It's not often when sports agent Scott Boras and management of a major league baseball team agree on anything, but when they do you can bet it will create quite a stir.
When Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and Boras announced earlier this season a plan to limit the number of innings for Cy Young candidate Stephen Strasburg, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, the decision sparked a debate on whether winning a championship is more important than protecting the franchise's prized arm.
The reason Rizzo hasn't backed off the plan is because the signing of Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, was contingent upon the club putting the right-hander's health before anything else.
The reality is Boras put Rizzo in quite a pickle.
Boras made it clear his client's health comes first. And, if not, future draft picks by the Nationals represented by Boras would not sign.
Before the Elk Grove High product and former minor leaguer became the premier and most disliked sports agent, he studied pharmacology and medicine for eight years, earning a degree at the University of the Pacific. He understands the risk of injury, particularly in Strasburg's situation.
"We won't sign, and I'll send them back to college," the 60-year-old Boras told the media. "I want to make sure we have an organization that will put the health of these players first."
Rizzo's foresight in dealing with Boras has paid off. In addition to Strasburg, current Nationals Jayson Werth, Edwin Jackson, Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa and the team's three top minor league prospects are all Boras clients.
However, while Rizzo has made all the right moves in dealing with Boras to this point, he's feeling the heat to keep Strasburg in the rotation.
When Rizzo announced protecting the health of Strasburg was the team's top priority, no one imagined the Nationals would be in first place and a World Series contender. Now with 150 1/3 innings under his belt, Strasburg is nearing the proposed 160- to 180-innings-pitched limit.
Rizzo maintains he's sticking to his decision.
What's ironic is that while Rizzo is looking out for his team and Boras his client and his pocketbook, no one seems concerned about what Strasburg thinks.
Boras said he has spoken with the 24-year-old about the opinions of medical professionals, specifically Dr. Lewis Yocum who performed the surgery, and has tried to convince his young client there are larger issues at play. But it hasn't been easy, because Strasburg has said that the club will have to rip the ball out of his hands coming down the stretch later this month.
What about Strasburg's psyche? How's he going to feel if the Nationals make the playoffs and he doesn't pitch?
"Everyone knows Stras wants to pitch every inning he can," Boras told Mike Wise of the Washington Post. "And if they get in the playoffs, who wouldn't want to pitch in the playoffs? But you got to remember that this is not Stephen's decision. When the doctor saves your career, you listen to his protocol."
Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Vance Worley (McClatchy) has been placed on the disabled list and will have season-ending elbow surgery.
Postseason awards are being announced. Akron right-handed closer Preston Guilmet (Oakmont) was named a Double-A Eastern League All-Star, and Jupiter second baseman Danny Black (Woodcreek) and Brevard County third baseman Michael Walker (Marysville) were named Advanced-A Florida State League All-Stars. Nationals' second baseman Matt Foat (Ponderosa, Sierra) was selected a rookie Gulf Coast League All-Star.
The La Crosse Loggers, managed by Andy McKay (Del Campo, Sacramento City) and assisted by Joe Potulny (Jesuit, American River) and Ethan Katz (Sacramento State), won their first Northwoods League Championship, beating the Mankato MoonDogs 12-2 and 8-1. Loggers first baseman Tyler Kuresa (Oakmont) went 3 for 8 with two doubles, two walks and five RBIs in the best-of-three series.
Left-hander Jesse Garcia (El Camino, Sierra) pitched five shutout innings, Johnny Woodard (Cosumnes River) hit his team-leading 10th homer, and right-hander Tyler Graham (Ponderosa, Sierra) pitched a scoreless inning of relief to lead the independent San Rafael Pacifics past the Maui Na Koa Ikaika 6-5 to win the North American Baseball League North Division Championship series last Sunday.
Las Cruces third baseman Steve Rinuado (Casa Roble, American River) was named the independent Pecos League MVP. He led the Vaqueros with a .400 batting average, 108 hits, 17 home runs and 22 stolen bases. "Steve is the best player in this league. There should not even have been a vote," manager Casey Dill said.
Former National League Rookie of the Year and current motivational speaker Steve Sax (Marshall) presents a "Day of Empowerment" on Wednesday Oct. 10 at the Woodlake Hotel from 8 a.m. to noon. For further information, go to SteveSaxSpeaks.com.