Rafael Furcal will have Tommy John surgery next week, plans winter ball return

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Rafael Furcal has scheduled his Tommy John elbow surgery for Wednesday and told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that his next game action will probably come in the Dominican winter league next offseason.

He’s been given a 6-8 month recovery timetable and the door can probably be closed on whatever slim chance there might have been on Furcal making a late-season appearance for the Cardinals.

Next offseason he’ll hit the open market as a 36-year-old coming off major elbow surgery, which is obviously bad news for a shortstop known for his arm strength. And sure enough Furcal told Hummel that he might start out playing second base in the winter league once he does return, both to bring his elbow along slowly and increase his versatility for a potential 2014 gig.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.