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Jake Diekman had his colon removed

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We learned in December that Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman would be undergoing surgery to treat ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. I don’t suspect that anyone who has not either had or known someone who has had ulcerative colitis was aware of just how major this surgery was.

Today Evan Grant reports on Diekman’s surgery and his road ahead. It’s a notably major procedure, almost unprecedented for top flight athletes:

Rangers reliever Jake Diekman on Wednesday took the first step in the long road back to pitching for the club, undergoing a successful four-hour procedure to remove his colon, which has been wrecked by ulcerative colitis. Diekman, who turned 30 last week, will miss at least the first half of the season while recovering from a series of procedures to create a reservoir known as a J-pouch to account for the loss of the colon.

This is obviously not a mere tuneup, and there will be further procedures.

Diekman, a long time spokesman for the disease he’s had since he was 11, is doing video diaries about his medical journey, the first of which can be viewed at the bottom of Grant’s piece.

If and when Diekman makes it back to a big league mound — and it’s expected he will, albeit after an extended rehabilitation — it will be one of the more remarkable comebacks in recent memory.

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.