After pitching through elbow problems for much of the second half Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett underwent surgery yesterday to remove two bone spurs.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the bone spurs were “small” and the surgery was a minor one that “shouldn’t even interrupt his throwing program.”
Burnett pitched remarkably well down the stretch with a 3.06 ERA and 17/3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings in August and September, but then coughed up four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS. He bounced back from that to retire the only batter he faced in Game 5.
Burnett has been one of the best southpaw relievers in the NL since joining the Nationals in mid-2009, logging 202 innings with a 2.81 ERA during that time, so it’ll be interesting to see if he declines his half of a $3.5 million mutual option for 2013 to become a free agent at age 30.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.