Camp is starting up and it’s weird out there folks. Split squad positionless scrimmages, Covid tests, opt outs….baseball is back!?! This whole thing feels like the Jessie Spano caffeine pill freakout from Saved By the Bell…”I’m so excited, I’m so excited, I’m so…..scared”.
First round of Covid testing is coming back and there’s plenty of interesting names that have tested positive: Jesus Luzardo, Eduardo Rodriguez, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Hector Neris, DJ Lemahieu, Tommy Pham, Scott Kingery, Mitch Keller, Ryan O’Hearn, Salvador Perez, and Kole Calhoun are notable confirmed positives.
Of these, most fall into the “asymptomatic” category and should return to the team soon (hopefully). Hector Neris was already around Phillies camp this week, and Joey Gallo already has one negative test under his belt. He should be good to go soon.
The most serious case looks to be Freddie Freemen. The Braves are being candid about exactly what Freeman is going through, but they’re not expecting him back to camp any time soon.
There’s several other guys who are missing from camp still with no given reason why. Some teams are releasing positive tests, some teams aren’t stating what’s keeping players away but letting us read between the lines. This list includes: Aaron Nola (who was seen around Phillies camp earlier this week similar to Neris), Yonny Chirinos, Juan Soto, Kenley Jansen, Gavin Lux, AJ Pollock, Tony Gonsolin, Yordan Alvarez, Jose Urquidy, and Josh James. The Astros, as well as some other teams, have had issues with their testing in terms of getting results quickly, so that may be holding up the ‘Stros players, but these are all guys to keep an eye on.
At this point, we simply don’t know how to treat positive tests. It really looks like it’s going to be a case by case basis. Delino Deshields Jr. has already tested positive and then been cleared with two negative tests. Guys like Gallo are seemingly close to being back just a week after being diagnosed, and guys like Freeman are seemingly on the shelf for a while. As trends develop or these cases update, they’ll be included here.
Onto non-Covid related injuries:
Masahiro Tanaka took a NASTY line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton in live BP earlier this week. Miraculously, he walked off the field under his own power and was diagnosed with just a mild concussion.
Stanton and Aaron Judge, have both gotten regular playing time in live drills and split squad scrimmages, very positive news for two guys who couldn’t buy any all off season.
Jose Quintana will miss some time after he suffered a laceration on his finger while washing dishes last week…..gotta love baseball injuries. He’ll be ready to throw again in two weeks after undergoing minor surgery to repair the nerve and close the cut. The team will re-evaluate him then.
Jimmy Nelson will undergo lumbar surgery this week, pretty much putting an end to his season. Nelson was fighting for a spot in the Dodgers rotation after signing a one year deal with the club this off-season.
Speaking of Dodgers rotation, David Price leads the list of season opt-outs that have come forth this week. Price’s absence provides a boost to Alex Wood and Dustin May, who were both fighting for innings coming into the year. It could also benefit Gonsolin if he can get back into camp sooner rather than later.
Nick Markakis was the other big name on the list this week. Markakis bowing out, plus the Freddie Freeman news will continue to add value to Austin Riley, who will start getting work at 1B as well as OF now.
Felix Hernandez and Wellington Castillo also announced they will opt out of the 2020 season.
One opt out related note. We mentioned last week that Zack Wheeler would be missing some time with the birth of his child later this season. The good news was that he wasn’t going to be subject to any mandatory quarantine period after leaving the team. The newest development could damper some of that positivity Wheeler owners might have been feeling as there are reports that Wheeler is undecided on whether he will return to the team at all after his paternity leave. I’m sure Phillies fans will handle this gracefully no matter what Wheeler decides is best for him and his family.