Slugging third baseman Nolan Arenado wants to win. Odds are against the Colorado Rockies winning any time soon.
So, yes, his discontent will hang over that poorly-run franchise until the team trades him.
“I’ve been to All-Star Games. I’ve done some special things, you know? I’ve won Gold Gloves,” Arenado told Yahoo! Sports last week. “Those all mean a lot to me. At the end of the day the goal is to win. They signed me to win. And I want to be on a winner. If that’s in Colorado or somewhere else, I want to win.
“It gets to a point in your career, you’re like, ‘OK, what else is there to do? I just want to win. I want to play in October.’ Like Derek Jeter, he made it into the Hall of Fame, he played in a season’s worth of playoff games. Obviously that’s a unique situation and I’m not saying I’m ever going to get that, because what he did was special. But I want that. I’ve only been to the playoffs a few times. Honestly, I haven’t played well in it. And I want that again. I want to have that opportunity to, like, show what I can do. You know?”
Yes, we know. Arenado has seven years left on his eight-year, $260 million contract. He has an opt-out clause after the 2021 season that he will almost certainly use if the Rockies don’t trade him.
“To be honest with you, there is a disconnect right now, right?” he said. “There’s a little bit of a disconnect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. It doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna go out there and play hard for my teammates. Or be a negative presence in that locker room. That’s just not me. It’s not how I’m going to do things. I’m not going to be there trying to show them I don’t want to be there. I’m not going to be that way. That’s not fair. That’s drawing attention to me.
“I know there’s already been attention toward me right now. That’s not really my style. I’m not trying to put my teammates in a bad position. You know? That’s not really my thing. They know I’m going to go out there and play hard. There is a little bit of a disconnect for sure. But, like I said, that doesn’t mean I can’t go out there and play hard. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to have a bad attitude. It means there’s a disconnect. And I’ve got to move on from it. I don’t need to surround myself with the negativity, because that’s going to factor in my performance.”
Naturally, Cardinals fans are keeping a close watch on this. Don’t expect Arenado to soften his stance any time soon.
“I know there’s some things that I said,” he said. “I won’t take them back. I won’t apologize for what I’ve said. At all. The only thing I do regret is my teammates answering questions for me, maybe. That’s something that I wish I wouldn’t have put them in that position and I apologize for that. But, as for what I’ve said and how I’ve gone about my offseason, I have no regrets and I’m not going to apologize for anything.”
Arenado reported to the Rockies camp Sunday and tried to turn that frown upside down. Team management hasn’t given up on the season yet, so Arenado won’t either.
“We’re here,” Arenado said. “They believe it. They’ve said some things in the paper that they believe we can win, so I have to be optimistic. I can’t just sit here and just mope about this. I’m optimistic. It’s spring training. You never know what can happen.”
Here is what folks have been writing about Our National Pastime:
Bob Nightengale, USA Today: “It’s not going away. Not now. Not by the end of spring training. Perhaps not the entire season. It was Day 3 of spring training Friday, and a day after the Houston Astros apologies Houston Astros, there were two players in the New York Mets’ camp, Jake Marisnick and J.D. Davis, having press conferences to express remorse for their actions. In Phoenix, Arizona, MVP Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers was blasting away at the Astros, saying they were cheated out of a World Series title. In West Palm, Beach, Florida, Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo lashed at the Astros, saying he wants them to actually say they cheated. In Tampa, Florida, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman says the Astros’ sign-stealing definitely impacted the game.”
Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports: “Baseball is burning. Opposing players are pummeling the Houston Astros as the fallout from their cheating scandal refuses to dissipate, and fans are frothing for vengeance after the players involved were spared from discipline by the league. Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to wrap his arms around it all only for the anarchy to keep expanding. Every day is something new. Saturday, it was bad tattoos. Sunday, the commissioner will talk and try to explain how this all unfolded on his watch. Monday, if it came out that the Astros used furtive earpieces or Bluetooth buzzers or a robust artificial-intelligence operation to gain an advantage, it would surprise absolutely nobody. There is no order. Just pure, distilled chaos. It's not going away any time soon. This is a reality every person involved should learn to understand sooner than later. Not because this is some media creation that thirsts for the mother's milk of controversy and giddily gawks at the overnight transformation of Major League Baseball from the league of Charlie Chaplins into a full-flavored copy of the NBA, where no sacred cows exist. No, this is now about something much more primal: survival.”
Evan Drellich, The Athletic: “Throughout the history of this sport as well as others, the culture among players and inside locker rooms is generally secretive and protective, a brotherhood. Such a culture, while widely accepted, can nonetheless help facilitate and cover up wrongdoing. Functionally, locker-room culture makes it difficult for anyone on the outside — league officials, media, fans — to learn exactly what goes on with a team. Particularly in real time. The highest-ranking body involved here is the commissioner’s office. MLB was certainly well aware of the secretive nature of clubhouses following the scandals of the performance-enhancing drug era. As technology spread throughout the sport, could MLB have forgotten some of the lessons from PEDs — specifically, how necessary it is to be diligent and proactive in policing the different ways players and teams seek an edge? Did the league invest the necessary resources and dedicate enough personnel to heading off major problems with its on-field product, such as this one?”
Buster Olney, ESPN.com: “There is really no way for the Houston Astros to prepare for what looms this year when they leave their Minute Maid Park cocoon, and perhaps even in moments when they are in that safe zone of home. Set aside the question of on-field retaliation for the Astros' sign stealing that has been raised by Mike Clevinger, Ross Stripling and others, prompting Dusty Baker to push back Saturday on the hints at violence. What the Astros seem destined to experience is a most extreme form of negative reinforcement. Thousands upon thousands of fans heaping anger, frustration, bitterness and whatever other emotions they care to temporarily eject from their lives at a small group of men in orange uniforms, tearing at whatever mental scar tissue each of the Astros players can construct day to day. Over the past week, some players on other teams have watched the backlash to the Astros' repeated public relations debacles and observed the avalanche of fan response on Twitter -- undoubtedly fueled by the unprecedented verbal attacks of the Astros' professional peers -- and have wondered about the impact on the players who must try to work within that fan reaction.”
“I wasn't really going out there and preparing for the game. I was getting ready during the game, which is not good. A lot of players were doing the same as me, getting loose during the game. You can lose the game in the first inning. Sometimes when you're not ready and the other team scored on something simple, I feel like it was because of that. We weren't ready.”
Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, on players goldbricking on Joe Maddon’s watch.
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