St. Louis Cardinals Photo Day

No, the Cardinals aren’t trying to change Colby Rasmus. But his father is taking shots at the organization…

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“Not satisfied with the current product, the Cardinals are trying to change center fielder Colby Rasmus.”

That’s how I headlined my piece Thursday night — a piece that detailed a new contact-oriented hitting approach for the young Cardinals outfielder with direct quotes from his father, Tony Rasmus.

After a bit of digging I learned that the comments were made in a tongue-in-cheek manner, meant as a joke for bloggers and message board types that are prone to jump on any kind of juicy bait.  I jumped.  I bit.  Whatever.

The comments were indeed made by Rasmus’ father — that has been confirmed — and I had no way of knowing they were meant facetiously.

That’s not the end of the story, though.  Far from it.

Here is one of Tony Rasmus’ more revealing comments from the original story on Brian Walton’s The Cardinal Nation Blog:

“I’m curious to see this new hitting style at work. What they’re telling me is Colby most likely won’t hit 10 jacks this year but will be more consistent. I’m told that he will look alot like Jon Jay without all the pre swing motion. More like the Skip Schumaker and Jay stuff to left field. IT will be curious to watch.”

This isn’t light humor.  What we have here is the father of a prominent Cardinals player publicly mocking the organization on a message board.  Tony Rasmus jokingly said that manager Tony La Russa and hitting coach Mark McGwire are attempting to turn his son into more of a Skip Schumaker-type batter.

To be more like Skip,” is exactly how the elder Rasmus put it later in his diatribe.  Anyone with a baseball almanac or a desktop computer knows that Schumaker is one of the least productive regulars in the game of baseball.  Tony Rasmus is well aware of that fact and was taking a shot at the Cardinals’ braintrust.

La Russa has talked frequently about pushing Colby to use his legs more on the basepaths and to drive balls gap-to-gap rather than shooting for the fences.  Tony Rasmus, high school baseball coach and overbearing parent, clearly disagrees with that strategy and made a mockery of it on a Cardinals-centric internet forum with about five paragraphs of tongue-in-cheek commentary.  It was meant to reach a lot of eyes, with the St. Louis front office included.

Cardinals fans were appalled Thursday when the “new hitting approach” story came out.  Why are they putting a leash on one of baseball’s best young hitters?  They’re turning Colby into Juan Pierre!

The story isn’t true.  If there’s a leash, it’s not all that tight.  And Rasmus certainly isn’t being asked to stay out of the weight room.

But what’s worse?  The Cardinals asking a young power hitter to become more contact-happy or that power hitter’s father taking public jabs at the hitting philosophies of his son’s big league ball club?  Remember, Colby has made more than one trade request in the last two years.

You think someone — a parent, perhaps — might be in his ear?

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.