Where did Freel and Hopper go?
By Hal McCoy | Sunday, September 21, 2008, 12:54 PM
There are a couple of players who not only are on the DL, they are AWOL.
Well, maybe AWOL is a bit harsh. AWOL means absent without leave and, well, maybe it isnít too harsh.
Nobody said Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper couldnít leave when it was determined that injuries ended their season. And they havenít been seen much in the clubhouse.
In contrast, Alex Gonzalez hasnít played all season, but he is in the clubhouse all the time and has been most of the season.
It says something to manager Dusty Baker and it says something to the other players.
ďAre you with us or not?Ē
Brandon Phillips broke his finger a couple of weeks ago. Yes, that was only a couple of weeks ago, in contrast to the injuries to Hopper and Freel that happened long ago.
But Phillips could have packed it in and packed it up. Gone home. Instead he is still wandering the clubhouse and dugout, sometimes in his uniform. Baker has to shoo him out of the dugout during games, ďBecause he has those two pins in his finger and what if a foul ball comes in there and he sticks out his hand to fend it off?Ē
The point about Freel and Hopper is this? When it comes down to making some choices next spring, what is going to be remembered about them? They didnít care enough to stick around and support their teammates.
Baker likes guys like Edwin Encarancion and Jay Bruce, guys who got hurt recently but are already begging to get back in the lineup.
After missing five straight games, Encarnacion took batting practice Sunday and said, ďI plan to play (today).Ē
Bruce was hit by a pitch Saturday and although he said he is all right, manager Dusty Baker didnít even ask him about playing Sunday, ďBut Iím sure heíll be OK (for today).Ē
Of Encarnacionís and Bruceís desires to play, even with nothing at stake, Baker said, ďI like that. Iím telling you, I like guys who want to play. I donít care if nothing is at stake, you have to want to play. I donít like those shut-it-down guys who shut it down.
ďGuys who want to play have pride and hunger,Ē Baker added. ďAnd you canít give that to anybody. It comes from inside. You have it or you donít.Ē
What do you think? Should Freel and Hopper at least be at home games? There was a time when Matt Williams had a broken hand with a cast on it, but he was in uniform before games making soft toss pitches to his teammates.
Guess you know where I stand.