David Ortiz still “not comfortable” at the plate

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David Ortiz has five hits in eight at-bats since returning from an Achilles injury that abruptly shortened his 2012 season. And yet, the Red Sox DH says he still doesn’t feel comfortable at the plate.

Via WEEI’s Annie Maroon:

“I’m battling right now,” Ortiz, who went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the afternoon game against the Royals, said. “I wasn’t facing pitching for eight months, and I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t feel comfortable yet. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been hitting where nobody’s at, but I don’t feel yet the way I like to feel, you know what I’m saying?”

Ryan Howard, another lefty slugger who suffered an Achilles injury, has hit just 15 home runs in 358 plate appearances since returning in July 2012. Ortiz has hit 20 or more home runs in each season dating back to 2002, so it will be interesting to see if he can recapture his power.

Yasiel Puig was late to a workout on Monday, so Dave Roberts benched him

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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.

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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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.