Clark and Co. carry on MLBPA history
Executive director and staff make sure young players know union's past
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In his first spring tour as the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Tony Clark makes sure the young players have a feel for the organization's past.
"Our staff is our union history," said Clark, a former first-round Draft pick of the Detroit Tigers. "I am fortunate to have the guys around me that I do. It is not an accident."
Staff members in attendance at his meetings with teams have included former big league players Dave Winfield, Bob Tewksbury, Phil Bradley, Bobby Bonilla, Jeffrey Hammonds, Jose Cruz, Jr., Mike Myers and Steve Rogers.
Winfield is in the Hall of Fame. And like Clark, Winfield, Rogers, Hammonds and Cruz were first-round picks. At the other extreme, Tewksbury was selected in the 19th round, and Bonilla originally signed as an undrafted free agent.
Clark signed out of high school, but he played college basketball while in the Minor Leagues. Winfield played basketball and baseball at the University of Minnesota. Bradley was a starting quarterback at Missouri as well as the starting center fielder.
Rogers, in particular, can provide a historical perspective. Drafted fourth overall in 1971, the right-hander made his Major League debut with Montreal in 1973, and he was active as a player representative during his 13-year career.
Stability at short
The Red Sox might finally have some stability at shortstop with emergence of Xavier Bogaerts, the 21-year-old native of Curacao, who is the organization's top-ranked prospect.
Listed at the top of Boston's depth chart at shortstop, Bogaerts could become the 10th player to start at short on Opening Day since 2003. The previous nine were Jose Iglesias in 2013, Mike Aviles in '12, Marco Scutaro in '10 and '11, Jed Lowrie in '09, Julio Lugo in '07 and '08, Alex Gonzalez in '06, Edgar Renteria in '05, Pokey Reese in '04 and Nomar Garciaparra in '03.
Stephen Drew was the Red Sox's primary shortstop last season. However, he filed for free agency, declined the club's $14.1 million qualifying offer and remains unsigned.
Drew made his 2013 debut in the eighth game of the season, and started 122 games at shortstop for Boston. He also appeared twice in a late-inning role. Drew ranked ninth among American League shortstops in games started. J.J. Hardy of Baltimore led the AL with 159 starts at shortstop. Hardy and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia tied for the AL lead in games started.
Since Garciaparra was traded in July 2004, 30 shortstops have started games for Boston. Lugo made the most starts with 245, followed by Scutaro with 234, Gonzalez with 153 and Renteria with 150. The only other players to make at least 100 starts since the deal were Lowrie (130), Aviles (122) and Alex Cora (112).
Garciaparra, who played for the Red Sox from 1996-2004, started 950 games at shortstop, the third-highest total in team history. Everett Scott, who played for the Sox from 1914-21, started 1,081 games, and Rick Burleson made 986 starts from '74-80. Right behind Garciaparra was Hall of Famer Joe Cronin, who made 854 starts at short for Boston from 1935-45.
Jamey Wright believes he set a record the previous eight springs, having signed a Minor League deal with an invite to camp each time -- and also making the Opening Day roster. In 2012, in fact, he was the only Dodgers relief pitcher to be on the active roster for all 162 games of the regular season.
This year, Wright is on a Major League deal with the Dodgers, and he might face his biggest challenge yet. A first-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 1993, Wright is one of 11 relievers in a battle for spots in the Dodgers' bullpen. Four of the 11 candidates have options -- Chris Withrow, Paco Rodriguez, Jose Dominguez and Seth Rosin.
Rosin, however, has a complication. He was a Rule 5 Draft pick by the Mets from Philadelphia in December, and then the Mets dealt him to the Dodgers -- so he'd have to be offered back to the Phillies before he could be sent to the Minor Leagues.
Wright is one of 21 players to have appeared in the big leagues with 10 franchises -- three teams shy of the Major League record held by Octavio Dotel. Mike Morgan, Matt Stairs and Ron Villone each played for 12 teams. There were 13 players who appeared with 11.
The most challenging season for Wright was 2003. He pitched in the Minor Leagues that season for the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers, opting out of his contract each time when he wasn't called to the big leagues, and he finished the season pitching in the big leagues for Kansas City.
Four players appeared in all 162 games last season -- Billy Butler of Kansas City, Prince Fielder of Detroit, Joey Votto of Cincinnati and Hunter Pence of San Francisco. It was the fourth time Fielder had played 162 (Milwaukee in '09 and '11, Detroit in '12).
There are two others who have played in 162 games in a season four times in the past decade: Juan Pierre (Marlins in 2004-05, Cubs in '06, Dodgers in '07) and Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners in '05, '08, '10 and with Mariners and Yankees in '12).
Justin Morneau appeared in 163 games for the Twins in 2008, including a tiebreaker game, and Hideki Matsui played in 163 with the Yankees in 2003 -- the most for a player since 1996, when both Cal Ripken Jr. with Baltimore and Todd Zeile with Philadelphia and Baltimore played in 163 games.
Maury Wills played in a regular-season record 165 games for the Dodgers in 1962, when they lost a best-of-three tiebreaker series. There have been five players to appear in 164 games in a season, including Billy Williams and Ron Santo with the '65 Cubs, Jose Pagan with the '62 Giants and Frank Taveras in 1979, which he split between the Pirates and Mets.