Dan Uggla is “blue collar?”

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Still lovin’ the Dan Uggla trade. My friend Stephen Silver pretty much summed up the whole deal last night when he tweeted “I had no idea they were giving away free Dan Ugglas today. I wish my team had known in advance.”  Yep.

But one thing has struck me in the aftermath of the trade:  people calling Dan Uggla a “blue collar” player.  The Miami Herald’s Marlins blog called him “a blue collar workhorse” this morning. The Herald’s Mark Spencer called him “the blue-collar slugger” in the paper’s main story.  Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called him “as blue-collar as they come” yesterday. Those quotes have been re-tweeted, blogged and mentioned on message boards all over the place since the trade went down. And if you think Joe Simpson isn’t going to call Uggla “blue collar” ten times in the first month of Braves telecasts next season, well, you’re just not that familiar with his work.

Such a curious description. I assume it refers to work ethic, but I can’t help but think it’s really just another form of “gritty” and “gamer” and the sorts of adjectives which are applied almost exclusively to white ballplayers.  I love me some Dan Uggla and I’m going to root for him like crazy next season, but ask yourself: if a black ballplayer was (a) known for home runs; (b) was pretty crappy on defense; and (c) just turned down a four-year, $48 million contract that just about everyone in baseball thought was more than fair, would he be called “blue collar?” I kinda doubt it.

And while we’re at it, the guy Uggla was traded for played wherever he was asked, hustled and didn’t make much money. So tell me: why isn’t Omar Infante the blue collar guy in this trade?

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.