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MLB draft round three: Dodgers take Cuban defector Garcia

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Some notes from round three of the MLB draft.

– Cuban defector Onelki Garcia, a 22-year-old left-handed pitcher, went to the Dodgers at No. 113 after his odd saga that had him ruled eligible and then ineligible for the 2011 draft. He’s reportedly requested a $7 million bonus, but it will be impossible for him to get anything close to that here. Of course, he doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage, not unless he wants to go pitch in Japan. It’s doubtful he’ll be any more attractive as a draft pick a year from now.

– The Blue Jays grabbed Anthony Alford, Baseball America’s No. 36 rated player, with the 112th pick. Expectations are that he’s going to play quarterback at Southern Miss, and since he won’t be in line for a big-time bonus at No. 112, that seems a likelier scenario than ever now. If the Jays do go above slot to sign him, they’d get a center fielder with big-time tools.

– The Red Sox dipped back into the Gator well, selecting Florida’s closer, Austin Maddox, this time around. They drafted his teammate, starting pitcher Brian Johnson, with the final pick of the first round. Maddox hit 17 homers as a freshman in 2010, but he was used primarily on the mound this season and had a 2.24 ERA and a 55/10 K/BB ratio in 52 1/3 innings. He figures to be used strictly as a reliever in the pros.

– Minnesota picked Adam Walker, whose father was a running back and returner for the 49ers in the mid-90s. Walker looks like a football player himself and offers about as much power potential as anyone in the draft. Making contact is an issue. Walker hit .343/.426/.581 with 12 homers for the University of Jacksonville this season, but he also fanned 47 times in 210 at-bats while facing modest competition.

– The Tigers announced their third-round pick, Austin Schotts, as a center fielder, rather than at his high school position of shortstop. Schotts possesses blinding speed, but he lacks the arm to play shortstop in the majors. Some thought he might also fit at second base, and given the Tigers’ needs, is kind of surprising that they don’t want to try him there. Of course, being a high school product, he’s four or five years off anyway.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.