Joe Nathan undergoes Tommy John surgery

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Joe Nathan headshot.jpgUPDATE: General manager Bill Smith says that Nathan’s reported “significant” UCL tear ended up being a complete tear, reports Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

7:31 pm: The Twins have announced that Joe Nathan’s Tommy John surgery was a success, reports Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Mets (gasp!) team physician Dr. David Altcheck performed the surgery in New York on Friday.

Altcheck removed a tendon from Nathan’s left wrist and inserted it into his right
elbow, repairing his torn ulnar collateral ligament. The 35-year-old right-hander is expected to miss the entirety of the 2010 season, but should be ready to rock for the early part of the 2011 season.

Jon Rauch has the most closing experience among Nathan’s potential in-house replacements, though the club has yet to make a decision on that front. Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and even Francisco Liriano have been discussed as alternatives, while Jason Frasor of the Blue Jays and Heath Bell of the Padres are reportedly available via trade.

Kris Bryant wants to be Cubs’ player rep, vows to “fight” for next collective bargaining agreement

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Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.

While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”

As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”

It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.