Royals closer Joakim Soria has damaged elbow ligament

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Joakim Soria’s fears were justified, as an MRI exam on his injured elbow revealed ulnar collateral ligament damage.

No word yet on the extent of the damage, but torn UCLs are what lead to Tommy John surgeries and 12-month recoveries.

Soria has actually already had Tommy John surgery, way back in 2003 when he was a teenager in rookie-ball. His big-league debut came four years later and since then he’s been one of the truly elite relievers in all of baseball, throwing 315 innings with a 2.40 ERA and fantastic 341/87 K/BB ratio.

And now just days after losing 22-year-old catcher Salvador Perez for 3-4 months following knee surgery the Royals may be without their best pitcher and potential top trade asset. Soria makes $6 million this season and the Royals have $8 million and $8.75 million team options for 2013 and 2014.

Jonathan Broxton would be the obvious choice to fill in for Soria as closer, assuming of course that he’s healthy after missing most of last season with elbow problems of his own.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.