Mike Schmidt would like players to sign their autographs more clearly, please.

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I don’t know who gave Mike Schmidt an AP column, but I’m kinda glad they did.

It’s hard to put your finger on it, but you get the sense that he has a list of grievances he’s long been waiting to air and now, finally, he has the chance. Not major grievances. He’s never overly negative, but there are things that stick in is craw, and I picture him wearing half-glasses and nodding to himself as he types these out, happy that he has a forum in which to do so. There’s something kind of stately about Schmidt when he tells people to get off his no doubt well-manicured lawn.

Today’s topic: players these days don’t sign their name clearly when giving autographs:

My signature’s value has never changed over the years. Sure, I know there is a class system in the industry, certain signatures retain value and others don’t. In my case, one reason it has retained value is it’s neat and you can read it. It is legible, shows respect and looks as though I put some effort into the process of creating a collectible item.

I’m not in the class of Andre Dawson or the late Harmon Killebrew. Their signatures are artwork. Their slow, methodical signing technique shows immense respect for their names and the items on which they appear.

And Schmidt is right about autograph hounds, by the way. People who have turned autographs into pure commerce instead of using them as hooks for good memories and chance encounters.

Anyway, fun read. I disagree with Schmidt on a lot of things he writes about, but I find him kinda adorable anyway.

 

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.