New babies, new priorities for Reds
Ross, Lohse, Dunn and Harang are balancing baseball with less sleep, more pride and joy.
By Hal McCoy
Thursday, March 29, 2007
SARASOTA, Fla. — When fans think of professional baseball players, they think of skills on a playing field and a rugged persona, something between The Marlboro Man and a photo in GQ.
Not often does anybody think about their personal lives, what they do and how they think when they are away from the ballpark.
Yes, they are husbands. Yes, they are fathers.
In fact, four members of the Cincinnati Reds became fathers for the first time last winter, turning them into babbling goo-goo and gah-gah guys when they talk about their offspring.
To a man, they talk about a change of lifestyle and a change of priorities, whether it be Adam Dunn, David Ross, Aaron Harang or Kyle Lohse — who all became first-time fathers during the off-season.
Dunn's wife, Rachel, gave birth to a boy, Brady in November, and Dunn beams as if he went 10 straight games without a strikeout.
"Change my lifestyle? You bet," he said. "I spend a lot more time at home. I enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would. I always liked to be out doing things. I just liked to be on the go, period. Do stuff. I didn't know how I'd handle staying home and being Mr. Mom. But it has worked out well and I've enjoyed it a lot."
Dunn remembers nodding his head but paying little attention when people told him lifestyles change with an infant's arrival.
"People always said it would change your outlook on life and I said, 'Yeah, whatever. It's just another person in your house,' " Dunn said. "But if anyone is a believer, I sure am. It has put things in perspective for me. You have a long day at work and you come home and he is sitting there laughing at you and it makes it pretty easy. Nothing is so bad after that."
Ross' wife, Hyla, gave birth to Landri in February, and he says sleep-deprivation comes with the territory.
"A lot less sleep," confirmed Ross. "And your priorities are a little different. On off days I give my wife a break, rather than me go play golf or do something with the guys. I hang out with the baby, because I don't get to see her that much. Give the wife a break because she is always on lockdown with the baby. Of course, she's breast-feeding, so there isn't much I can do there."
Ross, too, says trouble at the ballpark takes on lesser importance once he drives out of the parking lot.
"You have a bad day at the plate or in the game and you come home and she starts smiling at you," he said. "That makes things different. It is definitely a change in a lot of ways and everybody told me it would be.
"But it's so great, just amazing. The best blessing I ever had," Ross said. "You have more respect for mothers — women, mothers, childbirth. Raising a child is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week job. I get to come to work and hang out with the guys, but they're busy 24-7."
Lohse's wife, Gabrielle, gave birth to Kameron in January, and he had trouble expressing what first-time fatherhood is like.
"It's, uh, you can't begin to explain it, but you get that nine-month prep period where you don't get to do the things you used to do," said Lohse. "Once the baby comes, it's the greatest thing in the world, but it's the craziest time, especially the first one. Babies don't come with a handbook on what you're supposed to do. But the whole thing is a pretty cool experience."
Harang's wife, Jennifer, gave birth to Addison in October and Harang, a man of few syllables, bubbles over when talking about the baby.
"You don't go out to dinner any more, or very often," he said, and for a guy 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, that's an inhumane sacrifice. "You have to be picky where you go, too. You have to come up with a pattern to do things after you feed her. When you feed 'em every three hours, you have to think about six hours ahead, just in case.
"At least she sleeps through the night and we're lucky with that. Her last feeding is 9:30, 10 o'clock and she'll usually go down and sleep until 8:30 to 10. She's a sleeper."
As with the other new fathers, Harang is now able to leave bad vibrations in his clubhouse locker.
"When you go home and see that smile she gives you, that smile every day, you don't think about anything else," said Harang. "You see that smile in the morning and afternoon.
"I could have the worst day on the mound, give up a ton of runs, but I go home and see that smile and, well, she doesn't think anything different about me."
Sounds like a four-way tie for Father of the Year.
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