Old Gator brought my attention to a good story from yesterday’s Miami Herald, detailing how the pitcher we all know as Leo Nunez — but who is in fact Juan Carlos Oviedo — was able to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for so long. Part of it is just the normal anonymity of a teenager:
One way Oviedo managed to keep his identity secret so long: Nobody in town ever knew his real name in the first place. The player’s nickname is “C.D.,” and most people here, even men who played ball with him, profess to never knowing his actual name. In fact, in this city of 125,000 people, the player the media refers to as “the pitcher formerly known as “Leo Núñez” is still known as Leo Núñez.
But the bigger part of it is how even the people who knew the truth didn’t feel at all compelled to let anyone know Oviedo’s real identity. About how baseball routinely takes advantage of teenagers with baseball promise in the Dominican Republic and how when, on occasion, the players themselves try to turn the tables, it’s not seen as fraud so much as it’s seen as someone fighting for any chance they can get in a system designed to chew up young ballplayers and spit them out.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.