Munenori Kawasaki had a roller coaster of Tuesday. The Cubs released the infielder during the morning, but quickly re-signed him to a new minor league contract. He suited up and watched his teammates take on the Athletics in one of the final Cactus League games of the spring.
Kawasaki entered the game in the top of the sixth, playing second base and batting ninth. He grounded out in his first plate appearance. During his second plate appearance, in the eighth inning with runners on second and third and no outs, the fans started chanting his name. Kawasaki then turned on a Fernando Rodriguez fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center for a three-run home run. After he ran the bases, Kawasaki returned to the dugout for what he thought would be back pats and high-fives, but he instead received the silent treatment.
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Though Kawasaki didn’t make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, manager Joe Maddon was very complimentary when talking about him. Via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat:
“He’s a good baseball player,” manager Joe Maddon said of Kawasaki. “He gets a lot of publicity based on his personality, but this guy is also a very good player.”
Maddon called the versatile infielder an “energy source.” What was Kawasaki lacking that he didn’t make the final 25-man roster?
“Not a thing,” Maddon said. “He couldn’t have had a better Spring Training. What he was lacking was opportunity. There’s enough people right now based on the personnel we had in house.”