One wonders sometimes what professional athletes are thinking. Former Diamondback catcher Mike DiFelice sent himself to Tucson at the beginning of the team’s most recent road trip. He might as well have bought a ticket to Siberia as far as his chances of getting back with the parent team are concerned.
DiFelice was almost a throw-in in the deal that brought starting pitcher Albie Lopez to Arizona. Yet, he was immediately given duties catching Lopez and Brian Anderson. His lack of offensive production was a problem, but apparently would not have kept him from the line-up. DiFelice got his first hit as a D-Back in the final game of the Cubs series and received cheers from the crowd and high fives from his teammates. He had given some cause for concern in a brawl with the Pirates at Phoenix earlier in that home stand.
Coming from a last place Tampa Bay team to the first place Diamondbacks should have been all the incentive anyone would need to protect their good fortune. DiFelice was suddenly in a position where he would probably be with a team that would make the play-offs and maybe even the World Series. He would almost certainly have seen playing time throughout the rest of the season and as far into the post season as the team could go.
On the first night in Pittsburgh, DiFelice was involved in an ugly incident at a nightclub well after the time he should have been at the hotel in bed. He was arrested for assault on three different people, two of them women. The circumstances of the incident are not known, but it is difficult to see how they could be justified. Maybe the most damaging fact is that he was where he was when he was. He should not have even been there.
Owner Jerry Colangelo, the Diamondback front office and the Arizona fans are not likely to approve a bar room fight under any circumstances, much less one involving one of their athletes and a woman. DiFelice has put on a Diamondback uniform for the last time. Look for him to be part of a deal out of the organization in the near future.
This case was not helped when the Diamondbacks saw their nine game winning streak end in Pittsburgh the night after that fateful morning. Arizona managed only two hits and lost with its ace, Curt Schilling, on the mound. There is no proof that the DiFelice incident had anything to do with that loss, nor with the one two days later when the usually patsy Pirates took the series by beating the great Randy Johnson. There is also no proof that the incident did not have an effect. Such distractions have been known to cause damage and it is certain that it did not help.
No one enjoys DiFelice’s troubles. Arizona fans and his teammates had already shown a willingness to welcome him and make him a part of their “family”. On the other hand, most agree with the team striving to maintain a wholesome image. This type of behavior and incident is not compatible with that image.
It is not likely that anyone not related to DiFelice bemoaned his demotion to Tucson or will do so at his ultimate trade or release. He left few other options and he has no one to blame but himself.