When is the right time to release a player?
These past 48 hours have been pretty tough on me. On Friday morning at 7:38 am, I entered the Tigers clubhouse like any other normal spring training day. Just before I was about to get dressed for our nutrition and supplement meeting I noticed my teammate had a note in his locker saying “Please see Rojas”. Sometimes that can just mean to see the “boss” to be told you may be throwing in a lower-level game that day to get your work in, or it can be the dreaded you have been let go meeting. As I walked up to my locker I noticed I had one too. My brain started to wonder, could this be it? I looked down every row of lockers to see what other “bubble” guys had these notes. I got a pretty good feeling that this wasn’t going to be a good meeting.
After Kyle Bloom exited the office I entered knowing my fate ahead of time. Was I going to scream, curse, cry, or question their decision? Being released before with Oakland I had a heads up on what my emotions may become. In the office I was confronted by Mike Rojas, Kevin Bradshaw, Dan Lunetta, and Avi Bechlar. They kept it short and brief and said it was a numbers game and this year I didn’t have a spot. Dan said some nice remarks about my time with the organization and I thanked each of them personally for the opportunity within the organization.
Packing your bags in front of everyone is not a pleasant sight. Everyone feels awkward coming up to you apologizing or wishing you the best. You are speechless and don’t know what to really say back. I have played with many great players and friends within the Tigers organization and want to thank them for all the fun times. I know I didn’t get to see and say goodbye to all of them, but I want them to know I appreciate their friendship and time together.
When is the right time to release a player? It is a very hard thing for the staff and players to deal with. Organizations sign many free agents in the off season to go along with their own players and new draft class. I have been in camps ranging from 100-180+ players in it. Now if you do the math only four teams break out of spring training which are allowed 25 players on each team. So 100 guys break camp and 20-40 are left over for extended spring training and the rest are left without work.
Some organizations release players each week throughout ST. Some players only get one inning or 3-5 at bats to prove themselves. But those guys have no shot of proving themselves. They were written off the minute they stepped on the field for ST. To give a guy one week of camp is not fair by any means. There may not be a right answer of when is the right time to release a player. Some teams think by releasing a guy early in camp if benefits that player to get picked up by another team. But every other team at this time of the year is downsizing and already have their guys. It’s not very likely that a team is shopping for players.
Teams do have to “use” players as insurance in case of injuries, trades, or waiver movements. Some teams let go of players on the very last day of camp which is very tough to see. A couple years ago I saw an organization make a pitcher throw 5 innings in an inter-squad on the last day of camp to just release him following the game no matter the outcome of his performance.
So right now I’m still currently unemployed looking for work with an affiliated team preferably. I want to thank my supporters on twitter and blog readers for all the kind words and support during these hard times. I will be back on the field soon enough.