JUPITER, Florida – They say baseball is a game of failure, but it’s all about Louis Head. A little over a year ago, before becoming the Man of Many Options with a saga that inspired a change in the rules of Major League Baseball, Head sold door-to-door solar panels in Arizona.
“There are a lot more failures in this industry than in sports,” Head said last week, standing by his locker at the Miami Marlins Clubhouse during spring training. “I mean, for every 100 doors you knock on, they’ll probably say no to 95 times. From these five people you will probably get one or two sales from this. It was the hardest part of it, but it prepared me mentally for last season to be completely honest. Eight months of being told “no” 98 percent of the time, that’s up to you. “
Tampa Bay Race spent much of last season telling him yes and no: Yes, you can come to the big league… no, you can’t stay… repeat. They chose Head to the minors 12 times, luxury teams no longer have. Most players cannot be selected at all without clearing the waivers. But those who can are no longer allowed to be moved 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 list was signed with 26 players on May 1. (Until then, the teams will have 28 active players after the lockout imposes a shortened spring training session.)
“The outsider’s point is like, ‘You’re lucky to play baseball, the compromise is worth it,'” said Pitcher Tyler Glasnow, a Rays union spokesman. “But it’s hard when you lift and move so much – whatever you do is frustrating and annoying. So seeing this happen in this latest CBA is very relieving for people. You can’t just send someone up and down as much as you want to now. There is more strategy that helps the player. “
Part of the value of young players with options – especially for relief – is that teams can easily add and remove them from the active list, providing fresh weapons in the bullpen. But many teams have gone to extremes, and Head’s case has become a topic of conversation between players and owners.
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Despite the inconvenience of being relocated so much, the Tampa Bay experience was extremely positive for Head, who retired last winter before the Rays surprised him with a rehearsal offer. They called him to the majors in April, on his 31st birthday, and received 35 solid innings from him during 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, June 28, August 7, 15 August, August 26, September 8, September 19 and October 2. Head didn’t earn miles for frequent flying, alas, but at least his wife did.
“He was phenomenal,” said Peter Bendix, general manager of Rays. “He had a wild ride and all he did was introduce himself. He didn’t say anything about it, and he did what we needed to do. He deserves great praise for that. “
Head played 26 times for Durham with an average score of 2.20 and 27 times for Tampa Bay with a 2.31 ERA. list, swap it in Miami in November for a player to be named or cash. He is preparing for more of the same.
“If he’s in Miami or Jacksonville, I just want to help the team in any way I can at any level,” Head said, referring to the AAA-class Marlins affiliate. “When 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 selected him in the 18th round of Texas in 2012), the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle and Reyes. When the Mariners released him in May 2020, during the suspension of Covid, Head thought it was the end of his baseball career.
“Finished; I had moved on, “said Head, who was also planning his wedding at the time. “I hadn’t made much money in my career and the pandemic happened and I didn’t make any money. So I had to find a job to help us, and baseball wouldn’t do that.
He consulted with ZipRecruiter, talked to friends and eventually landed with Pure Energy Solar in Tempe, Arizona. Kyle Simmons, the company’s national sales director, mentored Head and called him a model employee who is fully invested in a new career.
“People of athletic descent usually stand out in our organization,” Simmons said in a telephone interview. “You see the competitive nature, the desire to be the best in their craft and to move forward, regardless of the results.
For all the doors that closed in front of him or just never opened, Head produced. From September 2020 until its final sale last May – when it had already reached the major leagues – Head sold 16 custom solar units, and Simmons said he was among the top 15 percent of its sales.
A few months after work, however, the beams called Head’s agent and asked if they could see him throw. After spending a week training, he showed enough to get a contract for the small league with an invitation to spring training. 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 all supported him a lot,” Simmons said. It was like, “You’ve been chasing this for the last decade, and now you have another chance. Solar energy is not going anywhere – and if so, we have a bigger problem.
The up-and-down season would challenge Head physically – from the trip and lack of routine – and mentally, from the knowledge that every time he intervenes for the Rays, he can be sent back to the minors for a fresh hand.
On the other hand, Head said that while he loved selling solar panels, his time outside of baseball made him even more motivated to stay in it.
When I had my first meeting with the Rays, I told them that I would rather give up the home league in the big league and move on to the next field than have someone tell me, “Get off my property!” And we should move on to the next door. “, he said. “It makes life a lot easier to throw baseballs than you have to knock on doors.”