Jason Kendall takes “a huge step” in post-surgery comeback

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Jason Kendall took what he called “a huge step” in his recovery from shoulder surgery, participating in live batting practice yesterday for the first time since going under the knife in September.

Kendall’s throwing program has progressed to 100 feet and Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that he could be cleared for a minor-league rehab assignment by the end of this month.

Kendall hasn’t played in a game since August 30 of last year and hit just .256 with a .615 OPS prior to being shut down, but the Royals’ current catching duo of Matt Treanor and Brayan Pena haven’t been a whole lot better than that with a .224 batting average and .665 OPS this season.

Kansas City is paying the 37-year-old catcher $3.75 million this season as part of a two-year, $6 million contract.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: