DC starter Scott Olsen has also shown he’s willing to fight the law and launch verbal abuse in the direction of his paymasters. His anti-authoritarian streak, however, stops at standing up to Big Tobacco, as the following item from the Washington Post’s Chico Harlan illustrates :
Scott Olsen pulled out a cigarette, one of the dozen he allows himself every day, though sometimes, with a beer or two, he’ll smoke a few more. He tried to quit on his 25th birthday, in January, but that didn’t work. Now he’s thinking he’ll give up the habit only when his girlfriend gets pregnant.
“I just have to get motivated,” Olsen said.
“Let’s see, the one incident that happened with [Joe] Girardi,” Olsen said, starting the story of Controversy No. 1: the argument with his old manager in 2006. “Everybody saw him grab my jersey. Well, what a lot of people don’t know is that me and Girardi are actually very close. He was able to relate to me better than a lot of coaches I ever had.
“But the situation was, [umpire] Joe West was behind the plate, and he’s kind of a stickler for certain things and likes rules. We get eight warmup pitches per inning, so I threw five, and he said, ‘One more.’ So I threw more, and he didn’t like that and I said something to him, he said something to me, and as I get off the field, Girardi walks over.
“He didn’t even yell. He looked at me, crossed his arms, and asked, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘That guy over there, he didn’t give me my eight pitches, and I’m [freaking] pissed.’ I understand he’s the umpire, don’t piss him off, blah blah blah, but I’m like, I get eight pitches whether I’m a rookie or a 20-year guy. It’s a rule. And I told him that. He said, ‘Okay, just don’t show up the umpire.’ It’s not a big deal. People see it on TV, they see Girardi grabbing my jersey, and they think, ‘[Expletive], he [messed] up again. Yeah, but not like you think I [messed] up.”
The goal now for Olsen is “to direct that fire,” he said. In each of his first three seasons, Olsen made at least 31 starts. Though his velocity dipped last year — some mechanical work with St. Claire this spring has both believing it will return — Olsen went 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA in 2008. That helped him earn a one-year, $2.8 million contract this offseason that avoided arbitration and lessened the strain of his bad habit.
“Think about it,” he said. “I was 17 years old when I started smoking. That’s seven years, 365 days a year, five bucks a day. I’m gonna quit one of these days.”