PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. The past is a distant memory for Yunel Escobar, something hed rather sweep into a dustbin and forget forever. For good reason, he wants to keep his gaze fixed on the path ahead. His uniform has changed, his colors are different, the clubhouse culture he enters with the Tampa Bay Rays is loose and free.
Still, a player's record is never discarded so simply or tucked from view despite the passing of time. Theres a reputation that follows the seventh-year shortstop, acquired by the Rays from the Miami Marlins in December, and he vows to do maintenance on how hes perceived.
Its a new year, new team, said Escobar, through catcher Jose Molina as a translator. What happened (in Toronto) could be a mistake, could be bad. But thats last year. This year is a new year. New team.
What happened in Toronto was misguided and embarrassing, but it could become a pivot point for Escobar if he allows. On Sept. 15, 2012, he played with a homophobic slur written in his eye black in...