Opening day lurks as injuries to McLain, Rodriguez, Wisdom put status for next week in question

Wed, Mar 20, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Opening day lurks as injuries to McLain, Rodriguez, Wisdom put status for next week in question

Spring training is winding down across the major leagues, with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres and their head start on the regular season in South Korea on Wednesday.

At this point in camp, even minor injuries will put a player in jeopardy for opening day.

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Matt McLain is being evaluated for an injury to his non-throwing shoulder, and manager David Bell said Wednesday all options including surgery were being considered.

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was improving but still feeling discomfort Wednesday in his back, manager Torey Lovullo announced. Signed as a free agent this year to bolster a rotation led by Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, Rodriguez was removed from an exhibition game Tuesday after trying to warm up before the second inning.

Chicago Cubs multi-position player Patrick Wisdom was no better Wednesday after being scratched from the lineup the day before because of back trouble, manager Craig Counsell told reporters. The Cubs were waiting on further medical evaluation of Wisdom, who has not played in a week.

There were a few developments that appeared to increase the likelihood of making opening day next week, like at New York Yankees camp where center fielder Aaron Judge was in the posted lineup Wednesday after sitting out nine days with an abdominal injury.

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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kevin Gausman threw two innings in a simulated game at the team's player development complex in a clear step forward from shoulder fatigue that bothered him earlier this spring.

"As of right now, it's more about getting me right and making sure that I'm trending up going into the season as opposed to just monitoring things and getting through things," Gausman said.

SNELL ARRIVES

Blake Snell joined the San Francisco Giants just nine days before their opener, the day after the two-time Cy Young Award winner finalized a two-year, $62 million contract.

"It took a long time, but we had a good plan and we were committed to it," Snell said. "It's tough, but now that I'm here I'm focused on being here."

Despite switching teams from the Padres, Snell gets to play for the same manager in Bob Melvin after the veteran skipper got a new job, too.

"He lets you play," Snell said, "and he holds you accountable."

VARLAND ON THE VERGE

The Minnesota Twins started the week with a major setback to what had been a remarkably smooth spring training, when they learned closer Jhoan Duran (strained oblique muscle) and another key reliever, Caleb Thielbar (hamstring soreness), were headed to the injured list along with starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (elbow soreness).

Shutting down DeSclafani meant a spot in the rotation for promising right-hander Louie Varland, who made 10 starts as a rookie last year and had a bullpen role in the postseason.

Varland started an exhibition game Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers, his first appearance since the news that he'll be the fifth starter. While the box score looked ugly, with nine hits and eight runs in four innings, the Twins were more focused on his overall approach throughout spring training.

"He's got the repertoire and all the pitches to be a starting pitcher," bench coach Jayce Tingler said. "He's looked good all spring and came out healthy today."

The Twins have another injury to monitor, after right fielder Max Kepler was scratched from the lineup Wednesday due to tightness in his pectoral muscle.

ANOTHER SETBACK

Kansas City Royals prospect Asa Lacy, who was the fourth overall pick out of Texas A&M in the 2020 amateur draft, announced on his Instagram account that he had full ulnar collateral ligament surgery that will sideline him for the season.

Lacy has thrown only 80 innings as a pro, with back problems that arose in 2022 flaring up again last year and preventing him from pitching in any minor league games.

"I am blessed to be surrounded by such a great support group from my parents, the Kansas City Royals, to friends and teammates all over," Lacy posted. "My passion and love for this game has never been stronger. Best of luck to all my teammates in 2024."

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

DAVE CAMPBELL Campbell is a sports reporter for The Associated Press, based in Minneapolis. He has covered all of the major teams in Minnesota as well as stories of national interest for the AP since 2000. twitter "
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