After dealing with an Internet report earlier this spring that accused them of hiding an injury to Mark Prior, the Cubs were in no mood to hear Todd Walker question their integrity.
Neither manager Dusty Baker nor general manager Jim Hendry was too pleased to learn Monday that Walker implied they may have told both him and Jerry Hairston that the starting second-base job was his.
walker later tried to meekly back down from those words, which are sure to further animate cub management's efforts to move him -- but truth has a way of hanging in the air no matter many aerosol cans of disinfecting lies are emptied to combat it.
to go back to the start, walker began this entertaining tizzy by noting the discrepency between the words of management and the reality on the field.
Asked to clarify things, Walker said Baker told him over the winter: "I was his guy, whatever that means." But Walker added that Baker told him things could change.
"So I'm trying to make sure it doesn't," Walker said. "If I did say something to that effect, I certainly meant that we had a conversation in the off-season and he said, 'If you're there, you're my guy.'
"But it's also, 'We want to see how your knee is doing, see how your arm is doing, see how you play.' There's always competition out there, whoever you are. As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, I'm in good shape."
He said he wouldn't be surprised if Hairston or Perez were told they'd be the starting second baseman.
"They probably told them that," Walker said. "I don't know what they told Neifi to make him sign a two-year deal. Believe it or not, they don't always tell you the truth.
"We're grown men. Just tell me what the reality of it is. In some cases they have to get people to sign, and they have to tell them certain things to get them signed. I don't know what they told Neifi. I don't know what they told Jerry. I don't want to know.
"I just want to do my thing, and if I do that, I don't have to worry about anything else.
none of this is any stretch of the imagination -- one can all but hear baker saying, "you're my guy, dude." and it certainly isn't news that cub management is completely without ethics.
baker apparently took offense at being exposed in public as someone so weak and morally pathetic as to say most anything at all so long as it makes his immediate situation less confrontational. but that too is, of course, no news -- dusty has now long been recognized as the master enabler, the substitute teacher, as incapable of administering difficult discipline on others as himself. i doubt his dishonesty is maliciously contrived so much as a natural reaction, and his indignation may actually be genuine -- after all, his only intention was, as always, to please.
but hendry's reaction was yet more humorous.
Hendry, who according to a source had Walker traded twice in the off-season only to have the deals fall through at the last minute, said he didn't read Walker's comments in the daily clips of news articles he receives.
"I clearly wouldn't think Todd Walker would have any reason to tell you I've never not told him the truth," Hendry said. "Whether I'm right or wrong, which, obviously, in this business you're wrong a lot, I've spent 27 years of my life telling players what I felt was the truth at that time. My decisions don't always work out, but they are never done with any deception to the player."
beyond the hilarious triple negative -- could one have suspected that hendry reads clippings of the papers to see what they're saying about him? sadly, this writer thinks so.
in any case, this page would reiterate that the 2006 cubs are not strong enough offensively to endure the loss of walker's bat -- so much so that it really doesn't matter what walker says. after all, it isn't words that are going to keep the cubs from winning; it's a lack of ability. as such, the cubs can ill afford to misplace an able player, no matter how brash.