Wandy Rodriguez returns to the mound

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The Pirates have the best record in baseball.

And their rotation could soon get a big boost.

According to beat writer Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, lefty starter Wandy Rodriguez threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time in a month and reported no issues with his forearm or elbow. He’s scheduled to throw another bullpen session this Saturday and then it might be time to progress to a live batting practice session.

Rodriguez, who has been out since June 5 with left elbow and forearm tightness, could be ready to rejoin the Pittsburgh starting rotation at some point in late August or early September if he avoids further setbacks. He began a rehab assignment on June 24 but had to halt it after experiencing renewed mid-arm discomfort.

Wandy had a superb 3.59 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 46/12 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list. The Pirates (68-44) enter play Wednesday night against the visiting Marlins with a two-game lead over the 66-46 Cardinals in the National League Central standings.

Angel Hernandez — and all of labor — takes a loss in his lawsuit against MLB

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A couple of years ago umpire Angel Hernandez sued Major League Baseball alleging racial discrimination. The suit has chugged along quietly since then and we’ve not paid it much notice, but Sheryl Ring of Fangraphs has and she has a fascinating update from it that will be of interest to both law and labor geeks.

The short version: Major League Baseball wants to obtain records of communications between Hernandez and the umpire’s union, most likely to see if Hernandez ever brought up discrimination claims to his union before filing the suit. The league also wants the union’s own internal evaluations of the job Hernandez does on the field. MLB hopes to be able to undercut Hernandez’s arguments that he was discriminated against via these records.

That all makes sense, but it led to a side battle involving where the lawsuit should take place and whether MLB can get those records based on the law of said forum of the lawsuit. Hernandez sued in Ohio, which recognizes a privilege protecting worker-union communications. MLB got the suit moved to New York, however, and such a privilege is not recognized there. Earlier this week MLB got the New York court to agree that the union records should be handed over.

This is a big deal for Hernandez’s suit, obviously, but it has some pretty big implications for later lawsuits involving unionized employees in general. Oh, and as Ring explains, a screwup by Hernandez’s lawyers may have contributed to this outcome. Which, well, bad calls happen sometimes, right?

Go read Ring’s entire update here for a full, clear explanation that clear and easily understood even by the non-lawyers among us.