Agent fights back against “gutless people” ripping Justin Upton anonymously

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Trade rumors are swirling around Justin Upton and his agent, Larry Reynolds, is upset about what he feels are anonymous attacks being made against the Diamondbacks outfielder through the media.

Reynolds told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that trade rumors “are part of the business” and something Upton understands, but “what I don’t like are the comments and innuendos made about Justin’s work ethic and character, especially from those gutless people that don’t want to put their name by a quote.”

He’s certainly got a point, as numerous reporters both local and national have taken to quoting unnamed sources offering their opinions on Upton and most of those opinions are negative while often focusing on something other than his on-field production.

One prominent example was Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writing recently that “team officials are not convinced that Upton is a winning player” and that’s probably one of the tamer things being said. To which Reynolds insists:

This young man is one of the hardest workers I’ve been around and more importantly, he’s a good person. If they want to trade him, that’s their business, just knock off the unfounded, negative rhetoric.

Of course, it’s worth noting that while the media has passed along the negative comments about Upton from unnamed sources Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick was very open about criticizing Upton (and shortstop Stephen Drew) last month. It also doesn’t help matters that general manager Kevin Towers has been so open about his willingness to trade Upton, which naturally has people speculating about why he’d want to part with a 24-year-old two-time All-Star who hit 31 homers and stole 21 bases last season.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.