Potential first-round pick Karsten Whitson out for season following shoulder procedure

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You may remember right-hander Karsten Whitson, who was drafted ninth overall by the Padres in 2010 before turning down $2.1 million to attend the University of Florida. It turns out that his gamble might not pay off.

Per Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, Florida baseball head athletic trainer Pat Hassell announced yesterday that Whitson would miss the start of the season due to continued shoulder fatigue. The exact nature of today’s procedure isn’t yet known, but Whitson’s father, Kent Whitson, told Rogers that his son’s rehab process will take about four months.

While Whitson enjoyed a strong freshman season, forearm tendinitis limited him to just 33 innings last year and he was forced to leave the Cape Cod League after three innings due to shoulder stiffness. Still, the potential was there for him to be a first-round pick this year. He’ll likely draw interest from MLB teams even after today’s procedure, but Whitson’s father says his son is “fully prepared” to return to Florida as a redshirt junior if things don’t work out.

The Padres took second baseman Cory Spangenberg in 2011 as a compensation pick for failing to sign Whitson. The speedy 21-year-old batted .271/.324/.352 in 98 games last season with High-A Lake Elsinore and was ranked as the organization’s No. 7 prospect by Baseball America last month.

UPDATE: Good news. According to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, Whitson didn’t have any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff and Dr. James Andrews was able to locate and repair an impingement that was causing discomfort.

Gabe Kapler chooses not to bench Jean Segura for lack of effort

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The Phillies are in a tailspin. The club lost its perch atop the NL East, losing 12 of its last 18 games dating back to May 30. They enter Thursday night’s action four games behind the now-first-place Braves. The reasons for the slide are myriad, including a rash of injuries, but the players have also simply not played well. Understandably, fans are upset.

It didn’t help when, for the second time in three weeks, shortstop Jean Segura didn’t run hard on a batted ball. On June 3, Segura didn’t run on an infield pop-up that eventually resulted in a season-ending injury to Andrew McCutchen. On Wednesday during the second game of a doubleheader, Segura weakly hit a Max Scherzer pitch to shallow left-center that wasn’t caught. Because he was watching the ball rather than running hard, he had to hold up after a wide turn around first base.

To the surprise of many, Segura wasn’t pulled from the game despite the lack of effort. To the even further surprise of many, manager Gabe Kapler included Segura in Thursday’s lineup against the Nationals, which has otherwise been thoroughly reshuffled. Per Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kapler said, “Jean is one of our eight best players. I don’t think taking one of our eight best players and our shortstop out of our lineup is what’s best for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Kapler said he had a long talk with Segura. “I told him that we’re going to address not just him but other players in the clubhouse and we’re going to talk about the highest level of effort and talk about how we can’t win every night but we can win the game of give-a-[hoot] and be undefeated in that category. Then we can protect the Phillies by putting the best lineup together on a nightly basis and not think about making ourselves feel better by sending a message.”

Kapler hit the nail on the head with that last line. Benching Segura only makes fans and pundits feel better by punishing someone for a perceived transgression. But does it actually teach anything, and is it actually beneficial to the team? Maybe to the former, and no to the latter. Matt Winkelman of Baseball Prospectus brought up a great point on Twitter, writing, “The idea that punishment is the only way to solve a problem or change behavior is such a narrow minded idea.” People learn best in different ways. Some might respond well to punishment. Others may just need a good talking-to. It’s a case-by-case thing. Kapler is right to apply nuance to the situation.

So many of baseball’s long-held beliefs have fallen to the wayside in recent years. The idea that a player must always be punished for a lack of effort will hopefully be the next one to be taken out to the dumpster.