Hall of Fame baseball reporter Peter Gammons talked to Mut & Merloni Friday morning about the Red Sox and the state of baseball. Gammons called Daisuke Matsuzaka’s injury “a very strange situation.”
“If I were really cynical I would say he just made up his mind, he’s going to get his elbow cleared out, and then he’ll come back in 2013 in Japan,” Gammons said. He also said there have been communication issues and discrepancies.
“The findings in California from the doctors there, the findings in Boston, they haven’t gotten together on this yet,” Gammons said. “He had put it out in Japan that he was going to have Tommy John surgery before he even got to Los Angeles. I find it very odd. Whatever it is, it’s going to be very difficult to reconcile all this.”
Gammons said he didn’t think Matsuzaka would ever pitch for the Red Sox again.
“The player’s made up his mind he’s going to have Tommy John surgery,” Gammons said. “And if that’s the case, it’s a minimum of 15 months, so what are we talking about, August? He’s not coming back August to September next year. He’s going to go to Japan, his contract’s up at the end of next year, he can go back to Japan.”
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On Matsuzaka’s legacy:
He did help get them the World Series and pitched well in Game 3 of the World Series in Colorado. There was a time when I think he certainly brought in revenue in terms of a fascination figure. I think at times he was a pretty good pitcher, his first two years. But in the end, in terms of a six-year deal, they got about one-third of it out of him. He never performed as well as the expectations surrounding him.
I don’t think he really made a great effort to adjust to this culture. I think that was one of the problems, the communication and the adjustment to the culture, which he didn’t really go in for. One of his agents said to me, he just, he doesn’t trust people. It’s very hard to build up a relationship with a franchise if a guy doesn’t trust them.
On Matsuzaka’s initial experience with the Red Sox:
They allowed him to do everything he wanted to do at first, and it wasn’t working. I can’t think of anybody better to come to this country and work with than John Farrell. It was exasperating, him going out and throwing hard for forty minutes at 3:30 in the afternoon before a start at 7 or 8. People do have to make adjustments, and there never seemed to be a great deal of adjustment in Daisuke. It is one of those mysteries. Is it Hideki Irabu? No. Is it Jose Contreras? No. At the same time, the expectations and the reality were a couple hundred miles apart.
On Rich Hill’s injury:
I think Rich Hill is a huge loss. I thought he had become a major part of that bullpen. With that changeup he got right-handers as well as left-handers, and left-handers couldn’t do any damage against him. … This is a human game, and to me it’s a heartbreaking story, because he worked so hard to finally get to the big leagues after years of being up and down with the Cubs. He gets here, he really finds a place, a role, finds his delivery, gets all three pitches over the plate, looks like he was going to become one of the best left-handed relievers in the league, and then he hurts his elbow. It’s heartbreaking. He’s also one of the nicest people you could ever meet in your life, so it’s really disappointing. I hope that it’s not Tommy John surgery, but it certainly doesn’t sound good.
On Hill’s possible replacement:
I’m guessing it would be Tommy Hottovy, a 29-year-old guy who was at first in the organization a pretty good prospect, had Tommy John surgery, converted to a side-armer this spring in spring training, and really has been phenomenal at both Portland and Pawtucket. I don’t think left-handed hitters had a hit off him all year. … [The Red Sox] like Andrew Miller. Andrew has the opt-out on June 15, I gather they’d like him to start a couple more times before they bring him up and make the decision on him. Miller can be really dominant, and he was great in his last start. The only problem is, is it going to take him a long time to get ready? Is he going to be able to get ready in a hurry?
On Dustin Pedroia’s non-called tag out of Chicago’s Juan Pierre on Wednesday:
I was furious about it, not because it was the Red Sox, but because the idea that they don’t try and get the call right, that the ego is more important. … A bunch of umpires were saying to me that they thought Jim Joyce should have been suspended by the umpires’ union for admitting he was wrong in the [then-Tigers pitcher Armando] Galarraga case for admitting he was wrong. The point is, we’re never wrong, and we should never, ever admit we’re wrong.
That case, it was so obvious that Juan Pierre was tagged, because he flinched when Pedroia tagged him. And yet, they couldn’t get that right? There’s something wrong, and I still don’t see any administration of umpires from Major League Baseball. … To me, umpires who don’t check with one another should be fined. But it won’t happen. As long as their union is more powerful than the commissioner’s office, they’re going to be able to do what they want to do, and it doesn’t matter about the integrity or the outcome of games.
On J.D. Drew vs. Josh Reddick:
J.D., in his defense, has had some hamstring problems going back to last year. … I think Reddick is a very energetic player, he brought them some energy, and I think they were looking for that. Especially on this homestand, where they came off that road trip where they had all the rain delays, the day-night double header in Detroit. That Chicago series, the Red Sox were sleepwalking. So they thought Reddick could maybe give them a little energy. …
J.D. might hit 10 home runs in the month of June. It’s once of those things you just don’t know, but there comes a point now, where you say, “Is it going to happen?” You’ve got Reddick; you’ve got [Ryan] Kalish, who is close to their most highly regarded young player. They’re both very energetic, are they going to go and put those guys in right field. We’re also talking about the seventh or eighth spot in the order. We’re not asking Reddick or Kalish to hit third, we’re asking them to hit seventh or eighth.
On the Buster Posey-Scott Cousins collision on May 25:
I think what needs to change is the culture. I think the whole idea of, “You’ve got to block the plate,” what, to save three or four runs a year, so Buster Posey doesn’t play the rest of the year? … [Oriole] Matt Wieters is by far the best tagger in the game; it’s unbelievable how he has learned to use that style. The other thing is the sliding. We saw Pedroia twice in that last homestand score runs with catchers blocking the plate because he’s a great slider. Went around the catcher, slapped home plate.
I find sliding to be something of a lost art. You don’t see many players who are great sliders, who work at it the way Pedroia did. I just wonder if you don’t change the culture a little bit, you do a better job of base running and sliding, you do a better job just emphasizing the idea of tagging rather than trying to have a two-vehicle crash. … Watching that play over and over, I really don’t think that Scott Cousins knew what to do, because Posey was up in front of the plate, so all of a sudden he crashes into him. Posey was in a bad position to get hurt.