As any HBT reader knows, there is a cottage industry devoted to stories about baseball players getting into shape in the offseason. Claims are made about workout regimens, photos of slimmed-down or bulked-up players are posted to social media and the notion that so-and-so is in The Best Shape of His Life is used, almost uniformly, as a means of either praising a player for his work ethic or suggesting that, perhaps, his recent struggles are a thing of the past and that he’ll be newly productive in the coming year.
But for one player, reports that he is working out and trying to best prepare himself for the upcoming season are evidence that he is a conniving and manipulative S.O.B. and just what in the HELL is he trying to pull?! Ladies and Gentlemen, Bob Klapisch:
Surely Alex Rodriguez had a reason for recently posting Instagram pictures of himself hitting in the cage and taking grounders. A-Rod was sending a message to the Yankees, no mystery there. The real question is whether he thinks he can change anyone’s mind about playing third base – or just playing, period . . . Is that why those pictures found their way to Instagram? To let Joe Girardi know it’s going to be an uncomfortable camp?
The Instagram pictures in question can be seen here. There are only two of them (other workout pictures there are from a year ago). In one he is taking groundballs, with the caption “back where I started.” Referring quite clearly to Christopher Columbus High School, on whose field he is taking said grounders. The other is him in a batting cage, with the caption “Starting the year in the cage.”
The fallout to these pictures as been comical. In addition to Kalpisch’s conviction here that A-Rod is trying to cause trouble are stories from the other New York tabloids about how “A-Rod didn’t get the memo” that he’s not the Yankees starting third baseman anymore, and thus him taking some grounders MUST be evidence of either his stupidity or his manipulation. This despite the fact the writers of these stories all acknowledge that Rodriguez, even if he is not the Yankees’ starting third baseman, may serve as a backup option for Chase Headley at third and, if injuries or other things happen, may be asked to play some first base.
Alex Rodriguez is a professional baseball player. He is under contract. There is a chance that he may play some defense in the coming year, even if that’s not he’ll be asked to do on a regular basis. What’s more, he’s been out of baseball for a while and is getting old for a baseball player, which one would think necessitates being in the best shape he can possibly manage simply to hold his own. It would be a story if he was not working out. That the fact that he is working out is now a story tells you way more about the people writing about him than it tells about him.