Craig Kimbrel struggles in return from right shoulder issue, apologizes for reaction to being pulled

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Craig Kimbrel was called on Saturday for the first time since complaining of discomfort in his shoulder last Monday. The appearance did not go smoothly.

Kimbrel hit Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. with a one-out pitch, yielded a single to Daniel Murphy, a double to David Wright, a two-out single to Chris Young, and then walked Lucas Duda. Atlanta’s ninth-inning lead had shrunk from 7-3 to 7-5, and after the free pass to Duda manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to pull his struggling closer, who had thrown 24 pitches.

Kimbrel was visibly upset as Gonzalez stepped out of the dugout and appeared to express that directly to the skipper as he moved toward the mound. Jordan Walden came on and neeedd just three pitches to pick up the save, which left Kimbrel feeling bad about the way he acted toward Gonzalez after the game.

MLB.com has a good video mashup of the pitching change and Kimbrel’s postgame interview:

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.