Gregg Zaun has torn labrum, could retire

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zaun headshot.jpgBrewers catcher Gregg Zaun was diagnosed Wednesday with a torn labrum in the front of his right shoulder and told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy soon after that his chances of playing again this season are “50-50.”

Zaun will treat the shoulder conservatively for the next 2-4 weeks, then decide whether to have season-ending surgery or try to rehab his way back to full health.  Either way, it sounds like George Kottaras is about to get the largest chunk of major league playing time in his career. 

If a season-ending procedure is ultimately required for Zaun, the veteran isn’t sure whether he will ever return to baseball.  He signed a one-year, $2.15 million contract with Milwaukee this offseason.

“I have a couple of questions I have to ask myself,” Zaun told MLB.com. “Do I
want to play next year? I can’t answer that question at this point
right now. I love the game; I’m not sure if I want to continue going
through this.

The 39-year-old was batting a respectable .265/.350/.392 with 14 RBI in 102 at-bats as the Brewers’ primary starting catcher this year.  He’s a .252/.344/.388 career hitter over 15-plus professional seasons.

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.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.