After frightening injury, David Newhan attempting comeback with Padres

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Last week I published a seven-part series on the difficulties players face on the road to the major leagues.

Now comes the story of a player trying to make it back.

John Maffei of the North County Times has all the details of the comeback opportunity the San Diego Padres are giving to David Newhan, a jack-of-all-trades infielder/outfielder who played the last of his eight major leagues seasons in 2008.

Newhan is trying to come back from a neck injury he suffered in a surfing accident in late 2009. He injured his C2 vertebrae while diving off his surf board and hitting a sand bar. The injury, reports Maffei, is known as “The Hangman’s Fracture,” and is the same injury that left actor Christopher Reeve a quadriplegic.

“I really don’t know why I’m breathing or why I’m not in a wheelchair,” Newhan said. “The fact I’m not is a blessing. I’ve been given another opportunity, and I’m trying to make the most of it.”

The Padres are giving the 37-year-old Newhan a chance to make a comeback. And though they are not committing to Newhan even making the Triple-A roster, they say they’ll find a spot for him somewhere in the organization if he wants it.

There is a lot more in Maffei’s story, so be sure to check it out here.

Neck injuries are a weird and unpredictable thing. Back in the day when I was in the newspaper world covering high school sports, I did a story on a kid who had surgery to repair a broken neck. The injury was discovered during a routine hospital checkup following a car accident. He might have suffered the injury when he fell out of a tree as a boy, or doing any of a number of things that kids do. The doctors really didn’t know, just that the injury was an old one.

Meanwhile, this kid was an all-league safety on his high school football team and an aggressive center fielder who would sell out chasing down fly balls. At any point he could have messed himself up by hitting an opponent the wrong way or landing funny while making a diving catch. But he was lucky, and everything worked out fine.

Whether or not his comeback is successful, David Newhan is also lucky. Can he make the majors? “Crazier things have happened.” He should know.

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Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.