T.J. Simers: Andre Ethier “selfish” and “counterproductive”

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Well, that’s not nice. Here’s the full quote from T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times:

Mattingly’s critical comments of the team and Ethier came a day after being assured by Colletti that he had management’s support.

I’ve been writing it for years: Ethier is the most selfish athlete in town and counterproductive to a team’s achieving success.

I thought the Dodgers’ off-season should have begun by trading Ethier, but that’s something for Colletti to explain later.

Andre Ethier, entering tonight with a .264/.353/.405 line, was benched for Wednesday’s game against the Brewers despite not really being in a slump of any kind. It was the third time in the team’s previous six games that Ethier was not starting. Manager Don Mattingly implied Ethier wasn’t mentally tough. ESPN’s Mark Saxon tweets that Ethier hadn’t talked to manager Don Mattingly about the situation but is still stung by the criticism.

Ethier signed a five-year, $85 million extension with the Dodgers on June 12 last year, but has become the team’s whipping boy. The Dodgers opened the season with a $217 million payroll but sit in last place in the NL West at 19-26, thanks in part to a barrage of injuries. Placing the blame on Ethier, who is actually having a decent season thus far (.758 OPS), seems misguided.

The media, including Simers, don’t like Ethier because he’s emotional and abrasive at times, but that has nothing to do with his performance on the field. There are plenty of teams who would be happy to bring Ethier, so-called problems and all, aboard if the Dodgers are willing to take responsibility for a large portion of his remaining contract.

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.