Tony Gwynn to begin treatment for parotid cancer

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Some unfortunate news to report.

Former Padres great Tony Gwynn told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he will soon begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments for parotid cancer, a cancer of the salivary glands.

“I had surgery for a parotid tumor in 1997 and again three years ago
and both those times there was no cancer,” said Gwynn. “But this time
they found a malignancy. They took out three lymph nodes and did all the
tests and the results showed cancer in the parotid.

“The doctors have told me they feel they caught the cancer early and there was not much of it there.”

Gwynn, 50, said he had been trying to keep his cancer “secret” and was “pulling it off” because of his severe back problem. He took a leave of absence from his duties as a Padres television analyst back in August due to three bulging disks in his back.

The Hall of Famer speculates that the cancer may have been caused by his use of chewing tobacco, although a neck and throat specialist at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center told Center that there have been no studies showing a link between parotid cancer and chewing tobacco.

Determined to treat the cancer “aggressively,” Gwynn now faces seven to eight weeks of five-day-a-week radiation treatments and once-a-week chemotherapy treatments. He still plans to return as the baseball coach at San Diego State.

We’re rooting for you, Tony.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.