Last month the Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry one season after
he presided over the league’s highest-scoring offense, so having run
out of ideas for how to get Kosuke Fukudome on track now that he’s
faded following a great start for the second straight season they’ve turned to his old hitting coach from Japan for help:
Kyosuke Sasaki will join the team in Philadelphia on Monday. Sasaki
will work with Fukudome for a week or so, hoping to get the same kind
of success he saw with the Chunichi Dragons, where Fukudome won a pair
of batting titles. “He’s going to be on the field and in uniform with
us for a few days and let him observe,” manager Lou Piniella said. “If
need be, he can work with Fukudome all he wants.”
Last year Fukudome hit .327/.436/.480 in April compared to
.241/.340/.355 from May 1 on and this year he batted .338/.461/.592 in
April only to hit .235/.346/.385 since, but it’s worth noting that he’s
at .288/.377/.577 with nine extra-base hits in 15 games this month.
Meanwhile, Piniella has bypassed new hitting coach Von Joshua and plans to personally tutor Milton Bradley:
Piniella plans to take a turn soon at trying to solve Milton
Bradley’s season-long hitting slump from the left side of the plate
that neither Bradley nor two hitting coaches have cracked. “I had a
nice talk with Bradley,” Piniella said. “I’m going to work with him
personally for a while and see if we can get him going.” …
Joshua has worked with Bradley on getting his top half in sync with
his bottom half in his left-handed stance and swing. “We’re going to
try to simplify things a little bit,” Piniella said. “We’re going to
get him a little shorter path to the ball, increase a little bat speed.
And we can do that with a couple of adjustments, I feel. We’ll start
[today]. And when he’s ready, we’ll get him out there.”
Now that Sasaki “can work with Fukudome all he wants” and Piniella is
taking care of Bradley, Joshua is left with just 10 hitters to work
with. Or maybe 11 if you decide to count either Andres Blanco or Carlos Zambrano as hitters. Not a bad gig.
UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.