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Rumors and Rumblings | Don Baylor remembered fondly

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Clint Hurdle had so much respect for Don Baylor that the Pittsburgh Pirates manager took time away from his team Friday and Saturday to attend his friend’s funeral in Austin, Texas.

Baylor spent 19 seasons in the major leagues from 1970-88 with six different teams. From 1985-87, he played in three consecutive World Series with three different teams, winning in ’87 with the Minnesota Twins.

Baylor was also the 1979 American League MVP while playing for the then-California Angels. He won the National League Manager of the Year Award in 1995 for leading the Colorado Rockies to the postseason in just their third year of existence.

Baylor, who died Monday of cancer at 68, gave Hurdle his first major league coaching job. That was in 1997 as the Rockies’ hitting coach — the two men remained close friends.

“He was a compassionate man and a passionate competitor,” Hurdle said. “Just a wonderful guy to be taught the game by.”

Hurdle handed the team over to bench coach Tom Prince for the first two games of the Pirates’ three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

“He would say he was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time,” Hurdle said of Baylor. “I think all you had to do was spend time around him and realize he had something to do with it.”

Baylor made an indelible mark on Detroit Tiger left fielder Justin Upton. During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Baylor was Arizona’s hitting coach when Upton was playing for the Diamondbacks.

“He taught me a lot about competing at the plate and how to play the game and how to play it hard,” Upton said. “He taught me a lot about the game, but he taught me more about how to be a person. How to relate with people. How to be in the clubhouse. How to be on and off the field.

“I just remember every day I’d come to the cage and he’d have a smile on his face and he was prepared to go to battle with you.”

*****

The time may be coming for the Boston Red Sox to consider moving Xander Bogaerts off shortstop, even though he is just 24 years old.

Bogaerts had minus-13 defensive runs saved in 101 games at the position coming into the weekend. Last year, his DRS count was minus-10 in 157 games.

“He just doesn’t make enough plays,” a scout from an AL team said. “I don’t understand it. He’s an athletic guy but he just doesn’t make plays.”

The Red Sox don’t have any other position to put Bogaerts. Dustin Pedroia is a fixture at second base, rookie third baseman Rafael Devers looks like a long-term piece, and the outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts is set.

Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts makes a play on a ground ball single by Detroit Tigers' Jose Iglesias in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

*****

The comparison many scouts use for Texas Ranger third baseman Joey Gallo is former major league slugger Adam Dunn. Like Dunn, Gallo has tremendous power, but his inability to make consistent contact drags down his batting average.

Gallo entered the weekend hitting .209/.322/.563 with 32 home runs in 103 games. He had also struck out 141 times in 371 plate appearances, a 38.0 percentage.

Dunn slashed .237/.364/.490 with 462 home runs – an average of 37 per 162 games — in his 14-year career from 2001-14.  He struck out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances.

“I love Gallo’s raw power and he’s still young enough that there is room for him to grow as a hitter,” a scout from an NL team said of the 23-year-old Gallo. “I realize everyone swings for the fences now and strikeouts are accepted but I do worry that he’ll swing-and-miss his way right out of the big leagues if he doesn’t develop at least some plate discipline.”

*****

The Los Angeles Dodgers are almost certainly going to finish with the best record in the NL, which means they will play the winner of the wild card game — which will almost certainly pit the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Colorado Rockies — in a National League Division Series.

Many scouts believe the Dodgers should be rooting for the Rockies to win the wild card game. FanRag’s Tommy Stokke offered the same sentiment.

The Dodgers lead the season series against Arizona, 8-5, but have been outscored 59-58.

“If I’m the Dodgers, I don’t want any part of the Diamondbacks in a five-game series,” a scout from an NL team said. “The Diamondbacks match up very well with the Dodgers are very capable of beating them in a short series. In a seven-game series, I’ll take the Dodgers over anyone and I’d take them over the Rockies in a five-game series. But If I’m the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks would worry me.”

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