Shin-Soo Choo could return from DL next week

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It wasn’t too long ago that we were thinking Shin-Soo Choo could need surgery on his thumb. Now, according to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, it appears that he could be back in the lineup by the end of next week.

Choo took some soft-toss Thursday and is scheduled to participate in full batting practice Saturday. On the verge of full participation in pregame workouts, the club hopes to have Choo join them on their roadtrip to Minnesota next week. From there, he’ll be re-evaluated for a possible return against the Rays next weekend.

According to Indians manager Manny Acta, Choo might not even need a minor league rehab assignment before being activated from the disabled list.

“He’s kept himself in good shape physically,” Acta said of Choo. “We’re
not anticipating him going down [to the Minors]. Things could change.
But he hasn’t lost much time. He’s pretty close.”

Choo was batting .286/.390/.475 with 13 home runs, 45 RBI and 12 stolen bases before injuring his right thumb while attempting to make a diving catch on July 2. His rapid recovery would be a pleasant surprise for a sports town that hasn’t received much good news lately.

Dusty Baker drops truth bombs

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Dusty Baker was fired last offseason despite leading the Nationals to 95 and 97-win seasons. This was not new for him. Cincinnati let him go after taking a miserable Reds team to back-to-back 90+ win seasons — three in the space of four years — and making it to the playoffs in his final two seasons. In both cases the team that let him go cratered as soon as he left. There are likely reasons that have nothing to do with Dusty Baker for that, but it seems like more than mere coincidence too.

I say that because every time someone gets to Dusty Baker for an interview, he drops some major truth bombs that make you wonder why anyone wouldn’t want him in charge. Sure, like any manager he has his faults and blind spots — more so in his distant past than in his recent past, I should not — but the guy is smart, has more experience than anyone going and is almost universally loved by his players.

Recently he sat down with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic to talk about life, baseball and everything, and once again the truth bombs were dropping. About the state of front offices today. About the different way black and white ex-managers and ex-players are treated. About what seems to be collusion on the free agent market. And, of course, about the state of the 2018 Nationals, who are likely to miss the playoffs despite being, more or less, the same team he led to those 97 wins last year. It’s an absolute must-read on any of those topics, but taken together it’s a “block off some time this afternoon and enjoy the hell out of it” read.

Two of my favorite passages follow. The first one is a great general point in life: always beware of people who spend more time telling you why they are successful than actually, you know, being successful.

In Cincinnati, no matter what I did or what we did — we brought them from the bottom — they were all over me, all the time, no matter what. If we won, it wasn’t winning the right way. They were like, “I don’t understand this mode of thinking.” Well, I don’t want you to understand my mode of thinking. That’s how I can beat you.

The second one is just delicious for what he does not say:

Rosenthal: Bryce Harper struggled for two-plus months. He didn’t struggle for two-plus months when you had him…

Baker: I know.

Based on the tone of the rest of the interview, in which Baker does not hesitate to say exactly what he thinks, it’s abundantly clear that he believes the Nats have messed Harper up somehow and that it wouldn’t have happened under him.

Like I said, though: there is a TON of great stuff in here. From a guy who, if you’ve listened to him talk when he does not give a crap about what people may say about him, has time and again revealed himself to  be one of the most interesting baseball figures of the past several decades.