The Toronto Blue Jays will have new, artificial turf at the Rogers Centre in time for next season. The hope is that the turf more than, say, a position change will help baby the hamstring of shortstop Jose Reyes and the lower body aches and pains of the rest of the teams infielders.
Reyes’ diminishing defensive skills have led to suggestions that a position change is in order, especially since the Blue Jays are on the hook for another $66 million guaranteed over the next three years as well as holding a $22 million option (with a $4 million buyout) for 2018. His sore shoulder and left hamstring only make it more of a talking point.
Yet the Blue Jays have not broached the subject with Reyes; instead, you can expect general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons to tell Reyes in exit interviews that they will give him more off days next season – including some turns as a designated hitter, which Reyes has fought this season.
Privately, the Blue Jays will tell you that Reyes’ aversion to skipping a game or two is similar to the situation the team faced with Scott Rolen when he was acquired; the difference is Rolen was not as stubborn as Reyes: he accepted a plan where he was given a regular day game after night game rest at home. (Skeptics will also point out that Rolen still eventually requested a trade away from the Blue Jays due to the turf.)
The Blue Jays realize they have brittle infielders in Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie. Edwin Encarnacion, too, has suffered a litany of lower body woes. Having a healthy Lawrie at third (or second) and a regular infielder on the other side of Reyes will help the shortstop’s defence by covering ground for him. But it won’t matter if he doesn’t stay healthy, Reyes better learn that he will no longer be able to fight the organization when it comes to time on the field.
ROGER AND OUT
Marc Edelman, an associate professor of law professor at the City University of New York, wondered aloud on Tuesday whether the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was the only commissioner of a major sports league without a legal background played a role in his ham-handed handling of Ray Rice’s domestic assault. It’s an argument that is gaining traction, since it has long been believed in some quarters that beyond having an ability to schmooze and being a bully, Goodell isn’t exactly – how to put this delicately? – the sharpest knife in the drawer, relied on family and political ties to begin his ascent up the NFL ladder. Goodell has effectively done nothing else or worked anywhere else since he started out handing out media credentials at Super Bowl. Nuance is not his strength nor is intellectual curiosity. Not to say that anybody could rise to the top of an industry without some skill-set, but let’s face it: Goodell’s predecessors did all the heavy lifting for him. All he had to do was not muck things up, and that seems now to have been beyond his capacities. So now he’s running and hiding – he didn’t show up for the opening of the San Francisco 49ers new stadium Sunday night – while the sports world awaits how he will deal with Adrian Peterson this week. Gary Bettman and Bud Selig are loved compared to this guy. They’re also smarter.
WHAT I LEARNED
The things you learn in a week of hosting a sports talk show:
— Especially with that two-seamer he has now, he looks like David Cone. He reminds me of Cone, the movement he gets on his pitches and that sweeping breaking ball when he gets on the side off it.”
Blue Jays senior advisor Pat Hentgen compares rookie Marcus Stroman, who will start for the Blue Jays Monday night in Baltimore, to David Cone.
— ”You look at last year in Vancouver … everyone had down years, it wasn’t just one guy and sometimes I feel I like I just get the blame for that.”
David Booth, one of the newest Toronto Maple Leafs, discusses the chance he’s getting at a fresh start.
— ”They (the umpires on the field) have been making the correct call at home plate – I mean safe or out – and haven’t even worried about the running lane or catcher blocking the plate or anything and I think they realize the rule is not being interpreted correctly; that common sense was not being used. But that was done in New York.”
Jim McKean, long-time former Major League umpire and umpire supervisor, believes a disconnect between umpires on the field and those working in baseball’s Replay Command Centre in New York contributed to the need to overhaul the game’s convoluted rules about blocking the plate.
QUIBBLES AND BITS
— Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz told reporters that while Alexander Ovechkin will still see some time at right wing as he did under Adam Oates, he will play on left wing the vast majority of the time, starting in training camp. Ovechkin scored 83 goals in 126 games at right wing under Oates. Trotz believes that Ovechkin moves better laterally on the left side …
— Shortstop Ian Desmond is the only active player on the Washington Nationals roster with any Expos DNA (he was drafted in the third round, 84th overall, and signed in the 2004 draft) after Saturday he also has three consecutive 20/20 seasons (home runs and stolen bases), joining Alex Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins as the only shortstops to string together that many …
— If the Baltimore Orioles Nelson Cruz finishes as the American League leader in home runs it would mark just the fourth time since 1920 that a team has had players win the HR title in consecutive season. Chris Davis won the AL crown last season and if Cruz pulls it off this season the Orioles would join the 1936-1937 New York Yankees (Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio), the 1987-88 Oakland Athletics (Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco) and the 1993-94 San Francisco Giants (Barry Bonds and Matt Williams.) Cruz’s suspension last season for a positive drug test and Davis’ suspension for a failed drug test link to unauthorized use of Adderall means the Gehrig/DiMaggio pairing is the only one unsullied by allegations of PED use.
— Can Tim Leiweke just go ahead and leave, now? Please?
The NFL is a league full of bad people. But the piece de resistance in a social media week dominated by Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson goes to former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who was a frequent – albeit justified – target of commissioner Roger Goodell:
That message probably speaks for a lot of Harrison’s current and former peers … although the fact that Harrison faced a charge of domestic assault himself in 2008 put this in the people-who-live-in-glass-houses category. Still, it’s the NFL: where morality goes to die.