Deep thought: Are the Rangers really the last team to win a playoff series?

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How many times have we heard it repeated in the last few days that the Rangers are/were the last team to have never won a playoff series? By my count, 1,395, though I may have missed one. Not that it’s not a neat observation or anything. It’s just that, like Shane Victorino being Hawaiian, we’ve heard it before. Many, many times.

But as I heard it repeated again last night, I realized that the only way that observation is accurate is if you count the Montreal Expos 1981 Division Series win over the Phillies on the Washington Nationals’ ledger.  Which I do, personally, because you can’t just pretend the Expos never existed. Baseball-Reference.com does too, and if it’s on there, it may as well be the word of God as far as I’m concerned.

But there are many Nats fans who don’t really claim the Expos. In some cases baseball itself doesn’t either. Someone gave me a book a couple of years, put out by Major League Baseball, highlighting the signature players for each franchise. The Nats’ entry: Brad Wilkerson. Um, yeah.

I also remember a fair number of complaints last summer when the team had the little ceremony honoring Andre Dawson. Whenever the subject of putting up more prominent remembrances of Les Expos around Nationals Park comes up, people are generally sour to the idea. But in order to claim that little slice of playoff glory that makes the Rangers’ feat last night notable, Nats fans have to embrace the Expos.

So I ask the Nats fans: do you?  Do you consider that 1981 playoff win a credit to the franchise, or do you think of your Nats as the last team without a playoff series win, regardless of what everyone is saying today?

I’m not sure how I’d feel about it. I think of the Braves as having three World Series titles, even if two of them came in different cities. But that’s different because (a) the team name and ownership and everything remained constant during moves; and (b) my connection to the Braves has never been a geographic one.

So I suppose I can understand how Nats fans would be loathe to claim the Expos’ legacy. Even if it’s a pretty interesting legacy.

Sonny Gray was denied insurance coverage for the World Baseball Classic

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22:  Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.

According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.

Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.

While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.

Report: Josh Hamilton likely to undergo another knee surgery

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 24:  Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers in the dugout before a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 24, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
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Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.

More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.

Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.