The Braves are content to let Fredi Gonzalez be a lame duck

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Ken Rosenthal reports that Fredi Gonzalez is entering the final season of his contract with the Braves. He had signed an extension last year, but it was unknown how long it was for. Now we know: one year.

Lame duck managers used to the norm. Many teams went year-to-year with managers, including successful ones like the Dodgers, who famously had Walter Alston on a couple decades worth of one-year deals. These days, however, it is considered unusual for a manager to work with no promise of the following year. At least it is for managers who aren’t on the hot seat.

Not that Gonzalez is on the hot seat. He is a favorite of Bobby Cox and John Schuerholz and, to date, has never been held responsible to the team underperforming. But Rosenthal says that the club is going to wait and see how Gonzalez fits in with the John Hart-led Braves, who are rebuilding.

I moan and complain about Gonzalez a lot because he’s aggravating to fans who watch the team day-in, day-out. At the same time I will be the first to admit that talent — healthy talent — and not the manager, is the most important factor to a winning ballclub. My guess is that Gonzalez, who has always been a good company man, won’t stand in the way of whatever experiments Hart undertakes with the Braves over the next couple of years and that, as a result, will get an extension at some point.

Didi Gregorius will wear a mask during games

Gregorius will wear a mask
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Didi Gregorius will wear a mask during games this year. That’s what the Phillies infielder tells the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“We are trying to go through the guidelines and trying to do everything we can do to stay safe, so, that’s why people see me walking around with a mask on and stuff. I am keeping myself safe, wearing a mask everywhere I go. So, I have to keep it on me all the time.”

Gregorius will wear a mask both while batting and out in the field, he said.

A big reason for it is that he has a chronic kidney condition which makes him “high risk” under Major League Baseball’s safety protocols. He could opt out if he wanted to but Gregorius, who signed a $14 million deal with the Phillies last winter, is a free agent again this coming offseason. He is coming off of a down year in 2019, having hit .238/.276/.441 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI across 344 plate appearances. Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and didn’t make his 2019 season debut until June 7. A big reason he took a one-year deal was to reestablish his value for next season’s go-around on the free agent market and he doesn’t want the long layoff going into what could be his last significant payday.

Major League Baseball is not requiring players or umpires to wear masks on the field during games or practices, though it is reportedly looking into clear face shields for home plate umpires to wear under their usual protective masks.

Gregorius will wear a mask to keep himself safe, he said, but he also notes in the article that “I think it adds safety for everybody, for me and people around me.” Here’s hoping, given his vulnerability, everyone around him is being as safe as he is.