Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues

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Dirk Hayhurst writes about his 2003 rookie league team, the Eugene Emeralds over at Sports on Earth. Specifically, their off-the-field sexual habits which ranged from mere immaturity and over-clocked machismo to what seems to have been, by any definition of the term, rape.

It started with mere exhibitionism — players letting other players watch through windows when they brought women back to their rooms, which they called “show time” — but eventually devolved into videotaping each other having sex without the consent of the woman involved. Then it devolved into sheer odiousness and, if one had been so inclined to speak up at the time, illegality: “running a train.” In which, with the lights out, a player would get out of bed, saying he needed to use the bathroom, only to be replaced by another player who would sneak in through the window and take his place without the woman knowing:

There is, of course, another name for “Running the Train”: rape. The women most likely didn’t know what was happening and could not have consented to it. Perhaps they were too afraid to object once they realized. When the subject came up, however, the guys on the team had a different explanation: “They wanted it, man. Besides, we joked about it before we brought them back to the hotel. You know, made them feel like it was their idea. Besides, chicks love ballplayers!”

“Aren’t you worried that this is going to come back to bite you in the ass?” I asked, after the latest recounting of the “train schedule.”

“Why? You gonna tell?”

Hayhurst is telling now (in pretty graphic terms, so be warned). And, as has so often happened in the past, someone, somewhere will probably give Hayhurst grief for talking about his past teammates and what went on in his baseball career. But this is way more serious than sharing conversations from the clubhouse. This is about a culture, present in some form in many places, but particularly acute in sports culture, that needs to be exposed and rooted out.

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.