THOMA COLUMN | New season brings new issues (and old)

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Edward Thoma, The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Apr. 5—We've barely started a new season, so almost any reaction is going to be an overreaction.

But with that admonition in mind, let's react.

Josh Donaldson

One at-bat, one double, one trip to the injured list.

The Twins are taking an optimistic view. It's a hamstring, not his chronically troubled calf.

But he's 35, and athletic endeavors — including hitting and playing infield — involves a string of limbs and core working in harmony. When one piece breaks down, others may follow.

That's particularly true with the hamstring. I have personal experience of the connection between back injuries and hamstring injuries. And third basemen tend to be prone to back issues.

The Twins clearly were not basing their 2021 ambitions on Donaldson getting 600-plus at-bats. The truth is, he's not particularly likely to get 500.

All-Star politics

Commissioner Rob Manfred this week pulled the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia in response to that state's new election law.

This runs in sports, not opinions, so I'm not going to delve into the details of the legislation. But this is a rare case in which I approve of Manfred's action.

And as for the Georgia governor's description of MLB as "woke" and "liberal": There are few if any significant cultural institutions in this country more conservative, even reactionary, than professional baseball. Jackie Robinson aside — and 1947 was a long time ago — MLB's racial record is unimpressive at best.

If you're too racist for MLB, you need to rethink yourself.

Tony LaRussa

Many (including me) questioned the White Sox decision to revive Tony LaRussa's long-dormant managerial career. He's 76 and he was last in the dugout in 2011. The game has changed sharply since he retired.

And so have the players, even if the player is the same.

I'm thinking here of LaRussa's decision Friday to intentionally walk Albert Pujols, thus putting the go-ahead run on base.

LaRussa has a long history with Pujols; he managed Pujols during The Machine's glory days, which were glorious indeed. But Pujols is a shell of what he once was.

LaRussa may have issued the walk to get past the three-batter minimum on that pitcher so that he could make the change. Or he may have walked Pujols because LaRussa is stuck in 2011.

I'm not a fan of the intentional walk in general, and I suspect most managers would have — correctly — seen Pujols at the plate as a good opportunity to get out of the inning, not as a hitter to hide from.

Jose Berrios

Dan Gladden was very unhappy Saturday night when Rocco Baldelli pulled Berrios with a no-hitter going. The radio analyst spluttered for a while about how Berrios isn't going to reach "the next level" if "he never gets to pitch past the sixth inning."

Gladden played in an era in which aces pitched 250 innings. This ain't that era. Baldelli (and his advisors) probably aren't looking to push Berrios to 220 innings — and they certainly aren't going to extend him in the first week of April.

Edward Thoma is at ethoma@mankatofreepress.com. Twitter: @ethoma.