Out there on this field in Woodbridge, home of the Washington Nationals’ high-Class A team, Dykstra’s life is simple. Hit the ball and catch it, and the score is the only thing worth talking about. But this hamstring is holding things up, keeping the 24-year-old infielder sidelined and his career stalled. Instead of talking baseball, he stood there and discussed how life sometimes isn’t so simple.
Cutter’s father is Lenny Dykstra, the longtime major leaguer who won a World Series in 1986 and developed a reputation as one of the game’s fiercest competitors. After retiring, Lenny Dykstra became an entrepreneur, which earned him millions, and then he went to prison. Cutter doesn’t want to speak about his father’s problems or his release last month from a 6½-month sentence. Even when he was asked how often he talks with his dad, Cutter said nothing and shook his head.
Cutter is also engaged to Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the actress best known for her role as Meadow on “The Sopranos,” and the couple’s first child is due in late August. These facts are fodder for gossip blogs and opportunistic photographers; if the couple walks on the beach or dines together, the news is often published for all to see.
So the thing is, as Potomac manager and former major leaguer Brian Daubach understands, it takes more than just a healthy body to advance in this game. A clear mind is also necessary.
“He has a lot of stuff going on,” Daubach said. “But if I can be there for him in any way, he knows I’m always there.”
Daubach said they talk often, sometimes about the game and other times so the manager can help Dykstra, as Daubach put it, “clear his head.” Five years after the Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the second round, Dykstra has yet to reach Class AA. Washington traded for him in 2011, and after he hit .212 with Potomac, he was demoted and spent 2012 with low-Class A Hagerstown.
“Cutter tries to probably do more than he can at times,” Daubach said.
And sometimes impatience sets in.
“The goal is to be in the big leagues, so of course it’s taking longer,” said Dykstra, who’s hitting .254 with five steals in 54 games with Potomac this season.
Nearly three decades ago, things seemed to come so easily for his father. By age 24, Lenny Dykstra already was in his third season with the New York Mets, a year removed from the 1986 World Series victory under Manager Davey Johnson that was partially fueled by Dykstra’s .300 postseason batting average.
Lenny became famous for his hustle and aggressive nature — his nickname was “Nails” — and for the bulging wad of chewing tobacco in his cheek. Cutter was 4 when his dad played in the 1993 World Series, and although he doesn’t remember much from the Philadelphia Phillies’ six-game loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, he has highlights from that season, when his father finished second in MVP voting behind Barry Bonds, on his iPad. Sometimes he watches the videos before his own games.