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.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.
Ken Rosenthal has an interesting story up about Sergio Romo as he begins spring training with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There is some fun stuff about his family, all Dodgers fans from southern California, but the more notable stuff is about Romo himself, who has dealt with a lot more than has been reported over the past couple of seasons. The loss of three of his four grandparents is a big one, as it has thrust the mantle of head of the family on Romo in ways that he was not fully prepared for. There are also allusions to personal and psychological problems Romo has experienced — there is a vague suggestion of alcohol or maybe just late nights out and perhaps depression, but he is not specific about it — which he worked on with the help of friends and teammates on the Giants and which he now has overcome.
There’s always more going on the lives of baseball players than we as fans know.