Cardinals setup man Eduardo Sanchez nearing return

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It’s been a few months since we’ve checked in on Eduardo Sanchez, the hard-throwing St. Louis setup man who posted a 1.88 ERA and struck out 33 batters over his first 28 2/3 major league innings.

Sanchez has been sidelined since mid-June with an injured right shoulder, but he should be back in the Cards’ bullpen before the end of the regular season.

According to MLB.com’s Matthew Leach, Sanchez threw an “aggressive” bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. The right-hander treated the workout like a simulated game, taking a bit of rest between two different sets of pitches. He reported no issues with his shoulder, and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa later expressed optimism that Sanchez is on the cusp of returning to action.

“I think he’s going to throw a little bit more [before pitching in a game],” La Russa said. “Maybe [he will be activated] next week, week after, the last week. Make sure he throws enough. It’s just whenever he’s ready. When he’s ready, he pitches.”

Depending on what the Cardinals do in free agency this winter, the ninth-inning role for 2012 could be up for grabs. Fernando Salas has done a fine job this season, but he’s recently displayed signs of fatigue. Jason Motte has been dominant, but there are worries about his limited arsenal. Sanchez should be in the mix.

The Hall of Fame rejected the BBWAA vote to make ballots public

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Last year, at the Winter Meetings, the BBWAA voted overwhelmingly to make Hall of Fame ballots public beginning with this year’s election. Their as a long-demanded one, and it served to make a process that has often frustrated fans — and many voters — more transparent.

Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweeted a few minutes ago, however, that at some point since last December, the Hall of Fame rejected the BBWAA’s vote. Writer may continue to release their own ballots, but their votes will not automatically be made public.

I don’t know what the rationale could possibly be for the Hall of Fame. If I had to guess, I’d say that the less-active BBWAA voters who either voted against that change or who weren’t present for it because they don’t go to the Winter Meetings complained about it. It’s likewise possible that the Hall simply doesn’t want anyone talking about the votes and voters so as not to take attention away from the honorees and the institution, but that train left the station years ago. If the Hall doesn’t want people talking about votes and voters, they’d have to change the whole thing to some star chamber kind of process in which the voters themselves aren’t even known and no one discusses it publicly until after the results are released.

Oh well. There’s a lot the Hall of Fame does that doesn’t make a ton of sense. Add this to the list.