Sunday, July 06, 2008

Was Orel Hershiser the Rangers 'Mean' Veteran?

Rangers closer C.J. Wilson's thinly veiled criticism of former teammates Mark Teixiera and Kenny Lofton has been easy enough to deduce, but can it be that former coach and front office executive Orel Hershiser was the "veteran" whom Wilson said was "mean" to younger players?

Wilson hinted in a widely disseminated interview with KTCK Radio that clubhouse chemistry has improved this year with the departures last season of Teixiera and Lofton, whom were said to be obsessed with earnings rather than winning. But Wilson also said conditions improved significantly after the 2006 season when the unnamed veteran left.

Though it would appear Wilson was talking about an active player, his true target may be disguised as such. Strictly speaking, his description does not necessarily rule out a coach, and Wilson's target very well be Hershiser as Hershiser would be fair game for Wilson since Hershiser departed for an ESPN broadcaster's position during the Hot Stove League of 2006.

Hershiser spent plenty of time with Wilson when the young future closer was under Hershiser's direction in the bullpen, and the former Dodgers superstar was known in MLB rumors to frequently belittle and sarcastically ridicule the young talent, especially pitchers and even catchers. The belittlement often was less than good natured.

Combined with morose disciplinarian Bucky Showalter, later fired as manager, the pair were a deadly duo that not surprisingly had few triumphs in the rotation or bullpen, certainly not Wilson, who finally succeeded once Showalter and Hershiser departed.

Ironically, Hershiser's acerbic, behind-the-scenes personality is totally at odds with the clear-eyed, open-faced, cleancut, wholesome, Christian public image he carefully crafts.