Louis Head Inspires New Rule for Selection of Players to Minors

JUPITER, Fla. – Baseball is a game of failure, they say, but it’s all relative for Louis Head. A little over a year ago, before he became The Man Of Many Options with a saga that inspired a change in the rule of Major League Baseball, the Head was selling solar panels, door to door, in Arizona.

“There’s more failure in that industry than in sports,” Head said last week, standing next to his locker at the Miami Marlins clubhouse in spring training. “I mean, for every 100 doors you knock on, you’re probably told ‘no’ 95 times. In five people, you might get one or two sales out of that. That’s the hard part about it, but it kind of prepares me mentally for the last time, to be completely honest. Eight months of being told ‘no’ 98 percent of the time, it comes to you.

The Tampa Bay Rays have spent most of the past season telling him yes and no: Yeah, you can go to the big leagues … no, you can’t stay … back. They chose the Head of the minors 12 times, a luxury team that no longer exists. Most players cannot be selected without clearing waivers. But those who can will no longer be allowed to shuffle repeatedly an infinite number of times over the course of a season.

As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, players cannot be selected more than five times once the rosters are contracted to 26 players on May 1. (Teams will bring in 28 active players until then, after the lockout was forced into a shortened spring training.)

“The outside view is like,‘ You’re lucky to be playing baseball, the trade-off is worth it, ’” said pitcher Tyler Glasnow, the Rays ’union representative. “But it’s hard when you take and act that much – whatever you do, it’s frustrating and annoying. That’s why watching this latest CBA happen is very reassuring to people. You can’t send someone as high and low as you want right now. There is more strategy involved and this will help the player.

Part of the cost of young players having options – especially relievers – is that teams can easily add and remove them from the active roster, ensuring a new stable of bullpen arms . But many teams have preferred that, and Head’s case has become a point of discussion in negotiations between players and owners.

Despite the difficulty of maneuvering, the Tampa Bay experience was even more positive for Head, who retired last winter before shocking the Rays with a test offer. They called him to the majors in April, on his 31st birthday, and got 35 solid innings from him the entire season.

But with no restrictions on how they can use him, the Rays chose to Head to their alternative training venue or Class AAA Durham on April 29, April 30, May 1, May 14, May 21, June 28, August 7 , Aug. 15., Aug.. 26, Sept. 8, Sept. 19 and Oct. 2. The head has not collected frequent miles, alas, but at least his wife has collected.

“He’s amazing,” said Peter Bendix, the Rays ’general manager. “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 a lot of praise for that.”

Head pitched 26 times for Durham with a 2.20 earned run average, and 27 times for Tampa Bay with a 2.31 ERA However, the Rays used 38 pitchers last season (not counting position players pitching) and didn’t will remain the Head on the roster, he was sold to Miami in November for a player name or money. He was preparing for more of the same.

“Whether it’s in Miami, or if it’s in Jacksonville, I just want to help the team in any way I can at any level,” said Head, referring to the Marlins ’Class AAA affiliate. “Being out of the game and now back, I just want to win.”

The Marlins are the fifth organization in the Head, after Cleveland (which drafted him in the 18th round from Texas State in 2012), the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle and the Rays. When he was released by the Mariners in May 2020, during the Covid closure, Head considered it the end of his baseball career.

“I’m done; I’d 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 any money. That’s why I had to find a job to help support us, and that can’t be done in baseball.

He consulted ZipRecruiter, talked to friends and finally landed at Pure Energy Solar in Tempe, Ariz. Kyle Simmons, the company’s national director of sales, mentored the Head and called him a model employee who is fully invested in a new career.

“People with athletic backgrounds are often superior in our organization,” Simmons said in a phone interview. “You see the competitive nature, the driver to be at the very best of their skill and keep moving forward, no matter what the consequences.”

For all the doors that closed on him, or never opened, Head did. From September 2020 until his last sale in May – when he had already reached the major leagues – Head sold 16 custom -made solar units, and Simmons said he was in the top 15 percent of the his sales force.

A few months into the job, though, the Rays called Head’s agent and asked if they could see him passing. After a week of preparation, he showed up enough to secure a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The head learned a different shape for his slider, adjusted the angle of his arm and revived his original career.

“When he got the offer, we were all very supportive of him,” Simmons said. “It’s like: ‘You kept it up for the last decade, and now you’ve got that shot again. Solar isn’t going anywhere – and if it is, we have a bigger problem.'”

The up -and -down weather can challenge Head physically – from travel and lack of routine – and mentally, from the knowledge that every time he stands up for the Rays, he can be sent back to the minors. for a fresh arm.

Once again, says Head, while he enjoys selling solar panels, his time outside of baseball makes him even more motivated to stay inside of it.

“When I first met the Rays, I told them I’d rather give up a home run in the big leagues and move on to the next pitch than have someone tell me, ‘Get out of my property!’ and have to move to the next door, “he said.” It makes life a lot quicker throwing baseballs than knocking on doors. “

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