John Hirschbeck tried to pick a fight with Yasiel Puig

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I didn’t see this happen and can’t find video, but Jeff S., a reader and HBT correspondent, alerts me to something that happened in last night’s Dodgers-Marlins game.

In the fifth inning, Yasiel Puig struck out. Strike two was a bad call. After the call and after the strikeout, Puig didn’t say a word to home plate umpire John Hirschbeck. He rolled his eyes and showed some displeasure as he walked, but barely turned his head.  No biggie, right? Small beer in the grand scheme of players being upset at umpires’ calls?

Except then Hirschbeck ripped off his mask and yelled at Puig, apparently trying to goad him into an angry reaction.

source: Getty Images

Why are umps allowed to jaw at players and managers? If the player gets out of line, sure, eject them. But when someone merely rolls their eyes or notes his disapproval with a call — and when the player is all the way back to the dugout — why shouldn’t the ump be expected to keep doing his job and ignore it? What possible reason does Hirschbeck have for staring down Puig like this?

It has nothing to do with his authority being undermined. Indeed, by not reacting at all to the player, the umpire would be showing him that his authority is not even subject to being questioned.

Maybe that’s harder than it sounds, but it’s what the goal should be.

A.J. Pollock may be the Dodgers’ next free agent target

A.J. Pollock
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Free agent outfielder A.J. Pollock has landed on the Dodgers’ radar, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says the two appear to be in discussions regarding a deal for 2019. Terms of any prospective deal have not been released, but interest is presumed to be fairly high as he checks two boxes on their wish list: that of a right-handed hitter and an experienced centerfielder.

Pollock, 31, rounded out a seven-year career with the Diamondbacks in 2018. While he was sidelined for nearly seven weeks after fracturing his left thumb on a dive gone wrong, he finished the season batting a hearty .257/.316/.484 with a career-best 21 home runs, 13 steals (in 15 chances), and 2.5 fWAR across 460 plate appearances. He received a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the club at the end of the year and elected to enter free agency in hopes of a better deal, which some have estimated at five years and $80 million.

So far, it’s not clear whether teams are willing to meet those terms. Pollock profiles as both a solid hitter and defender, but he hasn’t played a season in full health since 2015, which may be a deal-breaker for those in search of long-term talent. Even with that caveat, however, the Dodgers are far from the only club willing to enter negotiations with the outfielder this winter. The Braves have been linked to Pollock since December, and the Mets and Reds have expressed varying levels of interest as well.