Here at The Stew, we dedicate ourselves to presenting only the most important and distinguished news. Join us as we chronicle baseball's growing (get it?) beard population, continuing our new series — Beard Watch '14 — featuring Kevin Frandsen of the Philadelphia Phillies.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Infielder Kevin Frandsen frequently wears a beard, he says. Well, he's got a formidable one growing a few days into spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies.
"I feel like too many people grow beards just for show, or there’s some 'reason' behind it. I just wanted to grow a beard," Frandsen said after practice Sunday.
He wore a beard on and off during 2013, and started growing what's on his face now the second week of December. His wife loves it, so Frandsen says he'll keep it until she says it's become too much. Or if it becomes a distraction.
"She thinks I look sexy with it," Frandsen said, and catcher Cameron Rupp — whose locker is next to Frandsen's — agreed.
He still has room to grow, but Frandsen's beard is kind of in the Jason Motte of the Cardinals/Edmund Gwenn-as-Santa-Claus mold. Plenty hairy, but rounded on at the chin with very little neck hair. He keeps it trimmed smartly.
Frandsen came up with the San Francisco Giants organization, breaking through with significant playing time in 2007. There, he roomed with Brian Wilson, the Godfather of All Baseball Beards. Those were the pre-beard days for Wilson, though. When asked about what's become of Wilson's face anymore, Frandsen just shakes his head.
"I don’t know how to say it, because he’s one of my best buddies, but some days — some days — I wish he'd shave it," Frandsen said. "It’s taken on a little bit too much of a thing.
"He doesn’t need 'The Beard' to be good. He’s as good of a pitcher as you’ll find in the late innings. In my mind, when he gets back to normal-normal, he’s one of the top three, four, five closers in the game."
Brian Wilson: "normal-normal." Ha!
As for himself and baseball, Frandsen was dynamite as a reserve infielder with the Phillies in 2012, but his overall stats fell off (.234/.296/.341) after getting 278 plate appearances in 2013. At 31 years old, Frandsen knows he has to do better, but he points to his pinch-hitting prowess, his performance in high-leverage situations and his work against left-handers as positives to build on.
"I can’t just lay out there and be like, ‘I’m Chase or Jimmy,’ " Frandsen said, referring to Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies starters on the middle infield. "I want to make sure that I’m the best guy off the bench for us."
Frandsen might be a role player by comparison, but the facial hair of Rollins and Utley cannot compare.
Beard status: Sexy.
Beard style: Young Santa.
Opening day beard outlook: Ready to play its role.
Earlier stops for Beard Watch: Joba Chamberlain
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