Arenado Ready to Report on Sunday With a Focus on Helping his Temmates Win
In a big-league career that is four weeks shy of seven seasons, Nolan Arenado has been a center of attention since he made his Rockies' debut in late April of 2013 on the final day of a series in Arizona.
And the attention has been for all the right reasons.
That changed during the off-season, when after Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said he was putting an end to listening to what teams with an interest in acquiring Arenado had to say, that it was time to focus on the season. In a rare outburst, Arenado lashed out, saying he felt disrespected by Bridich.
So what is going to happen Sunday, when Arenado and the rest of the position players report to spring training, giving the Rockies their full squad in camp at Salt River fields?
Arenado will be there. He will be the center of attention, but knowing Arenado, his focus, as long as he is with the Rockies, will not be on the off-season but what he can do to help the Rockies rebound from the nightmare of 2019, and build off the team's success of 2017 and 2018.
For all the public uproar about the Arenado/Bridich situation, and how it will impact the team, this isn't brand new, except it was exposed to the public. And a media that complains Bridich plays it close to the vest, and does not leak information "off the record," has found a rallying point to question Bridich's words and ways.
Arenado had (and still has) a similar feeling toward Bridich's predecessor, Dan O'Dowd, dating back to the summer of 2012. Arenado was coming off of being named the Player of the Year that previous fall in the Arizona Fall League, which also featured Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
Arenado followed that up with a decent year at Tulsa. When O'Dowd was in town in late July he informed Arenado he wasn't being called up in September. He challenged Arenado to work harder. O'Dowd reinforced that during spring training when Arenado was assigned to Triple-A for 18 games in April before joining the Rockies.
The negative feelings toward O'Dowd never got in the way of Arenado's approach on the field and in the clubhouse.
He has won seven Gold Gloves, more than in player ever won in his first eight big-league seasons. He's a five-time All-Star, who started at third base for the National League the last three years. And most of all, he has never had his drive to be part of a winner questioned.
There is no reason to think this year will be any different.
As long as Arenado wears a Rockies uniform, his focus will be on making the Rockies the best team possible. He will be supportive of his teammates. He will grow as a fan favorite.
That was underscored when Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports on Friday became the first member of the media that Arenado has spoken with openly on his status with the Rockies.
“You know what, and I want you please to write this down, the perception of me right now, some people have different things, right?” Arenado told Brown, who found the third baseman working out at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the home field of Arizona State University. “It’s, ‘Oh, you make money, keep your mouth shut. You signed this deal and this and that.’ But, at the end of the day, man, people misunderstand. Us, as players, we only get one chance at this. I only get one chance at this. I have seven years left on my deal. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out. And I want to win.
“I’ve been to All-Star Games. I’ve done some special things, you know? I’ve won Gold Gloves. Those all mean a lot to me. At the end of the day the goal is to win. They signed me to win. And I want to be on a winner. If that’s in Colorado or somewhere else, I want to win.
“It gets to a point in your career, you’re like, ‘OK, what else is there to do? I just want to win. I want to play in October.’ Like Derek Jeter, he made it into the Hall of Fame, he played in a season’s worth of playoff games. Obviously that’s a unique situation and I’m not saying I’m ever going to get that, because what he did was special. But I want that. I’ve only been to the playoffs a few times. Honestly, I haven’t played well in it. And I want that again. I want to have that opportunity to, like, show what I can do. You know?”
Arenado also told Brown he does not anticipate the off-season issue to impact the upcoming season.
“To be honest with you, there is a disconnect right now, right?” he told Brown. “There’s a little bit of a disconnect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. It doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna go out there and play hard for my teammates. Or be a negative presence in that locker room. That’s just not me. It’s not how I’m going to do things. I’m not going to be there trying to show them I don’t want to be there. I’m not going to be that way. That’s not fair. That’s drawing attention to me.
“I know there’s already been attention toward me right now. That’s not really my style. I’m not trying to put my teammates in a bad position. You know? That’s not really my thing. They know I’m going to go out there and play hard. There is a little bit of a disconnect for sure. But, like I said, that doesn’t mean I can’t go out there and play hard. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to have a bad attitude. It means there’s a disconnect. And I’ve got to move on from it. I don’t need to surround myself with the negativity, because that’s going to factor in my performance.”
Arenado is not backtracking on what he said. That's not his way.
“No. I don’t,” he said. “I know there’s some things that I said. I won’t take them back. I won’t apologize for what I’ve said. At all. The only thing I do regret is my teammates answering questions for me, maybe. That’s something that I wish I wouldn’t have put them in that position and I apologize for that. But, as for what I’ve said and how I’ve gone about my offseason, I have no regrets and I’m not going to apologize for anything.”
But he also isn't pouting.
He is getting ready for the upcoming season, and doing everything he can to help the Rockies get back on track, like he has ever since the day he finally got to the big leagues.
He knows his teammates are depending upon him, and for Arenado, that is more important than hard feelings with the front office.