Squad captain Matt Kemp announced Sunday that he’s chosen the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton and the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran to participate alongside himself in the Home Run Derby.
Kemp plans to take part in the contest, even though he’s still expected to be on the disabled list as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury. His status for the All-Star Game the following night is still to be determined.
Kemp appears to have bypassed NL home run leader Ryan Braun in choosing his squad. With 22 homers, Braun is two ahead of Beltran, three ahead of Stanton and five ahead of Gonzalez and Jay Bruce on the NL leaderboard. It’s possible Braun opted out of the contest, but there’s been nothing so far to indicate that he did.
The AL squad, which will be picked by Robinson Cano, has yet to be announced.
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.