Tony Gwynn recently discussed his recovery from cancer with Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
As you may remember, the Hall of Famer was diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland last August. We learned last month that radiation and chemotherapy forced him to use a walker to get around, but Gwynn tells Hernandez that surgery to remove a tumor also resulted in paralysis of the right side of his face, complicating his ability to smile, laugh or blink with his right eye. Gywnn estimates that he lost about 85 pounds during treatment.
“Baseball-wise, I knew if I put in the work I was going to get results,” Gwynn said. “Not knowing how it’s going to turn out, that’s the hard part. After being in control 20 years of your career and in nine years of coaching, now you ain’t in control anymore.”
The good news is that Gwynn told Hernandez that “things are about back to normal.” He has begun a workout program and recently underwent surgery to correct a back issue that has bothered him for over a year and a half. Earlier this week, he returned to his office at his alma mater San Diego State, where he has been the baseball coach since 2001. Gwynn plans to be on the bench when the team opens their season on February 18. He also intends to return to the broadcast booth for Padres games this season.
“I haven’t had any setbacks whatsoever,” Gwynn said. “I’m getting control of my face again.”
If there’s any story you read today, make sure it’s this one.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.