Joey Votto: "it's kind of fun to play the heel"

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I posted that thing the other day about Joey Votto saying he didn’t like the Cubs (and updated later when I realized that I was taking the comments too seriously).  More along those lines today in a post from C. Trent Rosecrans, in which Votto explains that yes, he was joking around a bit when he said that after the All-Star Game, but no, he’s not totally prepared to be all friendly with inter-divisional rivals either.

The post has a video in which Votto tells a young Cubs fan “I don’t sign for Cubs
fans.” Votto expands:

“I don’t,” Votto said, with a laugh. “I try not to. They’re in our same
division and we play good baseball against them. I think it’s kind of
fun to play the heel. Not everything has to be friendly, we take it
seriously every time we go there. It’s not just a game to us, it’s our
job.”

Votto traces his Cub-dislike to 2007, when he was called
up in September and watched the Cubs celebrate a division title at Great
American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

“I still remember that now, I
remember them looking at the scoreboard and Cubs fans cheering and
everyone in the stands wearing blue,” Votto said. “I still remember that
and it meant a lot to me. I guess I should probably let it go, but I’m
not an easy forgiver.”

Most of all, it sounds like Votto is just embracing, however, uncomfortably, the heel mantle a la professional wrestling. He even uses those words himself, saying “it’s kind of fun to play the heel.”

Which I kind of like, because as I’ve said many times, heel-turns are fun. There should more of those in life to break up all of the moral ambiguity. Having a villain is rather cleansing in a weird sort of way, ya know?

But really, if you’re not going to totally own it like Ric Flair or someone, you’re just giving off mixed signals.

(thanks to lar at Wezen-Ball for the heads up)

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.

Athletics call up top prospect Franklin Barreto

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The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.

Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.

While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.