Jason Kendall is “ahead of the game” with recovery from shoulder surgery

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Initially expected to be sidelined for the first two months of the season following September shoulder surgery, Jason Kendall told Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star that he’s “ahead of the game” and could be cleared to resume throwing early next month.

Whether that would leave him enough time to potentially be ready for Opening Day is unclear, but Kendall seems very optimistic about his revised timetable:

They originally told me I wasn’t supposed to start throwing until June, but now I can start throwing in February. I still expect to be back for Opening Day. Is it going to happen? I don’t know. But if it’s not Opening Day, it’s going to be shortly after. I’m gonna play sooner than later, but I’m not gonna be foolish about it, either.

Brayan Pena will fill in for Kendall, which isn’t much of a dropoff (if any). Kendall allowed an MLB-high 101 steals last season, so teams will be running like crazy on his surgically repaired shoulder, and he also had the sixth-worst OPS among all players with 400 or more plate appearances.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.