Sure, it was a worthy challenge to make breathtaking catches and hit .533 in the American League Championship Series and thus be honored as its most valuable player.
But if you want to know what’s weighing on Lorenzo Cain right now, well, it’s his aptitude for changing diapers on his not-yet-two-week-old son, Cameron Loe.
“I haven’t mastered that yet. Been peed on a few times: He got me twice this morning already,” Cain said Friday as the Royals prepared to commence the World Series against San Francisco on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. “It’s definitely going to take me a while to master (that) … but I’m definitely willing to learn and do what I can to be an expert on changing diapers.”
For the moment, anyway, he likes his chances better of making a game-saving play than getting the technique down.
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“Kind of hold the legs up and position him right, (and) he’s kicking and squirming all over the place,” he said. “It’s definitely tougher than making a play right now.”
Luckily for Cain, his wife, Jenny, is far more accomplished at caring for their first child.
So much so that she had him comfortably bundled in a onesie meant to resemble a baseball for the clinching game of the ALCS.
“She’s very creative,” Cain said.
For his part, as he waits to catch up on that, at least Cain knows he provided his son with something he’ll be able to look back on all his life — being cradled in the outfield that night.
“It was” Cain said, “a great moment.”
As he spoke, Cain marveled at all that’s happened in his life the last few weeks.
Surrounding his son’s birth, Cain has punctuated a breakout regular season with a postseason for the ages.
Mirroring his son’s birth, this is all happening just past what might be considered the embryonic stage of his career.
He didn’t even take a step on this trail until just over 10 years ago, remember, as thoroughly chronicled by The Star’s Andy McCullough.
That’s when Cain reluctantly tried out for baseball for the first time as a high school sophomore in Florida. His mother forbade football, and he’d been cut by the basketball program the year before.
“It was just something to just get away from home, kind of hang out with my buddies,” he said Friday.
And he didn’t start on this in earnest until well after he’d received a phone call that he had been selected in the 17th round of the 2004 draft.
“I didn’t even know it was draft day,” he said.
He laughs at that obliviousness now and suggests that God has blessed him to come to this point in his life.
The eight hits and five runs and sequence of remarkable defensive plays that demoralized the Orioles may or may not make him the face of a team greater than the sum of its parts, a dogged team devoid of true superstars that wouldn’t be here without production from virtually every cog and cranny.
But it sure establishes him as one of them, with only a few others.
And all the better that Cain’s is a mirthful and infectiously exuberant face, one that catcher Sal Perez has brought to life with Instagram harassment and that third baseman Mike Moustakas pretty well summed up as he playfully interrupted an interview with Cain a locker away.
“ ‘I’m Lo Cain, that’s why everybody loves me,’ ” Moustakas said. “ ‘Look at my smile, look at my smile. It’s so biiigggg.’ ”
Then Moustakas closed further in on Cain and probably would have pinched his cheek if Cain hadn’t fended him off.
“How can you not love this guy?” Moustakas said. “Look at this face.”
There is so much else to fasten to with Cain, of course, whose presence along with Alex Gordon in left and Jarrod Dyson in center in late-game scenarios gives the Royals as dynamite an outfield as there is in baseball.
He is mesmerizing to watch, as much for his rapid, rabid romps after a ball as his patented personal flourishes.
By now, you’ve probably seen and read about his fidgeting and fussing with his apparently temperamental batting gloves before every pitch.
Less evident, but with just as much diligence, from his outfield perch between pitches Cain reflexively tightens and loosens the strings of his wondrous glove.
These aren’t superstitions, though, he wants it known.
“I’ve got to do that,” he said, laughing at the flimsy distinction. “It’s more comfort. … It’s more feel than anything.”
But another emerging quirky trait of his truly seems involuntary.
Repeatedly during the Royals’ postseason run to the World Series, cameras have caught him blinking in seemingly exaggerated fashion.
“When the bright lights come on, my right eye (gets) extra blurry, and it’s kind of hard to see sometimes,” he said. “It’s a weird feeling. Every year, I pass on my eye test, so I’m not sure why it does that.”
Soon enough, then, more optimal optometry seems called for.
For the moment, though, the point makes for a telling parallel to Cain’s dazzling emergence under the intense light of October … a time that glitters all the more with the birth of his son.