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Poor Richard Hidalgo does not want to play for Jimy Williams any longer.

Unlike his predecessor, Jimy stopped pencilling Hidalgo in to the lineup every day (when his body wasn't breaking down, that is) and gave players who were producing (Merced) a chance for some playing time.

Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker really doesn't sound very sympathetic:

"Richard and I had a very candid conversation about it. In Richard's case, he went from being a budding young star to a player reduced to a role player. I also made it clear to Richard you have to earn your stripes no matter what the size of your contract. You've got to earn things in this game."
Hidalgo hasn't been the same since his breakout season in 2000, when he appeared on the verge of becoming a superstar and won a hefty contract from the Astros. He promptly gained about 40 pounds and showed up for camp in 2001 out of shape. Consequently, his body gave him trouble all year and he had a subpar year. This year, he was still 40 pounds overweight, his body continued to give him trouble, and he had an even worse year. This part of the story speaks volumes:
Greenberg made special mention that Hunsicker and the training staff have set up a workout program to get the former phenom back on track. Hunsicker is optimistic Hidalgo will embrace the new workout program and come into spring training healthy.
Let me translate: the Astros hope Richard will shed the extra weight, train like an athlete in the offseason, and come into camp ready to play baseball next season. And if he does that, I'll bet he has a bounceback year, and wins plenty of playing time from Jimy.

I really like this line from Hidalgo's agent:

"He was demoralized all year," Greenberg said. "Everybody knows this is a mental game. Maybe they needed to communicate a little bit more and give him more encouragement.
Umm... what was Jimy supposed to do, hold up a Butterfinger or Snickers each at-bat?

[Posted at 21:14 CST on 10/02/02] [Link]

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