It always takes awhile for things to settle down in a new baseball season. That’s why we’re always preaching patience with fantasy squads. But things are even more unsettled this season. For one thing, it seems like every other player has gotten hurt and there should be a MASH unit outside each ballpark.
Many a player got a big scare this week when the Atlanta Braves’ closer elite Craig Kimbrel came up with shoulder soreness. It's one thing for a pitcher to have an elbow injury that requires Tommy John surgery since the success rate nowadays is in the 80 percent range of a pitcher returning to play their trade at a level comparable to pre-surgery. It’s a totally different story, however, with shoulders as the success rate for a pitcher returning to any semblance of previous performance after shoulder surgery tops out at about 50%. It figures something like this would happen a mere week after I was extolling the virtues of owning one of the top closers rather than those in the second and third tiers. But the 25-year-old threw 15 pitches in a side session Wednesday and proclaimed the shoulder was good to go. That’s little solace for me though as Kimbrel isn’t an orthopedic physician and he admitted that he’s had problems with the shoulder since spring training began. This is obviously a situation that will require close monitoring.
Out on the west coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers have lost the services of first string catcher A.J. Ellis to knee surgery that will keep him sidelined until at least the middle of May. Tim Federowicz has gotten the bulk of the work behind the plate so far for the first-place Dodgers but only has one hit in five games since being recalled a week ago Tuesday. Drew Butera isn’t much of an option as the 30-year-old is only hitting .183 for his major league career.
The Miami Marlins' Jacob Turner was placed on the 15-day DL last week and a subsequent MRI showed a shoulder strain. The Marlins' young starting pitcher was able to throw Tuesday off flat ground and was scheduled to throw again Wednesday. Depending on how that goes, he could proceed to throw off a mound this weekend.
After losing closer Bobby Parnell to season-ending Tommy John surgery, the New York Metropolitans got a scare when their right fielder Curtis Granderson crashed into the outfield wall and hurt a combination of his knee, forearm, and ribs. He is unofficially considered day-to-day and could return at the end of this week. Further complicating things, centerfielder Juan Lagares was placed on the DL after pulling his hamstring. He is eligible to return the end of April. As if that wasn’t enough, starting pitcher Jenrry Mejia suffered a blister on his throwing hand during Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He should have a throwing session Friday that could determine when he might be able to return. The Mets are hoping the 24- year-old will miss one start at most. Bartolo Colon allowed nine runs in five innings last Sunday to the Los Angeles Angels and blamed the horrible performance on a bad back. He is still supposed to make his next start this Saturday against the Atlanta Braves but this bears watching.
The Washington Nationals lost third baseman Ryan Zimmerman for four to six weeks with a broken thumb he sustained while sliding back into second base on a pickoff attempt. He joins catcher Wilson Ramos (wrist surgery) and outfielder Denard Span (concussion) on the sidelines. Phenom outfielder Bryce Harper is day-to-day with left quad tightness.
Jose Tabata pulled a Curtis Granderson as he slammed into the outfield wall during the Pittsburgh Pirates' game with the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. He will be examined on Thursday for a possible concussion after which he could be put on the 7-day DL.
The Cincinnati Reds’ Mat Latos was already on the DL with a knee injury when he was scratched from a rehab start a week ago Tuesday due to elbow irritation. He had continuing discomfort in a bullpen session last Friday and his activation from the DL on Monday was postponed. A subsequent MRI revealed no structural damage and rest, not surgery, is the prescription. The 26-year-old starting pitcher won’t throw for the next couple weeks.
Brett Anderson of the Colorado Rockies was taken out of last Saturday’s start against the San Francisco Giants after he hurt his throwing hand during an at-bat. An X-ray the following day revealed a broken finger and the 26-year-old southpaw was placed on the DL and will miss four to six weeks.
Usually, pitchers kind of take it easy when at the plate, but Joe Kelly of the St. Louis Cardinals apparently doesn’t subscribe to that approach. He injured his left hamstring attempting to run out a bunt and had to be removed from the game. He will return to St. Louis Thursday to have the strain evaluated and graded before the team decides if he will miss any time.
The injuries are certainly piling up but I want to take a quick look at a couple players for a different reason. After pooh-poohing Tim Lincecum last week, The Freak had a no-decision in pitching five strong innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday. The lanky right-hander only allowed one earned run in five innings on five hits and no walks. He also struck out five as he lowered his ERA from 9.90 to 7.20 on the season. Tim did, however, allow another home run and his total now stands at five on the young season. His fastball velocity is still down below 90 MPH and I’m still not buying.The other player I want to look at is Lincecum’s teammate Brandon Belt. The first baseman was everyone’s darling (I was heavily invested) when he first came up and it didn’t look like he would meet expectations. The 25-year-old had a mini-breakout last year when he batted .289 and cracked 17 homers. Belt is hitting .293 so far this year but has already hit five home runs in 57 at-bats. While he obviously won’t continue this pace, it looks as though Brandon might live up to some of what was expected of him. The one thing that concerns me at this point is he has a 17:2 K:BB ratio in 13 games. He will need to be more judicious at the plate if this early success is to continue to any extent.