Tony Gwynn had facial nerve removed in 14-hour surgery for cancerous tumor

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Tony Gwynn underwent a 14-hour surgery yesterday to remove a malignant tumor from his cheek, with Tom Friend of ESPN.com reporting that the Hall of Famer had a facial nerve taken out and replaced with a nerve from his shoulder.

Gwynn’s wife, Alicia Gwynn, told Friend that the surgery lasted until 1:00 a.m. and was deemed a success, as the cancerous tumor was completely removed.

Gwynn, who attributes the growth to his prior use of smokeless tobacco, underwent a somewhat similar procedure in 2010 that left him unable to smile for several months. Gwynn’s wife is optimistic that his recovery will be much easier this time around, noting that “his face looks good” already.

Friend writes that had the “complex” surgery not gone well yesterday Gwynn’s “face could’ve been partially paralyzed or slightly disfigured.” For now there’s hope that Gwynn will be feeling good enough to resume coaching at San Diego State next month, hopefully while displaying the same smile that baseball fans came to love during his 20-year career.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.