If Cardinals fans disliked Johnny Cueto before, they’re going to really despise the guy now.
Cardinals backup catcher Jason LaRue told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday that he is done playing professional baseball due to a concussion suffered in early August when Cueto kicked him multiple times in the head.
“I’m done,” LaRue said. “It’s a simple decision.”
LaRue is still dealing with random bouts of headaches and nausea and said he gets a feeling much like seasickness when watching television or riding in a car. He wasn’t able to cook for himself, either, even a month after the kicks.
The 36-year-old will finish up with a .231/.315/.396 career batting line, accomplished over 11-plus professional seasons. He hit .196 this year with two homers and five RBI in 55 at-bats as Yadier Molina’s backup.
LaRue considered taking legal action against Cueto in the weeks after the on-field assault but has since dropped that idea. We’re thinking the Reds may want to limit Cueto’s exposure to the Busch Stadium crowd for a while. A long while.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa — an almost overly loyal backer of the guys he likes, and he liked LaRue — is most definitely steaming about tonight’s news.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.