Spare Parts: Johnny Cueto contains multitudes

(Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)

It’s a good thing Johnny Cueto has started his White Sox career by becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to throw at least six scoreless innings in his first two outings with the club, because Jeff Passan’s profile of Cueto would probably allow me to tolerate a pair of six-run, zero-inning outings.

It opens with an ambulance that Cueto has turned into a roving sound system with dozens of speakers unfolding and rising from every possible location. But it also goes into the approach that allows him to be a character to be taken seriously. Passan paints a picture of a guy who works hard and plays hard, and Reynaldo López is among those who have been taken along for the ride.

“If you look at his body, you say, ‘No way,'” said Lopez, who was introduced to Cueto by his trainer, a good friend of the pitcher. “But once you start working out with him, you just realize, yeah, he’s an athlete. I remember the first time we were working out together. I told him, ‘OK, let’s go play catch.’ ‘What? No. We are going to run first.’ We ran, played catch … and then ran again. One day I told him, ‘Man, what are you doing? You want to kill me?’ I couldn’t keep up with him. He said pitchers need to run. Because if you need to go out and throw 50 pitches, how are you going to do it? He was right. I started feeling better every time. That’s the kind of thing that he does. He runs a lot to prepare his legs for what he’s about to do.

“He works hard, and he eats a lot.”

Watching Cueto make his organizational debut in Nashville for the Charlotte Knights, it required an element of blind faith. He spent more time at 89 than 92 and left way too many pitches over the plate. It’d be foolish to ignore his track record, but track records capture who players used to be, not necessarily who they still are, and he didn’t have a wealth of data to offer teams after the lockout. You had to trust that he knows what he’s doing, and two starts in, he’s showing the Rapsodo what’s what.


I hadn’t seen a Yankee player comment on the Josh Donaldson incident until Aaron Judge, and it sounds like Donaldson is on his own with this one.

“Joke or not, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do there,’’ Judge said of Donaldson repeatedly calling Anderson, who is black, “Jackie,” in what Donaldson said was an attempt to defuse tensions between the two after they nearly came to blows when the teams met in Chicago last weekend. 

“Given the history, especially the series in Chicago and the little bit of beef between Anderson and [Donaldson],’’ Judge said. “Anderson is one of the best shortstops in the game and is a big part of MLB and how we can grow the game. [Donaldson] getting a one-game suspension … I don’t know. He made a mistake, owned up to it and we’ve got to move on.” 

Because Donaldson didn’t cross any obvious lines, Major League Baseball had to make a more general case for Donaldson’s one-game suspension, saying that he exercised poor judgment and has been the central figure in multiple bench-clearing incidents. I like the way Craig Calcaterra put it in his newsletter:

I think the general assessment here is that Donaldson was not trying to be racist but he was being a dickhead — and he was being a dickhead in a way that led to a lot greater offense than he imagined because his imagination in that regard is limited by how much of a dickhead he is.

On the subject of players with reputations, Manny Machado is rewriting his. In his fourth year of his 10-year deal with the Padres, Machado is hitting .365/.440/.604 with 58 hits in 42 games, and he’s unlocked finer points of the game as well.

“I’ve never seen him look this good,” Kapler told the Fox broadcasters the following morning, echoing sentiments expressed by Padres people from the start of this season, the fourth of Machado’s 10-year, $300 million contract with San Diego.

“It’s not just what he’s doing at the plate. His leads are insane right now. His defensive awareness, he’s completely locked in. What I saw on the bases (Friday night) was the best I’ve seen from Manny.”

I like how James Fegan tries to get Tim Anderson to reveal how he keeps making hitting look so simple. Anderson still doesn’t have answers that solve the mystery for everybody else, but like Cueto, sometimes it’s just fun to trust the talent.

Taking photos behind on-deck circles in Charlotte and Birmingham, my nose took note of all the different fragrances emerging from the dugout. Given that these are mostly guys in their early 20s, I thought they might’ve been hitting the Axe body spray too hard. And some might be, but this James Wagner story says some of these scents are carefully considered.

Even though most players are often several dozen feet away from each other on the field, Suárez said he likes hearing that he smells good. Pérez said he can sometimes pick up the aroma of Luis Severino, a Dominican pitcher for the Yankees who uses a women’s body splash, despite Severino being 60 feet 6 inches away when facing him.

“I’m a catcher so I sweat a lot,” Pérez said, pointing to all his gear. “So a little perfume helps. The umpires say, ‘Oh Salvy, you smell good.’ I say: ‘Thank you. Give me some strikes.’”

Roger Angell, who died at 101, left such a voluminous body of writing that it’s hard to know where to start, especially since some of the mundane topics featured some of his most carefully considered sentences. Jay Jaffe tried to provide some shortcuts by asking some of today’s most prominent writers about pieces that stuck with them most. (You can also read Joe Bonomo’s No Place I’d Rather Be, which helped me a lot.)

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As Cirensica

That perfume ‘spare’ reminds me a quote from Roberto Alomar. He said that he always wears perfume when he plays because it makes him feel great, and when he feels great, he plays great. Something like that.

I’m like Roberto. Also, I have Latin’s blood. We Latin-American wear a lot of perfume, and I put on perfume even when I am working from home, and nobody is near me. Like Alomar, I do it because it makes me feel great. Fresh. So I work better.

Last edited 1 year ago by As Cirensica

I think the general assessment here is that Donaldson was not trying to be racist but he was being a dickhead — and he was being a dickhead in a way that led to a lot greater offense than he imagined because his imagination in that regard is limited by how much of a dickhead he is.

 Craig Calcaterra

Augusto Barojas

LOL great comment. What is amazing is that in the NY Post link to Judge’s comments, people are posting about first amendment rights/free speech.


The people who love to bring up the Bill of Rights/Constitution are usually the ones who have no understanding of it. They treat it like a “get out of jail free” card for their own shitty behavior.


And the irony in saying Judge should have kept his mouth shut

Last edited 1 year ago by metasox

With Yankees fans upset about Aaron Judge, I’m officially on board with him being traded to the White Sox cheap. That would be a nice right field upgrade.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’d even be okay with not cheap.


Fair point, but let’s not negotiate against ourselves here…


In all seriousness I wish we would offer him a contract this offseason. We need a dynamic hitter to put this team over the top. Of course all Jerry sees is the 100+ plus mil number and quickly hides.


Judge will get closer to 300 than 100. He might get more than 300. I like the chances of our owner ponying up 300+M out of nowhere! Nobody will see it coming.

Last edited 1 year ago by jhomeslice

It would be totally White Sox to give a guy 300mil after he crosses the 30 year old barrier rather then the guy’s they’ve passed on in their 20’s


I’m gonna call it now that he’s going to be a lot closer to the Semien/Springer contracts than the 300M mark. Maybe 7/200M-220M to get the AAV up.


FWIW, he essentially turned down 7/210 (starting in 2023) at the beginning of the season. And so far he’s having a huge year.


Jerry won’t even pretend to “have a seat at the table” like he did with Machado.


It’s insane that that fanbase would pick a literal club house cancer in Donaldson over the present day “Mr. Yankee”. I was ambivalent about Yankee fans before, but they’ve really showed their ass this season.


I wonder if some of the organization wasn’t too happy with the fan taunting and wanted to send a message.


Eloy, Crochet, Cespedes, Burger, Velasquez, Keuchel, Haseley, Mercedes, and Harrison for Judge. 9 for 1, who says no?


Phil Rogers


Haha. What does that trade work out to? Like a -2 or -3 I think.


Donaldson is a dickhead/asshole and anyone who is arguing that is just trolling. I don’t have any evidence to say that he is a racist but I firmly believe that what he said was racist. People say stupid stuff all the time and sometimes it takes new circumstances to understand why you should maybe not be saying the things you’ve said all these years. It’s like the episode of the office where Michael says the “F” word regarding Oscar. His sheltered worldview didn’t allow him to see it as problematic until it impacted someone. The writers of the show at least gave him the balls to see what he said was wrong and grow from it. I’m still waiting on that acknowledgement from Donaldson though.


It wouldn’t be surprised if AJ was blowing similar racist dog whistles like Donaldson


The fuck does this mean?


Josh Donaldson behavior and rep reminds me of AJ, at least the non-racist a-holish aspects.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think you are referring to AJ Pierzynski not AJ Pollock.

I’m not sure the discussion of events of the last few days will benefit from pure speculation about a player who last played for the White Sox in 2012.


Pretty bold accusations there. Yes, they were/are both notorious instigators, but I’ve never seen or read anything to suggest that AJ ever crossed the line like this episode.


Robert on the COVID-19 IL. Booooooo


Calling up Burger to replace him.


Probably got it from ahat Donaldson, who was the first Yankee with symptoms. I can see him as one of those folks with zero concern about Covid protocol, required or otherwise.


Get ready for some Leury Garcia, Starting CF games