Phillies reveal, downplay Cole Hamels’ shoulder soreness

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. revealed that Cole Hamels dealt with “some shoulder soreness at the end of the season” and then experienced more problems when he “got aggressive” in his offseason throwing program.

However, the GM assured Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that it’s not a long-term worry, saying:

I’d be concerned if this was an issue, but we don’t view this as an issue at all. … We shut him down for a couple of weeks, but he’s fine now. He was being proactive more than anything else, which is good. We backed him off and slowed him down, but he’s back throwing now and doing fine. He’s had no complaints.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Amaro and the Phillies have been less than forthcoming about some significant injuries in recent years, often downplaying the severity or simply obscuring details.

For now Amaro is saying that Hamels’ shoulder soreness was “not uncommon” and Salisbury notes that the Phillies put the 29-year-old left-hander through a full slate of medical testing before inking a six-year, $144 million contract extension five months ago. And he went 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in six September starts, posting a 44/7 K/BB ratio in 38 innings.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?