Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reported yesterday that Alex Verdugo showed up late to Nationals Park on Friday, after the team already had its daily hitters meeting.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t learn of Verdugo’s tardiness until he was heading out to the field for the workout but would “address it” with him. General Manager Farhan Zaidi is on this trip with the team and said the same thing.
“I haven’t spoken to him yet so I don’t know his explanation,” Zaidi said. “But I plan to speak with him.”
Somebody had already spoken to Verdugo. Almost immediately after his late arrival, the young outfielder was approached by veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who dressed down the September call-up in front of his locker.
“That’s the way it should be,” Roberts said of the veteran’s initiative.
Not only is Rich Hill a valuable part of the pitching rotation, but he is a valuable part of the clubhouse culture, as shown by his “dressing down” young Alex. That is exactly what makes a cohesive team: Vets being there to mentor the youngsters. Rich Hill is an effusive guy who is loved by his teammates, but most of all, he is respected for what he has accomplished and all that he has overcome. Rich Hill, along with Clayton Kershaw is one of the hardest workers on the team. He arrives early and stays late and appreciates what he has worked hard for.
Sometimes we take stuff like that for granted, but I can tell you that in my own life I see the value of it every day. As the CEO and elder statesman in my own company, I see how some young people think they know it all and sometimes you have to jolt them back to reality. Several weeks ago, we had a nice young man in our warehouse who was late two or three times a week. His supervisor had talked to him and was ready to fire him, so I said “let me talk to him first“. I called him into my office and told him this:
“______, I have you here to talk about your repeated lateness. [He started to say something] This is the part where you shut up and listen to me. You have a great future here, but you might not be around to see it because you are going to get fired because you can’t show up on time. How dumb is that? I like you. I want you to be here. I want to see you climb the ladder, but I will fire your ass if you can’t show up on time. That’s all I have to say. I don’t need any response from you. Just show up, step up and shut up. I’m not going to talk about this again. Are we clear?”
He has never been late i the past 3 weeks, and I make it a point to talk to him everyday as I walk through the warehouse. He shows up, steps up and shuts up. Maybe young Alex needed the exact same thing. Good on Rich Hill for talking to him. Encounters like that can make a career.
Rich Hill is a vocal guy who is not afraid to call a young player out. I don’t think Adrian Gonzalez or Andre Ethier is comfortable doing that. Chase Utley doesn’t do it just like that – it’s more by example. Justin Turner is inclined to do it but not to the extent that Rich Hill did it. In just his second season with the Dodgers, Rich Hill may very well be the Mayor of the Dodgers Clubhouse… and who is better to do that than Rich Hill? He’s the guy who runs the clubhouse? Yes, I think so.
Rich Hill’s value to the Dodgers is much greater than what he does on the mound. Rich Hill gives me reason to believe that this 2017 version of the LA Dodgers can win it all.
Rants and Raves
- Grant Holmes had a nice game as he threw 6⅓ innings and gave up 3 runs (2 earned) , 4 hits and 3 BB, as the Drillers lost to the RockHounds (the series is tied 2-2. Grant is still only 21 and still has a shot at the majors. He made some progress this year, pitching 148 innings with a 4.49 ERA and 1.416 WHIP. He could be an inning-eating #5 starter yet!
- Yadier Alvarez got the loss as he pitched 4.1 innings, giving up 4 runs, 5 hits and 2 BB while fanning 1. He had better figure out something over the winter. I see him dropping out of the Top 100 MLB prospects and maybe out of the Dodgers Top 20… certainly the Top 10. What talent he is squandering. Rich Hill should “dress him down!”
- Sunday Night Baseball – Ryu vs. Strasburg on ESPN as the Dodgers go for the sweep of the Nats.
- “Can the Dodgers just turn it back on?” Asked and answered! I was listening to MLB Radio yesterday and the announcers who were former players thought the Dodgers losing streak came at an opportune time and it really didn’t mean much. They cited case-after-case where teams played good or bad at the end of the season and how it really meant nothing. It’s what you do in the playoffs. Jody McDonald said “When you walk into the Dodgers Clubhouse, it’s different from most teams. You sense immediately that they have unfinished business. This season means nothing. They are playing for that Championship Trophy!”
Rich Hill Image Courtesy of Sports Illustrated