Matt Holliday on fire since move to second spot in lineup

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Matt Holliday batted .289 with six homers and an .809 OPS through 61 games as the Cardinals’ cleanup (and occasional No. 3) hitter. For him that apparently qualifies as enough of a slump that manager Tony La Russa moved him to the second spot in the lineup last week.
Since then Holliday has been on fire, going 13-for-28 (.464) with five homers and a 1.571 OPS in seven games. Holliday has raised his OPS by nearly 100 points in one week, which is remarkable given that he was doing just fine to begin with.
Overall he’s hitting .308 with a .379 on-base percentage and .512 slugging percentage, which is basically the same as the .313/.394/.515 line he produced last year in his first season not calling Coors Field home.
In other words, despite some gnashing of teeth over Holliday’s so-called slump and struggles with runners in scoring position, halfway through the first season of a seven-year, $120 million contract the Cardinals have gotten what they paid for. And he’s probably not long for the No. 2 spot.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.

Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.

Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.