Some injury updates from around the game . . .
- Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz, shelf-ridden to began the year, threw 63 pitches in a minor-league game Friday, tweets the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien, who notes that the righty could be activated as soon as April 9. A healthy return for the sudden ace would break up the Braves’ rockpile of young rotation arms, a group that currently includes rookies Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, and second-year man Max Fried, who was curiously deployed in Opening-Day relief.
- More good news on the Atlanta rotation front comes from MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, who tweets that righty Kevin Gausman threw 90 pitches in a minor-league game today and reported no ill effects. Gausman’s slated to take the ball April 5 against Miami as he looks to reprise his inning-eating ways for the fourth consecutive year. The Braves, then, won’t have long to settle on an early-season rotation mix, and top prospect Mike Soroka’s eventual presence will only further complicate matters.
- O’Brien also tweets that the Braves could have late-inning presence A.J. Minter back as soon as Thursday. Minter, 25, threw just 58 carer minor-league innings before a scintillating 2017 debut. He doubled down last season, establishing himself as one of the National League’s top relievers after a 1.4 fWAR performance in just 61 1/3 IP. He’ll be leaned on heavily at the back end of a thin Atlanta ’pen in the early stages of 2019.
- Todd Frazier is almost ready to begin a rehab assignment as he recovers from a strained oblique, per Newsday’s Tim Healey (via Twitter). The Mets third baseman is set to return to game action in the minor leagues within the next couple of days, putting him on track to make his 2019 debut before the end of April. Infielder Jed Lowrie is less far along. As he rehabs from a sprained left knee, Lowrie is traveling with the team, and though the Mets haven’t put a timetable on his return, he was seen this morning taking grounders at third, per Deesha Thosar of the NY Daily News (via Twitter). In the meantime, Jeff McNeil got the start at third base on Opening Day alongside Amed Rosario, Robinson Cano and Pete Alonso in the infield. Today’s lineup will feature McNeil getting the start in left while J.D. Davis gets a turn at third. Let’s check in on some other health-related issues from around the league…
- The centerpiece of the Justin Verlander trade has been shut down for 4-6 weeks with shoulder tendonitis, per Chris McCosky of The Detroit News. Franklin Perez is the Tigers #4 ranked prospect according to Baseball America, #6 by Baseball Prospectus, and #5 by Fangraphs, while MLB.com has the hard-throwing righty the highest at #3. Separate instances of a lat strain and shoulder soreness limited his 2018 to only 7 appearances between two levels, topping out with a 7.94 ERA across four starts for High-A Lakeland – where he hoped to return to start 2019. The 21-year-old Venezuelan boasts a power heater that consistently reached 98 mph when he could stay on the field this spring, but health is the focus for Perez for the time being. Perez is one of three right-handers who make up the core of Detroit’s farm, along with Matt Manning and 2018’s #1 overall draft pick Casey Mize.
- There are no lingering issues with the groin injury that put Alex Cobb on the shelf to start the year. After throwing five innings in a minor league game yesterday, he is in line to start the Orioles’ home opener next Thursday, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Nate Karns will make his Orioles debut on the bump today, and while there’s no strict pitch count, don’t expect Karns to make it much further than the second or third inning, per The Athletic’s Dan Connolly (via Twitter). Karns will play the role of Opener today, with Jimmy Yacabonis expected to see significant work as well.