By:  Holly Horning

As many of you know, my profession as an image consultant is to analyze the visual, verbal and non-verbal aspects of individuals and companies. How you look, communicate, and move speaks volumes about who you are, where you are in life and your level of confidence and credibility.

So what does this have to do with baseball? Plenty! When I watch the games, one of my favorite things is to observe the other action – what is happening in the dugout, who’s talking to who and what the players do once the game is over. It is all very telling.

But one observation does not a blog make. So I’ve decided that every once in a while, I’m going to gather and present a cluster of these stories. Small, tasty bites to keep us all thinking. Just think of them as tapas – or Small (Home)Plates.

So let’s get to it…….

Last year, I observed three situations where JV was openly defiant to his new manager, Ausmus. Incidences that involved obscenity-laced tirades, thrown equipment and back-turning.

While things have become less dramatic between the two, recently Brad was seen trying to engage Justin in conversation. Ausmus was trying to make eye contact and using “open” gestures, indicating a desire to connect. But JV would have none of it. He refused to make eye contact and had his arms folded tightly across his chest – an act seen as being defensive as well as resistant. Is it tied to adjusting to a new manager, due to JV’s pitching struggles – or both?

This year’s starting pitchers are a tight bunch. JV has found a new best friend in the form of David Price, sharing a fierce competitive spirit, pet dogs and a love of golf. They are always seen next to each other in the dugout chatting on their off-days. But their group has also grown. Frequent TV pans into the dugout show the non-starting pitchers often sitting together as a group.

Interesting that JV and Max were never seen together in previous years but it was revealed that none of the starters congratulated Max or kept in touch with him since he left. Could team chemistry be much better this year?

Jim Leyland was literally front and center for all three games in Pittsburgh. While the location is not a surprise, JL’s purpose potentially was. His job description is focused on the minor leagues but he also does other assignments at Dombrowski’s request.

He was glued to the action on the field and not conversing with those in his party. But he was occasionally taking notes. Just who was he observing?

A shout-out to our faithful reader, Katherine S., who asked about how Yoenis Cespedes was faring with his new teammates. And I’ve been watching!

As the Tigers were leaving the field after a game, Iggy stopped suddenly, turned around and headed back out to greet Cespedes. And he was enthusiastic in his greeting with a big hug and congratulatory head rub – not the usual “good game” routine.

Cespedes seemed truly happy at the attention which supports the theory that this is a better team environment for him. Still to be determined is whether being on a team with one of MLB’s largest percentages of Latino players will be a major factor in whether he stays or goes after this year.