Chansky’s Notebook: Improbable Comeback

This is today’s Art Chansky’s Sports Notebook as heard on 97.9 WCHL. You can listen to previous Sports Notebooks here.

A-Rod is having an amazing season, but an all-star?

Who would have guessed that Alex Rodriquez would have come back from a season-plus suspension to do what he’s done for the New York Yankees? A-Rod will be 40 at the end of this month, and he has exceeded almost everyone’s expectations . . . except maybe his own.

A .280 batting average with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs is good for anyone after 83 games, but for a 40-year-old guy who hadn’t played since the 2013 season and doesn’t dare use performance enhancers anymore, well, it must be a shock for the Yankees, who hoped A-Rod would just walk away from his $27-million contract.

And if he weren’t carrying such a tarnished reputation as a repeat PED user and, worse, a liar who apologized with hand-written notes to everyone but his sixth-grade teacher, A-Rod would be a sentimental choice to make the American League all-star game roster. But there is little sentiment left for this guy.

He is playing for his legacy and an aging team that barely leads the American League Least, and whether he and the Yankees can keep it up for the second half of the season will be big storylines after the all-star break. A-Rod said he would walk to Cincinnati to play in what would likely be his last All-Star Game, but he is better off taking three days off than risk a lukewarm reception from a mixed crowd.

American sports fans are forgiving if those they once booed can make them cheer again. And A-Rod has done that in the Bronx. He went from cat-calls in the first few weeks of the season to curtain calls after hitting dramatic home runs for the team that did not want to pay him but has now agreed to give his bonuses to the charities of his choice.

Isn’t it ironic that we haven’t heard a peep from the beloved Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, since he retired? And that left-side infield combination that were once oil and water is now left with whatever praise baseball fans can muster for the man they once called A-Fraud in his own locker room.

He is still not a likable character, but let’s give credit where it’s due.

More Tar Heels Hear Name Called in MLB Draft

Several more Tar Heels heard their name called during day three of the Major League Baseball draft.

Junior Catcher Korey Dunbar was selected by the Miami Marlins in the 20th round.

Following Dunbar, in the 21st round, Junior Left Fielder Landon Lassiter was selected at number 622 overall by the Chicago White Sox.

Lassiter hit .300 this year for UNC but was suspended during the ACC Tournament for conduct detrimental to the team. Scouts had projected Lassiter to move on signing a professional contact heading into the draft but said the details surrounding his suspension would be taken into consideration.

Senior Pitcher Trevor Kelley was taken in the 36th round by the Boston Red Sox.

Former Carolina Pitcher Taylore Cherry will be joining Lassiter in the White Sox organization after being selected by Chicago in the 32nd round.

Day three wrapped up the 40 rounds of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.

Four members of the Diamond Heels were selected on day two of the draft.

Tar Heels in the Pros: Matt Harvey

Considered to be one of the best young pitchers in the major leagues, Matt Harvey has been on fire this season as a starting pitcher for the New York Mets. He holds a 4-0 record, tied for first in Major League Baseball with his teammate Bartolo Colon and his 3.04 ERA is ranked 12th among pitchers with at least three winning starts this year.

Harvey was a standout pitcher in college, leading the Tar Heels to NCAA tournament appearances in all three years he was a part of the program. Deciding at the end of his junior campaign to forego his senior year at UNC, he was drafted seventh overall by the Mets in 2010.

Matt Harvey (UNC Athletics)

Matt Harvey with the Tar Heels (UNC Athletics)

After suffering a partially torn UCL in his right elbow in August of 2013, Harvey underwent Tommy John surgery and had to miss the entire 2014 MLB season. Being back on the mound this year as a star for the Mets has provided a spark for his team and has given Harvey a fresh perspective on the game he loves.

“Missing a year, I think definitely bring the freshness of being up here back. I’m definitely excited again to be playing and I think that goes back to 2012 and the beginning of 2013, just being excited to be out there and be with my teammates again and be able to put the Mets uniform is something that I know now not to take for granted,” Harvey says.

Harvey’s most recent win came against the Yankees last Saturday in which he allowed only 5 hits and 2 earned runs. He came one out shy of throwing a complete game before the Mets’ manager Terry Collins called reliever Carlos Torres from the bullpen, spoiling what could have been the first complete game of his young career. Recognizing that there is room for improvement, Harvey notes that it’s more about the win than his own statistics.

“You get into the 8th or 9th inning I think finishing the game is on your mind so it’s tough but I think at the same time I needed to do a better job of getting those last two guys out and that decision’s not hard to make. So he [Collins] obviously made the right call and brought in Carlos and he got the last out and we won the game so that’s all that matters,” Harvey says.

Harvey surveys home plate (

Harvey surveys home plate (

With his opponents’ batting average at .220 against him this season, Harvey hopes to continue his success as the Mets hold the best record in all of Major League Baseball at 15-5. He spoke before their game Sunday about what it will take to continue this upward trend for their ball club.

“I think just coming to the ballpark knowing we’re going to win, and we had that mentality in spring training, we knew we were going to be good, we knew we had a good pitching staff and we knew we were going to win a lot of games and to have that mentality going into the clubhouse and onto the field every day is half the battle,” Harvey says.

Harvey’s next appearance is scheduled for this Friday, May 1 in the first game of a home series against the Washington Nationals.

Visit us next week for another edition of “Tar Heels in the Pros” featuring NBA rising star, Harrison Barnes.

Former Tar Heel Seager Ready For ‘Honor’ Of All-Star Status

There will be some Tar Heel flavor present Tuesday night at Target Field for the annual MLB All-Star Game. Former Carolina standout and current Seattle Mariner third baseman Kyle Seager will take to the field in front of the national spotlight.

***Listen to the story***

“This is obviously a dream come true. Everybody grows up wanting to play in the big leagues and become an All-Star. For that to happen is pretty special. It’s something that I’m very proud of. I’m very honored,” Seager says.

Seager has already smashed 15 home runs and 63 RBIs entering this week for the Mariners and has earned a nice reward for his efforts – his first career All-Star appearance in his fourth season in the majors.

While at Chapel Hill, Seager sported a .353 batting average in his three seasons and was a second-team All-America second baseman as a sophomore in 2008. The N.C. native smacked a school-record 30 doubles that same season and ranks in the top 10 in career batting average, hits, doubles, triples and total bases at UNC.

The 26-year-old led the Tar Heels to three consecutive College World Series appearances, including a spot in the championship series in 2007.

Seager replaced Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion, who was announced as the AL starter at third base before being placed on the disabled list.

But Seager will be joined by a few familiar faces Tuesday night. Three of his teammates – Felix Hernandez, Fernando Rodney and Robinson Cano – will be by his side.

And that’s comforting for Seager, who says he’ll be following Cano’s lead around the clubhouse, as he usually does.

“To go with a couple guys you know will be good. I can basically do there what I do here and just kind of follow Cano around. It will work out well for me,” Seager says.

With his selection, Seager has become the eighth Tar Heel to earn a coveted slot in the All-Star game.

Seager says he’s just humbled to be thought of so highly in his profession.

“It’s an honor just to be in consideration for it. To have people believe that I should be there is special. It’s been really cool,” Seager says.

Fans can catch all the action with Seager and the rest of the All Stars later Tuesday night. The game will be televised on Fox at 8 p.m.

Former Tar Heel Harvey Dealt Injury Blow

NEW YORK – “It was the last thing I was expecting when I went in this morning.”

Those were current Mets pitcher and former Tar Heel Matt Harvey’s words following his unexpected twist of fate. He has certainly hit a major snag in his rise to stardom this year.

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson announced on Monday that Harvey has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) inhis right elbow. The injury is devastating for a pitcher and Tommy John surgery may be needed.

“This was a surprise to all of us,” Alderson said at a Monday press conference. “Especially Matt himself. He has not had any elbow pain. Forearm pain can foretell problems with the elbow, but in this particular circumstance there had been no indications of that. It’s not good news, obviously.”

The injury probably couldn’t have come at a worse time. Harvey has emerged this season for the Mets. He has pitched 178.1 innings with a 2.27 ERA and 191 strikeouts. What’s more, Harvey started the All-Star Game for the National League and was a Cy Young candidate.

Harvey swears that he will do everything he can to avoid the surgery. Tommy John surgery would put Harvey out of the game for at least a full year.

“The last thing anybody wants to do is have surgery if you don’t have to,” Harvey said. “I know the studies and the history of this type of injury that usually leads to having the surgery but everybody’s different.”

Former UNC Pitcher Makes It To The Major Leagues

CHAPEL HILL –  Former UNC pitcher Rob Wooten was selected on Thursday to join the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend in Colorado.

Wooten has been playing for Milwaukee’s AAA squad, the Nashville Sounds.

In 2008 Wooten was drafted in 13th round. He was selected as a Pacific Coast league All-Star earlier this month.  Tallying 20 saves for the Sounds in 2013, Wooten has an ERA of 2.94 and 45 strike outs in 52 innings.

From Pikeville, NC, Wooten helped lead UNC to the College World series during his senior year.