St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak went into damage control mode after suggesting earlier this week that outfielder Dexter Fowler might be struggling because he wasn't playing hard enough.
"I hate that it came out wrong. I do think he's at a level of frustration. But it came out that I was questioning his effort. It's unfortunate. I talked to Dex. Everything is fine," Mozeliak said Tuesday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports.
Fowler is in the second year of a five-year, $82.5-million deal. He's the team's second-highest-paid position player but has been one of the worst on the field, hitting .171/.276/.278 with five home runs, eight doubles, and 54 strikeouts in 66 games.
Those results led Mozeliak to suggest a lack of effort on Fowler's part.
"I've also had a lot of people come up to me and question his effort and his energy level. You know, those are things that I can't defend," Mozeliak said on a Cardinals podcast.
"What I can defend is trying to create opportunities for him, but not if it's at the expense of someone who's out there hustling and playing hard. And really I think everyone just needs to take a hard look in the mirror, and decide what they want that next chapter to look like."
Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, who managed Fowler from 2015-16, said he's never had any issues with the 11-year vet.
"I love Dexter," Maddon said, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. "He's effervescent. He is gregarious. He always lit up the room when he walked in. That's how I see Dex. He and I had great conversations all the time. I don't have any idea what's going on there in St. Louis. I just know my personal relationship with him is outstanding."
Fowler has been away from the Cardinals on paternity leave but is expected to return Thursday.