Reds righty Michael Lorenzen’s August 19 home run soon after the death of his father Clif was the most notable highlight of the team’s season. But Lorenzen’s father was troubled by substance abuse, and their relationship was complex, as the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan writes in a long piece about what that home run meant. After Lorenzen’s father left when he was 12, Lorenzen began getting into trouble himself, and his older brother, Jonathan, had his own pro baseball career derailed when the Dodgers released him after he allegedly had sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl at their Spring Training site. Michael Lorenzen cites finding faith as a teenager as a turning point in his life. Now, Lorenzen looks back at his home run — which came in the seventh inning of a 9-2 win against the Dodgers — as evidence that his father’s death had a purpose, as he frequently receives messages from fans telling him that moment was an inspiration to them. Here’s more from the NL Central.
- The Pirates expect that third baseman Jung Ho Kang will not attempt to move his February 22 court date in South Korea and will therefore miss the beginning of Spring Training, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Bucs’ acquisition of fellow infielder Phil Gosselin from the Diamondbacks on Friday was made with the expectation that Kang would be out indefinitely as he faces trial for driving drunk and leaving the scene of a DUI crash. Kang’s arrest in early December was his third DUI arrest in South Korea. The Gosselin trade “does serve as insurance (for Kang’s absence) if needed,” says Pirates GM Neal Huntington. “But we also have been looking for an extra right-handed hitter, and Gosselin is a guy who can play multiple positions.”
- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is unimpressed by Baseball Prospectus’ recent PECOTA projection that his team would finish a disappointing 76-86 this season, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “That’s unbelievable. Yeah, I saw it. I hope the guys saw it, too,” Matheny says. “I just want to make sure our guys take a good look around and see what we really are and what we have. We’ve got guys who are motivated. Guys have an edge as to how it finished last year. We’ve got the makings of a fun, fun season.” Matheny says his team will pay increased attention to defensive coaching in Spring Training this year, and it seems part of his plan for improving in 2017 will be getting better defensive performances from his infielders. He notes that many of his infielders (such as Aledmys Diaz and Kolten Wong) enter the upcoming season with what could be valuable extra years of experience, and points out that other players, such as Jedd Gyorko and Randal Grichuk, played positions last season at which they had limited big-league experience. Gyorko could return to a roving role this year. The offseason signing of Dexter Fowler will bump Grichuk back to a corner outfield spot.
- Cardinals lefty Marco Gonzales threw from a mound on Friday for the first time in almost a year, Hummel also notes. Gonzales had Tommy John surgery in April and also missed much of the 2015 season due to injury. The former first-round draft pick hopes to pitch in game action by May. That timeline (which presumably would include a rehab assignment) would have him back on an active roster (whether that’s in Triple-A Memphis or in St. Louis) by early summer.