Q: Why does Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell routinely praise the bullpen in his post-game comments after the continue to blow leads? — NANCY, Asheville, N.C.
A: One of a manager’s main functions is to keep peace in the valley, which means no heavy public criticism of his players. It is better to massage egos with soothing salve than to blister them with hurtful words. That leads to a dysfunctional clubhouse and pouting players. It would be refreshing, though, to hear a manager say, “They stunk up the joint tonight.”
Q: Former catchers seem to make good managers, there are so many, but can you recall any former pitchers become successful managers? — BRIAN, Bellbrook.
A: Oh, yeah. Several. Remember Tommy Lasorda? He was a major league pitcher, albeit briefly. Roger Craig, the master of teaching the split-fingered fastball, was a manager. Bud Black currently manages the Colorado Rockies. Former Cleveland Indians star pitcher Bob Lemon managed the New York Yankees. Remember speedballer Walter Johnson? He was a manager. And there was Dallas Green and John Farrell. When former pitcher Mickey Calloway was named New York Mets manager he became the 49th former major league pitcher to become a manager.
Q: With the baseball season starting after only two weeks of spring/summer training, does that show that six weeks of spring training is unnecessary? — BARBARA — Providence, R.I.
A: Pitchers need the full six weeks. Just ask Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Kluber, Alex Wood and Cincinnati’s Anthony DeSclafani. They didn’t make it through the first week without suffering injuries. And starters aren’t prepared to go deep in games. Chicago’s Jon Lester had a no-hitter for five innings against the Reds and left the game.
Q: If there had been an All-Star game this year, who would have managed the American League team? — STOCC, Miamisburg.
A: Normally, the manager of each league’s World Series team manages his league’s All-Star team. Houston won the World Series, but manager A.J. Hinch was fired because of the sign-stealing episode. The current Astros manager, Dusty Baker would have managed the AL team. But of course, COVID-19 canceled the All-Star game, making the question moot.
Q: I don’t see Billy Hamilton’s name on the San Francisco Giants roster or their minor league roster, so was he cut? — BOB, Jenson Beach, Fla.
A: Right now he is probably racing jackrabbits in an open field and beating them. Hamilton was not on the Giants spring roster, but was invited to camp as a non-roster player. He missed ‘Summer Camp’ because, as manager Gabe Kapler said, due to an undisclosed illness. Hamilton is on the Giants 60-man pool, but Kapler said he isn’t yet in baseball shape.
Q: Two friends in Chicago, one a Cubs fan and one a White Sox fan, are raving about Yoan Moncada, so who is he? — KEITH, Brookville.
A: He is a Cuban-born infielder, but he is not a rookie. He signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2015 and he was traded, along with four other minor-leaguers, to the White Sox for pitcher Chris Sale. They are probably excited because in his first two games this year he was 4 for 9 with two doubles and a home run. He seems for real. Last year he had 25 home runs and 34 doubles in 511 at bats as Chicago’s third baseman. And as i write this, while watching an Indians-White Sox game, Moncada just singled up the middle. Through Thursday’s games he was hitting .333 (7 for 21).
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Q: Watching the first few games on TV I spotted several pitchers spitting on the mound and will they be fined? — GREG, Beavercreek.
A: I noticed that, too. And I saw dugout ‘high fives’ and pats on the posterior. According to MLB’s 110-page protocol manual for playing during the pandemic, those are no-no’s. But the document reads like a lawyer’s brief, full of legalese, and maybe the offending players didn’t understand it or read too deeply into the manual. Will they be fined? Hey, they haven’t even been warned yet.