Diamondbacks-Rockies swap Matt Reynolds, Ryan Wheeler

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A few weeks after acquiring Heath Bell, the Diamondbacks made another addition to their bullpen on Tuesday, picking up lefty Matt Reynolds from the Diamondbacks for infielder Ryan Wheeler.

Reynolds, 28, had a nice debut with the Rockies in 2010 but was pretty mediocre since, amassing a 4.09 ERA in 2011 and a 4.40 ERA in 2011. While he’s been used primarily as a specialist, he’s only been a bit better against lefties (.262/.309/.459) than righties (.259/.323/.506) in his career. The Diamondbacks are apparently banking on the fact that he’s been quite a bit better on the road (.210/.290/.435) than in Coors Field (.294/.333/.514) in his career.

Wheeler, 24, came up this year and hit .239/.294/.339 with one homer in 109 at-bats for the Diamondbacks. He hit .351/.388/.572 in 362 at-bats for Triple-A Reno before his callup, but that was in a very friendly offensive environment. He hit .294/.358/.465 in Double-A in 2011.

Wheeler is a long shot to make it as a regular — his glove won’t be a big asset at third and he probably won’t have the bat for first — but he makes plenty of sense for a Rockies team that isn’t quite set at either corner infield position. Plus, now the team can find someone better than Reynolds for a specialist role, if it opts to carry a specialist at all.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.