Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Church On Sunday (And Every Other Day, Too)
I've said it before, and I will say it again. If he is ever given a REAL chance, Ryan Church could be a very fine baseball player for Our Washington Nationals. Yet, he's never become what so many fans and baseball officials alike, first believed.
Whether its a Bad Attitute, Injury Proneness, Can't Hit The Breaking Pitch, Church has always been judged on what He Can't Do, rather than what he's capable. And, its always bothered me. Former Manager, Frank Robinson consistently put Ryan in his doghouse. Its well documented (the amount of stories on Church are abundant) that "someone" in the Nationals' Organization has consistently trashed Church to the media. We've all read those stories for two seasons now.
The lastest doubt, was Ryan refusing to head to Mexico to play Winter Ball in the Mexican League, to learn how to hit the breaking pitch. And, Washington's continued acknowledgement that up and coming prospect, Kory Casto, will be given every opportunity to win the left field starters job.
Now, maybe, just maybe, the stars may well be aligning. New Nats Manager, Manny Acta told me last week that he has Ryan Church as his starting left fielder, come the open of Spring Training. General Manager, Jim Bowden, went out of his way, last week, in my chat with him, to praise Church's batting skill, bat speed and his hand/eye coordination. Not denying, that Ryan Church has the capabilities to be a solid, power producing, player, in the middle of the batting order. Nats Radio Broadcaster,Charlies Slowes, at the Caravan last week, mentioned that Ryan Church should be put out in left for three months to see what he can do.
Then, today, Barry Svrluga over at The Washington Post, has an UPBEAT article on Ryan's preparation for the upcoming 2007 campaign. Church realizing, finally to some, that he's to blame for being sent to New Orleans to start the 2006 season, and it just floored him: "I was devastated, and it affected my whole year," Church told Svrluga. "I was just like the other guys down there that don't belong there, and I sure . . . didn't belong down there. But it was my fault."
When someone has their back against the wall, you find out about their character. You find out whether they wilt, or recover. I believe Church is a fighter, and is ready for that breakout year. Yeah, they messed with his head. Yeah, he's been injured, and Yeah--he needs to hit that breaking ball. But, the fact, that he admits everything that's happened, is of his own doing--is a very good sign.
Now, if only the Baseball Gods will also allow Alex Escobar to play injury free as our everyday center fielder. I can live with an everyday outfield alignment of Church, Escobar, and Austin Kearns in right field. These three provide power, defense and some speed. The Washington Nationals are not suppose to compete this season. Yet, GM Bowden says The Nats will put the very best players on the field each and every day.
I have no doubt Church, along with Escobar and Kearns are THE VERY BEST CHOICES--Right here,Right now.
Put them out on the field, let them play--Lets see what happens. Its time for baseball. Its time for some FUN!! "Come on CHURCHEEEE"