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Darren Daulton was one of many ex-Phillies to die of brain cancer

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The announcement that former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton died of brain cancer yesterday was certainly sad news. Also sad: he was not the first former Phillies player to do so. In addition to Daulton, Tug McGraw, John Vukovich, Ken Brett and Johnny Oates all succumbed to it.

This cluster, such as it is, was discussed at length back when Daulton was first diagnosed back in 2013 and will likely come up again today as the baseball world remembers Daulton. At the time it was noted that, among players who called Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia their home ballpark, brain cancer rates were 3.1 times higher than the national average. Obviously, however, we’re dealing with a super small sample size here, and cancer clusters of note involve far, far greater subjects and incidents. Epidemiologists who talked about it in stories at the time all noted that, while interesting and unusual, there simply wasn’t the sort of data available to draw any meaningful conclusions from it. Ken Brett, for example, only played in Philly for one season. Hundreds of Philadelphia Eagles players called the Vet home and the club is unaware of any brain cancer diagnosis among its former players. It’s likely it would be impossible to establish that this is anything other than a sad coincidence.

This is not the only cancer cluster discussed in baseball circles. Several years ago former Royals pitcher Bob Tufts noted that he and several other ex-Royals had been diagnosed with or died of cancer as well. In addition to Tufts, Paul Splittoroff, Dick Howser and Dan Quisenberry died from various forms of the disease after spending time in K.C.. Again, anecdotal. Baseball’s most common cancer threat: skin cancer. Three years ago James Wagner wrote an excellent and enlightening story about that in the Washington Post.

Cancer doesn’t play favorites, of course, and no one has gone through life untouched by it somehow. The Darren Daulton Foundation exists to provide financial assistance to those affected by the disease. The Phillies and the Foundation will host a community night at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, which was scheduled before Daulton’s passing. In light of it, the event will presumably become something larger.

Mariners acquire Nick Rumbelow from Yankees

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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.