Heyman: Andre Ethier has Boston on his mind

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It’s something of an old rumor, but SI.com’s Jon Heyman has stirred it back up again, saying Andre Ethier is frustrated with the Dodgers and has hopes of joining the Red Sox at some point in his career.

According to Heyman, “many people connected to the Dodgers say that Ethier is more dismayed by the financial and on-field troubles than he has publicly admitted.”

Heyman goes on to quote a “person close” to Ethier as saying:

He’s got his best buddy Dustin Pedroia telling him how great Boston is. In Andre’s mind, [the Dodgers situation] is embarrassing. And Boston has a different [vibe] right now.

Ethier isn’t a free agent until after 2012, so the Red Sox wouldn’t be able to simply sign him and plug him into J.D. Drew’s spot after the season.  Whether they’d be open to trading for him remains to be seen.  According to UZR, Ethier rates as one of the game’s worst defenders the last four years, costing the Dodgers 35 runs in the outfield.

Now that seems a little excessive, and UZR actually has Ethier as three runs above average so far this season.  Still, Ethier isn’t going to get any faster with age, and he might well be able to help a team more at first base, which is a position he couldn’t play in Boston with Adrian Gonzalez locked up.

The Red Sox have one of the game’s most difficult right fields in Fenway Park and two guys with potential in Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish as possibilities to step in during 2012, so they may sit out this chase.  However, if the Dodgers make Ethier available, there will be plenty of suitors.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.