At least one Dodger thinks the Australia trip led to injuries

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This is the sort of thing that (a) you can’t exactly say is based in medical certainty; and (b) you know Major League Baseball doesn’t want players saying regardless, given how much juice they put behind their international opening series initiative. From the L.A. Times:

The Dodgers shortened their spring-training camp to the facilitate the trip, something one player blamed for Kershaw and Wilson’s health issues. The player, who did not want to be named, pointed out how the Arizona Diamondbacks, the other team that went to Australia, have also lost their No. 1 starter and setup man. The injuries to Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez of the Diamondbacks were severe; both recently underwent major elbow operations.

The Corbin case is particularly noteworthy, for it is the first time a major league pitcher has ever had to have Tommy John surgery in the history of baseball.

OK, to be fair, Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was critical of how little time his pitchers were given to prepare for the season, and that could be a legitimate gripe. It’s at least something baseball should take a hard look at before scheduling overseas series in March again. That said, to the extent we’re actually attributing the injuries to the Australia trip with anything approaching certainty, we’re way off into crazy speculation land.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.