Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring Training 2006: Watch Freddie Run

I mentioned that last night was a real treat for the Oakland A’s Booster Club, as we had Robert Buan and Freddie Bynum to talk to us. Robert, of course, is the silver-tongued announcer who gave away the cars last year and who runs Extra Innings after every A’s broadcast. He introduced player Freddie Bynum, and urged Freddie to answer his questions and ours.

Freddie grew up in North Carolina. He had no intention of going to college at all, figuring he’d join his father in factory work, but his grandmother offered him college. “I could go and not have to pay for anything. So….I went to college,” he said quietly as we all laughed. “While I was there, I discovered they had baseball. Might as well play as long as it’s there. I ended up paying for my years of school with scholarships.”

Freddie is a 26-year-old minor leaguer who has run out of options. If the A’s don’t pick him for The Show this time around, someone else can. And that would really hurt. Especially since Freddie isn’t making it easy for the Powers That Be to let him go. He’s batting close to .400 in the games he’s been in; it’s almost like the Athletics are trying to showcase this young player for other teams, or let him prove what he can prove.

Robert asked Freddie, “If the A’s picked you up, do you think you’d continue to steal bases? After all, they’ve had this philosophy for years which discourages base stealing.” Freddie thought a moment, and answered, “I’m thinking not.” When he heard a lot of disappointed groans, he continued that management wouldn’t want to leave the bases open for the A’s power hitters, as opposing pitchers would just walk them. But maybe at certain times he’d be allowed to steal, he mused.

This young man is out of North Carolina, soft spoken but full of confidence. “I don’t worry about what I can’t control,” he said more than once about what the A’s would do about his options. As he told the Boosters that night, “But I can tell you one thing. I’m going to try to take someone’s job.”

Looking at his production and the fact that a few of the regulars are injured (e.g., Kielty), I’m predicting right now that Bynum will be on the roster on April 2nd when the rosters have to be in. The A’s may not want to play Freddie full-time, but he’s lightning in a bottle, and I don’t think they’ll give him up for nary a whisper.

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