Robinson Cano pulls out of the Home Run Derby with a "back injury"

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Yesterday afternoonRobbie Cano agreed to participate in the Home Run Derby at next week’s All-Star Game.

Yesterday evening: several thousand Yankees fans and no small number of Yankees writers freak out, wondering why a guy who sprays the ball all over the yard would want to participate in a home run hitting contest and wondering if said participation would give him delusions of grandeur, screw up his swing, make him a Communist and things like that.

Twenty minutes ago: Mark Feinsand of the Daily News tweets that Cano has pulled out of the Derby due to a “minor back injury.”

Anyone willing to bet their mortgage that this back injury wasn’t inflicted by Yankees’ front office types who really, really didn’t want to see Cano in the Home Run Derby?  We’ll know when Cano (a) plays effectively in games both before and after the All-Star break; and (b) is vague to the point of ridiculousness when asked about that back injury.

In fact: I’ll buy a six pack for the first beat writer who gets Cano to respond “back injury, what back inj– oh, yeah, it’s coming along fine” to a question.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?