GOODYEAR, AZ. — The Mat Latos assertions that there was no leadership or command structure in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse, that it became a circus after Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo left, brought up an interesting question Tuesday morning in manager Bryan Price’s office.
The question: “Speaking of hard questions, (general manager) Walt Jocketty said that he has gone to players and said, ‘We need you to lead. The front office can’t do it, the coaches can’t do it, the manager can’t do it.’ Do you need somebody in that role and who do you think can do it?”
PRICE THEN LAUNCHED into a long many-parts answer to a question that is difficult to quantify because how important is it really for there to be a clubhouse leader? If a team is good enough, does it need a leader? If a team does things right, does it need a leader?
“I am a firm believer in leadership, but what I also know from my experiences is that telling somebody to be a leader is completely different from having someone that has inherent leadership ability,” said Price. “What we try to do is free up that ability and get away from the thinking that the oldest and most established player has to be the leader.”
Of the current players on his team, Price mentioned young guys like Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier as possible leaders. Why not Joey Votto or Jay Bruce? It isn’t inherent within their personalities to be vocal leaders. They are the leaders-by-example types.
“It is not within who thy are, not within their temperament,” Price said of some veterans. “If that mean a bigger voice or bigger influence comes from Devin or Zack or Todd, that’s not about respect but it is about somebody being capable and willing to step up.”
There is an option, if needed. Marlon Byrd, 37, has played in the major for a decade and for seven different teams. He has the personality and the experience.
“Byrd is a guy who fits both criteria — a veteran guy who has the respect of our veteran players and our young guys,” said Price. “And he is well-versed enough in how to play the game and set and uphold a standard that needs to be upheld inside the clubhouse.”
But Price won’t tell Byrd to lead, or anybody else, because leadership is natural, not an acquired trait.
“I don’t believe you can tell somebody to lead because we can all sniff that guy out,” Price added. “He is a guy who tries to lead but doesn’t believe, he is doing it out of necessity instead of an inherent ability. Players sniff that out.”
Price also believes leadership isn’t always necessary, but there are some big ‘ifs’ attached.
“If everybody plays the game the right way and plays hard, you don’t need much,” he said. “If somebody sees something out of place and just says, ‘Hey, that’s not going to work, that’s not how we do things here.’ We know what our message is. It is trying to get 25 guys who all believe in the message and hold each other accountable. Then we don’t have to talk about Scott Rolen and Bronson Arroyo and who is supposed to be a leader, but that we have guys who believe in the system.”
THERE IS A whiteboard in manager Bryan Price’s office that has been blank all week. Usually it is filled with the names of every player in camp and listed in order of ‘importance.’ It was easy to figure out which pitchers were at the top of the pecking order and which ones were at the bottom.
The board will filled Tuesday morning, but Price pulled a fast one on us. Every player is listed in alphabetical order at his position (pitchers, catchers, infielders, outfielders).
“Mark Stowe (clubhouse attendant) came in and he asked if I wanted them listed as starters and relievers and I said, ‘No, alphabetically. Thaet’s all we need. No depth chart just yet, because we can’t really make a depth chart yet.”
WOULD YOU BELIEVE in the quality of a German restaurant named Haus Murphy? C’mon, how many German Murphys do you know?
Fellow writer Gary Schatz and I took the gamble and it paid off. My sausages and German potato fries were legitimate, as was Schatz’s German meat loaf.
Haus Murphy is in Old Glendale and it was a stopgap. We were headed for La Fiesta al Forno in Old Glendale, an outstanding Italian restaurant owned by a friend of Todd Frazier, “Good ol’ Jersy Italian food,” said Frazier.
To our dismay, we discovered it is closed on Mondays, so Haus Murphy was right down the street. But we are returning to Old Glendale and La Fiesta al Forno tonight.
BUBBA WATSON, two-time Masters champion and No. 2 golfer in the world, is the owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Reds Class AA affiliate. He was in camp Tuesday and as he stood in the clubhouse he was leaning on a baseball bat instead of a putter.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: During the diatribe fired out by Mat Latos against the Reds, he said that Sam LeCure is th funniest baseball player he ever encountered. When asked about it, LeCure laughed and said, “That just shows you how wrong he is about everything.”