Right Field

Chipper Unsure Whether He Can Go On; Jeter’s D Again Under Attack; Beware of “StrasBurger”

Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones is entering his age-40 season and, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, isn’t sure how much more his body will endure.

He’s endured difficult spring trainings before, but this spring has been even tougher than a year ago when he was coming back from major knee surgery.

“Yeah, and I thought I was in pretty good shape,” he said. “Because I knew it was going to be hard coming into spring. But I was nowhere close to being ready. For the first 10 days we were here, it was painful. As long as I can take care of my knees. My knees have given me the most problems through the years. I dare say if I hadn’t had five knee surgeries I’d be getting around a little better and I’d be feeling a better about things going on my 40th birthday.

“As I alluded to earlier, this game is going to wear you down, whether you have major injuries such as two torn ACLs, menisucus tears – I’ve got no meniscus in the right knee. That takes its toll. I’ve got to go when I can go and tell [manager] Freddie [Gonzalez] when I can’t.”

Another veteran en route to Cooperstown enshrinement, Derek Jeter, is not hurting physically this spring, but his defense is getting heat from Baseball Info Solutions president and Fielding Bible author John Dewan in the Boston Herald.

With both Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes members of the Marlins team that visited yesterday, talk turned to bad defensive shortstops. It turns out that by Dewan’s plus/minus metrics, each cost his team 13 runs last year at short. That tied for second worst in the league, two runs behind — you guessed it — Captain Intangibles himself.

“Jeter is the worst,” Dewan said. “His biggest problem is his arm. For an average baseball player, he has a pretty good arm. For an average person in the population, he has a great arm. For an average MLB shortstop, that’s his biggest problem.

“He can’t play deep enough. He can’t make that throw from the hole. He makes that jump-throw, which looks good and gets the job done once in a while, but it ain’t like other shortstops who plant and gun that ball to first.”

Dewan compared the Yankees captain to the shortstop he rated as the best in baseball last year — Seattle’s Brendan Ryan, who saved the Mariners 18 runs. By breaking down where both players fielded the ball, he reached a fascinating conclusion: The 33-run differential between them, which is the equivalent of three wins in a season, is due almost entirely to the sliver of space to their right.

Ranging to the middle, where throws are shorter, each converted roughly 65 percent of the balls hit there into outs, which is league average.

But going right, the ratios dropped precipitously, with Jeter lagging anywhere from 13 to 38 percent behind Ryan.

The third volume of the book is on sale now.

Stephen Strasburg is a monster on the mound. The now-healthy righty is set to anchor a markedly improved Nationals rotation that also includes Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez.

According to the Washington Post, the Red Porch restaurant at Nats Park is ready too, announcing that it will feature on its menu an eight-pound sandwich called the “Strasburger.”

Author Dan Steinberg is emphatic:

In case you missed the key phrase, this burger WEIGHS EIGHT POUNDS TOTAL, which is a lot of pounds. Even if some of them are onion pounds. Every TV station in this market will have hosts merrily attempting to grapple with the StrasBurger next month. At least, I hope so.

Eh, I hope not.

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


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