The sad news of Darren Daulton’s brain cancer diagnosis inspired the Philadelphia Inquirer to conduct a research project — reviewed by a University of Pennsylvania epidemiologist — into incidents of brain cancer among Phillies players and coaches who spent time in Veteran’s Stadium. The results suggest an elevated risk of brain cancer among those who plied their trade at the Vet, with Daulton, Tug McGraw, John Vukovich and Johnny Oates all being stricken.
That’s just four, but as the Inquirer’s story explains, it is a rate 3.1 times higher than in the general population. The story and the epidemiologist note that, obviously, we’re dealing with small sample sizes and the results could be a matter of chance, but it is both an interesting and potentially worrisome statistical observation.
And not necessarily a new observation. You may recall that, two years ago, friend of HBT and former Royals pitcher Bob Tufts raised this question regarding players from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Tufts himself is a cancer survivor and several other Royals including Paul Splittoroff, Dick Howser and Dan Quisenberry died from various forms of cancer after spending time in K.C.
At the time, Tufts — while acknowledging that this is anecdotal information, not anything like a scientific study — suggested that the MLBPA and Major League Baseball study cancer rates and types among former major leaguers. While the Inquirer study itself isn’t more than a statistical observation itself, it’s not a bad suggestion that someone do something more.
The Mariners acquired Yankees’ right-hander Nick Rumbelow in exchange for minor league righty Juan Then and left-hander JP Sears, per an official announcement on Saturday. Rumbelow made 17 appearances for the Yankees in 2015 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and could provide some bullpen depth for the Mariners in 2018.
The 26-year-old right-hander spent the majority of his 2017 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he delivered an 0.62 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 over 29 innings. The Yankees didn’t rush Rumbelow into a full workload after he missed the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John, but he didn’t appear to have any significant setbacks with his health or performance and should be ready to compete for a role next spring.
Sears, 21, was ranked 21st in the Mariners’ organization by MLB Pipeline. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2017 draft and features a deceptive, low-velocity fastball that he can throw for strikes to either side of the plate. In his first year of pro ball, he split 17 games between Short-Season A Everett and Single-A Clinton, turning in an 0.65 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 16.6 SO/9 across two levels.
Then, 17, also completed his first year of pro ball after signing with the Mariners as a free agent. He went 2-2 in 13 games of rookie ball, pitching to a 2.64 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 in 61 1/3 innings. Neither Sears nor Then will take the mound for the Yankees anytime soon, and offloading Rumbelow to the Mariners should clear up some room on New York’s 40-man roster as they prepare for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.