If this was reported at the time I missed it, but Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com has an interesting story about a dustup between former Indians great Kenny Lofton and current Indians leader Nick Swisher back in January.
The upshot: following Lofton’s comments that the 2013 Indians weren’t truly a playoff team because the Wild Card game didn’t really count in his mind, several Indians players were unhappy. When Lofton arrived for FanFest, Swisher went nose-to-nose with him. It was described as “intense.” Since then, Castrovince reports, Indians players have been cold to Lofton, largely ignoring him during his visit to spring training in Goodyear recently.
It’s certainly an interesting dynamic. On the one hand you don’t want to turn one of your franchise’s all-time greats into an enemy. On the other hand, a franchise’s all-time great shouldn’t be in the business of disparaging the current team’s accomplishment. Al Kaline hangs around the Tigers clubhouse all the time and you don’t hear him saying that the 2012 team sucked because they lost the World Series.
You have to figure someone in ownership will try to smooth things over at some point. Or you at least hope they would.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.
A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.
Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.
Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.