Pirates lighting candles over McLouth trade

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I liked last week’s Nate McLouth trade
better from the Braves’ point of view and felt that the Pirates didn’t
get a particularly good package of prospects in return, so it’s tough
to blame his ex-teammates in Pittsburgh for being upset about McLouth’s
departure.

With that said, their collective reaction might be just a bit over the top. For instance, here’s Adam LaRoche on the trade:

It’s kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep
dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you’ve got to
figure: How much longer till you sink?

And here’s how Dejan Kovacevic the Pittsburgh Post Gazette described the clubhouse scene:

In one corner of the Pirates’ clubhouse at PNC Park, the small,
circular metal table between the stalls of relievers Sean Burnett and
Jesse Chavez had a candle lit atop it, adorned by the No. 13 of Nate
McLouth and an accompanying photo of him in full uniform.

McLouth was well-liked by teammates and is certainly a solid player,
but at the end of the day we’re talking about lighting candles, laying
out pictures, and comparing the trade to losing platoon-mates in battle
because a non-contending team dealt a career .260/.339/.460 hitter for
some prospects in the hopes of stockpiling enough talent to eventually
have a winning season for the first time since 1992.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.