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.

The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number this June

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox waves to the crowd after being tasken out of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.

Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:

Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.

He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.