Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Now for the Optimism
While I think about something optimistic to say, let's just take a look at some of the other happenings in Cubs nation. Aramis Ramirez, should the Cubs play, will be getting the day off so as to avoid injuring himself on the wet field (source: Cub Reporter message boards. Their source? radio, I think). Should this come to pass, we are looking at an infield of Macias, Garciaparra, Perez, and Lee around the horn. Yikes, that's...yikes. And what with April Lee showing up and Garciaparra in a slump, that is one piss-poor infield.
Will Hairston ever make another appearance in the Cubs' starting lineup? I would put that at doubtful, given the comments he has made. I imagine that Baker will be more than pissed, and not want to start Hairston just to prove a point. I don't really think that Hairston said anything particularily inflamitory, but it is basically a direct criticism of Baker. The Quotes from the Sun Times:
"I'd be lying ... well, I'm a little disappointed,'' Hairston admitted. "But I'm happy for Neifi. He's a good guy and works hard and I'm happy for him.''
In truth, Hairston was anything but happy.
Acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in the Sammy Sosa deal, Hairston, 28, is concerned he has been labeled a utility player, a perception he believes will hurt his chances to be an every-day second baseman.
Baker said he opted for Perez because of his experience against San Diego Padres starter Adam Eaton while Perez was with the Colorado Rockies.
"It'll be on matchups,'' Baker said. "It's Neifi today because he's more familiar with Eaton from being in the same division.''
The logic didn't make Hairston feel better.
"I never care who's pitching,'' he said. "To a ballplayer, there are no matchups. You just come to play every day.''
Hairston didn't speak to Baker about the situation.
"I've never been that type of guy,'' he said. "I've always been [accepting of] whatever the manager wants to do, you do it. I don't make the lineup.
"I'm getting to know Dusty, and I understand why guys love him. Whatever he decides, I'll do. There's a reason guys love playing for Dusty, and I see it. He's definitely a players' manager, and you want that. I feel I'm an established player, and when I get that opportunity [to play regularly], I'll relish that.''
The son of former White Sox outfielder Jerry Hairston also had no cross words for Perez.
"Neifi is a great player,'' Hairston said. "I played against him, and I know he's good and works hard. He's my teammate and I'm for him. I'll just come ready to play every day. I don't think I have to prove myself. What I've done when I'm healthy speaks for itself.''
The problem in Hairston's mind is the utility tag he got last season when he returned from a spring-training injury in May and was asked to play the outfield.
"I regret doing it now,'' he said. "Guys like Raffy [Palmeiro] and Miguel Tejada were in my corner, telling me, 'You don't want that tag.' I've learned it. The label says 'utility,' and I don't like it. I don't want that tag, but it's on me.''
Hairston played full seasons for the Orioles in 2001 and 2002 but was limited to 58 games in 2003 after breaking a bone in his right foot in late May. Last season, he played in 86 games after breaking a bone in his right knuckle in spring training, then breaking his left ankle in August when he crashed into the center-field wall attempting a catch.
"I remember last year there were teams interested in me [as a second baseman], and I begged the Orioles to unload me,'' he said. "Now that [utility] tag is on my back, and I have to shake it. It's not the worst thing in life, but it doesn't help.
"I'll do whatever it takes to help us win. I'm expecting us to do great things, and I want to be part of that. But I'm a second baseman. My athleticism has gotten me into trouble. This will be the last year I do it [utility play].''
While I was copying and pasting this, I thought of a reason to be optimistic. Prior will be starting today...assuming that the rain lets him. But still, he might start, and that would be great. If not today, he will be starting tomorrow.
I can understand Hairston's frustration.
No hard feelings.)