The funny thing about Roy Oswalt's back, Jules, is that it might be hurt after all (this pun will just not leave me alone).
According to our man J-Mac, Roy Oswalt has been scratched from tomorrow's start with a sore back. He could go on the DL. Uh oh. What happens when a guy spends a week at home moving trees with a bulldozer then comes back to the team with a stiff back? Exactly what you are about to see happen over the next few days, that's what.
Yesterday, Oswalt talked about family coming first: [PhillyBurbs.com]
"I've always said this right here, baseball, is a gift that you're given to play, but this comes third or fourth on my list. I could walk away from the game today and be happy. As long as you have your family, they're going to be there a lot longer than the game will be."
For the record, Oswalt did the right thing in going home this past week- it was an extenuating circumstance. However, there is a flip side to this argument. He spent eight days at home, four of which were on a tractor. No one in his family was hurt. There was some damage to his property- not his home. His back problems, suffered before the disaster in the midwest, are still present after a week of clearing trees and debris. As noble as his journey home was, there's going to be some folks who have a problem with the length of his stay. After all, his family was safe, and the tradeoff of making $16 million (his 2011 salary) is that sometimes baseball does have to come first- or at least it's expected to. That's how Charlie Manuel feels: [Philly.com]
"To me, as a manager, the game is the No. 1 priority," Manuel said. "The game itself, the priority is to win the game, if you want to be a winner. To me, that's how I feel. Do I think that's right? To me, it's right."
And what of Oswalt's take?
"I've always heard people say their family is first and things like that, and to a certain degree I agree," Manuel said. "But if you start looking at everything and you start wagering what goes on in your life and where you're working and what you have to do, I would think baseball definitely brightens your life from a financial standpoint."
He has a point. Under normal circumstances – this was not a normal circumstance – players are expected required to miss many personal tasks that most of us would absolutely leave work for. But you shouldn’t feel too bad about that – Ryan Howard will be making $41,000 per at-bat during the final three years of his contract. And that requirment is also part of the reason why even rookies get paid at a rate of $400,000 the minute they make it to the show. It is a major (heh, get it?) commitment.
That being said, this wasn't a plumbing leak at Oswalt's home. It was the largest natural disaster this country has seen in a few years. He rightfully gets a pass for this. However, if his team third attitude ever comes into play again, well, you can expect those quotes to come back to haunt him.
– Other news: Chase Utley is expected to play in an extended spring training game tomorrow. It moved.