Alex Rodriguez, Joe Girardi

Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, but Joe Girardi says “he’s due”

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Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, finishing the first half hitting .269 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs, and a .436 slugging percentage in 82 games.

Both his batting average and slugging percentage would be career-lows and he’s on pace to finish with an OPS below .800 for the first time in 17 full seasons as a major leaguer. All of which isn’t shocking considering he’s 36 years old and showed major signs of declining last season when he missed 63 games with injuries and had what was at the time the worst season of his career by hitting .276 with 16 homers, 62 RBIs, and a .461 slugging percentage.

His yearly OPS has dropped from 1.067 to .965 to .933 to .847 to .823 to .793 since winning the MVP in 2007 and between the aging and injuries Rodriguez seems unlikely to reverse that pattern. However, manager Joe Girardi has yet to bat him anywhere but third or fourth in the Yankees’ lineup and told Austin Laymance of MLB.com that he believes Rodriguez is going to have a big second half:

He’s due. It is what it is. Sometimes guys don’t get hot in the first half. Sometimes they have torrid second halves. … No one knows what the future holds, but I would say he’s due. Maybe he hasn’t driven in all the runs that we maybe expect, but he’s been on base, he’s hit some home runs and he’s a middle of the order guy.

Rodriguez is certainly capable of getting hot and even as a shell of his former self he’s been an above-average hitter as is, but the Yankees of all teams can do better in the middle of the lineup.

Dating back to 2010, among all hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances Rodriguez ranks 84th in batting average, 56th in on-base percentage, 42nd in slugging percentage, and 46th in OPS. At this point he’s merely a good, solid hitter with occasional power … except he’s batting third or cleanup for the team with MLB’s best record and is still owed $114 million from 2013-2017.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.