Interesting item here by Hal McCoy:

There are a couple of players who not only are on the DL, they are AWOL.

Well, maybe AWOL is a bit harsh. AWOL means absent without leave and, well, maybe it isn’t too harsh.

Nobody said Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper couldn’t leave when it was determined that injuries ended their season. And they haven’t been seen much in the clubhouse.

In contrast, Alex Gonzalez hasn’t played all season, but he is in the clubhouse all the time and has been most of the season.

It says something to manager Dusty Baker and it says something to the other players….

The point about Freel and Hopper is this? When it comes down to making some choices next spring, what is going to be remembered about them? They didn’t care enough to stick around and support their teammates.

Baker likes guys like Edwin Encarancion and Jay Bruce, guys who got hurt recently but are already begging to get back in the lineup.

After missing five straight games, Encarnacion took batting practice Sunday and said, “I plan to play (today).”

Bruce was hit by a pitch Saturday and although he said he is all right, manager Dusty Baker didn’t even ask him about playing Sunday, “But I’m sure he’ll be OK (for today).”

Of Encarnacion’s and Bruce’s desires to play, even with nothing at stake, Baker said, “I like that. I’m telling you, I like guys who want to play. I don’t care if nothing is at stake, you have to want to play. I don’t like those shut-it-down guys who shut it down.

“Guys who want to play have pride and hunger,” Baker added. “And you can’t give that to anybody. It comes from inside. You have it or you don’t.”

So, what do you guys and gals think? I guess it really doesn’t bother me that much, but I can see where people would be irritated by this type of thing. To me, I hope the question of who to keep next spring comes down to keeping the most talented players, not guys who like to be at the ballpark.

Of course, if I were Norris Hopper or Ryan Freel, I think I would be spending every second at the ballpark that I could, even when I was injured. Frankly, the Hoppers and Freels of the world are expendable, and their major league careers could be over any second anyway. Especially Hopper. After spending all those years trying to fight his way to the big leagues, I can’t believe he wouldn’t want to hang out at the park and spend as much time in the big leagues as possible.

Again, what do you think?