Miguel Olivo likely spoils last chance to revive baseball career
Cut after he bit off part of a teammate’s ear at Class AAA Albuquerque, the one-time Mariners catcher could have blown his final opportunity.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The next step for Miguel Olivo might be to get a tattoo on his face.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced they released the veteran catcher, who had been playing for their Class AAA affiliate in Albuquerque. It was no surprise considering that Olivo had bitten a large chunk of teammate Alex Guerrero’s ear off in a dugout altercation during Pacific Coast League game in Salt Lake City.
Confrontations between teammates are not uncommon over the course of a season. Pushing, shoving and even a few punches are not uncommon and can be overlooked. But biting?
Well, that’s just a little bit too much.
“Unimaginable, inconceivable and, frankly, unforgivable,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told reporters.
Last season with the Marlins, Olivo walked out during batting practice and left the stadium, bitter that he wasn’t playing.
This may have been his last chance in baseball, and he went out looking as deranged as Mike Tyson in the 1997 heavyweight championship fight with Evander Holyfield.
Guerrero had to undergo emergency plastic surgery to reattach a large portion of ear that Olivo chomped off. It was a lengthy procedure that will keep him out for at least five weeks.
“Alex feels awful about the incident and the fact that he was doing so well, had turned the corner,” Kasten said. “Before Miguel left, he was distraught about it, but I’m not going to speak for him.”
So how did it get to that point? Is Olivo a Tyson fan? Did he not get enough for lunch?
It’s well known around baseball that Olivo can be easily irritated. His short fuse was ignited when Guerrero hadn’t applied a tag on a steal attempt.
During a pitching change, words were exchanged and Olivo pushed Guerrero. Teammates broke it up. But it carried on in the dugout after the inning. Olivo punched Guerrero and then lunged and went for the ear.
When a reporter asked if it was somehow Guerrero’s fault because of the mistake, Kasten was incredulous.
“Fault?” Kasten said. “It’s not a question of fault. As I said, the action of removing a part of someone’s ear was unforgivable. Fault is not an issue here.”
Guerrero was one of the Dodgers’ top prospects. A Cuban defector, he signed a four-year, $28 million contract in October. He was hitting .376 with 10 home runs and 29 runs batted in in 33 games when the incident occurred. With Juan Uribe going on the disabled list, Guerrero might have been a candidate to be called up.
Guerrero’s agent, Scott Boras, chimed in with his thoughts to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
“The custom and practice of a locker room over the course of the season does include confrontation and sometimes physical altercations with your teammates,” Boras told Yahoo. “But shooting, stabbing or cannibalizing a player is not a part of baseball or being a proper teammate. That’s extreme and deserves grand discipline.”
Perhaps Holyfield summed it up best to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s kind of shocking when you get bit in the ear,” he said. “It ain’t a good thing. Getting bit just ain’t right.”
Moustakas sent to Class AAA
On Thursday, the Royals sent third baseman Mike Moustakas to Class AAA Omaha in hopes that the former first-round pick can figure out his woes at the plate.
Moustakas was hitting just .152 when he was sent down. His four homers tied him for the most on the team with catcher Salvador Perez, which is also a very sad stat for the Royals. Moustakas had more strikeouts (25) than hits (19) in his 125 at-bats.
“Good baseball players can self-evaluate,” Kansas City general manager Dayton Moore told The Kansas City Star. “And Mike is a good self-evaluator. He understands that it’s in his best interest to go down and focus on some things. Ultimately, I thought it was the best thing to do for the organization and for Mike.”
Moustakas was taken with the second pick of the 2007 draft. In 2012, he hit 20 homers and drove in 73 runs in 149 games.
Around the horn
• Coming into the weekend, hard-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura leads all pitchers in the majors having thrown 428 fastballs with a speed of 96 mph or higher
• With a two-run homer, the M’s Willie Bloomquist broke a string of 663 homerless plate appearances. His last HR came Aug. 10, 2011 against the Astros at Chase Field as a member of the Diamondbacks.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish