Podsednik plagued by bad timing

KEN FIDLIN, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:48 PM ET

DUNEDIN - There are a couple of ways to look at the predicament Scott Podsednik finds himself in this spring.

You can say he was dealt a bad hand this offseason, drawing surprisingly little free agent interest for a guy who hit .297 last year with an on-base percentage of .342, 35 steals, six homers and 51 RBI.

Or, you might say he misplayed a very decent hand by taking a chance on free agency when he was holding an option on a guaranteed $2 million option for 2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

However you look at it, Podsednik willingly jumped on the free agent merry-go-round last fall and when it stopped, he was a rider without a horse.

It gets worse. Faced with no other alternatives, Podsednik accepted a minor-league contract offer from the Jays last week, with a chance to make $1 million if he makes the 25-man roster, then promptly suffered a recurrence of the plantar fasciitis injury to his left foot that forced him to miss the last two weeks of the 2010 season.

The outfielder arrived in Toronto’s camp Wednesday and won’t likely be able to join the competition for a role as a bench player for a couple more weeks, leaving himself limited time to win a job. He, more than anyone, knows the timing is lousy.

“Spring has started,” said Podsednik, who will turn 35 on March 18.

“It’s time to get going. I was looking forward to getting down here and so it’s a bit frustrating to not be able to go full speed, knowing that I have to try to make the club. With that said, I can’t put too much pressure on myself. I have to take the necessary steps I need to get the foot back underneath me.”

After a solid four seasons as a leadoff hitter with Milwaukee and the White Sox, injuries derailed Podsednik in 2007 and 2008. The last two seasons, though, have been more like his first four and it gave him the confidence to take his chances on free agency.

“Early in the offseason, there were quite a few clubs talking about wanting to add a leadoff hitter but for whatever reason my market just didn’t develop,” he said. “That’s behind us, I’m a Toronto Blue Jay now and looking forward to make the best of this opportunity.

“There was just not a lot of interest but Toronto called, they were interested and they were arguably the most aggressive. I feel wanted here, I want to come in and fit in with what they’re trying to accomplish here and become a Blue Jay.”

For a player of his skillset, which meshes nicely with John Farrell’s intention to be more aggressive on the basepaths and play some small ball when it’s necessary, Podsednik could certainly work his way into a larger role than just a bench player.

“At this point, he’s competing with Mike McCoy and Corey Patterson and some of those guys to be on the bench,” said GM Alex Anthopoulos. “That’s ultimately what the role is going to be.

“It’s a minor league deal so there’s no commitment for the club. It just made a lot of sense to bring him in. He’s a good player, a good clubhouse guy. Any time you get a chance to take a guy like that on a minor-league deal, you always take it.”

There is no telling just how March will play itself out in terms of performance, or lack of same, and Podsednik could turn into a very valuable piece to the puzzle.

First and foremost, though, he has to get back on the field and start performing himself. His track record will probably help him but he will have to prove himself healthy before anything is determined.”

Nobody would blame Podsednik if he threw up his hands and screamed ‘Why me?’ But that’s not an option and clearly not part of his makeup.

“All injuries are frustrating,” he said. “I’ve had my fair share. It is what it is. I could sit here and moan and complain or I can take the high route and take the necessary steps to get ready. Yeah, it’s frustrating but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

And that is, get healthy.


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