average of .252, with 88 home runs and 446 RBI.

That 39-year-old catcher actually turns 40 next month. And he missed most of last season following June shoulder surgery.  That said, if healthy and able, he stood to be a better option for the Padres than Nick Hundley did. It’s probably safe to assume, however, that at his age and with his shoulder, he was no longer healthy and able. And even if he was, he was obviously no longer willing.

It’s always amazing to me that, despite being the position in which guys take, by far, the biggest physical beating, if you have an old dude on your team, it’s more than likely that he’s a catcher. It speaks to the fact that catching is a place where fine-honed skills and brains count for hell of a lot.  Zaun certainly had both.

And of course, he also had Z-Game.

Fare thee well, Gregg.

Royals to sign Billy Hamilton

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LAS VEGAS — Jim Bowden reports that the Kansas City Royals are close to agreement with outfielder Billy Hamilton. He says they are “just working through bonuses and pending physical.” Hamilton was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds a couple of weeks ago following six seasons with the club, making him a free agent.

Hamilton is one of the fastest men to ever play the game, but he has never come around as a hitter. In his six seasons with the Reds he put up a line of .245/.298/.333 (OPS+ 70). While he has stolen 277 bases over that period, getting caught 63 times, he has never once led the league in steals, primarily because he just doesn’t get on base enough. He is an excellent center fielder, but the bat is so sub-par that even the glove and the wheels are not good enough to justify going to arbitration with him.

Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. He will certainly bring some excitement to Kansas City. He’s a fun guy to watch play.