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Ryan Braun: ‘Any good hitter has to be pitched up and in at times’

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We’ve written plenty in this blog today about Tony La Russa and the shenanigans in Tuesday night’s Cardinals-Brewers game, so while it’s been fun, I’m not going to rehash the whole thing again.

If you need a recap, go here, here and even here.

But I did want to point out that Ryan Braun, the innocent victim in all of this, handled the whole thing perfectly. If you’d like a lesson in maturity, Mr. La Russa, have a talk with Mr. Braun.

From Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“I get it; I certainly understand where he (La Russa) is coming from,” said Braun. “At the same time, i think any good hitter in this league has to be pitched up and in at times. I get it, Prince gets it. You have to throw Albert that way, (Matt) Holliday, Lance Berkman. You can’t allow guys to be comfortable.

“Occasionally, you have to make that pitch. Nobody wants to hit anybody. I don’t think that’s really the intent. Clearly, we weren’t trying to hit Albert on an 0-1 pitch, first and third with nobody out, and Holliday and Berkman coming up next. But I think any good hitter in this league has to be pitched that way on occasion. Again, the intent is never to hit anybody.

“In general, every good hitter, anybody that can consistently drive the ball and hit home runs, occasionally you have to throw them inside. That’s just the way the game works.”

There are plenty of good nuggets in the story, so click and read. Braun said the incident was over for him and he didn’t expect any lingering problems. He also said that he was surprised the Cardinals decided to hit him with the score tied late in the game, joking that “maybe it was an accident.”

And on a final note, Braun said that while walking to first base he told Yadier Molina that the Brewers didn’t hit Pujols on purpose, and that Molina agreed. La Russa has also stated that he didn’t think the Brewers hit Pujols on purpose, but that he needed to send a message by going inside on Braun.

But this begs the question: If the Pujols plunking was an accident, what message is La Russa trying to send? That he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his players from accidents? It’s all very silly, really, and Braun deserves praise for laughing at the whole thing.

On a side note, I tackled the issue of baseball’s unwritten rules last year, and Braun happens to be featured prominently in the piece. Check it out here.

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.