Miguel Montero is not shy to call out other players in the media. He accused the Brewers of stealing signs in the 2011 playoffs. He railed against former teammate Trevor Bauer after Bauer was traded to Cleveland. He called Zack Greinke “chickensh**” following the brawl between the Dbacks and the Dodgers. Now he has Yasiel Puig in his sights:
“If he’s my teammate, I probably try to teach him how to behave in the big leagues,” Montero said. “He’s creating a bad reputation around the league … It’s immaturity,” he said. “It’s part of his confidence right now that everything is going his way. Everything is right for him, he feels pretty good about himself. This game pays back though, he’s going to have his bad moments out there and then he’s going to realize he needs to change.”
The beef: the other day Puig barreled Montero over at the plate. Puig was out by a mile, but as he walked back to the dugout he stared Montero down. Montero doesn’t mind the barreling, he says, but the stare was bush league, bro. And Montero says that Puig’s youth, inexperience and the fact that he’s new to baseball in the United States is no excuse, as Montero himself was a 17 year-old kid from Venezuela when he first played here.
For what it’s worth his manager Kirk Gibson — speaking while unaware of Montero’s comments — did say Puig’s youth and inexperience explained a lot and that he doesn’t consider it to be a big deal. Don Mattingly, aware of the comments, chalked it up to the ugliness between the Dodgers and Dbacks this year. Ugliness in which Puig was deeply involved.
I think this is one of those deals where if Puig isn’t off to a sizzling start no one cares, but players are probably being asked about him all the time and baseball is such that veterans are always eager to make sure rookies know their place. Oh, and of course, Montero has a motor mouth, so there’s that too.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.