Potent quotables: Big-Z "done" after contract

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“After this contract, I’m done. I’m
serious. I don’t want to play. I want to help this team, I want to do
everything possible to win with this team, but after five years or four
years, or whatever I have left on my contract, I just don’t want to
play.”

– Carlos Zambrano, after being asked by reporters if he thought he had a shot at 300 wins. Just a reminder that the Z-Man is notorious for saying things one day and forgetting them the next.

“I think it shows zero class and zero
professionalism. When somebody says that, they know what they’re
saying, and they know it’s going to get out. He knows we’re not going
to be real happy about it. If you go and say that to your buddies, it’s
one thing. If you go to the media and make that public for us to hear?
Yeah, that’s no class.”

– Adam LaRoche, the self-appointed team leader, reacting to what Carlos Beltran had to say
after the Mets got swept in Pittsburgh this week. Should we expect
fireworks a couple days early when the teams meet again on July 2?

“We’ll see how it goes the next couple of days.”

– Bruce Bochy comments on the debate of who should bat cleanup
for the Giants. With a .306 batting average, .822 OPS and the
difference-making two-run homer against the Marlins on Friday night,
Pablo Sandoval is threatening to take the spot in the order from the
scuffling Bengie Molina.

“I just missed it. I’ve got nothing more to say.”

– Pedro Feliz, who uncharacteristically booted a groundball
with two outs in the ninth inning against the Dodgers on Friday night.
The error opened the door for a game-winning RBI double by Andre
Ethier.

“We’ve been trying to watch his pitch
count. I’m sure he would have liked to have a complete-game shutout but
we’re trying to take it easy on him a little bit.”

– Ken Macha on Yovani Gallardo’s two-hit, eight-inning effort
against the Braves on Friday night. He was yanked after throwing 110
pitches. Gallardo moved to 6-2 with the victory, and has compiled a
sterling 2.84 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 73 innings this season.

Nationals activate Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list

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The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.

Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.

Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.

MLB umpires will wear white wristbands to protest “escalating verbal attacks”

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The World Umpires Association is dissatisfied with the punishment meted out to Tigers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler following his lengthy criticism of MLB umpire Angel Hernandez on Tuesday. Kinsler’s comments were sparked by a confrontation on Monday night, when the infielder was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with Hernandez in the fifth inning.

“It has to do with changing the game. He’s changing the game. He needs to find another job, he really does,” Kinsler told reporters. “Candidly, leave the game. No one wants you behind the plate anymore. No one in this game wants you behind the plate any more, none of the players.”

Kinsler was fined an undisclosed amount for the remarks, but did not receive a suspension. Hernandez, meanwhile, returned to cover second base the next day and appeared to resolve the conflict with a brief conversation and a handshake.

Whether or not the comments speak to underlying truths about Major League Baseball’s flawed umpiring system, they clearly got under the skin of the World Umpires Association. The union released a statement Saturday condemning Major League Baseball for choosing to overlook the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue:

This week, a player publicly and harshly impugned the character and integrity of Angel Hernandez – a veteran umpire who has dedicated his career to baseball and the community. The verbal attack on Angel denigrated the entire MLB umpiring staff and is unacceptable.

The Office of the Commissioner has failed to address this and other escalating attacks on umpires. The player who denigrated Hernandez publicly said he thought he would be suspended. Instead got far more lenient treatment – a fine. He shrugged that off and told reporters he has ‘no regrets’ about his offensive statements calling for an end to Hernandez’s career.

The Office of the Commissioner’s lenient treatment to abusive player behavior sends the wrong message to players and managers. It’s ‘open season’ on umpires, and that’s bad for the game.

We are held accountable for our performance at every game. Our most important duty is to protect the integrity of the game, and we will continue to do that job every day. But the Office of the Commissioner must protect our integrity when we are unfairly attacked simply for doing our jobs.

Starting Saturday, umpires will don white wristbands in protest of the Commissioner’s lack of support, and will continue to do so until their concerns are addressed.

Kinsler’s comments may have been in poor taste, but given the established in-game ramifications for challenging an umpire’s decisions, it’s difficult to tell where the union wants MLB to start drawing the line. If players already face ejections for questioning the parameters of a strike zone (often immediate ones, without any room for a productive or non-confrontational discussion), it seems unfair to hit them with suspensions for venting their frustrations after the game. Until Major League Baseball finds a way to start automating calls, however, the “human element” of the game will continue to pose problems for players and umpires alike.