Yesterday Matthew made reference to Justin Duchscherer’s struggle with clinical depression. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick goes deep on it in this feature story:
Even as Duchscherer’s baseball career blossomed, his personal life
began to unravel. He separated from his wife, Michele, in April 2007,
and their four-year marriage officially ended in late 2008. The ordeal
dredged up unresolved issues from Duchscherer’s parents’ divorce when
he was 10, and led to feelings of guilt and shame.
The strain of
a ballplayer’s life didn’t help. Since he’s on the road eight months a
year and Evan lives in New Jersey with his mother, Duchscherer sees his
son sporadically. During the 2008 season, he was able to channel his
anguish over his failed marriage into his pitching, but he didn’t have
that luxury this year. When the A’s broke camp in April, Duchscherer
stayed behind in Arizona to focus on his rehab. The more time he spent
alone, the more he missed Evan and dwelled on his shortcomings as a
husband and a father.
Thankfully it looks like Duchscherer is turning the corner and retaking control of his life and career. The story, however, is a great read and a poignant reminder of the kinds of pressures ballplayers face, almost always beyond the notice of the common fan.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.