Kent on Bonds: 'I had to help him'

Leave a comment

kent_jeff_090824.jpgBy the time his career came to a close, Jeff Kent was widely known as a cranky old cuss who played the game 1,000-mph and would chew the rear of anyone who didn’t do the same.

No one was off limits, not even Barry Bonds. Which makes it hardly surprising that the two didn’t get along, what with their enormous egos constantly bumping into each other in the clubhouse.

The two even got caught on camera fighting in the dugout once in 2002. Kent said at the time it wasn’t a big deal, that they had scuffled before, and that that sort of thing happened sometimes on good teams with competitive players.

Fast forward to Monday, when Kent spoke at length about Bonds, steroids and other topics in the lead-up to his being installed on the Giants’ “Wall of Fame.” Pretty interesting stuff, from Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News:

“Tell me, does Barry have any close friends that are baseball players? I don’t mean that as a crack against Barry. Do I have any friends that are baseball players? We were in our own world when we played. We were similar in the sense we understood each other. We just didn’t hit it off for some reason. We talked motorcycles. Heck. We talked religion a couple times. But after work, we didn’t get a sandwich.”

Would love to have heard those talks on religion between the two non-friends, but there was more, including the revelation that they – in Kent’s view anyway – pushed each other to be great.

“We got after it a few times. You saw it on TV one time. That was just one of many times we got after it. Barry was so good, he had no competitor. He needed somebody to push him in order to play better and care more. I played the role of the guy who stuck a nail in his shoe every once in awhile, get him to jump. Barry motivated himself but sometimes he just didn’t care. And I had to help him.”

Interesting comments for sure, and I can’t help but wonder what one of Kent’s “motivational” sessions would’ve gone like. Something like this, perhaps?

Kent: Hey Barry, you need to hustle out there.

Bonds: (bleep) you.

Kent: I’m not kidding. Stop slacking. You need to run out those fly balls. And I think you coulda run down that liner in the gap if you had tried harder.

Bonds: (bleep) you.

Kent: Alright buddy, it’s go time!

******

If you Twitter, and can lift more than Izzy Mandelbaum, feel free to follow me at @Bharks.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.