We tend to praise those veterans who take youngsters under their wings. Especially when that youngster is gunning for the veteran’s own job.
Padres catcher Nick Hundley isn’t going that route, though. Maybe he would have under different circumstances. Say if the youngster replacing him wasn’t a big, ol’ cheater.
Asked Wednesday about the Padres’ catcher situation when Yasmani Grandal returns from his 50-game steroids suspension, Hundley told the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee:
“You want to talk about a guy who is unproven and had a good couple months on steroids, go ahead. I’ve got a job to do.”
Hundley has good reason to be frustrated. He was coming off a terrific .288/.347/.477 season in 2011 when the Padres picked up Grandal, a 2010 first-round pick, from the Reds in the Mat Latos deal that winter. Hundley went on to struggle mightily last year and lost his job to Grandal, only to see Grandal get the offseason steroid suspension. Grandal’s name subsequently was found in the Biogenesis documents.
If not for the suspension, the Padres would have tried to trade Hundley last winter, though it may have been tough considering his substantial contract and hideous .157/.219/.245 line in 204 at-bats last season. As is, he’s been the Padres’ regular catcher this year and hit a rock-solid .270/.302/.450 in 100 at-bats. Still just 29, he doesn’t deserved to be shoved back into a backup role, especially in favor of a cheater. That said, the Padres aren’t going anywhere this year and they still need to figure out whether Grandal is the real deal or not. It figures to lead to an awkward situation when Grandal comes back later this month.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.