With spring come optimism, the smell of grass and the final stages of the hot stove season. Players are jockeying for position on the roster and competing for playing time on the field, with the front office and team leadership trying to say all the right things. Even the media plays along, doing stories about how players are in the best shape of their lives.
The criticism comes later, once the team’s liabilities being to appear, like dandelions shooting up through the lawn as the water bill creeps toward the sky.
It’s a pretty amazing undertaking, putting together a professional baseball team and then arranging the pieces according to abilities and organizational need, all the while managing the egos. Can you recall being a team captain in a pick-up game, or having to create a work group at your job? Having to choose between friends and the best players; between those with talent but a terrible attitude and those with less talent but the willingness to run through the wall to win?
I think a player’s attitude has plenty to do with how some managers make decisions, especially our own Mr. Scioscia. I’m thinking specifically about Trumbo and the attempt to get him some playing time at third base. On the surface, the question is about defense because otherwise Napoli would have gotten a chance at the hot corner. But are Trumbo’s abilities so much greater than Napoli’s that one would be given a chance to make the move but not the other?
I think not, although Trumbo may be getting a bad rap fielding-wise (guess it doesn’t help taking a ground ball off the nose like he did earlier this spring). Level of effort and work ethic are certainly not lacking, and I like it that Trumbo watches the entire play, following behind to cover for other infielders. Hustle and effort; he keeps his head in the game and does what he can.
Imagine if Aybar had those qualities to go with his defensive gifts, or if Napoli had worked as hard for Scioscia as Trumbo does. It’s hard not to root for Trumbo, and he might just get the job done.
I’m going to stay positive this year . . . until at least opening day.