Discreetly close your mouth and lead

Yesterday morning Kevin Acee of the U-T interviewed Padres catcher Nick Hundley. With catcher Yasmani Grandal returning shortly from his steroid suspension Acee took the opportunity to ask Nick about his feelings on the matter of competition. Nick did not disappoint, offering up this little piece of controversy:

“You want to talk about a guy who is unproven and had a good couple months on steroids, go ahead,” Hundley said on Wednesday.

But it’s what Hundley said next that makes this more about him than Grandal.

“I’ve got a job to do,” Hundley continued.

After reading this column yesterday, I offered the following on twitter:

Padres fans appeared to universally applaud Nick Hundley’s feelings on the matter but fans fell into two distinct camps: the group that thought he should have kept his mouth shut and not upset team chemistry and the group that thought it was a good thing that he gave an honest assessment of Yasmani Grandal.

As a member of the former group I would like to thoughtfully express my thoughts on the matter. I’ve taken 15 hours to digest it all. I’m trying to be . . . discreet.

Why do we never hear Bud Black “air-out” a player after he has a terrible game rife with mental errors? I mean have we ever heard Bud Black do that? Do we ever hear any managers do that? For the most part we don’t. The goal for any manager is to improve a player’s game and the discussions that take place between the two are teachable moments which take place in private. Is the goal to improve the player or embarrass him in public through the local newspaper? It’s the former, lest a manager risk creating a fissure in the clubhouse with his players.

I just asked a lot of questions. Here’s another. What should Nick Hundley have said when prompted with a Yasmani Grandal question?

OK. Pretend I’m Nick Hundley. Perfect. “Yasmani is our teammate and we’ll welcome him back when he walks through those clubhouse doors. But he’s also going to have to earn back the trust of his teammates. Right now, I can’t worry about that though. I have a job to do.”

Is it a bit cliche? Sure, but it’s SUPPOSED to be! Nick Hundley is often described as a leader in the clubhouse and as a leader it’s incumbent upon him to NOT set-up two camps within the clubhouse: The Hundley Homers versus The Partisans of Grandal*.

* I actually like this moniker. If Grandal comes back and produces we could all wear olive-drab fatigues and fake beards as we cheer on our favorite non-steroid-using Cuban catcher.

I love how Nick Hundley feels but it would be wise for him to choose his words more judiciously next time. The Padres don’t need any additional barriers put in place to stop their ascent to .500.


People were bashing Kevin Acee yesterday for asking Nick Hundley a “loaded question”. That’s freakin’ ridiculous. Nick didn’t have to answer it.

People were also saying that Nick Hundley’s words were the words of a desperate man, one who currently finds himself in an 0-17 slide. I disagree. Nick Hundley is the catcher first and foremost. And in his last three starts, Padres pitchers have given up 1 run (all wins) while pitching to the University of Arizona product.

Fox’s Ken Rosenthal applauded both Hundley’s candor and his decision to attack the issue of steroids in baseball. Here’s the problem though. This isn’t the late 90s when players didn’t say anything about the steroid issue. This isn’t the late 9os when baseball writers (like Ken Rosenthal) didn’t say anything about the steroid issue. It is 2013 and players receive suspensions for using PEDs. Yasmani Grandal has already been called out by the league and wears the Scarlett letter of steroid user. Nick Hundley doesn’t need to weigh-in on the matter when both guys are going o be sharing the same clubhouse in 3 weeks. Let the play do the talking. The play.

I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM where I only mention female pop music sensations from the late 1990s when prompted . . . 7 days a week.

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  • I too fall in the camp that wishes Nick Hundley would have shown more leadership when queried about Yosmani Grandal’s imminent return. Do I appreciate his opinion? Sure, and a small part of me wonders how long “Springs” has been using, as it is conceivable Grandal has had a long relationship with the Biogenesis people putting his entire baseball career in question. But Hundley knows everyone has doubts on how well Grandal will perform. A true leader would want the best from his teammates, thus the best for the team. Nick does not want what is best for the Padres, and only looks to be concerned with himself.

    Hundleys motives are obvious, as Grandal will surely compete for playing time against him (and what of the poor ascot kid?!, is another sub plot to this as well). Catching production should be improving, which means Hundley’s recent slump will result in less ABs in the near future. Yes, the Padres just held the Marlins to one run scored in a series, but even Nick knows the road ahead is tougher, both from the opponent’s offense and pitching prowess. He has little time to get back on track, and may be feeling the pressure of the competition ahead.

    Still, we expect more from leaders. We want leaders to unite the team. We want them to make the best of the hand that is dealt. Grandal is coming back. Hundley cannot stop this. And instead of stepping up and welcoming an additional asset that can improve his club, he chose to throw a teammate under the bus, worried only about himself.

  • Question: Does this have any effect on the Padres’ plans to address the three-headed catcher situation when Grandal does finally come back? Also, Grandal just retweeted this line from the Notebook: “This is how it goes: I will respect those who respect me, and forget those who forget me. Simple as that.” Scandalous!

    • There is no 3-headed catcher situation. Our favorite ascot wearing backup C is not good at baseball and needs to be gone.

      • But the Twitter handle!

        I guess I meant this as, while I think even the average fan would pick out Hundley and Grandal as the two best catchers, will the organization attempt to move Hundley because they could sell high at a position where a lot of teams would be looking for help and remove a possible clubhouse issue in one fell swoop?

    • He did not tweet that!? No!

  • Pat M.

    I agree with most of this, but Grandal is a MUCH better option behind the backstop than Hundley. Hundley is no Molina (Jose, or Yadier, for that matter), and with the state of the Padres pitching, we are going to need all the offense we can get. We swept the Marlins, which is nice, but they are the Marlins. I think Hundley should have kept his mouth shut not only to avoud dividing the clubhouse, but also because there is no concrete evidence that shows steroids made Grandal a better baseball player. Hundley just sounds petty, and I can’t imagine speaking that way towards a coworker.