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Spring Training – Not About Results. or at least it shouldn’t be.

March 4, 2011

“Barry Zito admitted he was more results oriented tonight because of recent talk of his job safety. Pleased he threw more strikes.”

~Andrew Baggarly via Twitter

In the midst of laughing at the Dodgers defense, or lack thereof, this tweet from Baggs sent us into another flurry of irritated, caps-locked IMs.

A couple more quotes from Barry Zito have come out since then.

“Definitely, I have something to prove. There’s been talk around camp. I don’t know how much is based in truth, but this is the major leagues. You’ve got to prove yourself every year. The past is the past. I’ve proven I’ve got good stuff in me, but it’s a matter of taking it onto the field.”

“I don’t want to go out thinking about that stuff, but if you hear something like that, it’s going to cause you to assess what’s going on.”

~Also via Baggs

This irks us far more than absurd claims made by a “source close to the team” that Bruce Jenkins “reported”. Bochy and Sabean have already discounted the supposed rumors and countless blogs have discussed why cutting Zito is a Very Bad Idea.

We’re not worried about the Giants FO eating several millions of dollars to replace a league-average innings-eater with a replacement level starter, but we are a little worried about Zito himself.

He’s an adult. We get that. He’s had to deal with critical articles, boos, and worse ever since he donned a Giants uniform. This is nothing new. Despite our penchant for placing players on the proverbial Cookie List at the drop of a hat, we don’t think he needs to be babied.

What we do think, is  that Zito needs to spend Spring Training doing what’s supposed to be done in Spring Training. He is a 32 year old veteran who has been in the Major Leagues for 10 years. He’s not a rookie fighting for a spot. He’s not even the pre-2011 Tim Lincecum who would get “offspeed happy” and couldn’t turn off his competitiveness. He has no reason to worry about his ERA or how many hits he allows. Winning is nice (especially against the Dodgers), but its not  necessary. Not now. Not in Arizona.

Yet, apparently, he is. And that’s the real curse of the Bruce Jenkins article. Zito is a professional athlete with a ridiculous contract who has failed to preform anywheres near expectations. Criticism, of course, is not a novelty. But he’s also human and an “inner source” declaring you are “definitely not safe” and someone questioning your work ethic will ride anyone, no matter how professional.

While he should be focusing on painting the outside corner consistently or sharpening his change-up there’s a nice, new, shiny newspaper clipping for Barry Zito to carry around in the back of his mind. Oh, sure, there might have been doubt there already, but pouring salt on a wound never helped anyone.

So, thanks for this, Jenkins. We’re absolutely thrilled you took it upon yourself to mess with one of our players and garner attention for yourself. Congratulations, you got the attention. Now, would you mind if we bought out your contract and sent you packing?

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