Twins demote Josmil Pinto back to Triple-A

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One side effect of the Twins signing Kendrys Morales to be their everyday designated hitter is that it pushed Josmil Pinto out of the lineup and, it turns out, back to the minors.

Rather than keep Pinto around as a backup catcher the Twins have decided to send the 25-year-old rookie to Triple-A. Development-wise he’s likely better off playing regularly in Rochester than sitting on the bench in Minnesota, but it’s odd that the Twins benched Pinto for 27 of their first 64 games before they even signed Morales.

Pinto has slumped recently and his defense behind the plate has been predictably shaky, but his .813 OPS in 64 games as a big leaguer is the 17th-highest mark in Twins history among every hitter with at least 200 plate appearances, ahead of guys like Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, Matt Lawton, Chuck Knoblauch, Marty Cordova, Paul Molitor, A.J. Pierzynski, Jason Kubel, and Tom Brunansky.

Pinto’s career on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS are also higher than Morales’ marks since returning from a broken ankle in 2012. He can hit, but for whatever reason the Twins played him sporadically despite having the DH spot available and then decided Morales was a worthwhile upgrade, so now Pinto is left to beat up on International League pitchers for a while.

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.