Here's how it was reported by Mark Zuckerman in the Times:
Kasten said Rijo, whose mother is ailing in the Dominican Republic, met with front-office officials and decided to take this leave. He gave no timetable for Rijo's return.Here's what Rijo said, quoted by Bill Ladson on Nationals.com:
"With all the questions swirling and with all the work being done still on this matter, we felt it would be a good time for him to be away from here," Kasten said. "And this is sad, but it is true, his mother has been ailing. So we said OK, this would just make more sense. So that's why he has left."
"Things are going well for [manager] Manny [Acta] and the team, and I don't want to do anything to cause problems for them," he said via telephone.First, I send best wishes to Rijo's family. His mom reportedly has liver cancer, which is one of the most fatal forms of cancer. I've seen it up close, and it's awful. He should be there regardless of what else is going on.
Second, the way this was handled seems goofy to me. If he's being put on leave as punishment, they should just say that. You don't help him save face.
On the other hand, if he isn't being reprimanded, if the team is standing by him and simply allowing him to take leave because his mom is dying, the team should say, "look, we stand by him. He's taking care of his sick mom. Leave the guy alone." It seems really insensitive to say, "now's a good time for him to take care of his mom, who has two months to live, because he'd be a media distraction if he was here." It's a good time to be with his mom because she needs her son. Spring training is a minor consideration.
We also get this from Chico Harlan about Bowden's current standing:
People are wondering about Jim Bowden -- Where is he? Is he talking? Is he being silenced? Well, I deliver the answers: Here, No (for today), and Yes (on issues concerning Smiley). Bowden hadn't been around before today because of the arbitration cases in Phoenix. But he spent the morning observing the workout, paying special attention to a procession of pitchers ... Tyler Clippard, Preston Larrison, Shairon Martis, J.D. Martin, Justin Jones. After the workout, the assembled Fourth Wing of Democracy types wanted a chance to speak with Bowden, but the GM said no thanks, maybe tomorrow. Later, team prez Stan Kasten said that he'd strongly advised Bowden not to speak about Frowney.As I wrote this morning, this gag order doesn't make sense unless Bowden is about to be canned. If the team doesn't trust him, he shouldn't be GM. If he's going to stay as GM, it's a crappy thing to do to treat him like he isn't trusted.
I don't want to make too much of all this, but this is a bad situation, and the team just seems to bungle it worse with every new development.