FORT WAYNE – The larger world intrudes this fine afternoon, as Jose Valentin sits in his office and deconstructs another day in the life of the 2013 TinCaps. It’s off to his right, maybe two steps away. And it’s the last thing anyone in here wants to think about.
Two steps away there’s a white mini-fridge.
Atop it lies a Sports Illustrated with a certain very famous baseball player on the cover, sitting in a dugout in a white T-shirt. Two bats lean against the bench next to him. The accompanying headline reads The Last Days of A-Rod.
A reminder, intentional or otherwise, of the Biogenesis apocalypse that went off like a 50-megaton bomb on Monday, when MLB commissioner Bud Selig handed down 50-game suspensions to 12 players, including shortstop Everth Cabrera of the TinCaps’ parent Padres, and suspended Alex Rodriguez for the remainder of the 2013 season and the entirety of the 2014 season.
A reminder of something everyone who loves baseball, and pursues it as a profession, is weary to death of discussing.
Jose, with the Biogenesis stuff about to come down someone asked Valentin early Sunday evening.
I’m not gonna talk about that, the TinCaps’ manager interrupted. That has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with I’m not gonna talk about it.
He has, after all, other issues to deal with, like a baseball team that continues to struggle in the second half. It’s a pretty general sentiment in the TinCaps clubhouse, where low-A players focusing on their own futures largely view the whole A-Rod/Biogenesis scandal like they would an explosion on Mars.
It’s really just something we see, says Walker Weickel, a 19-year-old pitcher from Orlando, Fla. At this level, we see it just as the rest of the public sees it.
We come to the ballpark and try to take care of our business the right way and get better each and every day, and just go from there.
For Weickel, that means concentrating on his own deal, which got an upward tick Sunday when he scattered four hits across 4 2/3 innings against Lansing and got the W.
It was his first win since July 15 and was a welcome respite after giving up 15 runs on 16 hits in previous two starts.
All things Biogenesis pale in comparison to that, although there is the customary dismay anyone who’s invested in the game feels.
It’s tough, Weickel says. But you’ve really got to keep it to yourself and play your game and do the best you can. Whatever anybody else does is their business.
You really just have focus on yourself and do whatever you can to help your team win.