Zack Cozart Has Never Had Skyline Chili and Other Outrages
Every spring is a scrambled egg of hopes, dreams and our worst fears all fighting for space in our baseball psyche. The good news about spring training is that it gives us soil to nurture whatever events take root. The bad news about spring training is that it gives us soil to nurture whatever events take root.
Spring training is like Vegas. With the exception of injury, what happens in spring training usually stays in spring training. Aroldis Chapman can look Randy Johnson-dominant as a starter in Cactus League games. Jason Marquis can wow you under the Tucson sun. That doesn’t mean that either will win games as a starting pitcher when the real games begin. Performance in the desert is mostly meaningless in the construct of the Big 162. Spring training is a warm-up act. Confuse it with the main event at your peril.
With Zack Cozart temporarily pushing Jose Peraza to second base, Dilson Herrera seems the odd man out, destined to begin 2017 plying his trade under the bright lights of Louisville Slugger Field, no matter how well he plays at Goodyear. Herera’s shoulder mystery is reminiscent of the Sean Marshall Flu—a shoulder ailment of unknown severity. We now have something to set Planet Reds wobbling off its axis again to go along with the latest Homer Bailey setback because a Reds fan without worry is like Linus without his blanket.
The Herrera injury has been lingering for far longer than a condition devoid of evidence of structural damage should. Yet, he’s playing baseball this spring. The “soreness” comes in close proximity to his manager’s disappointment at his stated intentions to play in the WBC. So, there’s that. Fan analysis is poised to point fingers at the Reds’ medical personnel. Watch this space.
Remember the building angst over too many players at too few infield positions? Good times, huh?
The Lesson: rebuilding teams can’t and shouldn’t concern themselves too much with logjams of talent at various positions. Prospects fail. Players get hurt. The mistake is in not having a Plan B; or sometimes even a Plan C. And the Reds have a Plan B. Plan B goes by the name of Eugenio Suarez. If Herrera at second base turns into a Red herring, it will only be a concern until the Third Baseman of the Rebuilt and Shiny Future—Nick Senzel—slugs his way into the lineup.
The Michael Lorenzen Starting Pitching Experiment seems to have been archived to the shelf labeled WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. We’ve seen this movie before. With two electric arms already marked down in price and sent to the discounted bullpen aisle, the Reds continue to await the appearance of the next top-of-the-rotation starter to emerge from a large crop of contenders. For a long time, that guy was Robert Stevenson. Then it looked like it might be Cody Reed. Today, Amir Garrett is ascendant. It would have been sweet to see either Iglesias or Lorenzen—or both—part of the conversation. But, maybe the most important thing to watch is how the latter two are used in their new roles. If Lorenzen and Iglesias log 90-95 innings each this year, the promise of Dick Williams as progressive GM will be on its way to being realized. If not …
I remain confident that Williams will do extraordinary things.
Now, on to important stuff. This spring, Cozart has talked about the need to become a leader in the clubhouse.
“I gotta take that role in stride. I’ve already done that with some guys. … I kind of relish the role.”
Maybe the first guy Zack can pull aside is that new guy, Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo has talked of celebrating his birthday at—of all places—Denny’s.
Seriously? Now he’s sick. In this case, correlation appears to equal causation.
There’s culinary dysfunction in the Reds’ clubhouse. We certainly don’t want to discover in July that Joey Votto is hammering the late-night menu at Applebees. It’s a short transposition from falling for the riblets to embracing the RBIs. It’s still extremely early in the season, so there’s time to address this before it takes over the team. But is a player who’s never had Cincinnati’s finest cuisine—a guy who has never known the pleasures of the Coney Crate or the warm comfort of the 3-Way—the right guy to lead his fellow foodies into battle?
I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.