Jose Abreu may reconsider his decision not to participate in the Home Run Derby

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On Tuesday, it was reported that White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was “not too crazy about” participating in the Home Run Derby. The slugger, who has participated in home run derbies in Cuba, worries that the contest would have a negative effect on his mechanics.

Well, hold the phone. As MLB.com’s Jamie Ross reports, Abreu has asked American League captain Jose Bautista to keep the lines of communication open.

“He’s a little hesitant because he’s done a couple of them in the past and he hasn’t fared too well,” Bautista said. “He feels like it messes up his swing a little bit. But he did tell me it’s not 100-percent no, to keep the communication lines open with him and see what happens. I’m definitely doing that because I think the fans deserve to watch him.”

At the conclusion of Sunday’s action, Abreu remains tied for the major league lead in home runs with Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz and Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion at 25. Abreu ripped a pair of dingers against the Blue Jays on Friday. Overall, Abreu is slashing .279/.328/.625 with 64 RBI, tied for the third-best in the majors.

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.