Aroldis Chapman is trying to assimilate

Leave a comment

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Aroldis Chapman in reds uni.jpgJohn Fay writes about Aroldis Chapman’s efforts to learn the language and get used to life in the U.S.  A couple of interesting passages:

The Reds are in uncharted territory. Players from the Dominican and
Venezuela get assimilated before they get near the big leagues. Johnny
Cueto was in the Reds’ system for four years before he was invited to
big league camp. Four weeks after signing, Chapman was in camp and
in the spotlight.

I get the point, but I wonder if there aren’t some hidden advantages to breaking in cold with the big club.  If you’re not as familiar with the language and the culture might you be more immune to talk radio and columnist blather when things don’t go well? Might it not be easier for a Spanish speaker to navigate a largish, major league-size city than a smaller town?  The Reds’ affiliates are in Louisville, Kentucky, Zebulon, North Carolina, Lynchburg, Virginia, Dayton, Ohio and Billings, Montana. I think the odds are better that the cab driver or the woman behind the counter in Cincy speaks Spanish than their counterparts in Zebulon.

Until Chapman gets a Social Security card and a driver’s license, he
has to rely on [Tony] Fossas and others for most everything. “He’s got to
ask people what to do,” Fossas said. “All those things, you get tired
of. You get tired of depending on people. You get tired of people taking
you to the park. If you’re hungry at 9 o’clock at night and you want to
go to McDonald’s, what does he do?”

First thing he does is to call the hotline the Reds will set up for him that will keep their $30 million investment from ingesting food from McDonald’s. If that doesn’t work, hey, the menu consists of pictures of food next to numbers. I’m pretty sure even Chapman can figure that out.

The other day in the clubhouse a teammate was teaching Chapman the days
of the week.

Anyone else picturing Appolonia Corleone right before she got in the car to show Michael she can drive? (“. . .Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday . . “).   Aroldis! No!

The Reds are well-equipped to help Chapman. Baker and pitching coach
Bryan Price speak Spanish. Catcher Ramon Hernandez, who lockers beside
Chapman, is from Venezuela. Bullpen coach Porky Lopez is from Puerto
Rico.

Two things to take from this article: (1) The Reds sound like they’re doing right by Aroldis Chapman; and (2) The Reds have a coach named Porky Lopez, which is pretty much the greatest thing ever.

I will now be rooting for the Reds in all non-Braves games this season.

Julio Urias is on his way back to the majors

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27:  Julio Urias #78 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 27, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
2 Comments

Dodgers 19-year-old rookie Julio Urias is coming back to the majors and Alex Wood is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left elbow soreness, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Urias will likely start Saturday against the Braves, which will mark his debut in front of the home crowd.

Urias made his major league debut on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings. He yielded three runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Urias came into the season rated as the Dodgers’ #1 prospect and the #2 overall prospect in baseball. Prior to his promotion, he had compiled a 1.10 ERA with 44 strikeouts and eight walks over 41 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Mookie Betts enjoys a three-homer game against the Orioles

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox follows his three run homer against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 31, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
7 Comments

The Red Sox seem to have hit the jackpot on all of their young players so far this year. Jackie Bradley, Jr. just had a 29-game hitting streak snapped. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games on Tuesday night. And Mookie Betts has been quite productive batting leadoff for the Red Sox this year, entering Tuesday with an even .800 OPS.

Betts, 23, hit 18 home runs in his first full season last year. With a three-homer night against the Orioles on Tuesday, he’s already up to 12 in 2016 with four months of season left. The first was of the solo variety, a line drive to center field off of Kevin Gausman in the first inning. Betts followed up in the third with a liner to left field for a three-run dinger off of Gausman. He made it three in the seventh, drilling a Dylan Bundy offering to right field.

Here’s video of homer number two:

Betts finished 3-for-5 as the Red Sox won 6-2 at Camden Yards.

The stats show the Pirates as an outlier in throwing “headhunter” pitches

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Reliever Arquimedes Caminero #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 5, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
4 Comments

Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.

The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.

Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.

The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”

Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.

D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”

I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.

Jose Bautista: “I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
4 Comments

Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.

Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.