In order to write this article, I quickly jot down any player who I see or hear about being reported injured throughout the week, just so I can check back later and see the extent of the injury. I have to judge if it is worth reporting on, or if the player is even fantasy relevant. That’s why you might not see me report about a guy like Christian Friedrich and his 5.37 ERA over 296 innings being injured. Saves both you and I the time and energy of reading about Christian Friedrich. So let me say right now — sorry for making you read such a long paragraph about Christian Friedrich!
Other times, someone gets injured on a Thursday or Friday and by the time I go to write them up (this article drops on Wednesdays) they’re back to 100%. Such is the case for 50 shades of Jon Gray this week.
Here’s who you shouldn’t forget about as the three months of Spring Training finally come to an end this week…
Mauricio Cabrera, ATL, Throwing Elbow Soreness.
Yea, if I threw over 100 mph my elbow would be sore too. Hell, if I play wiffleball for half an hour I have to attach ice bags to my shoulder and elbow like I just threw a 120 pitch complete game shutout. Mauricio is going to begin the season on the DL. And while Jim Johnson is the closer in Atlanta now, it feels like every year for the past 5 years he has started the season as the closer for 5 different teams only to go on to lose that role. (I went ahead and looked it up: Atlanta is Johnson’s 6th team since 2013.) Mauricio was shaping up to be the eventual closer in Hotlanta, but this injury puts that on hold for a little while. Hopefully it’s just general soreness–but don’t be surprised if it’s worse.
Raisel Iglesias, CIN, Injured In a Shower Slip and Fall.
There are only two reasons someone slips and falls in the shower. 1.) Being clumsy. 2.) Being intimate. I think I can guess which story Iglesias is telling in camp. This close to Opening Day, Tony Cingrani will probably fill in for the Reds for their first 15 games. They’ll probably provide him 3 leads going into the 9th which means he will have 3 blown saves in their first 15 games. Iglesias is the reliever you want in Cincy.
Desmond Jennings, CIN, Right Hip Flexor Stiffness.
For every Mike Trout there is a Desmond Jennings. An unbelievably highly touted prospect who people are comparing to the stars of yesteryear. Keep this in mind with all prospects. Sure, we all want the next Mike Trout, but sometimes you end up with Desmond Jennings. (I’m watching you Byron Buxton.) Now 30 (when the hell did that happen) Jennings can be all but ignored. The hope of him living up to that 11 HR, 52 SB, .318 AVG minor league season in 2009 are completely gone.
J.D. Martinez, DET, Sprained Lisfranc Ligament.
I wrote about J.D. last week as we first found out about his injury. Now, we know the cold truth — he is going to be shut down for about a month, but doesn’t need surgery. Don’t get too excited. He’ll be shut down for a month, then he’ll be sent to the Erie Seawolves for a week, then he’ll find himself with the Toledo Mud Hens for another week or two, then he’ll go to the Alabaster Swamp Rhinos for another week so don’t expect to see him until the end of May at the earliest. Minor league baseball team names have gotten so amazingly ridiculous that you didn’t even stop to wonder if the Alabaster Swamp Rhinos were a real minor league baseball team or not. They’re not. Are they?
Steven Matz, NYM, Throwing Elbow Irritation.
Who the hell is the head athletic trainer for these Mets? One of the Incredible Crash Test Dummies?! (How did they not creep me out more as a kid?) After experiencing this irritation on March 26th, Matz and Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen are now attempting to alter Matz’s delivery. This has got ‘yuck’ written all over it. Throwing elbow irritation and now they’re going to make him change the way he’s been throwing a baseball for 20 years? None of this really matters for Matz’s Mets though. In late May, one of the their 9 big-league ready starting pitchers and Brandon Nimmo are going to get traded to the White Sox for Todd Frazier.
Collin McHugh, HOU, Dead Arm.
The dead arm was probably caused by Evan Gattis — he looks like the biggest bully on the team. Call me crazy, but I actually liked McHugh to bounce back this year. In 2014 and 2015 he made 57 starts and had a 3.39 ERA. His 4.34 ERA in 2016 was fueled by an unlucky .345 BABIP. If this dead arm is just a phase that some teenagers go through, then I expect a bit of a recovery from Collin and a nice value as your last starting pitcher.
Eduardo Nunez, SFG, Throwing Shoulder Soreness.
Nunez’s shoulder soreness has been a lingering issue since the end of February. He has only been DHing in Spring Training since then, but I have some breaking news for Bruce Bochy: his NL opponents are going to catch on to that trick on the lineup card pretty quickly. Nunez still has been unable to throw in spring training so a DL stint might be necessary seeing as we’re less than a week from Opening Day. Nunez actually hit 16 HR and stole 40 bases last year with a .288 AVG so in this speed starved league there is value there if he gets healthy.
Gregory Polanco, PIT, Throwing Shoulder Discomfort.
Polanco is that tier 2 outfielder that everyone is going to reach for because we all know he’s got that 30/30 season just waiting in him. But with his throwing arm injury, it’s like my grandpappy used to always say: you can’t eat at the dish if you don’t work in the field. Polanco was nursing some discomfort in this same shoulder throughout last season so you have to wonder when something is going to give and he’ll need surgery — if it is now lingering into a second season there is a bit of risk here. Keep tracking Polanco up until the second you’re going to use your 4th or 5th round draft pick on him and see how much risk your team can afford.
Colby Rasmus, TB, Hip Soreness.
Brother Jedidiah Rasmus was looking a bit like he had a meth issue there for a while. Luckily he’s seems to have kicked the habit, but is still projected to start the season on the DL. It’s a shame because Tampa Bay is probably the one place where Rasmus can luck his way into a starting job. Like Jennings and Trout, Rasmus showed a lot of promise in the minor leagues, but unfortunately, Rasmus seems to have gone the way of Jennings instead of Trout. He’s had some bright weeks over the past few years, but nothing that you can depend on outside of AL-only leagues.
Carlos Rodon, CWS, Tight Biceps…ladies.
What did you expect him to do? Coupla hotties were looking for two tickets to the gun show and Rodon had to show them the way. My JV baseball coach always use to tell us “curls are for girls” whenever we were hitting the weight room because biceps don’t really serve too great a purpose in baseball. Rodon got an MRI showing no structural damage. Being this close to Opening Day there’s a small chance Rodon starts the season on the DL, but it might only be for 1 or 2 starts. Expect Rodon to be fine for the rest of the season unless he finds out about more Chicago area bars hosting $1 margarita nights.
Addison Russell, CHC, Sore Back.
Just to get this out of the way, Joe Maddon has said that he doesn’t think Russell will need a DL stint. There always seems to be at least one player who deals with a nagging injury after playing so deep into October. However, Addison is still just 23 and will find himself in a run-producing spot in one of the best lineups in baseball. The Cubs will probably do the smart thing and give Russell a full week of rest going into opening day (this injury first popped up on March 24th), send Russell to a reputable massage parlor (he’s married!) and reap the rewards of him hitting over 100 RBIs behind two NL MVP candidates in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
Will Smith, SFG, Tommy John Surgery.
Tommy John claims his third soul and we are negative 4 days into the MLB season.
Jorge Soler, KC, Left Oblique Strain.
Soler is set up to get himself a nice fresh start in Kansas City. Monday when I started writing this article it seemed like Soler wasn’t going to start the year on the disabled list, now as I’m finishing this article Tuesday evening it seems more likely that he is. Soler has struggled through some injuries to start his career, but this change of scenery might just what he needs to jumpstart his career and being surrounded by the mature veterans of the Royals might help him even more. The impressive bat he showed as a young 20-something in the Cubs system still remains, but now he just needs to stay healthy and show that the 28 HR, .295 AVG he showed in 166 minor league games can translate to the big leagues. Again — some prospects take time.
Andrew Susac, MIL, Trapezius Tightness.
The nerds on the team definitely call him sleestak. Sleestak was in competition with Jett Bandy for the ever-coveted Catcher position and 9th spot in the batting order for the Milwaukee Brewers. You don’t really want either one of them unless you’re in a two catcher league. But if you want to learn more about Susac and Bandy here are some fun facts: Both are 27 years old, both played high school baseball in California, Bandy has a .237 career major league batting average, Susac has a .239, both were drafted in the 2011 draft, both played baseball at Pac-12 colleges, in the minors Bandy hit 42 total HRs, Susac hit 41. How eerily similar. You CAN go wrong with either one.
Luis Valbuena, LAA, Strained Right Hamstring.
He’s set to miss 4 to 6 weeks with the injury which gives CJ Cron plenty of time to take the job that is rightfully his. Valbuena upon his return could still hit 15 homers splitting time between first and third base and maybe even OF if that’s where he’s needed, but that ugly .232 career average leaves only minimal value in AL-only and extremely deep mixed leagues. Cron, on the other hand, hit .256 in 2014, .262 in 2015 and .278 in 2016. Cron is a beefy 6’4”, 235 pounds with 30 HR power that is just aching to break out.. If his batting average trend continues he could be a .290+ average hitter like he was in the minors. Perfect for your UTIL spot.