This Buck stops in Sacramento

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With the Triple-A season over, the A’s are set to make their final round of callups on Tuesday, but barring some late-season outfield injuries, Travis Buck won’t be rejoining the team.
The then 23-year-old Buck was shaping up as one of the AL’s most promising rookies in 2007. Debuting not even two years after the A’s made him a supplemental first-round pick out of Arizona State, he hit .288/.377/.474 in 285 at-bats. However, injuries played a significant role even then. Buck missed time as a rookie due to wrist, elbow, thumb and hamstring problems, with the latter two injuries requiring DL stints. He later underwent elbow surgery after the season.
Buck went on to open 2008 as a regular, but he returned to the DL before the end of April, this time with shin splints. Upon his return, he was optioned to Triple-A and he spent most of the season there, missing additional time with an inner-era infection and a concussion. He was penciled in as the primary right fielder again last year, but he very quickly fell into a part-time role. An oblique injury struck at the end of May, and again he spent most of the rest of the year in Triple-A.
The story remained the same in 2010. Again he opened the season on the major league roster, and he started on Opening Day for the third time in four years. However, he was placed on the DL on April 22 with a strained oblique and he’s been a non-factor since. In the three years since his strong rookie campaign, Buck has hit .215/.284/.377 with 11 homers in 302 major league at-bats. Also, his Triple-A performance has been far more solid than spectacular. He hit .272/.345/.418 in 266 at-bats for Sacramento last year. This year, he came in at an improved .298/.364/.463 in 141 at-bats.
The A’s were obviously largely unimpressed. They signed Jeremy Hermida last month and opted to give him an opportunity rather than provide Buck one last chance to stick. Now denied a September callup, it seems certain that Buck will be dropped from the 40-man roster this winter.
Buck probably yet has something to offer, but only if he can stay healthy. He’ll just be entering his age-27 season next year, and he remains a fine defender in an outfield corner. Hardly a one-dimensional player, he has a better all-around game than most of the corner outfielders/first basemen one sees get tagged with the quad-A label. It’s doubtful that the A’s would ask for anything significant in return, so maybe the Royals or Indians could pick him up now for a three-week audition.

Odubel Herrera flips his bat on a fly ball, gets benched for lack of hustle

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Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has been a polarizing figure in his young career. He’s talented and at times has shined, inspiring the Phillies to give him a long term contract this past offseason. At other times, however, he’s aggravated the snot out of his manager, his teammates and his team’s fans. Last night, in the Phillies-Astros game, he did the latter and was the subject of mockery of the opposing team to boot.

In the first inning he hit a long fly ball to center. He thought it was going out but . . . it didn’t. When the ball came off of his bat, however, he flipped his bat like he went yard. You know our view about bat flips — who cares? Flip away! — but you flip at your own risk. Just because you’re allowed to flip it whenever you want doesn’t mean you’re not gonna get mocked if you flip prematurely. That’s what Herrera did, and he was mocked for the flip by the Astros from the dugout:

If that was all that happened in the game, life would go on just fine. I mean, it’s just a bat flip. But later in the game he committed a more substantive transgression: he failed to hustle in a hustle situation.

In the sixth inning Herrera struck out swinging on a 1-2 curveball. The catcher didn’t hold on to it, though, and the ball went in the dirt. Herrera didn’t bother to run to first base and Pete Mackanin pulled Herrera from the game in a double switch right after that. Asked if Herrera was benched for not running that ball out, Mackanin said “It had something to do with it . . . I’m going to talk to him tomorrow.”

If you’re a veteran and you have hamstring issues or something you can take a dropped strike three off and no one is gonna say anything. If you’re hitting like Herrera has been hitting of late (i.e. pretty well) and you otherwise have no issues with your manager along these lines, it’s doubtful anyone will hold that sort of play against you either as long as it’s an isolated incident.

Herrera is not in that position, however. He’s raised Mackanin’s ire in the past for ignoring signs and taking what Mackanin believed to be a lackadaisical approach to the game. Whether that’s a fair assessment of Herrera or not — we can’t fully know everything about their interaction from the outside — is sort of beside the point. He has to know by now that Mackanin is going to get after him for that stuff and he has to know that him not being in the game is neither good for the Phillies or for Herrera.

Are these growing pains or a signs of a growing problem? That, it would seem, is up to Odubel Herrera.

Video: Minor leaguer bounces a home run off of an outfielder’s head

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Jose Canseco hit 462 homers, was the 1986 Rookie of the Year, the 1988 MVP and played for 17 years in the big leagues, winning two World Series rings and making the playoffs five times. Yet he’s not remembered for any of that. At least not very often.

No, he’s remembered for his ignominy. For his role in participating in and, subsequently, exposing baseball’s PED-fueled world of the 1990s. For his continued insistence that he was blackballed by Major League Baseball and his continued attempts to play via the independent league route. For his crazy post-playing career antics in which he spent a few years tweeting about aliens, conspiracy theories and non-sequiturs of every stripe.

Mostly, though, people remember Canseco for one random play: the time he helped the Indians’ Carlos Martinez to a home run when a fly ball bounced off of Canseco’s head and over the wall back in 1993:

 

Well, Canseco now has a friend in infamy. That friend: Zach Borenstein of the Reno Aces, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. Yesterday Borenstein pulled a Canseco on what should’ve been an Alex Verdugo F-9:

Borenstein’s glove may have gotten a piece of that — the announcer seemed to think so anyway — and I have a hard time figuring that his head would give it that much bounce. I mean, look how far he was from the wall! He wasn’t even to the warning track. That’s a serious assist.

Still: gonna rule this a Canseco anyway. It’s too good not to.