<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Atlanta Braves' Adonis Garcia (24) during singles on a line drive to center field hitting in Michael Bourn during the first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Associated Press

Brothers unite in the Caribbean Series

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We don’t pay much attention to winter league baseball around here, but once in a while something neat happens. In that “four saddest words” thread from yesterday (great job, by the way everyone, I laughed at all of them, even the ones making fun of me), reader bajamex hipped me to one of those neat stories.

Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia defected from Cuba in 2011. He is playing winter ball in Venezuela this year and right now is playing in the Caribbean Series for Venezuela’s Tigres de Aragua. Cuba, for the third year after an extended absence, is in the series once again. Jose Adolis Garcia is Adonis Garcia’s younger brother. He’s only 22 now and was 16 when Adonis defected. While they had kept in touch by telephone and played online video games they have not seen each other in that time.

They got to see each other and sat down for an interview with Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today prior to their two teams playing. That was nice, but reader bajamex’s description of what happened in the game was even nicer. Here’s his comment:

Adonis García left Cuba in January of 2011, played in the winter league of Venezuela and was signed by the Yankees and released in 2015 only to be signed by Los Bravos de Atlanta to play in MLB.

Today, he was playing third base for the Venezuelan representative while a cuban right fielder hit a screamer that turned out to be a triple for the batter-runner who exchanged a coy smile with Adonis… the batter’s name? José Adolis García, the brother of Adonis García who last saw his brother Adolis in 2011 when the younger García was a kid. Later Adolis scored in a groundout but it gave the García brothers time to exchange a few words and nothing more, since fraternizing with the rival is not well viewed as in MLB, not only among Cuban teams but overall in hispanoamerican baseball during a game.

I’m sure hugging and talking and giving that interview meant the world for the Garcia brothers. But I bet that moment on the field meant something different and maybe even more special too.

Here’s to thawing relationship, reunited families and, if the scouts are correct, the younger Garcia brother joining the older in the big leagues in the not too distant future.

Two minor leaguers suspended

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Fresh from the police blotter, we learn that both San Diego Padres minor league pitcher Ryan Butler and Oakland Athletics minor league pitcher Sean Murphy  have received 50-game suspensions without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

Butler, a 33rd round pick of the A’s in 2010, is currently on the roster of the Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm of the California League. Murphy, a 7th round pick of the Padres in 2014, is currently on the roster of the Double-A Midland RockHounds of the Texas League.

Since they’re minor leaguers, the cost of not paying paid for 50 games is *mashes hands on calculator* like, $11 or so.

The saddest baseball story in four words

Opening Day
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Yet another slow day in the world of baseball, yet another time-wasting thought exercise.

This one courtesy of a Twitter meme by someone named Amy Rios. I have no idea who Amy Rios is, but her tweet from the other day just found its way into my timeline and now half of the people I follow are playing games with it.

Here’s the tweet:

 

A pretty simple concept. And one which, as you can imagine, lends itself to political stuff pretty easily. I’ve already seen about a dozen variations on “Inauguration of Donald Trump” and the like. My personal contribution was “Directed by Michael Bay,” but then “The Rock” truthers came out of the woodwork so maybe that one is not too good. People have bad taste.

The baseball-themed ideas are what have, obviously, stuck in my head. Our own Drew Silva offered one:

I was gonna laugh but I know what it’s like to lose Jason Heyward from my team and I sympathize with what Drew is going through.

Other possibilities? “Right Fielder Yasmany Tomas” is kind of frightening, but I suppose we’ll have to wait until the season gets going to see if it’s really sad. “Plate umpire Joe West” is certainly anxiety-inducing and could be sad I suppose. “Pitcher comes to bat” is sad if you’re smart and realize the DH should be universal. “Curt Schilling just tweeted …” could work.

Any ideas of your own?

Yasiel Puig is not on the market

Yasiel Puig
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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale says that teams asking the Dodgers about Yasiel Puig are being told that he is not available for trade. He adds an “at least for now” on to the end of that. Not sure if that’s his gloss of if he’s implying that the Dodgers would, in fact want to move him.

That tea leaf reading aside, this response doesn’t seem surprising to me even if the Dodgers do want to trade Puig. He’s coming off of a bad season filled with injuries. His stock could not be lower at the moment. Even if Dodgers brass has secretly decided that they want to part ways with the guy, it would make perfect sense to do so after he’s had some time to rebuild some value. The guy, when healthy, was an electrifying performer. If he put up a couple of months of nice production and good behavior, he’d be worth way, way more to potential suitors than he is now.

All of that said, it seems premature to even think about trading him. He’s under a team-friendly contract and is controlled by them through 2018. He’s only 25 years-old. If the Dodgers implode this year, sure, maybe consider it. If he has a materially negative impact on the club in ways that don’t kill his trade value, why not. But at the moment, he is second to probably only Adrian Gonzalez in terms of “bats the Dodgers really need to perform if they want to win the NL West” and if they dealt him their lineup would have a pretty big hole in it.

Must-Click Link: Big Men Die Young

Mets pitcher Jon Rauch walks to the dugout during their Interleague MLB baseball game in Toronto
Reuters
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This article is about basketball, not baseball, but it’s still amazing and fascinating and heartbreaking and important. It’s from Jackie MacMullan at ESPN and it’s about how a great many NBA big men have either died young or have battled serious health problems.

Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and many other big men have passed away far too soon. Larry Bird, who has a serious heart ailment, talks about how he’s simply accepted the fact that there are not a lot of men his height or taller walking around at age 75 and has adopted a certain sort of fatalism accordingly. Bill Walton and Bob Lanier talk about the sort of denial professional athletes can have about their health and fitness after their playing careers are over. It also talks about research on the health risks of super tall people and how, evolutionarily speaking, they’re kind of screwed in important ways. It’s super powerful stuff.

I link it here, in part, because it’s simply a great article. But I also link it because so many of the things talked about apply to all athletes, baseball players included. No, there aren’t a ton of ballplayers who are 6’9″ like Larry Bird — Jon Rauch, pictured above, was the tallest-ever ballplayer at 6’11” —  but there are a great many of them who are at the extremes, physically, in one way or another.

I also link it because, as sports fans, I feel like we are just starting to appreciate the physical toll placed on the men and women who entertain us. CTE and football players has gotten a lot of attention of late, but these modern-day gladiators undergo all manner of punishment for us. We should always appreciate that, even if they are paid well and even if they wouldn’t trade what they do for anything.