Erik Bedard leaves start in second inning with back spasms

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Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: Erik Bedard has been pitching well for his new team, but an injury forced him from a start and now his health status is uncertain.

In the 2012 version of that seemingly annual occurrence Bedard signed with the Pirates as a free agent and posted a 2.65 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 34 innings through six starts, but had to leave yesterday’s game in the second inning due to back spasms.

Here’s how Bedard explained the injury to Tom Singer of MLB.com:

It just locked up on me. You can’t move. It wasn’t as bad as the last time it happened. I’ll take some muscle relaxers, and should be better in a couple of days.

“The last time it happened” was 2008, when Bedard was pitching for the Mariners and pitched through back spasms with quite a bit of success before being shut down for the season in July with a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.

In the three following seasons Bedard started a total of 39 games (with a 3.39 ERA), so the Pirates knew what they were getting into with a one-year, $4.5 million deal. They were probably just hoping he’d last more than six weeks in the rotation, particularly considering how good he’s looked in between injuries.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.