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Indians sign David Cooper to minor league deal

The 26-year old had his career in doubt following rare surgery, but is on the comeback trail.

John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Cleveland Indians have signed first baseman David Cooper to a minor league deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of

Crasnick adds that Cooper's contract includes a late August opt-out clause if he is not in the major leagues.

Cooper, 26, was released by the Blue Jays during spring training due to recurring health problems.

As Crasnick wrote in June, Cooper suffered from a herniated disk in his chest cavity and underwent a rare surgery known as a thoracotomy, which left his career in doubt.

The open surgical procedure, known as a thoracotomy, sounds like something out of a medieval torture chamber or the Mel Gibson movie "Braveheart." It requires an 18-inch incision in the chest wall and the removal of a rib, which allows the surgeon to pry open the chest cavity to gain access to the damaged disk. The long-term fallout can be severe, from pneumonia to chronic pain to lung complications and extended recovery periods.

Now that he is fully recovered, Cooper will try to make a comeback and regain the form that led him to hit .300 with 4 HR and 11 RBI in 45 games for the Blue Jays last season. In two seasons with Toronto, the former first round pick has hit .270 with 6 HR and 23 RBI in 72 games.

Toronto had interest in re-signing Cooper, but the Indians' status as a playoff contender likely made the decision an easy one for the first baseman who is lucky to still be playing. His opt-out date indicates that he could be close to contributing at the major league level, and he may be a solid backup option behind first baseman Nick Swisher during the final month and a half of the season.