The Padres gave their fans some good news today, activating second baseman Jedd Gyorko and first baseman Yonder Alonso from the disabled list. Both are in tonight’s starting lineup against the Giants.
Gyorko had been on the disabled list since June 10 with a strained right groin. He had safely hit in 13 of 14 games leading up to his injury and was starting to get mentioned in NL Rookie of the Year conversations. He returns with an .802 OPS.
Alonso had been sidelined since June 1 due to a fractured right hand after getting hit with an Aaron Loup fastball the night prior. He was having some modest success at the plate, and he returns with a .751 OPS.
In related Padres news:
The Padres have been in a tailspin as of late, losing 12 of their last 13 games, including a 10-game losing streak from June 29 to July 8. Despite being 11 games under .500 at 41-52, they are still just 7.5 games behind the first-place Diamondbacks in the NL West.
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.