Adrian Gonzalez has been dealing with back pain for the better part of half a decade, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, and the longtime Dodgers first baseman tells Plunkett that if the discomfort doesn’t subside, this could be his final contract.
“[I]f I have to deal with this next year again?” Gonzalez asked rhetorically. “That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”
Gonzalez has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his lower back, for which he has received an epidural injection and is on a regimen of anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Doctors have informed him that surgical repair of the issue would require a process similar to the spinal fusion that Tiger Woods has gone through and would effectively end his career. Gonzalez acknowledges that he hopes to be able to get healthy enough to extend his career by another two to three years after his current deal runs out, but that’s up in the air at the moment. He’s earning $21.5MM in 2017, and his contract calls for the same salary in 2018.
It’ll be another month before Gonzalez is reevaluated, per Plunkett, and there’s no firm timetable on a return to the playing field for the five-time All-Star. The 35-year-old Gonzalez saw his production take a dip in 2016 but still turned in a solid .285/.349/.435 batting line in 633 plate appearances over 156 games. In 2017, however, he hit .255/.304/.339 and appeared in just 49 games (182 PAs) before landing on the shelf with back issues.
The unsettling injury news for Dodgers fans doesn’t stop there, however, as Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times reports that there’s “heightened concern” in the Dodgers organization about the severity of prized young left-hander Julio Urias’ shoulder injury. President of baseball ops Andrew Friedman tells McCullough that the team doesn’t have anything “definitive” to share on Urias, though they hope to have a more substantive update in the near future.
J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group writes that Urias will return to L.A. this weekend to have his shoulder examined. The 20-year-old hasn’t thrown a baseball since June 10, when he was initially diagnosed with inflammation. He could be headed for multiple opinions on the shoulder and further testing to better get to the root of the problem, writes Hoornstra.
Urias made his big league debut in 2016 as a 19-year-old and pitched like a future ace, tossing 77 innings of 3.39 ERA ball with 9.8 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate. He’s struggled through 23 1/3 MLB innings this season but still turned in outstanding work in Triple-A: a 2.59 ERA, a 32-to-15 K/BB ratio and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate in 31 1/3 innings.