With Major League Baseball’s new season kicking off on April 1, we’re living through the cruelest part of the year, when unchecked optimism intersects with cold hard reality. Oftentimes, that manifests in a team achieving less-than-desired results; sometimes, though, it pops up in the form of an injury to a key contributor. A baseball season is a grind, as you’ve undoubtedly heard, and seldom does a day pass without someone’s body saying, “enough,” and requiring a stay on the shelf.
Keeping up with every team’s injury report, then, can be a grind within itself. As such, we’ve attempted to simplify the process below by highlighting the league’s notable injuries. Do note that this is meant to be a cheat sheet rather than a comprehensive document (you can find the latter here)..
Now, onto the injuries.
Right-hander Mike Soroka will have his return to the rotation delayed by a shoulder inflammation that popped up during his most recent simulated game. The Braves do not believe Soroka suffered any structural damage, but it’s just another obstacle for someone who was already working their way back from a torn Achilles tendon.
Southpaw Chris Sale will be sidelined for at least the first month of the season while he continues to rehab from the Tommy John surgery he had last March. It tends to take at least a year to recover fully, and some teams take a more conservative approach to prevent a pitcher from rushing back too soon. The Red Sox have preached patience with Sale, meaning he might not return until well into the summer.
Nathan Eovaldi has been tabbed as Boston’s Opening Day starter. Eduardo Rodriguez had been slated to start the first game, but he’s come down with a dead arm late in spring training. For now, the team is characterizing the decision as a precautionary move. Rodriguez missed the entire 2020 season after developing a COVID-related heart condition.
Power-hitting left fielder Eloy Jimenez as of March 25 will miss up to six months because of a ruptured pectoral muscle. Jimenez suffered the injury while trying to rob a home run during Cactus League play. Suffice it to say, that’s a major blow to a White Sox team that will be vying for the AL Central title. For his young career, Jimenez has tallied 45 home runs in 177 games.
The Reds will be without right-hander Sonny Gray to begin the season, as he deals with back spasms. Gray estimated that he’ll be about a week behind schedule, suggesting he could miss just a start before rejoining the rotation.
Second baseman Brendan Rodgers is expected to miss at least April after straining his right hamstring on a stolen-base attempt. Subsequent testing revealed that the “trauma to the hamstring” was a “little bit worse than was originally anticipated,” per manager Bud Black, hence the month-long timetable.
Lefty Framber Valdez, whose finger injury had originally spurred concerns he would be lost for the season, seems likely to avoid surgery. Provided that remains the case, Valdez could join the Astros in-season after he gets his conditioning in order. The Astros haven’t set parameters on when that might be, though he’ll be several weeks behind.
Free-agent signing Pedro Baez will also miss the opening stretch of the season. He contracted COVID-19 at the onset of spring, putting him behind schedule.
Meanwhile, ace Justin Verlander, who underwent Tommy John surgery last fall, is unlikely to pitch at all this season.
Right-hander Sixto Sanchez, who was supposed to begin the season at the alternate site to build up after a delayed camp, reported “slight discomfort” in his throwing shoulder after his most recent start, according to Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. Sanchez is expected to be re-evaluated before the Marlins determine the next step.
The Mets will be without a pair of star starters for about two months. New York is hopeful that Carlos Carrasco, who recently tore his hamstring, and Noah Syndergaard (recovering from Tommy John surgery) could return around Memorial Day, or May 31.
Seth Lugo, on the other hand, is expected to resume throwing around Opening Day after undergoing an operation to remove a bone spur. He seems likely to return around mid-May, give or take a week or so.
Starting first baseman Luke Voit will begin the 2021 season on the injured list. After an MRI on his right knee revealed a partial meniscus tear, Voit will undergo surgery and be shut down for three weeks from participating in baseball activities following the procedure. Manager Aaron Boone expects Voit to be back before June, but his return timeline is still unclear at the moment.
Setup pitcher Zack Britton underwent surgery in March to remove a bone chip and loose bodies. He’s expected to miss most, if not all of the first half of the season.
Right-hander Luis Severino continues to work his way back from last February’s Tommy John surgery. He’s yet to throw off a mound, meaning he’s still a ways off. Severino seems to believe he’ll be able to return before midseason, though the Yankees might exercise caution given how important his health is for their present and future.
The A’s have been without closer Trevor Rosenthal for the first week of the season, and his absence could soon grow to be a long-term reality. Manager Bob Melvin told reporters on Wednesday that Rosenthal may be undergoing surgery to address his thoracic outlet syndrome soon, which would put him on the shelf for an addiitonal three months.
The Padres will open the season without right-hander Dinelson Lamet in the rotation. He’ll make his spring debut this week as the Padres are taking it slow with his build-up. Lamet missed the postseason last fall because of an elbow injury. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection in October that staved off surgery.
Outfielder Trent Grisham has resumed taking batting practice after missing a week-plus because of a hamstring issue. Lefty reliever Drew Pomeranz has also resumed throwing. Pomeranz had been waiting for some inflammation to go away. It’s unclear if either or both will be able to start the season on the active roster.
Right-hander Mike Clevinger will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last fall.
The Mariners signed reliever Ken Giles to a two-year deal over the winter with the knowledge that he would not pitch in 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September.
St. Louis has had a pair of starting pitchers take recent week-long pauses for health reasons. Lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim (back) and righty Miles Mikolas (shoulder soreness) have since resumed throwing. Kim is believed to have a chance at returning in time for his first start of the season. Mikolas, who missed all of 2020, has been ruled out.
The Cardinals will be without righty Dakota Hudson for the season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in late September, and is not expected to return before 2022.
Center fielder Harrison Bader will open the regular season on the IL because of a sore right forearm. As of March 24, he’s expected to be out four to six weeks.
First baseman/designated hitter Ji-Man Choi was hampered by a right knee issue most of the spring and on March 30 the Rays announced he will have arthroscopic surgery to repair it. The initial timeline here says he’s out three-to-five weeks, but remember, once he’s cleared to play he needs to ramp things back up and this type of schedule suggests he’ll need a minor-league rehab assignment. The 1B/DH mix for the Rays with Choi down will include Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz, Mike Brosseau and Yoshi Tsutsugo.
Jonathan Hernandez, who seemingly had a chance at spending time as the Rangers’ closer this season, was shut down in early March because of a sprained UCL. He’s expected to miss several months, though the Rangers are hopeful he’ll make a full recovery without requiring any kind of surgical procedure.
Outfielder Khris Davis has a Grade 2 quad strain and as of March 24 is expected to be out three to four weeks.
Young right-hander Nate Pearson is all but certain to begin the season on the injured list after he reaggravated a groin injury last week. Pearson had missed time last year because of a flexor strain. Coincidentally, closer Kirby Yates is likely to miss the season after seeking a second opinion on his own flexor strain. Yates is now expected to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Ace Stephen Strasburg pitched in a simulated game over the weekend, his first appearance (albeit an unofficial one) since straining his calf. Provided he doesn’t suffer a setback, he seems primed to be in the Opening Day rotation.
The Nationals will likely be without reliever Will Harris to begin the season. He was recently diagnosed with a blood clot in his arm.
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