Why is baseball's top pitching prospect wearing a uniform that says 'Daddy' on the back?
Who's your daddy?
According to Justin Verlander, that distinction -- for one day, at the very least -- went to top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley.
Verlander, with full support of his team, presented Whitley with a jersey with a new name -- "Daddy" -- on the back, to be worn throughout morning workouts.
When Astros top prospect Forrest Whitley returned from his 50-game suspension last year, he posted a photo on Instagram with the caption “Daddy’s back.”— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) February 19, 2019
Less than a week into his first major league spring training, he was given a new uniform for a day. pic.twitter.com/pdtWuCDo50
Whitley accepted the "gift," wore it proudly, and said he plans to frame it.
"It's cool," Whitley said. "When Justin presents something to you like that, it's funny."
There's a backstory to this, of course. Last season, after completing his 50-game suspension, Whitley posted a photo of himself throwing a pitch for his Double-A Hooks team, adding the comment: "Daddy's back."
This naturally caught the attention of, well, everyone affiliated with the Astros, and on Tuesday, he was reminded that nothing ever truly goes away when you post it on Instagram.
"He threw me the alleyoop," Verlander said. "I just was the one who got to put it down."
The Astros have a get-to-know-you session as part of their closed-door meeting every morning of Spring Training, and on Tuesday, it was Whitley's turn to be "introduced" to his team. He had no idea they'd also come bearing gifts.
"I pretty much told the team about myself, things of that nature, and then the daddy picture came up," he said. "They gave me the jersey and told me I was going to wear it the rest of the day. I thought it was pretty funny."
Said Verlander: "I thought it was something fun. Everybody got a kick out of it. Spring Training can get a little monotonous at times, so these morning meetings are a lot of fun. You get to know some guys and also mess around a little bit."
Whitley said he wants to have the entire team sign the jersey before he frames it, to serve as a reminder of a memorable day in his first big league camp.
"It's cool, man," he said. "There's obviously a good amount of thought about that. Apparently after I had posted [the photo] on Instagram all of them texted me. I didn't get those text messages -- they must have had the wrong number.
"It's fun these guys are taking a playful approach to everything we're doing here. It's really enjoyable for me. I'm sure it's enjoyable for them."