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Monday, April 6, 2020

Baseball

Diamondbacks minority owners sue over alleged forced buyouts

Arizona Diamondbacks logo

There are some significant issues in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ownership group right now.

As reported by Zach Buchanan of The Athletic, three Diamondbacks minority owners are suing general partner Ken Kendrick. They claim that the Kendrick-led ownership group unlawfully told them to either increase their investment in the team or sell their units for $60 per unit, a price they feel is unfairly discounted.

The three minority partners have had a share of the team for over 15 years.

In a statement, the team said that it was making an effort to “streamline” the ownership group with the backing of Major League Baseball. In a letter to minority partners, Kendrick said that MLB had urged the team to take the step to minimize the amount of owners with very small stakes in the team.

Kendrick has been involved in minor controversy before, but this seems like something that could break out into a significant legal battle. For now, it seems unlikely to have any major impact on the team, but it’s worth watching.

Joe Girardi was ‘nervous’ about how hard Bryce Harper played in spring training

Bryce Harper Phillies

Joe Girardi was only able to spend a relatively short amount of time with Bryce Harper prior to the MLB season being postponed, but the new Philadelphia Phillies manager was beyond impressed with what he saw. In fact, Harper’s level of effort even made Girardi a bit uneasy at times.

In an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli this week, Girardi gushed about how Harper is “such a good person.” The manager then spoke about Harper’s work ethic and said the outfielder went so hard during one spring training game that Girardi wanted to dial him back.

“I was so impressed by him in spring training and his work ethic and how hard he plays,” Girardi said, per Destiny Lugardo of Phillies Nation. “I actually got nervous one day because he got a hit. He stole second. He stole third and I looked at Dusty Wathan, [the Phillies] third base coach, and said ‘tell him he can’t steal home. That’s enough.’”

Harper had eight hits in 16 Grapefruit League at-bats, so he looked like he had a chance to get off to a hot start to the season before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, it remains uncertain if there will even be baseball in 2020.

One of the reasons Harper has battled so many injuries throughout his career is because he has never been afraid to lay his body on the line. Any manager would want a player like that, and Girardi is now getting to see it first-hand.

Bob Gibson pain-free despite battling pancreatic cancer

Bob Gibson

Bob Gibson seems to be doing well as he battles pancreatic cancer.

The Hall of Fame pitcher was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and the news became public during the summer.

Gibson has been receiving chemotherapy treatment but is doing well enough that it’s now once every three weeks instead of once a week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. And though he experiences numbness in his hands and feet, Gibson told the Post-Dispatch that he is not feeling much pain.

Gibson was set to even participate in the Cardinals’ home opener festivities, which were canceled due to the coronavirus. Gibson has been staying home like usual to keep his health amid the pandemic.

Gibson is now 84. He pitched for the Cardinals from 1959-1975 and was known for his legendary toughness. He compiled a 251-174 record with a 2.91 career ERA and 3,117 strikeouts. Gibson won 20 games five times, including a league-leading 23 in 1970. His 1.12 ERA in the 1968 season is the fourth-best mark in MLB history and the best in the modern era by a large margin.

Zac Efron tells phenomenal story about encounter with Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker is one person who is widely loved, including by the acting world.

During an appearance this week on the popular web series “Hot Ones,” Zac Efron, the actor of “High School Musical” fame, told a great story about the Houston Astros manager. Efron, who has a large collection of autographed baseballs, talked about how he got one signed by Baker, then the manager of the Giants, as a kid growing up in the San Francisco area.

“He drove by and he was on a motorcycle so he didn’t have a window he could roll up,” said Efron. “There was a couple people waiting for him, and I ran up with a baseball. I had a blue pen and a sweet spot of a brand-new ball and I showed it to him and Dusty was like, ‘I can’t right now, I gotta go to church.’ And that just means usually ‘don’t have time’ right? He’s like ‘I’ll be back in 30 minutes.’ He left and I thought I was never gonna see him again.

“45 minutes later, the motorcycle came roaring in, and I was like, ‘No way,'” Efron went on. “And he literally pointed right at me and was like, ‘Come over here.” And I walked over and he was like, “You still got that ball?” and I was like, “Yeah, thank you sir.” And I handed it to him and he signed it. So that one meant a lot to me just because Dusty Baker, like, doubled back from church. Who knows what he did? But it was pretty awesome. It was just really cool. Like, I had bleached hair. I was a little kid. Just awesome.”

Efron was born in 1987, and his childhood coincided with Baker’s tenure in San Francisco from 1993 to 2002. The three-time Manager of the Year has had four skipper jobs since then, including his hiring by Houston in January.

The awesome story is a nice change of pace because it is usually Efron who is the one doing cool things for sportspeople.

Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports acquires agency to grow baseball presence

Rich Paul

Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports is branching out into baseball.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Klutch Sports has acquired the Tidal Sports Group to serve baseball players. The acquisition means Paul now has branches in the NFL and MLB as well as the NBA.

Paul represents LeBron James, and is one of the NBA’s most powerful and prominent agents. While his tactics have sometimes been controversial, there’s no doubt that he’s a huge behind-the-scenes figure in NBA business. He clearly wants to grow his influence in other sports, and this is the first step toward making that happen in baseball.

Dontrelle Willis says Albert Pujols once took him to dinner after homering off him

Albert Pujols

The anniversary of Albert Pujols’ MLB debut provided a great opportunity for Dontrelle Willis to tell his phenomenal story about The Machine.

Thursday marked 19 years since Pujols’ first big-league game, and the official MLB Instagram account honored him with a tribute post.

Willis, the ex-All-Star pitcher, then left the most-liked comment on the post by writing about the time that Pujols “took me deep twice and then took me to dinner smh.”

Rest assured, Willis’ story checks out. Per Baseball Reference, Pujols indeed homered off Willis twice on June 29, 2010 when his St. Louis Cardinals were hosting Willis’ Arizona Diamondbacks, an eventual 8-0 win for the Cards. Pujols led the National League in dingers that season with 42 of them.

For the three-time MVP Pujols, that is a level of ruthlessness that we have not seen since Prince served pancakes to Charlie Murphy.

Rangers P James Jones out for season with knee injury after tripping on son’s toy

The nationwide stay-at-home orders have led to some unforeseen hazards, which Texas Rangers pitcher James Jones learned the hard way this week.

TR Sullivan of MLB.com reported Thursday that Jones tore his right patellar tendon when he tripped on one of his son’s toys and fell. The 31-year-old has since undergone surgery and is expected to be out until spring training 2021.

Jones is on his third separate stint in the Rangers organization but has yet to see time for them at the big-league level. He previously played as an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners before transitioning full-time to pitching in 2016.

Coincidentally enough, Jones’ injury is actually fairly similar to one once suffered by another lefty pitcher in the AL West division.