A’s right-hander Brent Honeywell Jr. has an olecranon stress reaction in his throwing elbow, the team informed reporters (including Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle). He is being shut down indefinitely as the club determines next steps.
It’s the latest in a brutal series of injuries for the 26-year-old, whom Oakland acquired from the Rays over the winter. A former fourth-round pick, Honeywell dominated at the lower levels of the Tampa Bay system and quickly emerged as one of the sport’s most promising pitching prospects. Baseball America slotted him among their Top 100 overall farmhands heading into the 2016 campaign, the first of five straight years in which he’d hold a place on that list.
That Honeywell was a top prospect for half a decade spoke both to his talent and to the injuries that kept him from exhausting his rookie eligibility. He didn’t throw a single pitch in an affiliated game from 2018-20, undergoing a staggering four elbow surgeries in that time. He required Tommy John surgery in February 2018; during his rehab, he fractured his elbow the following June. Honeywell then underwent an ulnar nerve decompression procedure in May 2020 before requiring an arthroscopic procedure at the end of that season.
Honeywell returned to make 31 appearances with the Rays’ top affiliate in Durham last season, and he saw action in his first three big league outings. His strikeout rate was way down, though, and the Rays moved him to the A’s for cash to clear a roster spot in advance of Rule 5 protection day. When Honeywell will next take the ball isn’t clear, but it’s a virtual lock he’ll begin the year on the injured list and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s in for another lengthy absence.
In another bit of ominous injury news for the A’s, reliever Deolis Guerra paused his throwing program after feeling some tightness in his forearm (Kawahara link). Forearm tightness is a fairly common precursor to UCL injuries, although it won’t be known whether he’s dealing with a notable structural issue until he goes for further testing tomorrow. Guerra, 33 next month, threw a career-high 65 2/3 innings over 53 appearances last year. He posted a 4.11 ERA with decent strikeout and walk rates (23% and 7.4%, respectively).
In a positive development, righty James Kaprielian responded well to a weekend bullpen session (via Kawahara). He has been dealing with irritation in the AC joint in his throwing shoulder this spring. With a little more than a week until Opening Day, Kaprielian still seems likely to begin the season on the IL, but the former first-rounder should have a key role on the starting staff whenever he’s ready to go. He made 24 appearances (including 21 starts) in 2021, pitching to a 4.07 ERA with a 24.2% strikeout percentage.