Kirk Gibson gives a jerky kind of “no-comment” on the Brandon McCarthy cutter controversy


Well, maybe “controversy” is too strong a word, but it’s at least interesting.

You may have seen how, following his trade to the Yankees, Brandon McCarthy said that the Diamondbacks discouraged him from using the cutter, but the Yankees encouraged him to bring it back. He’s had a couple of successful outings since. Good for McCarthy and his cutter.

But it is weird, many people noted, that a team would discourage a pitcher from using one of the tools in his tool box. I presume it had something to do with their perception of it being a pitch that could lead to injuries — and I gather that a couple of other teams such as the Orioles discourage use of the cutter too, at least for younger pitchers — but you never know. In any event, the Diamondbacks have had a curious fixation on process over results over the years (thus all the “gritty” stuff) so I sort of question whether they should get the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps they could explain their thinking if they don’t want the public to continue to think the cutter thing is odd.

Well, Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona decided to try to get them on the record about it. Kirk Gibson wouldn’t bite, but rather than give a diplomatic statement about how he wasn’t going to discuss such internal matters or former Diamondbacks players or something, he offered this:

“Yeah, well, I wish him well,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said when McCarthy’s comments were relayed Monday. “People handle things different ways. The way I’ll handle it, let’s just say it was all my fault, OK?”

You can read that as a mea culpa or something if you really strain to do so, but it sounds more like Gibson trying his hardest to criticize McCarthy without getting drawn into the topic of the dispute. “The way I’ll handle it” being a rebuke to McCarthy for mentioning the matter.

Which, sure, if it was clubhouse gossip or personal matters, that stuff should probably best be left non-public. But this is about a pitcher and his on-the-field game and, at least it appears, an organization that was asking him not to do what he felt he needed to do to win. It should totally be expected that reporters are going to ask a pitcher what he’s doing differently if he’s having success and it’s totally reasonable for a pitcher to answer that truthfully.

It’s also totally fair game to ask that pitcher’s former manager about it too. That Gibson doesn’t think so doesn’t do much to change the growing conventional wisdom about the dysfunction among the Diamondbacks’ brain trust.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

Rob Tringali/Getty Images

Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.