Mike Rizzo

Strasburg’s doctor: there are no studies supporting the Nats decision to shut him down

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UPDATE II:  Yocum walks it back. Now he says he did talk to the Nats. Oy.

UPDATE: Boras says, nope, the Nats DID talk to Yocum. This is getting interesting.

12:33PM: All throughout the Strasburg Shutdown drama, we repeatedly heard how the doctors were all saying that it’s advisable to shut Strasburg down. That doctors were consulted and that the Nats’ plan was medically sound. Those of us who didn’t like the decision were told that we had to defer to the team and their cadre of medical experts because we, after all, are not doctors.

Only one problem: no one with the Nationals ever asked the guy who performed Strasburg’s surgery what he thought about it and, more significantly, the guy who performed the surgery tells the L.A. Times today that there are no studies supporting the proposition that shutting him down will protect him at all:

The doctor who performed elbow surgery on Stephen Strasburg said he did not tell the Washington Nationals to shut down their ace pitcher.

“I wasn’t asked,” Dr. Lewis Yocum told the Los Angeles Times … Yocum said that, had he been asked, he would not have been able to provide conclusive information about whether Strasburg’s long-term health would be best served by shutting him down.

“There’s no statistic as far as studies,” Yocum said.

Yocum further notes that it’s GM Mike Rizzo who came up with the 160 inning shutdown standard himself. That he imposed it in the case of Jordan Zimmermann, and that he’s doing the same with Strasburg without the aide of any medical directive.

Which, hey, that’s OK in and of itself. Zimmermann has worked out so far, so maybe Rizzo has stumbled upon a bold and effective new standard here. And it is his team and he can do what he wants and what he thinks is best for it.

But given the lack of studies on the matter, those people supporting the shutdown decision have to give up shaming those of us who don’t into silence with some notion that medical necessity or insight governed this decision.  End the erroneous appeals to medical authority — like Scott Boras has done repeatedly — and own up to the fact that it’s Mike Rizzo, not medical science, making this call.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.