Craig Calcaterra

Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman is driving to spring training with his cat


As a cat person and a Braves fan — in that order if I’m being honest — there was no way I wasn’t going to post this once I saw it. It comes via Tim Cato over at SB Nation who noticed that Freddie Freeman and his wife’s tweets en route to Orlando for spring training were not the ordinary mid-February fare.

Freeman, it seems, has a cat. A very cool cat named Nala. And unlike every cat I’ve ever had or ever known, Nala likes the car. Indeed, Nala seems to be enjoying the trip quite nicely:

If they get stuck on the side of the road someplace maybe Chipper Jones and his cat can come and rescue him.

The Braves aren’t going to be that fun to watch this season, but I’m gonna say “and Freeman drives an another one!” and post one of these pictures for every RBI he notches this season.


The Rockies don’t want Jose Reyes in camp, but they may not have a choice

Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes, left, throws late to first base after forcing out San Diego Padres' Will Venable at second base on a bunt put down by Yangervis Solarte during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Denver. San Diego won 9-5. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

When Jose Reyes‘ domestic violence arrest was first reported back in November, it seemed like a blessing to MLB that the first test of its new domestic violence policy came so early in the offseason. By virtue of the timing, it would prevent the optics of having a player facing suspension on the field and in uniform while the league investigated him. Now, however, it seems that they’ve taken so much time in waiting to deal with his case that the blessing has disappeared.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Rockies’ front office “doesn’t relish” the idea of having Reyes at spring training while his domestic abuse case is still active and speculates that Reyes and the Rockies may try to come to some arrangement which prevents him from attending the team’s first workouts later this week.

It may be preferable for the Rockies to keep Reyes away from the team until he’s either suspended or his court case is settled, but unless he agrees to it, I’m not sure what the mechanism for that would be. If the Rockies were to put him on the restricted list or something that would look a lot like discipline that they, as a club, are not permitted to take under the league’s domestic violence policy. Even if they said they were doing it for another reason, it seems clear that that’s what they’d be doing, right? The only way they can do this, it seems, is for Reyes agree to stay away in defacto a paid suspension situation.

For as distasteful as it may seem to have someone in Jose Reyes’ situation on the field, I’m not sure what else MLB can do here. If you have disciplinary policy you are clearly making a demarcation between a player who has been punished and one who has not. MLB, by not punishing Reyes yet, has created this situation.

It’s “if you aren’t early, you’re late” season once again

Maikel Franco

Jim Salisbury of reports that Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco is not yet at Phillies camp in Clearwater. Which, given that tomorrow is the Phillies’ first full-squad workout, makes logical sense. Tomorrow is the first day of school, right? Why would you show up today?

Such logic does not always hold in baseball. At least not recently. Increasingly, practical reporting dates have crept up and up by days and even weeks. To the point where showing up on time is considered “late” by many. Oftentimes, the team included. We saw this a few times in recent years with Terry Collins and the Mets getting on players for not being early. As if not being early was late. And, as Salisbury notes, the Phillies have historically felt this way too: “Over the years, team officials have made it no secret that they like that because it shows dedication, etc.,” he writes. This attitude often seeps into the fan base through comments from team officials, the media and talk radio, to the point where guys who show up merely on time — as in, the day they begin to actually be paid — are considered lazy.

To manager Pete Mackinin’s credit, he is not of that same mindset. From Salisbury’s story:

“I’m not going to be critical of anybody who doesn’t come early,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “If we wanted guys to come two weeks ago we should have a longer spring training. He’s in for a long season. He played winter ball. Whenever he gets here, as long as he’s here when he’s supposed to be, I’m fine with it. He’s due to be here (Tuesday).”

That’s refreshing to hear and further evidence in my mind that the Phillies made a good hire in Pete Mackinin. Here’s hoping that his actions with respect to Franco follow his words, which I presume they will, and other players who show up “merely” on time with other clubs get the same treatment.

I expect some of you will push back on this. That you’ll say that Franco is a professional athlete and that he should give 110% and that failing to do that is a character deficiency or what have you. I understand that. I also understand that any person can chose to go beyond expectations if they wish and that they should not be criticized for doing so if it truly is their choice. If I were a ballplayer I’d probably be itching to get to camp once the calendar turned. It’s cold in most places that aren’t Florida and Arizona.

But it’s also the case that what we see in baseball at times — players being slagged on for not reporting early — is a dynamic that has increasingly crept into the American business climate at large. Go read this series of tweets from Matt Winkelman for some of that. The upshot: a lot of people get guilted or pressured into doing extra work for no extra compensation and, anymore, there’s this sense that you’re a slacker if you don’t.

There’s something wrong with that. There’s something wrong when the admirable trait of putting in extra work is transformed from going above-and-beyond into merely meeting a new, higher and unjustified set of expectations. It’s not an easy balance to be sure, and very real fears and motivations fuel that. But it’s the sort of thing that should not go unnoticed. Either in baseball or in real life.