There are some guys whose movements I’ll always track no matter how far away they get from major league baseball. Jose Canseco. Jose Lima before he died (and don’t think I won’t post more stuff about him eventually). Another one is Byung-Hyun Kim, who has fascinated me for years. NPB Tracker reports that he has signed a deal with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League.
Why do I care about Kim? I don’t know. Probably because of those home runs he gave up in the 2001 World Series to Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez. At the time I was really glad that the Diamondbacks came back and won it because it would have been devastating for the guy if he was made the goat. But as it has happened, he has still been a big enough punchline as a result of it. Unlike the Bill Buckners of the world, however, he hasn’t gotten the sympathetic reassessment that truly infamous goats often get. Probably doesn’t help that, unlike Buckner, Kim wasn’t an outstanding player for many years. The fact that he’s Korean is likely another factor.
He’s a curiosity to me I suppose, as are all people who are identified so strongly by dubious achievements.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.