Injuries are the most unfortunate part of the spring – they can strike players who reported in the best shape of their life and those who shunned the gym all offseason – and they happen in traditional camps and at the World Baseball Classic.
Some teams have been able to breathe a big sigh of relief recently (see: Royals, Salvador Perez; Nationals: Max Scherzer), but others haven’t been so lucky. The contenders who are feeling some serious pain – and how they are dealing with it:
USA TODAY SportsAdam Hunger
David Price, SP, Red Sox
Although Price dodged the worst-case scenario (Tommy John surgery), he will begin the season on the DL and the team hasn’t announced any kind of timetable for his 2017 debut. In fact, manager John Farrell said Price’s elbow/forearm still isn’t strong enough for him to begin a throwing program. Therefore, Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz, both of whom are returning from injury problems of their own, will open the season in the rotation.
USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Didi Gregorius, SS, Yankees
The World Baseball Classic proved costly for Gregorius, who suffered a shoulder strain while playing for the Netherlands. The Yankees’ most consistent offensive player from a season ago will miss all of April and at least some of May, according to GM Brian Cashman. Until Gregorius is ready, Starlin Castro could slide over from second, though Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade and Ruben Tejada are also in the mix at short.
USA TODAY SportsReinhold Matay
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
Wasn’t Michael Brantley’s shoulder supposed to be the big concern in camp? Instead, it’s Kipnis’ shoulder, which could keep him sidelined for at least the first couple weeks of April and might result in some serious shuffling in the infield – with third baseman Jose Ramirez getting playing time at second recently in the Cactus League.
USA TODAY SportsKen Blaze
Ian Desmond, 1B, Rockies
After signing a five-year, $70 million deal this offseason, Desmond reported to camp eager to begin the transition to first base (after moving from shortstop to center field last season). Unfortunately, he broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in Mid-March and is recovering from surgery – and learning the position by watching Mark Reynolds at first base.
USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
David Wright, 3B, Mets
Limited to 75 games over the past two seasons because of injuries, Wright again is playing the waiting game after being diagnosed with a shoulder impingement early in camp. With no return in sight for Wright, Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores will fill in at the hot corner -- as they did for much of last season.
USA TODAY SportsNoah K. Murray
Will Smith, RP, Giants
One of the few holdovers from a bullpen that imploded last season – Smith posted a 2.95 ERA in 26 appearances after being acquired from the Brewers on Aug. 1 – is out indefinitely and could be facing season-ending Tommy John surgery. It puts increased pressure on the rest of the setup crew for new closer Mark Melancon.
USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers
Hoping to erase the frustration of the 2016 season – he played only 16 games because of a broken leg – Ethier now is battling a herniated disk in his back. Manager Dave Roberts has all but ruled out Ethier for Opening Day and there is no guarantee he will be ready any time soon after that. Luckily, L.A. has a ton of outfield depth.
USA TODAY SportsJoe Camporeale
Martin Prado, 3B, Marlins
Another victim of the WBC injury bug, Prado suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain while trying to leg out an infield single for Venezuela. Valuable for his leadership, glove and bat (he hit .305/.359/.417 last season), Prado will begin the season on the DL and will remain there indefinitely. In the meantime, Miami will turn to Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas at the hot corner.