News from around the league…
- Adam LaRoche’s unexpected retirement was apparently brought about when White Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams asked to have LaRoche’s son, Drake, become less of a presence with the team. Apparently Drake, 14, has historically traveled with the team 100% in the past, shagging balls in the field and keeping a locker in the clubhouse, but Williams reportedly asked LaRoche to reduce it to under 50%. You can see more on the White Sox’s perspective in this article, where Williams offers some reasoning for the request, while appreciating its sensitive nature, and respecting LaRoche as a player and a father.
- It’s a fairly tough conversation, frankly, because I can completely understand why LaRoche wants to have his son around (and admire it), while admitting that 100% presence could be slightly distracting and setting a bad precedent. LaRoche, who was scheduled to make $13 million next season, has already signed his retirement papers, but the Sox have been waiting to send them in, in case he changes his mind. At this point, though, retirement seems likely, and the team has already prepared for his replacement at DH (a combination of Melky Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia). Ken Rosenthal has an alternative, LaRoche-supporting take on the entire story here that you should absolutely check out. What do you think?
- Yasiel Puig will not be disciplined by Major League Baseball after no evidence was found supporting the domestic violence claims brought against him by the league. According to TMZ, the bar fight that left Puig with swollen eye and a bouncer with a “busted lip” was started after Puig shoved his own sister; however, Puig, his sister, witnesses in the bar and video evidence proved that not to be the case. Had he actually shoved her, the assault would have fallen under MLB’s new Domestic Violence policy, but because it does not, any further punishment would have to come straight from the Dodgers (which does not seem likely).
- Former Cardinals minor leaguer Tyler Dunnington has recently acknowledged that his departure from baseball was due to the culture of homophobia he encountered during his time in the sport. Dunnington – who is gay – had not come out to his organization, but the frequency and intensity with which the homophobic conversations were occurring affected his life and sanity. “I was able to take most of it with a grain of salt,” Dunnington told Outsports, via the St. Louis Dispatch, “but towards the end of my career I could tell it was affecting my relationships with people, my performance and my overall happiness.” For their part, the Cardinals are handling this professionally, and have issued statements hoping that all of their players are treated fairly and equally. In addition, they’ve reached out to Billy Bean – MLB’s ambassador for inclusion – for further assistance on the matter and “will take this very seriously.”
- Speaking of the Cardinals, the Mets have officially released Ruben Tejada, and it sure looks like just a matter of seconds before the Cardinals will swoop in and pick him up to help fill in for Jhonny Peralta and his injured left thumb. Although Tejada (or an internal candidate) would be essentially free to the Cardinals, they may not have to go that route. According to John Mozeliak, per Derrick Goold, multiple teams have called offering shortstops, to the Cardinals; “ambulance chasing” are the words he used to describe it.
- The entire “to bat flip, or not to bat flip?” saga has expanded to include Mike Trout, who is not a fan of the light-hearted celebration. [Brett: NOOOO!] “I don’t try to show anybody up,” Trout told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “Whatever somebody else does, that’s what they do.” So, if you’re keeping score at home, one of the best and youngest players in the game (Mike Trout, AL) is not in favor of bat flipping, while one of the other best and youngest players in the game (Bryce Harper, NL) is entirely in support of a player’s ability to celebrate. Maybe the All-Star Game should decide what happens. Or maybe a new bat flipping skills competition?
- The Dodgers pitching depth continues to take hits:
Hyun-Jin Ryu is no longer expected pitch in Cactus League, Dave Roberts said. Ryu hoped to debut in May, but Roberts said its "unrealistic."
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) March 16, 2016
- Ryu underwent left labrum (shoulder) surgery last May, and was expected to pitch in the Cactus League this Spring. However, shoulder soreness (as a result of the surgery, itself) has delayed his throwing program, and he is no longer expected to start the season active. Worse, Ryu then set his own goal of 20 starts and 150 innings in 2016, to which manager Dave Roberts referred as unrealistic. After losing Brett Anderson to back surgery, plus Scott Kazmir’s spring troubles, the Dodgers pitching depth is certainly being tested.
- We know, perhaps better than anyone, the upside of Jeff Samardzija. When that guy is on, he has as high a ceiling as anyone; however, we all know that his floor is quite low, as well. In 2015, Samardzija finished with a 4.96 ERA, while leading the league in hits allowed (228), earned runs allowed (118), and the AL in HRs allowed (29). The Giants, however, believed in his upside enough to award him with a $90 million deal this offseason to play in the bay area for the next five years. But, during yesterday’s start, Samardzija was knocked around for seven runs on eight hits and a walk in just four innings of work, and fans are wondering if they should be concerned. Now, Spring Training performances for established Major Leaguers are usually not important, but Eno Sarris of FanGraphs tweeted that Samardzija failed to top 93 MPH during Wednesday’s start, and compared Samardzija to Tim Lincecum, in that both relied more on stuff than command. For Lincecum, once the stuff was gone … well, you know the rest.
- Bronson Arroyo’s comeback attempt with the Nationals has ended, now that he has an 80% tear of the labrum in his right shoulder, per Peter Gammons. Arroyo, 39, could look to rehab from injury, but is considering (and would be happy with) retiring where he’s at. Choosing whether or not to keep playing must be an extremely difficult decision to make, but Arroyo sounds pleased with his career and ready to move on, as well. Best of luck to you, Bronson – your weird leg kick will be missed.
- One of the craziest double plays you will ever see.