- Orioles closer Zach Britton will see a hand specialist Monday, after which he could resume throwing, writes Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. Britton went on the disabled list last Sunday with a forearm strain – a scary injury for a pitcher – but an MRI came back clean on Friday. The Orioles believe sending the ace reliever to a specialist will help prevent a forearm strain from rearing its head again in the future, Ghiroli notes.
Star Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera left tonight’s game with a groin strain, as Evan Woodberry of MLive.com reports on Twitter. For now, there’s no real indication of the severity of the injury; Detroit will take a closer look tomorrow.
Here’s more on the injury front:
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca provides an update on some injured Blue Jays hurlers. While there had been some hope that J.A. Happ would be able to return after missing just one start, he was still feeling elbow discomfort when he played catch yesterday. There is still hope, though, that Aaron Sanchez will be ready to return from his blister issues to re-take his turn in the rotation.
- The Rockies have received promising updates on the injury front, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Ian Desmond’s hand has healed to the point that he was able to hit off of a tee. He’ll soon be followed by David Dahl, whose latest medical check-brought positive news.
- Likewise, the Orioles have reason to hope they’ll welcome back closer Zach Britton in short order. As Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets, manager Buck Showalter says that Britton’s MRI results were very promising. Britton, who hasn’t been quite his dominant self thus far in 2017, hit the DL with forearm soreness.
- Rangers righty A.J. Griffin is heading to the 10-day DL with what the team is describing as ankle inflammation caused by gout. It doesn’t seem likely to require an extended absence, but the issue arises at an unfortunate time for the 29-year-old (and the struggling ballclub). Griffin is off to a solid start, having allowed seven earned runs on nine hits — and an excellent 16:4 K/BB ratio — over 15 1/3 innings.
- There were a few updates from the Reds, as provided by Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter links). Righty Homer Bailey could be ready for mound work as soon as the end of the month, per skipper Bryan Price. Bailey has made just eight starts since the start of the 2015 season; he’s working back from surgery to remove bone spurs. Southpaw reliever Tony Cingrani, meanwhile, was placed on the 10-day DL with an oblique strain, with outfielder Phil Ervin taking his place on the active roster.
- Alex Meyer made a start tonight for the Angels, taking the roster spot of reliever Mike Morin, who is headed to the DL with neck stiffness, as Maria Guardado of MLB.com tweets. Morin, who’ll soon turn 26, has been hit hard in his 6 2/3 frames to open the season.
- Meanwhile, Angels righty Garrett Richards is said to be making some progress but isn’t yet able to begin throwing, Guardado tweets. Continued biceps weakness is still the culprit. The Halos are understandably taking care to ensure that Richards is at full health before pushing him forward.
- Rays lefty Xavier Cedeno is experiencing forearm tightness will require at least a brief DL placement, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. It’s not seen as a significant injury, but the loss of Cedeno does leave Tampa Bay without a southpaw in the pen. The 30-year-old has not looked sharp early; as Topkin notes, he has struggled to prevent inherited runners to score. And Cedeno has surrendered four walks without recording a single strikeout in his seven appearances.
- Dodgers lefty Scott Kazmir is still dealing with hip tightness that is preventing him from progressing back to the hill, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. The veteran southpaw is not yet nearing a rehab stint, per the report.
- The Brewers will welcome back righty Matt Garza from the DL to make a start on Monday, per a team announcement. Garza was not ready to open the year due to a groin strain. He’ll bump southpaw Tommy Milone to the bullpen.
- J.J. Hardy’s lengthy injury history will make the Orioles unlikely to pick up his $14MM club option at season’s end. However, Heyman adds that even if the O’s do move on from Hardy, they’re not likely to displace Manny Machado from third base given his excellence (and, presumably, his comfort level) at the hot corner. Rather, the team figures to shop for a shortstop next offseason. The 2017-18 free agent crop at shortstop figures to be headlined by Zack Cozart, with alternative options including Eduardo Nunez, Alcides Escobar and Danny Espinosa. Baltimore could, of course, turn to the trade market for some shortstop help as well. Ryan Mountcastle is the team’s top-regarded minor league shortstop, but the 20-year-old former first-rounder opened the season in Class-A Advanced and many scouting reports question his ability to remain at short in the long run.
Though by all accounts he has done nothing but go about his business as a professional, outfielder Jay Bruce has had an eventful tenure with the Mets since arriving last summer via trade. While the club picked up his option last fall, it reportedly dangled him in trade talks once Yoenis Cespedes returned in free agency.
Among the teams that inquired about Bruce, it was the rebuilding Phillies who came closest to acquiring him over the recent offseason, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. It’s not known what got in the way of a deal, though perhaps New York wanted some kind of prospect return or Philadelphia wasn’t willing to take on his entire $13MM salary.
The pursuit of Bruce, who’ll be a free agent at year’s end, certainly fits within the Phillies’ recent operating philosophy of adding short-term veteran pieces to boost the club in the near term (and provide possible trade chips) without clogging up future balance sheets. The Phils ended up adding two such outfielders, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders. Presumably, the club wouldn’t have signed the latter, who was not added until mid-January, had it managed to acquire Bruce.
Other organizations that at least expressed interest, Carig notes, were the Giants and Orioles. But clearly neither of those clubs was willing to push the envelope to add Bruce, who struggled to a .219/.294/.391 slash line over his 187 plate appearances with the Mets in 2016. In the end, the Mets held onto the slugger.
As it turns out, the lack of sufficient interest may have worked to the Mets’ advantage. Though the presence of Bruce on the roster along with Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto has continued to create something of a logjam, the 30-year-old Bruce is more than making up for that with a highly productive start to the year. Through 62 plate appearances, he’s hitting a robust .309/.387/.673 with six long balls.
It’ll be interesting to see how things play out over the course of the season. Bruce is a notoriously streaky hitter, though the Mets will be glad to ride things out for the time being. Conforto is clamoring for more playing time with a great start in limited action. And Granderson is scuffling quite a bit early, though of the three he’s the choice to line up in center field (where he could begin to cede time to Juan Lagares). Tough choices could be required if other roster needs arise, or if the team determines that Conforto needs to play more regularly, though it remains plausible to imagine all three players sticking with the Mets for the full season. And if Bruce is able to maintain anything like his current production, it’ll be interesting to see whether the organization considers a qualifying offer after the season.
Givens, 26, began his career as a shortstop after being selected in the second round of the 2009 draft. But he moved to the mound when his bat failed to develop.
That has proven to be a worthwhile change for both player and team, as Givens now rates as a high-quality bullpen arm with a mid-nineties fastball and quality slider. Since reaching the bigs in 2015, he owns a 2.67 ERA with 11.3 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 over 111 1/3 frames.
Givens is off to a strong start in the results department through 6 2/3 innings in 2017, though his swinging-strike rate presently sits at just 4.9% after reaching 14.9% in 2016. He has allowed far more contact on pitches out of the zone (85.7%) than in his two prior years (when he sat below 60%), but perhaps that’ll prove to be little more than a small-sample blip.
Givens entered the current season with 1.069 years of MLB service on his ledger, meaning he will not be able to qualify for arbitration next year as a Super Two. Instead, his first of three seasons of arb eligibility will begin in 2019 — his age-29 campaign.
- The Orioles’ lack of international spending is “an ownership decision,” Rosenthal hears from Baltimore executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Ben Badler pulled no punches in criticizing the Orioles’ meager spending on international amateur free agents in a piece for Baseball America earlier this week, and Rosenthal adds that the O’s have also spent the least of any team on amateur draft signings over the last three years. While Duquette notes that several homegrown prospects are currently on Baltimore’s MLB roster, Rosenthal points out that with so many big names (i.e. Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton) slated for free agency after 2018, the O’s are lacking in young depth to fill what could be several significant roster holes.
- Two sources tell Rosenthal that Duquette wasn’t happy with how the Orioles’ medical staff handled Chris Tillman’s shoulder injury. Duquette didn’t specifically comment on this report to Rosenthal, only saying that “We probably could have done a better job getting him back….I’m not sure we rushed him. I’m just disappointed he didn’t start the season with us. We had plenty of time to work with him. The shoulder was bothering him at the end of last year.” Tillman and the O’s are targeting a return date of early May for the right-hander to make his season debut.
Athletics right-hander Kendall Graveman has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to this past Saturday, due to a strained right shoulder, per a club announcement. Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to fill Graveman’s spot on the 25-man roster. While A’s fans are undoubtedly disheartened to see the 26-year-old Graveman land on the shelf, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that there are no indications that the injury is severe. Slusser notes that she’d be surprised to see Graveman miss more than one start, so it seems that Oakland is merely taking advantage of the shortened minimum stay on the DL to help keep the roster full while Graveman recovers.
A few more injury notes from around the game…
- Mets righty Seth Lugo is set to begin a throwing program after taking two weeks off, per The Record’s Matt Ehalt (Twitter link). Lugo, who is hoping to avoid surgery after being diagnosed with a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, will begin his program by throwing from 60 feet. Ehalt adds. Lugo and southpaw Steven Matz are both presently on the DL for the Mets, which has considerably thinned out the club’s rotation depth.
- Chris Tillman was able to make his first rehab start yesterday, appearing with the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, as Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. Though he says he is still having trouble getting his problematic shoulder loose, he says he’s “good to go” once he’s able to do so. Tillman suggested he is learning to deal with the constraints of the balky joint, though how that’ll work out at the game’s highest level is anyone’s guess. The righty sat in the upper eighties with his fastball yesterday, though he did top out at 91 — which is where he typically works. So long as he’s able to rebound from this first outing, Tillman will continue to increase his pitch count in further rehab starts.
- The back issues that have slowed the rehab progress of Rangers’ righty Tyson Ross are still hanging around, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Since he has yet to return to the mound, it now seems that his early-May target to return to the majors will move back by at least a week or two. Ross had seemed to be nearing a full recovery from thoracic outlet surgery when the seemingly minor back issue cropped up.
6:59pm: Street was not able to stay on track due to a “mild shoulder impingement,” GM Billy Eppler tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter).
5:51pm: The Angels have acquired righty Parker Bridwell from the Orioles, per club announcements. Cash considerations or a player to be named later will go to Baltimore in return.
To open a 40-man spot, the Halos have bumped righty Huston Street to the 60-day DL. That suggests his lat strain isn’t progressing quite as hoped. At the time of his injury, about six weeks back, it was suggested that it was at least possible Street would be throwing in three or four weeks. With today’s DL swap, he won’t be eligible to return until about two months of the season have elapsed.
Bridwell, who was recently designated for assignment, will head to Double-A upon landing in his new organization. The 25-year-old reached the majors briefly last year, but evidently didn’t factor very heavily in the O’s plans.
A starter for most of his career, Bridwell spent much of 2016 functioning as a multi-inning reliever (he logged 87 total innings last year over 33 appearances). Over 83 2/3 minor-league innings, including an AFL stint, Bridwell pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9.
Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…
- The Orioles announced that right-hander Jason Garcia has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Double-A Bowie, thus removing him from the 40-man roster but keeping him in the organization. The 24-year-old righty was designated for assignment last week. Garcia was Baltimore’s Rule 5 Draft pick prior to the 2015 season but struggled in the Majors that year and in Double-A last season. While Garcia logged a respectable 4.25 ERA in 29 2/3 innings with the 2015 Orioles, he also posted an ugly 22-to-17 K/BB ratio that season. In 142 innings of Double-A work, he’s limped to a 4.82 ERA with 5.6 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9. The right-hander is still fairly young, generates ground-balls at about a 46 percent clip and averages better than 93 mph on his fastball, so there’s still plenty to like in his overall skill set, though it seems clear that some additional development is needed.
The Orioles have placed superstar closer Zach Britton on the 10-day disabled list with a left forearm strain, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Right-hander Stefan Crichton will take Britton’s roster spot, per Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com (Twitter links).
The Orioles are unsure if Britton will return from the DL when he’s first eligible, according to manager Buck Showalter. While forearm injuries are scary for pitchers, Showalter is optimistic that the left-hander’s absence won’t be lengthy.
“We think it will manage itself if we take the right precautions,” said Showalter (via Melewski, on Twitter).
Showalter revealed that Britton first felt soreness during his appearance against the Blue Jays on Friday (Twitter link via Encina). Britton was surprisingly ordinary in that one-inning showing, in which he allowed three hits and his only earned run of the year thus far, but he still managed to convert his 53rd consecutive save opportunity.
While Britton is on the shelf, the Orioles could turn to right-hander Brad Brach as their top game-ending option. Brach has continued his dominant ways this year, while fellow relievers Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart have also pitched well. Veteran setup man Darren O’Day is on hand, as well, though he has gotten off to a poor start.