What makes a player just up and leave. Reflection on Cardinals Yairo Munoz
As reported in the past couple of days, St. Louis Cardinals Yairo Munoz, utility player, was to have a MRI last Thursday due to a hamstring injury sustained Saturday, Feb. 29. He came into the game in the seventh inning against the Nationals. His first at-bat in the 8th, running out a grounder, he limped off the field.
Come Thursday morning, Munoz was a no-show for the scheduled MRI. The Cardinals organization was later notified by a teammate (name not disclosed) had received a message that Munoz hopped a flight to home. Back to the Dominican Republic. No direct contact with either Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak or manager Mike Shildt, whom Munoz did have a close relationship with. At least Shildt viewed it as such and totally baffled by the situation. And the Cardinals looked to rely upon his ability as "one' of their utility players in 2020.
Still no direct communication with the Cardinals organization by Munoz. Only via his agent.
Cardinals felt, justifiably so in my opinion, they had no recourse but to release the young 25 year old. Saturday the announcement came, an unconditional release. Yairo Munoz would now be a free agent upon his return. Yairo Munoz had given them two seasons of very solid play and held a .273 BA. This spring, in six games played, 16 at bats, he held a .375 BA/.625 SLG/1 HR/4 RBI with 10 total bases. Gave the team some pop, and solid in the field.
WHY WOULD A YOUNG PLAYER GIVE UP HIS FUTURE
Probably not as much as the Cardinals organization, but I have given thought as to 'why' a promising young player would bolt.
In my opinion, supposedly as reported from the Cardinals camp, he was 'unhappy', didn't feel he got the playing time he deserved last season (only 88 games vs 108 in 2018), and could see the writing on the wall for 2020. With Utility Tommy Edman in the wings as top choice off the bench. Especially in lieu of his hamstring injury. Reports he wouldn't make the Opening Day roster being on the IL. To be shipped to Memphis-Triple A to get everyday reps - to rehab.
With his ill-view of his 2019 season, did former Cardinals Jose Martinez and Marcell Ozuna keep him focused? To continue to work hard, go the distance keeping faith in his ability. Maybe. Seemingly as I watched the games, Munoz and J Martinez, specifically, were close teammates. Jose Martinez spending twelve seasons in the minors before making his way to the majors. Munoz was by far more fortunate as his career progressed.
And if he was so unhappy, why exit the country? Why would a player just throw away a bright future? Immaturity? At least speak with your manager, with communications previously being so open, for advice. For reassurance. And, not having the MRI performed, no diagnosis as to the degree of the injury. So a return timetable could not be determined in stone.
And now, re-entry into our country which may be in question. Or, do baseball players have a free pass to do so. That I do not know. But, we throw in the threat of the COVID-19 (Corona Virus) in the mix, will he be cleared for return?
I truly hope his decision was a moment of youth, a temper-tantrum, a split ill-moment decision to return to the DR. I certainly hope it was nothing far more serious. If a family situation had developed, even with that, would you not talk with your superior to 'take time off'? Or, further - being traded in the near future.
I feel he has 'burned bridges' behind him for his future. Per his agent, they are checking with other teams for availability. But with the news now out ~ Yairo Munoz is one who chose an AWOL route when things weren't going his way. How many teams want to take on such a risk. In addition, now, there is no guarantee he will be signed to more than a minor league contract to return to. He was in the majors and with a full recovery from the hamstring injury, he would have been again. I'm confident in that fact.
And depending on how the first portion of the season unfolded, Cardinals may have accommodated him in a trade at the deadline. But, he did not stay to see how his future would unfold with the Cardinals ~ at his request; or, by Cardinals plan, with another team.
To remain in the majors, one must prove themselves worthy. Not only on the field of play, which Munoz did well; but, also off the field and 'roll with the punches'. Injured or not. He was not the first to have to face not being part of Opening Day - and, he won't be the last. However, I feel, that does not mean your whole future career is in jeopardy.
Yairo Munoz, in my mind, has placed his future in major league baseball in question. At least here in the States. I truly hope I'm wrong in that view.
WILL MORE INFORMATION BECOME AVAILABLE
I feel we may never know the real reason(s) other than what has already been reported. Supposedly, he felt he was being overlooked and treated unjustly (from his agent?). But to go as far as to leave the country without a word, without a trace of 'why'. Does not bode well for his resume. Just my opinion.
As far as the Cardinals organization goes, along with fans, they only wish him the best. He is a very solid player. One who does play with heart and soul. He loved his job ~ on the field.
Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter, @elichap822.