Dusty Baker on Mike Leake: “his eyes were gentle eyes”

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Mike Leake took the hill again yesterday, his first appearance since he been caught stealin’.  And it was a good outing: seven innings in which he gave up three runs and picked up the win.  That shows some toughness.

Or does it? Because Dusty Baker saw something other than toughness when he talked about how he decided that, yeah, Leake should take his regular turn in the rotation:

“What you gauge and what is are two different things. Usually, you can look in a person’s eyes and read that person at that moment. His eyes were gentle eyes, which lets me know that he knows nobody knows joy and bitterness in anybody’s heart but that person. No matter how their face looks. His eyes were gentle to the point of pain and embarrassment.”

That’s not awkward or anything.

Seriously, though, I’m not sure that there’s a better manager in baseball when it comes to relating to his players and being helpful and supportive when they’re going through stuff. Baker was fabulous with respect to Joey Votto’s battles with anxiety disorder in 2009. And while his words about Leake are a bit unconventional for a post-game interview, they certainly suggest that he views his players as people first. And that’s pretty nice.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.