Michael Kirkman announced Friday underwent his fourth and final treatment for skin cancer this week and will now be able to focus on making an impact out of the pen for the Rangers.
The 25-year-old Kirkman was diagnosed with skin cancer this spring, though it went undisclosed until a month ago. He pitched for Triple-A Round Rock while undergoing treatment, and though he struggled mightily in April, he improved as the season progressed and received a callup to Texas on June 12.
Kirkman has pitched two scoreless innings since the promotion, though he has walked three. Control was the problem in Triple-A, as well, as he walked 31 while amassing a 5.25 ERA in 48 innings. With better command, he might yet have a future as a starting pitcher in the majors. The Rangers don’t need him in the rotation right now, though.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.
Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.
Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.