JUPITER, Florida – Baseball is a game of failure, they say, but it’s all relative to Louis Head. Just over a year ago, before becoming the Man of Many Options with a rug that inspired a rule change in Major League Baseball, Head sold door-to-door solar panels in Arizona.
“There are a lot more failures in that industry than in sports,” Head said last week, standing next to his locker at the Miami Marlins Clubhouse at spring training. “I mean, for every 100 doors you knock on, you’ll probably be told ‘no’ 95 times. Of those five people, you will probably get one or two sales from it. It was the hardest part of it, but it kind of mentally prepared me for last season, to be perfect. Eight months when you’re told ‘no’ 98 percent of the time, it catches up to you. “
The Tampa Bay Rays spent most of last season telling him yes and no: Yes, you can come to the big league… no, you can’t stay… repeat. They have chosen Head to the Minor 12 times, and luxury teams are no more. Most players cannot be optional without deleting the waiver. But those who can are no longer allowed to move back and forth an unlimited number of times during the season.
As part of the new collective agreement, players cannot be selected more than five times after the 26-player agreements are drawn up on 1 May. (The teams will have 28 active players by then, after the lockout forced a shortened spring training session.)
‘The outsider’s perspective is like,’ You’re lucky enough to play baseball, the compromise is worth it, ‘said pitcher Tyler Glasnow, a representative of Rice’s union. “But it’s hard when you get up and move so much – whatever you do, it’s frustrating and boring. So, seeing this happen in this latest CBA is a great relief for people. You can’t just send someone up and down as much as you want now. More strategy is involved and it helps the player. ”
Part of the value of young players with options – especially facilitators – is that teams can easily add and remove them from the active roster, providing fresh weapons on the bench. But many teams have taken it to extremes, and Head’s case has become a topic in negotiations between players and owners.
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Despite the agony of so many relocations, the experience in Tampa Bay was extremely positive for Head, who retired last winter before the Rays surprised him with an offer to try out. They invited him to the main tournaments in April, on his 31st birthday, and got 35 solid innings from him throughout the season.
But with no restrictions on how they could use it, the Rays chose to head to their alternative training location or AAA Durham class on April 29, April 30, May 1, May 14, May 21, 28 June, August 7, August 15, August 26, September 8, September 19 and October 2. Head did not collect kilometers for frequent flights, unfortunately, but at least his wife.
“He was phenomenal,” said Peter Bendix, general manager of Rice. “He had a wild ride and all he did was perform. He didn’t say anything about it, and whatever we needed, he did. He deserves great praise for that. “
Head threw 26 times for Durham with 2.20 running averages earned, and 27 times for Tampa Bay with 2.31 ERA Even so, the Rays used 38 pitchers last season (not counting the players in the throwing position) and didn’t keep Head is on the roster, replacing him in Miami in November for a player to be named or cashed. He is preparing for more of them.
“If he’s in Miami, or if he’s in Jacksonville, I just want to help the team in any way at any level,” Head said, referring to Marlins’ AAA class affiliate. “I’m out of the game, and now I’m back, I just want to win.”
The Marlins are Head’s fifth organization, after Cleveland (who drafted him in the 18th round from Texas in 2012), the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle and Reyes. When the Mariners released him in May 2020, during the shutdown of Covid, Head felt it was the end of his baseball career.
“I was done; I moved on, ”said Head, who was also planning his wedding at the time. “I didn’t make much money in my career, and the pandemic happened and I didn’t make money. So I had to get a job to help support us, and baseball didn’t want that. “
He consulted with ZipRecruiter, talked to friends and finally arrived with Pure Energy Solar in Tempe, Ariz. Kyle Simmons, the company’s national sales director, was Head’s mentor and called him an exemplary employee who fully invested in his new career.
“People with athletic experience usually stand out in our organization,” Simons said in a telephone interview. “You see the competitive nature, the desire to be the best in their craft and to keep going forward, no matter the results.”
For all the doors that closed to him or simply never opened, Head produced. From September 2020 until its final sale in May last year – when it had already reached the major leagues – Head sold 16 custom-made solar units, and Simmons said it ranked among the top 15 percent of its sales force.
However, a few months after work, the Rays called Head’s agent and asked him if they could see him throw. After a week to prepare, he showed enough to win a contract in the lower league with an invitation to spring training. Head learned a different shape for his skater, adjusted the angle of his arm and revived his original career.
“When he received the offer, we were all very supportive,” Simons said. “It was like, ‘You’ve been looking for this for the last decade, and now you have another chance. Solar is not going anywhere – and if it is, we have a bigger problem. “
A season of ups and downs would challenge Head physically – due to travel and lack of routine – and mentally, due to the knowledge that every time he qualified for the Rays he could be returned to the minors for a fresher hand.
And yet, Head said, while enjoying selling solar panels, time outside of baseball further motivated him to stay in it.
When I had my first meeting with the Rays, I told them that I would rather give up home running in the big leagues and move on to the next field than have someone say to me, ‘Get off my property!’ and I have to move to the next door, “he said. “It makes life a lot easier to throw a baseball than to knock on a door.”