The Angels will go without third baseman Zack Cozart for at least “a few weeks,” skipper Brad Ausmus tells reporters including J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter). He has been diagnosed with a grade 1 calf strain.
Given the timing, it’s fair to wonder whether Cozart is at risk of missing the start of the season. It emerged over the weekend that he was dealing with a minor calf problem, though it now seems it’s significant enough to earn a place on the scale. A grade 1 diagnosis is at the mild end of the spectrum, though the Halos will need to take a careful approach to avoid a lengthier absence.
Cozart, 33, is due $12.67MM this year and next. He earned the same in 2018, which turned out to be a forgettable debut season with the Angels. Cozart limped to a .219/.296/.362 batting line in 253 plate appearances before undergoing a significant shoulder procedure.
The focus this spring was on the health of Cozart’s left arm and his ability to regain the form he showed in an outstanding 2017 season. Now, he’ll also need to work through this lower-leg ailment.
At his best, Cozart is an elite defender and quality hitter. His ability to get back on track is a key aspect of the Angels’ hopes for the coming campaign. Earning a postseason spot promises to be a tall order in a top-heavy American League. Tommy La Stella, Taylor Ward, and Kaleb Cowart are among the options to fill in at third if Cozart misses time early.