MLB investigating the Dodgers over alleged discrimination against a war veteran

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Jeff Passan reports that Major League Baseball is investigating allegations that the Los Angeles Dodgers discriminated against Nick Francona, a former baseball operations employee and son of Indians manager Terry Francona, for seeking assistance from a veterans organization which helps with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other ailments. Francona is a combat veteran, having served with the Marines in Afghanistan.

Francona was the Dodgers assistant director of player development, reporting to Gabe Kapler. He claims he received exemplary employee evaluations in his first year on the job and, in December 2015, was offered a contract extension. Soon after that, at the prompting of his mother, he reached out to Home Base, a Boston-area organization dedicated to helping veterans dealing with PTSD and TBI. Francona says his reason for reaching out was due to concussions he suffered in combat. Home Base is partnered with the Boston Red Sox and is one of many veterans organizations which Major League Baseball helps support.

While Kapler expressed support, Francona says that, in practice, his seeking treatment led to discrimination. Specifically, he claims that Kapler insisted that Francona take a leave of absence, despite him not requesting one and despite Francona telling Kapler that such a thing would create a stigma and would actually be counterproductive to his treatment. Francona said Kapler insisted, however, and it led to increasing acrimony. Francona was eventually removed from his position and was offered a role at the same salary in a different department. Francona declined the job, believing it was a demotion. Soon after he was asked to resign or be fired. He was terminated in April of 2016.

Francona has not sued the Dodgers and has, instead, tried to resolve the matter internally, in negotiations with the Dodgers and, now, MLB’s Department of Investigations. Despite this, the Dodgers have offered him money to settle the dispute. As Passan notes, MLB’s investigation is proceeding and could take a week or two.

Updates as warranted.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”