Shannon Stone tragically fell to his death on July 7 at Rangers Ballpark while trying to catch a baseball for his 6-year-old son Cooper. The ball was thrown into the stands by Josh Hamilton, who later told reporters that he remembers the incident as though it was in slow-motion and could hear Cooper screaming for his father.
Hamilton wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t deeply affected by such a horrible accident and nobody would blame him if he never threw another baseball into the stands. However, Shannon’s mother, SuZann Stone, told the New York Times Magazine earlier this week that she wrote a letter to the 2010 AL MVP asking him to continue tossing balls to fans.
“I just didn’t want him to stop,” Stone later told the Associated Press. “How sad that would be because that’s what little boys and their daddies go for. This was just an accident.”
Via Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Hamilton released a statement earlier today saying that he intends to honor SuZann’s wishes.
“My intent will continue to be to toss baseballs to fans in the stands. However, I am also very mindful that this needs to be done in the right circumstances. Giving away baseballs during a game is an important part of how we interact with our fans. I assess each situation to make certain it is done safely. I appreciate the comments by Mrs. Stone and my prayers are with the Stone family.”
Cooper Stone threw out the first pitch of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rays and the team plans to unveil a statue in honor of Shannon next year.
Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.
Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.
It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”
Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Sox’ outfielder Brock Holt, who was shut down “for the foreseeable future” on Friday after meeting with head trauma specialist Michael Collins. The Red Sox placed Holt on the 10-day disabled list in April after he began experiencing vertigo, the latest in a series of head injuries he’s sustained since last spring.
According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the outfielder was initially advised to attempt playing through his symptoms, but it quickly became apparent that the strategy wasn’t going to work. Now, the plan is to shut him down from any game activity in the hopes that he’ll be able to recover from all lingering symptoms before returning to the roster. Club manager John Farrell told reporters that the 28-year-old is still cleared to take batting practice and work on his defense, but won’t continue his rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket for the time being.
Holt had been making regular appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox and was batting .209/.292/.372 with two home runs through 14 games this spring. This season marks his fifth run within the Red Sox’ organization. He experienced a bit of a slump at the plate in 2016 and slashed .255/.322/.383 after breaking out during his first All-Star year in 2015.
Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests that the team’s concern for Holt extends past his setbacks at the plate. It’s still a long road to a full recovery, and while Farrell told reporters he believes the outfielder is on track to make a return sometime in 2017, he’ll need to make sure that Holt is both physically and mentally prepared to do so.