Braves righty Aaron Blair is dealing with a shoulder injury and is headed to see Dr. James Andrews for an evaluation on Monday, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O’Brien’s colleague, Gabe Burns, had previously tweeted that Blair could miss “significant time” with the injury, though the specifics of the issue aren’t yet known. The 25-year-old Blair was viewed as a largely MLB-ready starter when the Braves picked him up from the D-backs alongside Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson in the Shelby Miller blockbuster, but he’s struggled to a 7.89 ERA in 73 big league innings thanks largely to shaky control and a susceptibility to home runs. Blair has a career 4.36 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9, and while he may not have been viewed as an immediate piece of the rotation, a notable absence will thin out Atlanta’s rotation depth to an extent.
Some more notes from the division…
- The Marlins announced last night that left-hander Wei-Yin Chen was able to throw three shutout innings in an extended Spring Training game. Chen didn’t allow a hit or a walk and picked up one strikeout as he tossed 35 pitches in the rehab outing. The results, of course, are largely inconsequential. The key takeaway, rather, is simply that Chen is throwing at all. The southpaw suffered a partial tear of the UCL in his left elbow back in 2016 and was limited to just 33 frames by injury in 2017. Late last season, skipper Don Mattingly revealed that the organization wasn’t sure whether Chen would be able to pitch in 2018 at all. The Marlins owe the veteran lefty more than $50MM over the next three seasons, so any progress toward a return to the hill is significant plus for the team. It’s also worth noting that J.T. Realmuto caught three innings and took three at-bats in an extended spring game, per the team. He’s reportedly eyeing a return to action next week.
- MASNsports.com’s Byron Kerr tweets that Nationals reliever Koda Glover is making some progress in his return from shoulder troubles. Glover, who was briefly the team’s closer in a 2017 season marred by back and hip injuries, opened the year on the 60-day DL after a spring MRI revealed inflammation in his right shoulder. He’s now throwing from 75 feet though, which is at least a step in the right direction for a young power arm for whom the organization has quite a bit of hope. The outlook on Joaquin Benoit is less optimistic, as Kerr notes that the veteran has yet to begin throwing. Washington added Benoit late this spring — not long after Glover’s MRI, in fact — but he quickly went down with a forearm strain and opened the season on the DL himself.
- Phillies righty Nick Pivetta has somewhat quietly been one of the team’s biggest surprises of the year thus far, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia observes. The right-hander spoke after his most recent quality outing about how last year’s struggles — a 6.02 ERA in 133 innings — have helped prepare him for better success in 2018. “I worked hard with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and everybody not trying to be so perfect in the strike zone,” said Pivetta. “I think that really has carried over this year and it’s been good so far.” Manager Gabe Kapler praised Pivetta for improving his concentration level since the beginning of Spring Training, his willingness to attack up in the zone with his fastball and his ability to throw his curveball for a strike when needed.