Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy underwent an MRI yesterday and a CT scan today due to back spasms that have been troubling him since late January, Hardy himself told reporters (via Peter Schmuck and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun). Hardy has had back spasms in the past but doesn’t seem overly concerned by the injury, stating that they feel “similar to everything I’ve had in the past.” At this juncture, there doesn’t sound to be cause for significant concern, but the situation is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
A few more notes out of the game’s eastern divisions …
- Spring Training is off to a rocky start for Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart, as Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports. Though it’s obviously still early, Swihart has struggled badly with getting the ball back to the pitcher. As Drellich explains, that’s perhaps of particular concern here: Swihart is reacclimating to life behind the dish after a stint in the outfield (and then on the DL) in 2016 and has always faced questions about his defensive abilities.
- The Rays have some interest in newly knuckleballing righty Brian Wilson, according to Marc Topkin and Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times. Once a power late-inning reliever, Wilson has battled injuries and hasn’t pitched competitively since 2014. Tampa Bay has dedicated resources to finding and developing knucklers, and trying out the soon-to-be-35-year-old would at least represent a fun-to-follow experiment.
- Speaking of former closers, Jim Johnson will enter camp with a firm hold on the 9th inning for the Braves, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Atlanta extended the 33-year-old after his strong finish to the 2016 season, which included a run as the Braves’ closer. Johnson finished the year with 64 2/3 innings of 3.06 ERA ball on his ledger, supported by a surprising 9.5 K/9. A repeat of that strikeout rate seems unlikely, as Johnson’s 7.7% swinging-strike rate fell below the league average and right at his career mark, but he continues to induce plenty of groundballs.
- After telling reporters yesterday that he was still experiencing symptoms from his broken right ring finger, Nationals righty Max Scherzer took part in a seemingly productive long toss session today, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post was among those to tweet. While it still seems likely that he’ll be delayed, and may not quite be ready to take the ball on Opening Day, it’s encouraging that Scherzer is not being held back entirely from throwing. The reigning National League Cy Young winner had been expected to participate in the World Baseball Classic, but those plans were already iced when the news emerged that he had been diagnosed with the fractured digit.