If the biggest question about signing Prince Fielder revolves around his physique, what can he do - aside from posing for Playgirl - to assuage that concern?
I don't have the answer for that, but a couple of weeks ago we interviewed Orioles' shortstop J.J. Hardy on "The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report," and he said that, while Fielder may not be a Gold Glove first baseman, his body, outside of a baseball uniform, isn't in bad shape at all.
It reminded me of the year that lefthander Fernando Valenzuela pitched for the Orioles. In uniform, Fernando seemed to sporting a rather significant boiler up front. Once the game was over and he'd showered and dressed, he looked pretty normal. No bulging belly or big bottom. Just like a guy in probably size 36 or 38 jeans.
Like many of you, for instance.
It was the same story with the Nats' own Livan Hernandez, who wore the baggiest of jerseys - a size 58, actually - but in his street clothes looked pretty athletic.
I remember the first time I saw Gaylord Perry out of uniform in the Texas Rangers' clubhouse in 1975. Sunken chest, virtually no muscle definition at all. He was 36 and looked 50. It was a little sad, actually, but he went on to pitch another eight seasons.
As John Kruk famously said years ago, "I ain't no athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player."
I understand completely Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo's reluctance to hand anyone a nine- or 10-year contract. A five- or six-year deal to a 27-year-old difference-making lefty power bat? That's seems almost reasonable, though it's not my money.
The clock is ticking in Texas on the negotiating window for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. The deadline for the Rangers to sign him is 4 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday. Team president Nolan Ryan expects they'll get it done, and if they do, it remains to be seen if a $100 million-plus investment in Darvish will preclude them from getting Fielder, as well. I suspect it will have some impact. The Miami Marlins are going to go hard after Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to take over their first base slot. He'd be cheaper than Fielder and would likely sell more tickets in that market. The Cubs don't seem to be as interested since they traded for Anthony Rizzo.
The planets seem to be in some alignment for a match between Fielder and the Nationals. Sources indicate that Fielder himself believes he's a good fit with Washington.
Things could get interesting later this week.