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#pounditWednesday, December 1, 2021

Baseball

Former Rays top pick Brendan McKay undergoes surgery

Brendan McKay pitching

Former top draft pick Brendan McKay continues to deal with medical issues for the Tampa Bay Rays.

McKay was a two-way star in college at Louisville and became the No. 4 overall pick by the Rays in 2017. He dominated as a pitcher in the minors and struggled as a hitter.

In 2019, McKay made his MLB debut and went 2-4 with a 5.14 ERA. He also batted .200 with a home run in 10 at-bats.

But McKay only pitched 12.2 innings in the minors last season as he recovered from labrum surgery on his pitching shoulder. Now the southpaw is undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome decompression surgery. The Rays say McKay should be ready to pitch for spring training.

The Rays have made the postseason three straight years and reached the World Series in 2020. They’ve done all this despite having limited-to-no contributions from McKay, a player of whom they have had high expectations. If he’s able to recover and be at full strength next season, that would be a huge boost.

The 25-year-old has gone 12-2 with a 1.78 ERA during his minor league career across all levels.

Photo: Aug 19, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay (49) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mets owner Steve Cohen rips Steven Matz’s agent

Mets owner Steve Cohen

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen on Wednesday sparked another controversy via his social media activity.

Cohen tweeted his frustration with an agent for “unprofessional behavior.”

The tweet was regarding the agent for pitcher Steven Matz.

Matz agreed to a 4-year, $44 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.

Cohen later explained his issues with Matz and the pitcher’s representatives in more detail. The Mets owner told reporter Joel Sherman that it was Matz’s side that reached out to them and said the Mets were the pitcher’s first choice.

Maybe the Cardinals ended up offering Matz more and that’s why he chose them. Regardless, Cohen feels like he got played by Matz’s agent.

Matz’s agent Rob Martin offered a statement to Ken Rosenthal regarding the situation:

Since buying the team, Cohen has been vocal when it comes to expressing issues. He ripped his team over the summer regarding their poor hitting results. He also went public about issues with a draft pick.

Matz, 30, went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA for the Blue Jays last season. He pitched for the Mets from 2015-2020 and was a 2nd-round pick by the team in 2009.

Photo: Sep 11, 2021; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets majority owner Steve Cohen and his wife Alexandra Cohen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Noah Syndergaard reveals 1 player he really wants to strike out

Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard will be pitching in the American League for the first time in his career, and he is really looking forward to getting a shot at one batter in particular.

The new Los Angeles Angels pitcher spoke this week with MLB Network and was asked which player he would most like to strike out.

“Carlos Correa,” replied Syndergaard. “Not just for the obvious reason but just what he said about Derek Jeter not deserving his Gold Gloves. I think that was a little ridiculous to say.”

The All-Star shortstop Correa sparked some controversy with his comments about the retired Hall of Famer Jeter, which seemed to come out of the blue. Jeter himself even offered a reaction to what Correa said.

Correa is also unpopular for the role that he played in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, which is likely what Syndergaard was referring to when he mentioned “the obvious reason.” Correa is a free agent, and Syndergaard will obviously get more shots at him if Correa stays in the Angels’ AL West division. But even if Correa ends up with another popular team that he has been linked to, Syndergaard should still get plenty of chances to face him next season regardless.

H/T The Score

Photo: Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) reacts against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at PNC Park. The Mets won 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers appear focused on just 1 free agent shortstop

Corey Seager with a bat

There is plenty of interest in the list of big-name free agent shortstops, but what about one of the teams at risk of losing one of those players?

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have an opening at shortstop, as Corey Seager is among the highly-touted free agents on the market. The Dodgers are trying to bring back Seager, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, but are not showing interest in any other shortstops.

As noted, the Dodgers traded for Trea Turner last year, who is a very capable shortstop. It’s not the end of the world if Seager leaves, but they clearly love Seager and want to keep him in the fold.

The other obvious option if the Dodgers wanted a big-name shortstop would be Carlos Correa. However, Correa is one of the faces of a Houston Astros team that beat out the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series, which has become infamous due to the team’s sign-stealing scandal. Correa’s history does not seem to be a problem for one team, but it might be too much for the Dodgers, especially if they can get by at shortstop without him.

Photo: Kim Clement-USA TODAY Sports

Giants bring back 2 key starting pitchers

Anthony DeSclafani pitches

The San Francisco Giants are bringing back two key members from their 2021 pitching staff.

The Giants announced on Monday that they signed Anthony DeSclafani to a 3-year deal.

The contract is worth $36 million and will pay DeSclafani $12 million in each season.

The Giants are also bringing back pitcher Alex Wood on a 2-year deal reportedly worth more than $10 million per season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The Giants led MLB with 107 wins last season. Wood went 10-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 138.2 innings last season. DeSclafani went 13-7 with a 3.17 ERA. They, along with Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb, formed the core of the team’s pitching rotation.

Photo: Apr 21, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (26) pitches during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Ex-MLB star Alfonso Soriano is looking absolutely jacked these days

Alfonso Soriano staring

Alfonso Soriano is looking like he could still hit 40 home runs right now.

The former MLB star posed for a picture with his wife this week in a post to his Instagram page.

The post led to some incredulous reactions on social media as to how completely jacked Soriano was looking in it.

Soriano, now 45 years of age, was a seven-time MLB All-Star and won four Silver Slugger Awards. He is also one of only four players ever to make the 40-40 club (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season). Soriano did so in the 2006 season, and no player has achieved that feat ever since.

Though he has not played in the league since 2014, it is good to see that Soriano is keeping himself in shape … and then some. He was known for using a large bat during his playing career, but that very same bat would probably look tiny compared to Soriano these days.

Photo: Jun 6, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano (12) during batting practice before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals sued by ex-employees over vaccine firing

Washington Nationals logo

The Washington Nationals are being sued by two former employees who were fired for refusing to comply with the team’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Lawrence (Larry) Pardo and Brad Holman were pitching coaches in the Nats’ organization. The two refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine for religious reasons and were fired by the Nats as a result. The team instituted a mandate on Aug. 12 that went into effect on Sept. 10, leading to the firing of both men.

Now the two have filed a lawsuit against the club, TMZ Sports reports.

Pardo and Holman cited religious reasons for not getting the vaccine, which “were developed from or tested on aborted fetal cells.” The two are against abortion for religious reasons.

They believe they were discriminated against on the basis of religion and are due damages.

As of September, the two also were filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Holman, 53, and Pardo, 55, were both hired by the team in 2018. Holman was the team’s minor league pitching coordinator, while Pardo was the pitching coach for the club’s Florida Complex League team, according to The Washington Post.

Ex-All Star closer Doug Jones dies at 64, reportedly due to COVID complications

Doug Jones in Indians gear

Former MLB All-Star closer Doug Jones has died at the age of 64, reportedly due to complications from COVID-19.

One of Jones’ former teammates, Greg Swindell, shared the sad news about Jones over Twitter Monday. Swindell said Jones died due to complications from COVID.

The Cleveland Indians also confirmed the news about Jones.

Jones pitched in MLB for 16 seasons. He was with the Indians from 1986-1991, making three All-Star teams during that span. He recorded 303 career saves and a 3.30 career ERA. He was known for his changeup and mustache, and he had incredible longevity.

Jones made his MLB debut in 1982 and pitched as late in his career as 2000 at the age of 43. In 1997, at the age of 40, he saved 36 games for the Milwaukee Brewers and posted a 2.02 ERA. He was still getting it done at a high level even at an older age.

Here is a nice video tribute to Jones:

Derek Jeter reacts to swipe from Carlos Correa

Derek Jeter

If Carlos Correa was hoping to get a rise out of Derek Jeter with his recent comments about The Captain, he appears to have failed.

The All-Star shortstop Correa made some remarks during a recent interview questioning whether Jeter deserved the five Gold Glove Awards that he won during his career. The interview, conducted by former MLB player Carlos Baerga, was in Spanish.

Jeter, now the CEO and part-owner of the Miami Marlins, reacted to Correa’s comments this week.

“I didn’t think much about it,” he said, via CBS Miami’s Mike Cugno. “I don’t know how my name came up. My Spanish isn’t that good. I still haven’t seen it. I don’t know how my name was brought up, but it doesn’t even warrant a response. I could go in a lot of different directions, but I won’t.”

Correa is coming off the first Gold Glove victory of his career. As for Jeter, a popular criticism of him has been that he won Gold Gloves based more on reputation than on his actual defensive ability. That may have even been a consideration for the voter who left Jeter off his Hall of Fame ballot entirely.

There is also another reason why Correa’s comments got so much attention, and that is because of a team that Correa has been linked to in free agency. For Jeter’s part though, he seems to be totally unbothered about it all.

H/T The Score

Photo: Oct 3, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter addresses the media at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander passed on offer from 1 big contender to rejoin Astros

Justin Verlander smiles

Justin Verlander opted to re-sign with the Houston Astros fairly quickly after becoming a free agent. That does not mean he did not have intriguing options elsewhere.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Verlander turned down a one-year, $25 million offer from the New York Yankees in order to return to Houston.

The Yankees certainly made a competitive offer. In fact, it’s financially identical to what Verlander ended up getting. The difference is that the Astros were willing to tack on a second-year player option, essentially guaranteeing Verlander a two-year deal with an opt-out.

After being turned down by Verlander, the Yankees remain in the market for veteran starting pitching. With another top starter apparently unwilling to consider them, they might have to expand their search to find what they are looking for.