Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that Derrek Lee underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn thumb ligament that limited him for the entire season.
Lee initially suffered the injury on Opening Day, yet played 148 games and was at his best following a mid-August trade to the Braves, hitting .287 with a .384 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage in 39 games down the stretch as Atlanta reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Prior to the trade Lee hit just .251/.336/.416 for the Cubs and even with the strong stretch for the Braves he finished with an OPS below .800 for the first time since 1999. He’s expected to be fully recovered from the surgery by spring training, but as a 35-year-old coming off a career-worst season Lee may have to settle for a one-year contract as a free agent.
He’s hitting the open market after playing out a five-year, $65 million deal signed in April of 2006.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.