Last season Austin Kearns turned a minor-league contract with the Marlins into a part-time bench role and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the 33-year-old outfielder is expected to re-sign on another minor-league deal.
Kearns appeared in 87 games and logged 175 plate appearances, hitting .245 with a .733 OPS. That doesn’t sound like particularly good production, but considering the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly ballpark it was actually right around league-average and included a strong .366 on-base percentage that was Kearns’ highest since he got on base at a .407 clip as a 22-year-old rookie in 2002.
With the Marlins expected to start Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano, and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield Kearns figures to see most of his playing time subbing for Pierre versus left-handed pitching.
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.