It looks like we can add Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata to the ever-growing pool of players “in the best shape of their life.”
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that Tabata “has bulked up noticeably” during the offseason “and it’s muscle, not fat.”
One teammate called Tabata “a beast” after getting a look at him during a recent workout, to which Tabata responded: “Yeah, I’m bigger. I worked out in the gym every day this winter. I want to be bigger and stronger. This year, my idea is to hit more home runs.”
Adding more power is certainly a good idea for Tabata, who went deep just four times in 441 plate appearances as a rookie after homering a total of 29 times in 2,088 plate appearances as a minor leaguer. In fact, lack of power development is perhaps the main reason why his prospect stock dipped in recent years.
Of course, there’s also danger in a young player losing athleticism or altering his hitting mechanics, and the 22-year-old seems aware of those risks: “It’s a good feeling, but I have to be careful not to let it change my swing. Sometimes, when you want to hit home runs, your swing gets real long. I can’t let that happen.”
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.
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.