Dirk Hayhurst walks a fine line

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I’m an unabashed Dirk Hayhurst fanboy, based on “The Bullpen Gospels.” Of course, the dude still pitches and I couldn’t help but wonder as I was reading his book how his writing goes over with teammates.  Seems it’s a tad touchy, but Hayhurst makes it clear that he isn’t out to burn anyone and everyone pretty much understands one another:

“We talked to him about our concerns and he totally ameliorated our concerns by telling us basically how he was going to go about it,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And it’s not about getting anybody, not about writing about anybody in a nonfiction way or being specific.”

Instead, Hayhurst uses an interesting style: making up most names, blurring details and blending characters to create composites (or alleged composites) to provide amusing, entertaining and revealing anecdotes about life in the minors, using them to tell the story of his life (including some deeply personal passages) rather than the team.

Hayhurst is writing a second book and has a contract for a third. Now that he has some major league time under his belt — and hopefully will get more this year — it’s going to be a bit harder for him to blur the lines.  Bill James and Rob Neyer launched a fun little pastime among the baseball geek set with their concept of “tracers” (i.e. going back and fact-checking baseball anecdotes) — and it will be fun to run some tracers on Hayhurst’s future work. At some point he’ll have some fun story about “Donald Prince” that everyone will know is about David Price because Prince/Price had the same line against the Red Sox that evening before the bar brawl, and the game will be up. Which is part of the territory given his increasingly high profile.

I just hope that players today are a little more reasonable than they were back in Jim Bouton’s day, some of whom are still mad at the guy. Which seems nuts given how benign some of Bouton’s revelations seem given the passage of time, but that’s how these things go.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.