Freddy Sanchez opts for back surgery, out for season

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Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who opened the year on the disabled list after he was slow to recover from shoulder surgery, underwent season-ending surgery to remove a portion of a disc from his back Wednesday.

CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports the micro-disectomy went as planned, but Sanchez’s Giants career is still likely over, barring the decision to hand him another baffling contract extension.

Sanchez will have made about $20 million for hitting .290/.333/.387 with 11 homers in 78 RBI in 196 games with San Francisco. The Giants acquired him in a deadline deal with the Pirates in 2009. He played in just 25 games over the rest of that year and hit .284/.295/.324, but the Giants gave him a two-year, $12 million deal anyway. Making matters worse, they signed him to a completely unnecessary one-year, $6 million extension in April 2011.

Sanchez turns 35 this winter, so he’ll have an uphill battle as he attempts to make a comeback. Unless Brian Sabean is still gaga for him, he’ll probably have to accept a minor league deal and the chance to compete for a starting job.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.