Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter on Yasiel Puig: “I wouldn’t give up on him now”

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Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times spoke with Dodgers chairman Mark Walter. The first of many topics of conversation: Yasiel Puig.

Puig has been hampered by injuries this season. And, while there haven’t been any notable controversies involving the Dodgers’ right fielder this year, the release of Molly Knight’s new book on the Dodgers has put a spotlight on Puig, his complicated relationship with his teammates and the fact that, well, he can be annoying.

Some have speculated that the Dodgers would try to trade Puig in an “addition by subtraction” kind of mood. Walter, while saying he would not stand in the way of his baseball operations people should they decide to do that, is not himself ready to give up on Puig:

“I wouldn’t give up on him now . . . I think he’s just going to be a great player,” Walter said.

Walter pointed to a groundout by Puig last week in a home game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“If you watch him, he’s playing hard,” Walter said. “Did you see that squibbler? He ran his butt off. He almost got there too.”

Walter continued, “Puig clearly, clearly has incredible potential and talent. And I think he’s got a big heart and wants to play hard. So I think that will show up.”

The real issue with trading Puig right now is that he’s been hurt and ineffective of late. Until he shows that he’s healthy and can return the form he showed before his hamstring injury earlier this season, the Dodgers would be selling low. Which, in the case of some players may not be an issue — everyone knows he’s talented and will play better — but given Puig’s reputation, anyone willing to give up a lot for him may want to be dang sure that he comes in as an impact player, not a set of damaged goods, however temporarily that may be.

Personally, I think it’s a bad baseball and business move to trade Puig unless you get a massive return. When healthy he’s one of the better hitters in the league. And he’s making peanuts for the production he is capable of providing. This year’s salary is $4.5 million. Over the next three years that only goes up a million a year. For guy with a line of .299/.380/.491 over his first three seasons, that’s a bargain.

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.