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Aroldis Chapman had family problems last year

Mar 15, 2012, 10:31 AM EDT

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates Getty Images

Aroldis Chapman took a step back last year, walking a ton more guys than he had previously. Yesterday Dusty Baker told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that Chapman had some family issues that may have affected his focus, and that, for him, family problems are trickier than they are for other guys:

“Last year he had some off-the-field stuff going on, Cuban family stuff. That makes it tough … Right now he’s different than most,” Baker said. “Most of the other Latins can go home. He can’t go home. If he goes home he might not be able to come back out.”

One always has to take this stuff with a grain of salt — the spring lends itself to guys talking about past troubles as if they were isolated incidents — but I think Dusty Baker has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to talking about and dealing with his players’ personal problems.

I’ve mentioned this a lot in the past, but I thought that Baker’s public handling of Joey Votto‘s anxiety issues a couple of years ago was near perfect. He was likewise great in dealing with Mike Leake’s weird shirt-theft thing.  Baker seems to get that kind of stuff — and is able to talk about that kind of stuff — in a way that is more clear and intelligent and with more empathy than most managers.

It’s one of the reasons, I’ll wager, why he’s so popular with his players, basically everywhere he’s been.

  1. Tribe&Browns&Cavs - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    I still haven’t gotten over the ESPN The Mag article from last year where he talked about loving fashion and modeling and only playing baseball because he’s good at it. That’s what I blamed the backslide on.

  2. stlouis1baseball - Mar 15, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    I anxiously await Metalheads “my glass is always half empty” comment.

    • brucewaynewins - Mar 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      As do we all.

      • paperlions - Mar 15, 2012 at 12:10 PM

        half empty? who added water?

    • El Bravo - Mar 15, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      HA! Nice.

      • metalhead65 - Mar 15, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        if there is something in my glass it will be beer not water! as for Chapmann I love what the reds are doing with him! it is absolutly the right thing to keep moving chapman from starter to the pen. and in 3 years when he has finaly established himself as one or the other and his contract is up, the yankees or red sox will be thankfull the reds spent all that money developing him for them. you know there is no way the small market reds will be able to afford to resign him. oh well we will always have the memories of his 2010 performance.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Dusty’s far from perfect, but I would definitely feel good having him in my corner if I was having personal issues. He really does have a very honorable track record of helping his guys, and that goes a long way with me.

    • The Rabbit - Mar 15, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Agree completely.
      Isn’t that the managers job in every field? To support the “team” and help each player reach maximum potential? Dusty’s skills would translate everywhere.
      No one’s perfect but it’s really too bad there aren’t more like him.

  4. cintiphil - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    We all hope that Dusty is correct with his assessment. We need Chapmann to be very good this year in order to challenge the Cards in the Central. I am a little wary of the easy excuses for non performers though. It may well be that he was a little homesick. However, before we swallow this hook line and sinker, did the homesick stuff cause him to have a sore shoulder two times last year.What did the Reds do to correct that? I haven’t heard anything about it since he stopped playing Winter ball because of the soreness.. It may be that the Duster is just whistling past the grave yard. I do hope that he is correct however.

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