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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Baseball

Report: Rangers have tabled extension talks with Jonathan Lucroy

The Texas Rangers may have to prepare for their catcher to hit free agency at season’s end.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers have tabled contract talks with Jonathan Lucroy, potentially opening the door for his departure at season’s end.

Lucroy was the Rangers’ big trade deadline acquisition last July, and has a long track record of being one of the game’s more reliable catchers. He hit 11 home runs in 47 games after the Rangers acquired him, and though the catcher position is demanding, he’s still fairly young by baseball standards at age 30.

It’s worth noting that Lucroy might not be the only big-name catcher hitting the open market at season’s end.

Yadier Molina finds free agency intriguing, will not negotiate during season

Could Yadier Molina be entering his final season as a St. Louis Cardinal?

The All-Star catcher, who is entering the final guaranteed year of his current contract, admitted Saturday that the thought of going into free agency intrigues him, and he expects to be paid on par with the highest-paid catchers in baseball. He also said that he won’t negotiate with the Cardinals once the regular season kicks off.

Molina turns 35 in July, and at such a physically demanding position, a huge investment would be risky at this stage of his career. He did hit .307 in 2016, though he threw out just 21 percent of would-be basestealers, a career-worst mark. He can still do this, though. St. Louis will have a difficult decision to make.

Alex Rodriguez admits his response to PED scandal made him look foolish

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez had rather harsh criticism over how his PED scandals went down, and it was aimed entirely at himself.

Rodriguez addressed a group of University of Miami students at a Thursday luncheon, where he admitted that his conduct during and after his 2013 PED scandal and eventual suspension was rather embarrassing.

“I think just being a big jerk, you know?” Rodriguez said, via Jim Berry of CBS Miami. “I was just a really big jerk.”

Rodriguez had even harsher words for himself when recounting his denials of PED use.

“I made mistakes and then I doubled down and became a bigger jerk and then went on sports radio and made an ass of myself,” Rodriguez said.

This isn’t the first time Rodriguez has admitted his conduct was terrible. At least he knows it now, not that it makes him look any better in retrospect.

H/T CBS Sports

Jung-ho Kang reportedly denied visa to enter US, may not play for Pirates in 2017

The Pittsburgh Pirates are getting an unpleasant surprise just a little over a week before Opening Day.

Korean baseball writer Sung Min Kim reports on Friday that Pirates infielder Jung-ho Kang was not granted his visa to enter the United States and may not be able to play for the team in 2017.

Kang, who will turn 30 next month, batted .255/.354/.513 with 21 home runs and 63 RBIs for Pittsburgh in 2016, a year after finishing third in National League Rookie of the Year voting. He recently entered a treatment program after a DUI arrest in December in his native South Korea, his third such arrest since 2009. Kim also adds that there’s suspicion Kang may have been convicted of DUI in a country other than the United States and South Korea.

The soon-to-be 34-year-old David Freese will likely be asked to fill in if Kang is indeed out of commission, giving the Pirates a more reliable glove but a lower-upside bat.

Image via MLB on YouTube

Yadier Molina rips Adam Jones for saying Puerto Rico celebrated early

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones made some uneducated comments about his opponent after the World Baseball Classic championship game, and the Puerto Rican team captain is demanding that Jones apologize for it.

After the United States dominated Puerto Rico with an 8-0 win on Wednesday, Jones said the U.S. team was motivated by the Puerto Rican players planning a celebration and having championship T-shirts made before the game was even played. Puerto Rico did, in fact, have a celebration, but Molina says the team was going to have one either way.

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.

“He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people. Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Although they only took home a silver medal, Molina implied that award means more to the people of Puerto Rico than the gold means means to the U.S.

“That’s why I’m sending a message to [Jones], saying, ‘Look at this, right now you’re in spring training working out, and we’re with our people, with our silver medals,'” he said. “You’re in spring training and you’re working … you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don’t know what it means.”

Puerto Rico had gone 7-0 in the World Baseball Classic prior to the championship game. The country was incredibly excited about the run, and third baseman Carlos Correa echoed Molina’s sentiments.

“It’s funny because they have been talking about that, but it’s all about the country; it’s not about our team,” Correa said. “Our country has been behind us since we have started [the tournament]. When we were in Mexico, we told the governor in Puerto Rico that if we made it to the finals, we need to plane to get back and celebrate with our people.”

Like it or not, the World Baseball Classic created plenty of drama this time around. With the war of words between Puerto Rico and the U.S. and Adrian Gonzalez unloading on the tournament, no one can argue there was no entertainment.

Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias could miss start of season after slipping in shower

A home mishap could keep Cincinnati Reds right-hander Raisel Iglesias sidelined for the start of the 2017 season.

According to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday, Iglesias slipped in the shower three weeks ago, resulting in a bone bruise in his pitching elbow and soreness in both his hips. He reportedly will not resume throwing again for another several days, and Reds manager Bryan Price was quoted as saying that Iglesias may not be ready for Opening Day.

The 27-year-old reliever made 37 appearances for the Reds in 2016, going 3-2 with a 2.53 ERA, six saves, and seven holds. He figures to play a key role out of the Cincinnati bullpen this season with very few quality arms to choose from.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an athlete get hurt from slipping in the shower in the last few months, and the hope here is that Iglesias won’t have to open the 2017 campaign on the disabled list.

Image via FOX Sports Ohio

Yoenis Cespedes: MLB would grow if they played with Latin culture

Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes has a message for American baseball players and fans.

The New York Mets outfielder recorded a video shared by “We are Mitu” on Facebook in which he explained the difference between the Latin and American cultures of baseball. He said that Latin players celebrate because it’s part of the culture and not a sign of disrespect. He also said he thinks MLB would grow in popularity if they started playing with some Latin flair.

“Baseball players in the U.S. need to understand that we are not doing this out of disrespect. It’s just how we play,” Cespedes says in the video. “Baseball in the U.S. is the best baseball in the world. We Latinos play baseball because it’s a passion. That is the difference to why we play baseball with more love. In my country, Cuba, the game is played with music. If in the U.S., we would introduce more of the Latin culture, I think that baseball would grow,” says Cespedes.

“There would be more fans at the game because they wouldn’t just be there to see a game. It would be more like a party and something to enjoy.”

The culture clash in baseball has been magnified due to the World Baseball Classic. You had teams like Puerto Rico dyeing their hair, and more music for many of the Latin teams. But now there are younger American players like Bryce Harper trying to usher in a new era of baseball where celebrations are welcomed and encouraged. Cespedes is probably right that players having more fun would increase the game’s appeal.

H/T CBS Sports

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