Yoenis Cespedes playing winter ball for some reason

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Yoenis Cespedes has a bit of mystery about him.  Gaudy numbers from Cuba. Far more limited footage and scouting of him freely available than of most hot properties. In spite of that — or perhaps because of it — he’s set to become a free agent and get himself a contract in the $50-60 million range or perhaps more. At the moment his stock could not be higher.

So will someone please explain to me why he decided to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic?

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, the talented and sought-after Cuban defector, has joined Aguilas of the Dominican Winter League. He played Thursday in a round-robin playoff game. Cespedes went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and was hit by a pitch in the 6-4 loss to the Gigantes del Cibao.

I can’t see what he has to gain by playing. Given the investment they will have just made, the team that signs him will have no choice but to have tons of patience if he’s a bit rusty upon hitting spring training.  And by playing now, before signing, he risks (a) injury; or (b) losing some luster by virtue of poor play or, more likely, some bit of scouting intelligence that reveals a heretofore overlooked flaw in his game.

Maybe he’s just bored. But if I were his agent I would have told him to do nothing but work out, eat smart and peruse real estate listings until his contract is done.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”