Aroldis Chapman is trying to assimilate

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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.

Report: Mariners’ Taijuan Walker drawing “strong” trade interest

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 08:  Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker #44 of the Seattle Mariners looks on from the dugout after completing eight innings against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on June 8, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports that the Mariners have received “strong” trade interest for starter Taijuan Walker. The right-hander is currently on the mend from tendinitis in his right foot.  He’ll throw a bullpen on Friday at Wrigley Field with scouts in attendance.

Walker, 23, has a 3.66 ERA with an 80/18 K/BB ratio in 86 innings this season. It’s his first bit of sustained success at the major league level. What’s arguably just as intriguing is the fact that Walker will be under team control through 2020.

The Mariners have been hovering around .500 for the last month and entered Thursday six games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, behind three other teams as well as the two Wild Card leaders. It’s enough uncertainty which could push the Mariners to sell.

Report: Mets, Brewers continue discussing Jonathan Lucroy

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 20:  Jonathan Lucroy #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers walks back to the dugout in the eighth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 20, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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On Monday, we learned that the Mets offered to swap catchers with the Brewers, Travis d'Arnaud for Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers, as expected, turned that down. The two still continue to discuss a trade involving Lucroy, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.

The Mets certainly could use some help at catcher. The club has gotten an aggregate .608 OPS from their backstops, the fourth-lowest mark in baseball, ahead of only the Pirates, Rays, and Indians. However, the Mets seem to be behind other teams — including a “mystery” team — in the bidding, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.

Lucroy, who took Thursday off, is batting .300/.361/.486 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 371 plate appearances for the Brewers this season. He can become a free agent after the season if his controlling club opts against picking up his $5.25 million option for the 2017 season.