No steroid stuff this time - thank goodness.
But it's back to the negativity that you hear about on an annual basis: Players showing up late for spring training, or worse, refusing to report and holding out.
You expect that from the superstars, guys taking their time to report to spring training or guys waiting for a mega contract.
However, the Odalis Perez situation with the Washington Nationals is an absolute joke.
Perez didn't show up at the Nationals' spring training facility because he reportedly wanted the team to show him more appreciation and to up the value of his contract (from his $850,000 minor-league deal).
Yes, Perez was the Nationals' Opening Day starter in 2008, but he wasn't their best pitcher. Nor was he their second-best.
Perez was 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA in 159 2/3 innings last season. Not great numbers when you consider offense was down and he pitched in a league without the DH.
In fact, the lefty hasn't really had a stellar career to begin with; he has had only two outstanding seasons in his 10-year stint in the majors. In his best season, Perez was 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA in 2002, pitching a career-high 222 1/3 innings for the Dodgers. After an off-year the following season, Perez had a 3.25 ERA in 196 1/3 innings in 2004 but had only a 7-6 record due to a lack of run support by his Dodger mates. (Pitching half his games at pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium certainly didn't hurt.)
And that was it.
His ERA in his other seasons were well over 4.00, and he hasn't been the same since his 2002 and 2004 campaigns.
Yes, there are quite a few other mediocre major league starters with similar stats making multi-millions--and Perez is a lefty on top of that, something that's always a valuable commodity in the majors--so he likely thought he deserved to be paid more, and given at least a guaranteed deal.
However, in the economic situation that we're in now, will he realistically get a bigger deal from another club? Not to mention, GMs will no doubt look at his behavior and wonder if this is the kind of player that their team needs? Someone who doesn't honor his contract, and according to reports, didn't bother to answer numerous phone calls from Nationals management in the last few days. Someone who thinks he's Manny Ramirez when he's not even that good--as his overall 73-82 record and 4.46 career ERA indicates.
Besides, Perez had already agreed to his deal, and for him to hold out just showed the kind of character he is.
The Nationals did the right thing in releasing the left-hander on Monday instead of giving in to his demands. After all, Washington is better off washing its hands off someone who's not committed to the team and moving forward.
Perez didn't do himself any favors by holding out. It definitely hurts his reputation, and if he's indeed sitting home in the Dominican Republic as was reported, he's not going to be in shape for the season, if another team indeed picks him up. And no way will he get a guaranteed deal that's worth more than what he had with the Nats--unless some team out there is desperate or has an injury in its rotation.
Perhaps some other GM will indeed sign Perez... Then he'll become that team's headache.
Though I have to wonder, which is worse: Hearing about a player taking steroids, or hearing about a selfish/greedy player? Both types of players just continue to tarnish the sport and turn fans off, unfortunately...