Spring Training is the time for optimism and generally speaking, my preference is to be optimistic whenever possible. But this year the optimism seems especially over the top. Maybe I’m just too cynical right now. Or maybe new manager Luis Rojas is still working out the kinks in his briefings with the press.
Rojas in his updates seems almost Black Knight-like in his unchecked overconfidence. What’s that, you don’t know the supremely confident Black Knight? Well then, give this video a look:
When Seth Lugo fractured his pinky toe, Rojas claimed, “there was no concern at all.”
— “’Tis but a scratch.”
When J.D. Davis injured his shoulder diving for a ball, Rojas claimed, “Once we got there … he got more comfortable.”
— “I’ve had worse.”.
When Brandon Nimmo was removed from the lineup for a cardiac screening, Rojas said it was relatively routine and the move was “precautionary.”
— “Just a flesh wound.”
Surely, we hope that Rojas is right on all of these injuries. Still, one can’t help but harken back three-to-five years ago and the days of The Angel of Death, trainer Ray Ramirez, when every injury was downplayed and what we were told were minor setbacks ended up being extended DL trips.
But Rojas’ optimism goes beyond injuries.
Andres Gimenez looks a bit shaky in early Grapefruit League play, committing two errors. Rojas’ response to that is: “He’s played real good defense.”
Edwin Diaz continues to give up runs in his first outing. Our manager is unconcerned, saying of Diaz’ pitches, “They looked really good.” Later Rojas added, “I liked the stuff again.”
While nothing good comes from trashing guys for Spring Training results in February, at some point it would be refreshing to hear some reality creep into Rojas’ remarks. It’s not an easy thing to do, to remain positive about the player yet acknowledge that the performance leaves something to be desired.
And the task becomes even more difficult because with 50 reporters looking for anything even remotely controversial to blow out of proportion, the slightest negative thing becomes a story. So, we’re left with non-stop preemptive damage control.
This is the state of mainstream reporting. Perhaps the most interesting thing is to see when Brodie Van Wagenen steps in to “clarify” things. He did this several times last year, most notably when Jacob deGrom had the “barking elbow” in April. Mickey Callaway botched the press briefing and Callaway had to rush in and keep everyone from despair.
We’ve seen extensive quotes from Van Wagenen just once since camp opened and that was after the injury to Davis. Was it just a coincidence? Perhaps, but that doesn’t seem the most likely explanation to me.