Christian Vazquez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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As first reported by Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez will undergo Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on Thursday morning. The season-ending elbow procedure will be performed by Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Florida.

Vazquez began experiencing discomfort in his throwing elbow in mid-March and an MRI taken March 27 revealed structural damage in his ulnar collateral ligament. The rehab process doesn’t take as long for position players as it does for pitchers, so the 24-year-old should be ready to rock when camp opens next spring.

Ryan Hanigan is set to open the 2015 season as Boston’s starting catcher. And top prospect Blake Swihart can now be put on the fast track (if he wasn’t already). Vazquez may become a trade candidate in 2016.

Joe Girardi steps down as manager of USA Baseball

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Baseball is an Olympic sport once again and USA Baseball begins the road to qualifying for the 2020 Games in just a couple of weeks. They’ll be doing it with a new manager, though, as current team USA manager Joe Girardi has stepped down from the role in order to concentrate on his quest to return to managing in the big leagues.

Girardi has interviewed for the Cubs job already and is candidate for the openings with the Mets and the Phillies. His stepping down from the Olympic job suggests that he thinks he stands a pretty good chance of getting one of the seven current openings around the game. Or, at the very least, that he wishes to show clubs with openings that he’s serious.

Girardi will be replaced by Scott Brosius, who was poised to be Girardi’s bench coach with Team USA.

The team begins training in Arizona on October 21. It begins playing qualifier games in early November in Mexico. Eventually, the 2020 Olympic Games will feature a six-nation field.