Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Monday, March 06, 2006

Puts My Trust in God and Man

Last week, the Post's Dave Sheinin did a nifty job of making the Post's Tom Boswell look silly. It probably wasn't on purpose, as it's not difficult to hit a target that big accidentally. He did it again today. The subject: Church.
Some in the Nationals organization felt that -- full-speed collisions with large, immobile objects notwithstanding -- Church did not do enough to get on the field last season. In other words, he was not willing to play with pain. The insinuations came in the form of blind quotes and non-specific criticisms that never fingered him by name. But Church knew.
I'm sure some of it sounded like this.
Right now, besides maintaining his form at the plate, Church has only one thing left to prove. And it's a touchy point, especially for a young player. He has the courage to make a play like the wall bash in Pittsburgh. But yesterday, with his name on the lineup card, he didn't play because his chest was still bruised from the collision. "No chance. I can't lift my arm above my shoulder."

Nats vets will be watching. Baseball is a tough game, not in terms of NFL-like violence but in its demand for month after month of grinding performance in the face of countless nagging injuries. Injuries that the normal citizen would certainly never consider minor. All rookies must prove their stripes in terms of play-hurt doggedness, not just heroic one-play grit.
Sheinin, the sane one, responds:
The fact is, the crash into the wall in Pittsburgh left Church unable to get out of bed or even turn on the shower without assistance. If anything, he came back too soon, causing more problems later on. As for the pinkie toe -- suffice it to say that a broken pinkie toe earns someone no sympathy. But Church said he could not even put on a shoe, let alone play baseball.
We're still waiting for Boswell's apology. One fun fact I was reminded of in that old Boz column: the player held up as the paragon of "month after month of grinding performance in the face of countless nagging injuries" is Brad Wilkerson, the same guy Boswell trashed because he didn't hit enough while he was playing hurt. That thing that Boz does where his opinion on a guy does a 180 once he's not a National anymore? I think that's my favorite thing Boz does.

As far as Ryan Church goes, it's a damn shame that he has to compete for his job. Even if Guillen is healthy and Soriano does wind up in the outfield, there is simply no competition for the third spot. Bill Ladson calls Brandon Watson "the only true leadoff hitter in the organization" so often he probably gets a nickel every time he does it, but all that means is that he's fast. Church isn't a slowpoke himself, and he, unlike Watson, can hit. I like Marlon Byrd, but I like him even more as the short end of a CF platoon with Church. I'm actually kind of hopeful here. Last year, the Nats surprised and thrilled me by ditching the Watsonesque Endy Chavez in favor of Church, and I think reason will win out this time as well.

The injuries? It's quite possible that Church is just one of those guys who takes a long time to heal, or maybe he's plain reckless. So what do you about it? Do you question his manhood because he's not in center when he can't raise his arm, or do you make sure you have a backup plan in case you lose him for a while? We know the Nats don't have the latter, so let's hope they don't resort to the former.

One more thing about the article: I'm hard on Frank Robinson, and I was expecting him to be at his worst talking about playing through injuries. But he made a lot of sense in this piece. Just thought I should mention that.

Thomas Boswell: Great Writer.
Perlozzo may be a remarkable upgrade over Lee Mazzilli, who had to rely on his subordinates to lip-sync strategy for him so much that he became known as Milli Mazzilli.

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