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.
- Aaron Judge critical of Josh Donaldson’s ‘Jackie’ comment to Tim Anderson — New York Post
- Josh Donaldson suspended for actions vs. White Sox — MLB.com
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.)