Injuries taking their tole this spring

Major League Baseball, by Jen Nevius, on March 14, 2010

The 2010 spring training has not been good to some players. The NY Mets will already start the season without centerfielder Carlos Beltran. Now they most likely will be without shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes came to camp in Port St. Lucie early and in great shape. When interviewed during a game early in spring training, Reyes said that he did not even think about his hamstrings when he was running the bases. However tests showed that Reyes has a thyroid imbalance and must sit for two to eight weeks until it is back to normal. This all means that Reyes cannot do anything because his heart rate cannot be elevated. So when Reyes is cleared to play, he will be starting all over again. Veteran Alex Cora (coming back from thumb surgery) and 20 year old rookie Ruben Tejada (who has not played a game of Triple-A ball) are the two in contention for the starting shortstop position while Reyes is out.

Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan

The Minnesota Twins added players this offseason to solidify their defense (JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson). With the American League Central expected to be up for grabs, the Twins have high hopes for the season. However closer Joe Nathan felt pain in his throwing elbow last Saturday in a game and the MRI revealed a tear. Nathan will rest for two weeks and throw and see how he feels. Worst-case scenario is that he will need season-ending elbow surgery. Nathan has said that he will do whatever he can to avoid surgery and get back on the mound. Devasting news for a team before the season even starts and for a guy who has been underrated throughout his career. Jon Rauch is expected to take over as the Twins closer for now, though starter Francisco Liriano is being considered. Opponents have hit just .213 against Liriano in their first at-bats. So far this spring, he has shown command of his fastball along with his nasty slider and changeup. Liriano also has the ability to strike out hitters in key situations. There also have been rumors of interest in San Diego’s Heath Bell and Cleveland’s Kerry Wood. Nathan is scheduled for a second opinion so the Twins are holding off on looking for a new closer for right now.

Brandon Webb

Brandon Webb

The Arizona Diamondbacks made a deal this winter to bring in All-Star starter Edwin Jackson to fill in the rotation behind aces Brandon Webb and Dan Haren (though it cost them starter Max Scherzer and left-handed reliever Dan Schlereth). Many thought this move gave the Diamondbacks one of the top rotations in the game, especially with the top three spots. However word out of camp is that Webb is still dealing with arm problems that limited the CY Young winner to just one game in 2009. He said his arm felt “stagnant” after throwing. He has thrown from 90 feet but has not thrown to hitters or off a mound and no one knows when that will happen. Webb preaches patience. It is looking like Webb will not be ready for Opening Day and who knows when (or if) he will pitch again. The team would rather have him miss time at the beginning of the season and be healthy when he returns. The loss of Webb puts pressure on the rest of the rotation and leaves the Diamondbacks with just two proven starters.

The Houston Astros added bullpen arms in Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom along with starter Brett Myers this offseason. Even with the loss of Miguel Tejada and closer Jose Valverde, the Astros are expected to compete in the National League Central. However they were dealt a blow this week with an injury to veteran first baseman Lance Berkman. Berkman is expected to be out two to four weeks after undergoing knee surgery and most likely will not be ready for Opening Day. Geoff Blum is scheduled to get most of the starts at first base during the Grapefruit League season.

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