Jose Urena
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José Ureña to appeal six-game suspension for hitting Ronald Acuña

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Marlins right-hander José Ureña is planning to appeal his six-game suspension, the pitcher revealed Friday. Ureña was both suspended and fined after intentionally throwing at and hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña with a 97.5-MPH fastball in the first inning of Wednesday’s 5-2 loss. The suspension won’t take effect until his appeal is heard and ruled on, and club manager Don Mattingly said he might still use the righty in Sunday’s series finale against the Nationals.

Bill has a full breakdown of the incident, along with a compelling case for making an example out of the 26-year-old in order to deter other pitchers from taking similarly violent measures in the future and perpetuating an irresponsible culture of revenge. While addressing the press on Friday, Ureña again insisted that the hit by pitch was unintentional, then followed up the non-apology with this statement (per MLB.com’s Kyle Melnick):

When people know me, the people know,” Ureña said. “I [am] competitive when I get out there. You feel like you go face somebody, be aggressive. Sometimes, you see people make comments when they don’t know [you].

According to Melnick, the right-hander currently leads all National League hurlers with 11 HBP in 2018. Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels holds the season record, with 15, followed by the Royals’ Jakob Junis (13), White Sox’ Lucas Giolito (13), and Astros’ Charlie Morton (12).

Acuña, meanwhile, was cleared to play on both Thursday and Friday after the CT scans on his left elbow came back clean and his X-rays returned negative. A quick return to full health doesn’t excuse Ureña’s actions, of course, and it’ll be interesting to see how the teams handle the aftermath of the hit by pitch when they face off against each other again on Thursday. It’s still possible that Ureña sustains his appeal through Wednesday, allowing him to pitch against the Nationals on Sunday or the Yankees on Tuesday or Wednesday, then drops the appeal in order to avoid next weekend’s series against the Braves.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.