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Spring Training News and Notes III

This edition could have easily had a Star Wars-inspired titled called Spring Training III: Revenge of the Injury Bug. It seems that a great deal of news this week concerns injuries. This has some wondering if Spring Training is too long. Some feel that, even in a year like this one when it is somewhat shorter than usual because of an early start to the regular season, everyone who was going to get their timing down well enough to make a big league roster has already done so. Therefore, we would be able to bypass the possessed-by-the-dark side baseballs attacking unsuspecting players and injuring them in meaningless exhibitions. At the very least, this will give MLB fans and fantasy owners items to track this week.

The Astros’ Evan Gattis was removed from Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the Marlins after being struck by a pitch in the left elbow. X-rays conducted on Gattis’ elbow came back negative. The projected DH for the Astros was quoted as saying he will be fine, but it is something worth following in the coming days.

Red Sox fans and Chris Sale fantasy owners held their breath recently when the Red Sox left-hander made a hasty exit from his final Grapefruit League outing on Saturday after sustaining a left hip contusion. He was struck on the leg with a line drive from the Astros’ J.D. Davis in the first inning and immediately collapsed on the mound. The good news is that it was only diagnosed as a bruise. Sale left the game under his own power, and precautionary X-rays were negative. Sale is scheduled to start Thursday’s season opener at Tampa Bay, and he said there’s no reason to think he’ll miss that start.

Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle, and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand. USA Today reported Saturday afternoon that the surgery on the bone leading to the little finger of Bumgarner’s left hand was complete and included inserting three pins. He is expected to be out until June. This is the second significant injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. He will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of his injury, but recent reports state that he could be out 3-4 weeks.

The National League West seems to be hit the hardest with this recent rash of injuries, as the Dodgers’ Justin Turner will be sidelined with a broken wrist after he took a Kendall Graveman fastball straight to the bone. He will be out for several weeks.  Steven Souza will be out of Arizonas lineup for up to five weeks while he recovers from a strained pectoral muscle.

In some not so shocking news, Clayton Kershaw finished camp with a 0.00 ERA after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 following 6 2/3 innings of one-hit ball against the Royals. In 2017, Kershaw went 18-4 in 27 starts, as he turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 with a 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings.  He also dealt with a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list. At this point, he appears that this injury did not linger through the off-season.

Shohei Ohtani made his last spring start as a pitcher on Saturday in a morning intra-squad game on Field 3 below Tempe Diablo Stadium. He walked five in the Saturday game and also hit a batter, threw two wild pitches, and struck out four while allowing three runs on two hits. All told, he recorded 39 outs, the equivalent of 13 innings. He allowed 17 earned runs and 20 hits. He struck out 24 and walked eight. As a hitter, he is 3-for-28 in major league exhibition games and 6-for-24 in minor league and intrasquad games.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced that Tyler Wade will be sharing duties at second base with the recently signed veteran Neil Walker.  Veteran Brandon Drury won the third-base job when Miguel Andujar was optioned to Triple-A.  Drury was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the start of Spring Training, but the Yankees are keeping an eye on Drury as he left Friday’s game after being hit by a pitch on his left elbow. Top prospect Gleybar Torres only batted .179 (5-for-28) with three doubles and nine strikeouts this spring. Andujar had a solid spring and may be called up if Drury’s injury requires a DL stint.

The Yankees may also be looking for a different Opening Day first baseman. Greg Bird was recently scratched from an exhibition game with a sore right foot. Results from an MRI and CT scan taken Saturday revealed right foot inflammation.  He is scheduled to see a specialist on Monday. Bird missed most of last season with a right foot injury that led to surgery in July. Tyler Austin would split duties with Neil Walker if Bird’s injury requires a DL stint.

Staying in New York, the Mets’ Michael Conforto was informed Sunday morning that he will start the season on the disabled list as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery. Conforto said is going to stay in Port St. Lucie, Fla. while the team heads to New York, and he will not be present at Citi Field on Thursday for Opening Day.

J.T. Realmuto appears he will not be ready for Opening Day and will likely start the season on the disabled list. Realmuto has not fully recovered from a lower-back contusion he suffered in a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees on March 11.

Danny Duffy was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. Early indications are that this is not a serious injury, and the Royals have indicated that he will remain on track to open the season with the team on Thursday.

The Philadelphia Phillies have signed top prospect Scott Kingery to a six-year contract through the 2023 season, which includes options through 2026.  Kingery appeared in 20 games for the Phillies this spring and batted .392 with a .415 on-base percentage and .725 slugging percentage. Kingery will make the Phillies’ 25-man roster to start the season and likely will serve in a super utility role, playing multiple positions.

Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright will be suspended 15 games for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. Wright will begin the season on the disabled list and will not serve his suspension until he is healthy. Wright was arrested at his Tennessee home in December following an incident involving his wife, Shannon. Wright was charged with domestic assault and preventing a 911 call, which are misdemeanors in Tennessee.

In related news, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will not be suspended for an alleged similar incident. MLB said in a released statement that, “At the conclusion of the investigation, the Office of the Commissioner found that there was insufficient evidence to support a disciplinary determination against Sano, due to conflicting and inconsistent witness accounts and the absence of contemporaneous substantiation.”




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