Kent on Bonds: 'I had to help him'

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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.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.