The Big Hurt is about to hang 'em up

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The Big Hurt is ready to face reality:

Frank Thomas said he’s getting close to announcing his retirement,
and the 41-year-old slugger said he’s having fun being a member of the
media. The Chicago White Sox’s all-time leader in home runs, RBI and
runs, finished last season with the Oakland A’s and hasn’t been picked
up this season.

“That percent right now [that I’ll play again] is probably about
five percent, since we’re so deep into the season now,” Thomas said on
ESPN 1000. “But I’m still in shape, ready to go, if anything happens.
But I’m getting close to announcing my retirement because I just turned
41. I just want to make sure that it’s the move I really want to make.
I don’t want to be one of those guys that keeps coming back and keeps
saying, ‘I’m unretiring, I’m coming back.’ I want to make sure it’s out
of my system.”

Well, sort of face reality. I think baseball has more or less taken
care of the “retire/unretire” option for Thomas. Though he could still
probably be useful on an AL team, no one wants him (unlike Griffey, who
is probably less useful than Thomas, Thomas doesn’t have a home where
he can go and become a gate attraction), so the decision is pretty much
out of his hands.

Thomas will be an interesting Hall of Fame case. He should be a lock
on the numbers alone, but spending so much time at DH is gong to hurt
him with some voters. It’s less clear how the steroids era will effect
him. On the one hand he was outspoken against PEDs and helped lead the
charge to institute testing. And the media recognized him for that to
some degree. On the other hand, there’s a strong sense that all
offensive statistics — not just those of the PED users — were
inflated during Thomas’ career, so people may discount his
accomplishments even if they don’t consider them to be illegitimate in
and of themselves. That may be a little unfair and irrational, but if
you don’t think the BBWAA can be unfair and irrational, you’re not very
familiar with their work.

For what it’s worth, he’d have my vote.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”