Olney: Jack McKeon to manage the Marlins

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It was only rumored yesterday, but last night Buster Olney reported that, yep, 80-year-old Jack McKeon is going to take over the Marlins as interim manager.

It’s fun to put McKeon’s age and experience into perspective with little factoids such as “McKeon’s first game as a Major League manager happened over three months before I was born” and “Jack McKeon’s first game as a manager at any level occurred when my now-62-year-old mother was six-years-old,” but that gimmick will get old pretty fast. So too will the plain old old jokes. Yes, McKeon is old. There’s not much he can do about that.

As an interim hire, though, I like it. Partially because I was always a fan of McKeon’s when he managed the Padres, Reds and Marlins on his first go-around (I don’t remember his earlier jobs). He let his players play, didn’t seem to be under the delusion that managing a baseball game was as sensitive as nuclear disarmament talks and, thanks to his experience and front office stints, seemed to recognize talent and put it in the best position to thrive rather than simply impose his will.  It’s the kind of manager I’d want to hire if I ran a team.

But maybe more importantly, this gives the Marlins some flexibility. They got boxed in when Rodriguez did well as the interim manager following Fredi Gonzalez’s firing last year and, despite looking elsewhere, felt obligated to give Rodriguez a shot at the job.  The Cubs did the same thing with Mike Quade.  It’s the classic in-season interim manager trap that, while it sometimes works out well, often leads to compromise hires.

But McKeon? To put it delicately, he’s not the long term solution in the dugout, so it will allow the Marlins’ brass several months to figure out exactly who they want leading the team when they move into the new ballpark next spring.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.