02 Oct

crash landings

For the second straight year, ex-Ole Miss standout Zack Cozart saw a strong season curtailed by physical woes. Cozart, Cincinnati’s shortstop, missed the last 3 1/2 months of 2015 after a knee injury that required surgery, then went down again this year in early September because of recurring pain in that knee. Cozart, who last played on Sept. 10, hit .252 with 16 home runs and 50 RBIs in 120 games. He played only 53 games last year, batting .258 with nine homers. He looked better than ever this April, hitting .361 at month’s end, and was at .303 on June 8 before starting to fade. He had 15 homers on July 18, one thereafter. Cozart, eligible for arbitration again this year, was the subject of trade rumors before and during the season. He might have played his final game for the Reds. … Aaron Barrett, another Ole Miss product, also had a rough year. Barrett, a Washington Nationals reliever, had Tommy John surgery last September and was making progress toward a possible return in late July when he suffered a fractured elbow. “It was traumatizing. It was like someone hit me in the gut, like, a million times,” Barrett told mlb.com in August. “But … I have a bionic arm now, and I’m literally going to come back stronger than ever.” … Former Itawamba Community College star Desmond Jennings battled injuries – again – in 2016 with Tampa Bay and wound up being released on Aug. 26. The toolsy Jennings was batting .200 with seven homers. A Tampa Tribune writer called Jennings’ potential “fool’s gold.” He remains unsigned, as does Jonathan Papelbon, who was released, per mutual agreement, by Washington on Aug. 13. Mississippi State product Papelbon had a 4.37 ERA at the time and had lost his closer’s job after a series of shaky outings. P.S. Jackson’s Seth Smith went 0-for-2 with a run in a wild and crazy game in Seattle on Saturday that the Mariners lost to Oakland 9-8 in 10 innings. The defeat eliminated Seattle from postseason contention, extending their drought to 15 years.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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