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.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.