Ernie Harwell

That Mitch Albom-penned Ernie Harwell play is actually happening

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When it was first announced last fall I hoped it was like one of the many projects we hear about but which never come to fruition.  But no, it appears that Mitch Albom’s play about Ernie Harwell is actually happening.  It will officially be announced tomorrow, including introductions of the actor playing Harwell and some remarks by Albom himself.  The play’s description from the production company:

“Ernie” features a two person cast portraying “Ernie” and the “Boy”, a teenager who, on the night Ernie comes to Comerica Park to say goodbye to the fans, encounters his hero and asks him to give a very special broadcast – the broadcast of his life. The play will feature actual footage from historic baseball moments, famous Tigers players and Harwell calls.

Like I said last fall, I think a play about Ernie Harwell could be pretty cool. I just think that Mitch Albom is probably the least-equipped person on he planet to do it.  Albom’s famous books traffic in easy sentimentality and emotional manipulation. They’re feature elderly people who either behave like children or some kind of sage gurus and nothing in between.  His sports writing, while once somewhat fresh back before most of you reading this were born, is so hacky that hacks look at it and say “damn, that guy’s a hack.”  The idea of letting Albom combine is twisted sense of mortality and aging and sports in the form of an Ernie Harwell piece borders on the criminal.

Given that, in contrast to Albom’s works, Harwell was all about understatement, humility, self-deprecation and grace, I feel safe in saying that it’s not exactly a match.

(thanks to Brian Murphy for the link)

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.