We’ve talked a lot about the Diamondbacks’ embrace of “gritty” players this year. The latest: Dbacks’ GM Kevin Towers sat down for an interview with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic and, during the part of the conversation about the team’s attitude — and yes, Nick asks Towers about “grit” — Towers brings up a new old thing when talking about his new kind of player:
They want to be there. It’s positive thoughts. They feel they’re going to come through. They thrive on it. There’s others that, they may not tell you, but you can tell in their body language and even in their approach. It’s a mind-set. It’s kind of what Gibby alludes to, which is very important, it’s playing to the scoreboard. What do I need to do right now to help my ballclub win? I think we were missing that the last two years. Those type of players who understood the game and the scoreboard and what you need to do to help your club win that particular night …
The only other time we’ve heard about playing to the scoreboard or something like it is when folks have trotted out that lame, post-factual chestnut about how Jack Morris’ high ERA was a result of him “pitching to the score.” I can’t help but think that Kirk Gibson, a Morris teammate, somehow has carried that mysterious skill with him to Arizona and is now sharing its secrets with the Diamondbacks.
Look out, NL. There’s a team in Arizona that knows what time it is. Er, I mean what the score is.
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.