Rangers to go it without Hamilton, McCarthy

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Within a two-hour span Monday, the Rangers revealed that they picked up
manager Ron Washington’s option for 2010, that Josh Hamilton would
undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle and that Brandon
McCarthy was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right shoulder.

Taking them one at a time:

– Washington’s option was an easy call. There were times last year
at which it didn’t seem he’d last into 2009, but with the Rangers off
to such a fine start, there shouldn’t have been any hesitation In
guaranteeing his modest salary for another year. I still don’t think
Nolan Ryan is sold on Washington, but his players seem quite fond of
him. If Washington leads the team to the postseason, then he should get
a real contract extension over the winter.

– Hamilton is slated to miss 4-6 weeks following surgery on Tuesday.
He should come back after the All-Star break and produce, but last
year’s 156-game season will likely go down as a fluke from a player who
has spent much of his pro career sidelined due to injury when not
suspended because of drugs. Marlon Byrd has replaced him in center
field, with David Murphy picking up most of the time in left. Andruw
Jones remains a backup despite his 933 OPS in 92 at-bats. Murphy is at
708 in 112 at-bats.

– McCarthy’s loss could prove to be bigger, depending on whether
this stress fracture is worse than the one that kept him out in 2007.
Incredibly, he was able to return after just a month off when he
suffered a stress fracture in his shoulder blade in Aug. 2007. McCarthy
has a 4.92 ERA this season, but he’s pitched fairly effectively in
eight of his 11 starts. The Rangers were expected to put Derek Holland
back into the bullpen to make room for the returning Matt Harrison, but
he’ll probably have to remain a starter now. It’s a very good thing the
Rangers had yet to pay anyone to take Vicente Padilla off their hands.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.