Brewers lose catchers Gregg Zaun to surgery and Angel Salome to the outfield

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Milwaukee essentially lost a pair of catchers yesterday, with 39-year-old veteran Gregg Zaun deciding to undergo season-ending (and perhaps career-threatening) shoulder surgery and 24-year-old prospect Angel Salome requesting a move to the outfield.
Zaun has remained productive well past the point most catchers flame out, hitting .265 with a .743 OPS in 28 games this season while getting on base above a .340 clip for the seventh straight year, but he’ll be 40 before the start of next season and had modest arm strength even before the surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Zaun admitted yesterday that the Brewers would probably be smart to choose a $250,000 buyout over a $2.25 million on him for next year and said he’s uncertain about trying to play a 17th season. “I’d like to prove to myself that I can still play, so an injury won’t be the thing that ends my career.”
Salome was once considered the Brewers’ catcher of the future, but his hitting declined following a breakout 2008 season at Double-A and his defense was never considered a strong point. He also left the Triple-A team early this season for the birth of a child and later took an extended leave, telling the Brewers he was “struggling mentally” and “not mentally prepared to play.”
Now he’s a 5-foot-7 corner outfielder without much speed and with a .759 OPS in 87 games at Triple-A, and the Brewers have demoted him to Single-A to get comfortable at the new position. “Certainly, his path to the big leagues is a lot less cluttered as a catcher,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “But this is what he says he wants to do, so we’re going to give it a try and see what happens.”

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.”