UPDATE: Westmoreland undergoes brain surgery

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Update: Alex Speier of WEEI.com passes along a statement from the team:

Following the five-hour procedure, Westmoreland remains in the intensive
care unit but has come through the surgery well. Due to the complexity
of this surgery, Ryan will face a difficult period initially before
beginning his recovery.

7:54 PM: According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, 19-year-old Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland underwent brain surgery on Tuesday.

Westmoreland, who was selected by Boston in the fifth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation of the brain earlier this month, a potentially life-threatening condition. A source within the Red Sox organization tells Edes that the surgery “went well,” although a complete prognosis will not be known for a few days.

Over the winter, the young Rhode Island native was named as the organization’s No. 1 prospect by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, but to be honest, the mere mention of anything baseball-related seems pretty trivial right now. Let’s just hope he makes a full recovery.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉