MILWAUKEE —One day. That’s all Jonathan India needed after getting blindsided by the business of big-league sports for the first time in his career.
“It was a mental day for me,” the Cincinnati Reds second baseman said Tuesday after spending the previous 30 hours or so seeing and hearing his name in trade speculation all over social media and even the sports talk shows on the clubhouse TVs.
“I needed a day to control my emotions,” he said. “It’s my first time going through something like this.”
The 2021 Rookie of the Year was back in the lineup again Tuesday, back to himself, another day wiser, if not necessarily any more sure whether he’ll still be wearing the only uniform he wants to wear when the trade deadline passes on Tuesday.
“I talked to people in the organization saying it’s just a rumor,” India said. “At the end of the day it’s out there for a reason.”
The original report early Monday that suggested the Reds were making India available for controllable young pitching was vastly overstated, according to sources, who considered it very unlikely India would be traded.
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He’s not the only player on the Reds’ talented young roster teams have been asking about in trade discussions. But he’s the one whose name was mentioned to a reporter by one of those teams, and then it went viral.
“It sucks. It’s not a good feeling,” India said. “I give a lot to this organization, a lot to this team. I’ve played for this team in situations where I shouldn’t have been playing, and done a lot. I’ve put my heart and my body on the line for this team.
“You never know, what’s just rumored maybe. I hope. All I can do is control what I can control.”
On Tuesday that included hitting a single off Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes in the fourth inning to drive in the first run of one of the biggest games of the season so far, and then in the bottom of the inning firing a relay throw from right field to the plate to nab Andruw Monasterio for the final out of the inning.
Those came after an inning-ending quick tag at second on a 1-3-4 pickoff play that prevented a run from scoring from third.
“Jon’s a really good player. He wants to play every day; I know that about him. I know he wants to win,” said teammate and mentor Joey Votto, one of the teammates India leaned on Monday as he dealt with the waves of emotions.
“He said, “I’m sorry; I’ve never been through that obviously. I couldn’t imagine what you’re going through. But I’m here for you, whatever you need,’ “ said India, who also leaned on Tyler Stephenson and Nick Senzel, friends and teammates from the start of his career.
All his teammates were there for him.
“Every single one of them came up to me and gave me a hug,” he said. “They have my back, every single one of them, and the coaches.”
As much as anything, that underscored how unusual it was Monday for India to display anything but upbeat energy and game-face focus – as well as what he means to a lot of this especially young group of players.
“He’s our guy,” rookie Matt McLain said.
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He’s also one of the young guys, even if it doesn’t always seem that way with so many rookies around him.
“People think I’m old, but I’m still young. I’m not a veteran,” he said of feeling the weight of trade rumors for the first time. “And I’m human. … I’m learning.”
And even if he believes it’s other teams driving the rumors by asking about him in talks – even if he understands why it makes sense that an accomplished young player with three years of club control and a productive track record would be appealing – it still sucks.
“It makes sense for them to trade me,” he said, pointing out the infield duplication on the roster with the emergence of Spencer Steer, McLain and Elly De La Cruz.
“But they know I don’t want to leave. They know I love this place,” he said. “And I love being a part of this team. But it is a business at the end of the day.”
And the end of the worst day has passed, if he has his way.
“We’ll see what happens,” India said. “All I can do is worry about my process and help the team win.”
And if he and the rest of the core are intact as the deadline passes, he knows one thing:
“We’re going to be the best versions of ourselves every day once this is over,” he said. “I know once we get past this, and there’s no more rumors and we’re just back to playing the game we love and playing together, we know we’re going to stay together for the rest of the year. That’s what a lot of us need in our minds. It’s going to be really good for us.”