Colby Lewis succeeds because of family, not despite it

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Craig has been all over the Richie Whitt-Colby Lewis story, rightly pointing out the absurdity of the whole thing.

If you’re unfamiliar with this story, the writer (Whitt) thinks that the Rangers pitcher (Lewis) should be ashamed of himself for missing a start to witness the birth of his child because …

(a) It’s Lewis’ second child, making it somehow less important.

(b) And Lewis for some reason owes the fans and his team more than he does his family.

I agree with everything Craig has written on the topic, but would also like to add a bit of insight I gained by sitting down with Lewis for an interview at spring training. I spoke to Lewis as part of a feature package I wrote on the difficulties of making it to the majors. Lewis talked at length of his own journey, including the injuries he endured along the way, and his two-year detour to professional baseball in Japan.

During our talk, he frequently sprinkled in references to his family, some of which did not make it into my story. He mentioned how in the spring of 2007, the Washington Nationals released him on the day his son was born. He said that was a blessing, however, because Oakland signed him a few days later and assigned him to Triple-A Sacramento, near his Bakersfield, Calif. home.

He also spoke about how lucky he was that his wife, Jenny, and son could accompany him to Japan, and how important it has been to have her support. And Lewis said this about how much family means to him:

“(It changes things) when you have a baby you have to support now. It’s something that clicked for me and took over my life. It’s a blessing. It kept me a lot more focused on the task of what I wanted to do.”

Richie Whitt says he doesn’t care if Lewis is a good dad, he just wants him to be a good pitcher. But those things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Lewis not only understands that, he claims that having a family made him a better pitcher and made him happier.

That’s what should matter most.

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Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.