R.A. Dickey back on the mound for Team USA vs. the Dominican Republic

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Below you’ll find the starting lineups for Thursday night’s second-round World Baseball Classic game between Team USA and Team Dominican Republic at Marlins Park in Miami. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.

   TEAM USA                       TEAM DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS            1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B         2. Miguel Tejada, 3B
3. Ryan Braun, LF               3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Joe Mauer, DH                4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF         5. Hanley Ramirez, DH
6. Eric Hosmer, 1B              6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. Adam Jones, CF               7. Carlos Santana, C
8. J.P. Arencibia, C           8. Ricardo Nanita, LF
9. Willie Bloomquist, 3B            9. Alejandro De Aza, CF

SP R.A. Dickey, RH            SP Samuel Deduno, RH

Dickey is back on the mound for Team USA after he gave up four runs over four innings in a 5-2 first-round loss to Mexico last Friday.

Deduno struck out five over four shutout innings against Spain on Saturday. The 29-year-old journeyman had a 4.44 ERA and 57/53 K/BB ratio over 15 starts with the Twins last season.

The winner of tonight’s game will secure a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, where they’ll take on either Japan or the Netherlands. The loser of tonight’s game will play Puerto Rico at Marlins Park on Friday night in order to determine the second team to advance from Pool 2.

UPDATE: David Wright was scratched from tonight’s lineup, so Willie Bloomquist will start in his place at third base.

Tommy La Stella talks about his refusal to report to the minors in 2016

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In late July of 2016, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A. It wasn’t personal. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella had options left so, despite the fact that he had been an effective player to that point of the season, it made sense to send him down.

La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. In fact he refused to report to Iowa and went home to New Jersey instead. It was not until August 17 that he finally reported and then only after prolonged discussions with the Cubs and the assurance that he’d be back in the majors once rosters opened up. Which he was, after spending just over a week down on the farm.

Such a move by a player would, normally speaking, make him persona non-grata. His teammates would shun him and the organization would, eventually, cut bait, with the press characterizing him as a me-first player as he walked out the door. That did not happen with La Stella, however, who remains with the Cubs two years later and, by all accounts, is a popular and important guy in the Cubs’ clubhouse, even if he’s not one of the team’s big stars.

Today Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has an in-depth story about La Stella, what went down in 2016 and how he and the Cubs have proceeded since then. The story is subscription only, but the short version is that there was a lot of understanding and empathy on the part of the Cubs organization and their players about what was going on in La Stella’s head at the time and how everyone allowed everyone else the space to work through it.

I’m happy to read this story, because all too often we only hear about such incidents as they occur, with little followup. To the extent the story is told, most of the time its completely one-sided, with the player who acts out being treated like a bad seed with little if any explanation of his side of things. And, yes, there are always two sides to the story. Sometimes even more.

Kudos to Rosenthal for telling this story. Here’s hoping the next time a player is involved in a controversy that, in the moment, makes him appear to be a bad seed or have a bad attitude, we hear more about it then too.