Friday, April 14, 2006

Runelvys Hernandez

Ah, Fatso. Yes, it was only a matter of time before Runelvys occupied this space. And why not? He already occupies more space than most people.

Seriously, one would expect that any baseball player to stay in reasonable shape. There are few miracles out there like Bartolo Colon and David Wells, who seemingly can pitch well no matter how many doughnuts or beers they down before the game. Most players, most regular people too for that matter, simply function better physically when they are in fighting trim, so to speak. It's not hyper-critical for most of us to be in tip-top shape (and I am admittedly among those who have battled the bulge), because we don't generally make our living playing sports. But, those whose bodies are literally their means of support generally try a little harder than the average slob.

In the case of Hernandez, there may be no other player in the big leagues with better reason to report to camp in shape, for a variety of reasons. First, he's already had to have Tommy John surgery once to repair his elbow, and you'd think he would do everything in his power to be in otherwise top condition to help take as much stress off that elbow as possible. Next, he's well aware of the fact that he's prone to gain weight. Hell, this guy gained weight during the season last year, a rare feat indeed given the grind of playing 162 games and the constant attention lathered on these guys by fitness and training staff while the season is ongoing. Being cautious with his diet in the off-season was surely mentioned to him a few times.

Finally, he's simply not that good. We're talking about a guy with a career ERA of exactly 5.00 entering this year. He plays for the worst team in the sport, and there really isn't all that much to separate him from a long list of guys who would love to replace him in the Royals' rotation. And since the Royals stink, they're in a position to experiment a little by slapping a Triple A assignment of their fat phenom and putting some other stiff in the rotation.

With that kind of history, not to mention millions of future dollars at stake, you'd think he'd put in a little extra effort to keep from reporting to Spring Training at 280 pounds. But that's exactly what he did, prompting the Royals to first attempt to put him on the DL with the stated reason being "stamina", and finally just outrighting him to Omaha when they were told blubber wasn't an acceptable disabler.

So, did Runelvys take this demotion to heart? Yes and no. By all accounts, he has lost a lot of weight, up to seventeen pounds since the beginning of Spring Training. That's good. Unfortunately, he still can't pitch, surrendering eight runs in three innings in his first start in the minors. That's bad, and now the Royals have announced that he still isn't ready to be called up even though they now need to expand their rotation to five men.

Damn Fools don't come much bigger, any way you want to take that.

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