Ron Costello

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Injuries Still Plaque the Boys of Hope and Promise

A magical season, 2008. They're all gone now — the 2008 boys of hope and promise — only a handful left.

At 38, Chase is a reserve infielder with the Dodgers in the twilight of his career. It's a testament to his gamesmanship that he's still playing. With that short, beautiful left-handed cut, he's eternally dangerous. My guess is just having him in the dugout inspires the team.

Mauch would have given his first born to have Utley hitting third in that late September stretch run.

J-Roll was released by the Giants in spring training. Seems like after a 17-year MLB career — including over 10,000 plate appearances — at 38, it's over for Rollins. But as they say, never count a good man out.

Ryan, 37, is the first baseman for the Cobb County Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta's Triple-A club. Once, a run producing power slugger — Charlie called him the Big Piece — he's been reduced to, "Oh, Bob, didn't that guy once play for the Phillies?"

"Yea, Anne, he sure did, but he's washed up now."

Washed up. In case you're interested, the saying comes from factory workers who, when done for the day, washed their hands. Factory workers knew when to quit, some ML baseball players don't. Why Atlanta, bound again for the NL East basement, would invest time and money in Howard is head-scratchable.

Carlos is the backup catcher for the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners picked up his 2017 club option, which beyond a doubt will be his last. He too is a member of the 38 Club, and for catchers, that's 38 going on 50. He'll be forever aligned with the dumb blond joke, "Bill, why do those terrible Philly fans keep booing that poor man? He's so nice."

Burrell, Lidge, Victorino, Moyer, Coste, and Stairs, all gone. Matt Stairs went from the booth to hitting coach, following former Phillies' hitting coaches Richie Hebner, Gregg Gross, and Milt Thompson. There are safer jobs than batting instructor for the Phillies, like fighting wilderness fires.

Joe Blanton is still working on his location and mechanics with the Washington Nationals. Kyle Kendrick was billed as "a middle of the rotation starter." That was the line on him when he broke in with the Phillies in 2007. Too bad the Phillies never read the line and constantly rotated him between the bullpen and the rotation. Last night he made his first start with the Red Sox at Fenway, gave up eight hits and six runs, over four innings. Hmmm, some things never change in this game we love.

J.A. Happ, 34, works out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays, and Ryan Madson, 36, is part of the closer by committee pen for the Oakland A's. After surviving Tommy John surgery, Madson rebounded

Then there's J-Dub. The power hitting five-hole hitter, Jason Werth, who took the money and followed George B. McClellan down the Potomac to the worst team in baseball. Now, they could be the best team in baseball. And Werth? He's in his last year of that seven-year, lucrative contract and, at 37, this could be his last hurrah, too. The other night he pulled a groin muscle and is listed as day to day.

Finally, Colbert Michael Hamels. The handsome kid who looked like the same kid who served your paper. Back when kids served papers and back when there were papers. At 33, Cole is in his 13th major league season, ten with the Phillies, and MVP of the 2008 World Series. If Reggie Jackson was Mr. October, in 2008 Cole owned it.

Off to a decent start for the Rangers, he recently injured his oblique and was DL'd. He could miss the next two months.

The boys of hope and promise, indeed; older now and injury prone, trying to hang on and stay in the Show. It's both sad and admirable. In baseball, as in life, they come and they go, and sadly, they leave us behind.

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