Orioles designate Endy Chavez for assignment, call up Nate McLouth

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The Orioles signed Endy Chavez to a one-year, $1.5 million contract over the winter to serve as a fourth outfielder, but he was designated for assignment this afternoon in order to make room for the promotion of former All-Star outfielder Nate McLouth.

Chavez was a big disappointment with the Orioles this season, batting just .190/.222/.281 with two home runs, eight RBI, two stolen bases and a .503 OPS in 129 plate appearances. The 33-year-old has served stints on the disabled list due to hamstring and oblique injuries. Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that the O’s are now exploring possible trades for the veteran outfielder.

McLouth was granted his release by the Pirates at the end of May after batting just .140 (8-for-57) in 34 games. The 30-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Orioles a few days later and batted .244/.325/.461 with 10 homers and a .786 OPS in 47 games during his time with Triple-A Norfolk. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, McLouth’s contract included an out-clause if he wasn’t promoted to the majors by Saturday. He’s starting in left field and batting seventh tonight against the Rays.

Cardinals encourage players not to hide injuries

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In Major League Baseball, players are routinely pressured to play through injury and pain. Sometimes it’s just a minor ache, and sometimes it’s a very serious injury. The pressure comes from everywhere: the players themselves, their peers, coaches, front offices, media, and fans. Players who develop a reputation for landing on the disabled list are described as “soft” and “fragile.” Players who battle through the pain get talked about as “gritty” and “dedicated.”

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are trying to encourage their players to be more honest about their health. The culture surrounding this is tough to change, but manager Mike Matheny wants his players to come to him if “anything that is off.” As Goold notes, Alex Reyes and Matt Bowman revealed they were, in Bowman’s words, not “entirely forthcoming.” Carlos Martinez said he pitched tentatively because he was “scared” of re-injuring himself. Matheny also called pitcher Michael Wacha “a great liar” when talking about his arm health.

Matt Carpenter has also played through injury and takes pride in it. He’s an example of the old mentality the club is trying to pierce through. Caarpenter said, “I’m a believer in if you’re getting paid to do a job and you’re capable of doing the job — even if it’s 85 percent of your best — I feel you have the obligation to be out there. That is the mentality I’ve always used. I could have very easily, at times last year, sat on the [disabled list], but I felt like I could still go out and do my job.”

Goold points out that players approach dealing with health issues differently depending on where they’re at in their careers. A young player who just got called up has pressure to stay in the big leagues and appear in games, so he may not want to address a health issue. A player who has already secured a multi-year contract may have less pressure on him and thus may be more willing to come to the trainer’s room.

I’ve long believed that player health will be the next arena in which front offices will separate themselves from the pack. Analytics had been that battleground for a while, but with every club now having an analytics department in some capacity, front offices will have to find value in new ways. Limiting the amount of time that players miss due to injury would be a significant boost for a team and it will start with players being forthcoming about what’s bothering them rather than trying to fight through pain.