The Cincinnati Reds were hit with an unfortunate blow during spring training, with three relief pitchers dealing with injuries, preventing them from participating for most of spring training.
Bill Bray, Ryan Madson and Nick Masset—approximately 43 percent of the Reds' bullpen, are out of commission for the foreseeable future.
All three relievers have shown signs of improvement, but sustaining injuries this early could make the beginning of the 2012 season difficult for Cincinnati.
Ryan Madson dealt with irritation in his right elbow at the end of February, and was shut down from pitching any further.
Madson claims this is the best that he has felt all spring and threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session on Thursday. He had thrown 20 pitches in his first bullpen session on Tuesday, all fastballs. He mixed in changeups on Thursday, and appeared to have no problems.
Reds pitching coach Bryan Price said they want him to pitch a simulated game or a minor league game, but also want to make sure Madson has plenty of time in the bullpen before pushing him further.
Nick Masset was taken out of a game on March 7 when he experienced soreness in his right shoulder. The Reds shut him down for a few days, but he has started to throw again in the bullpen.
Are you worried about their injuries preventing the Reds from a strong 2012 season?
Masset said that he feels strong, and wants to get back into working so he can practice pitching to live batters.
Masset has taken advantage of his down-time during rehabilitation by watching video of his pitching mechanics. He plans to use that to develop mechanics that would be less stressful on his arm.
Bill Bray has dealt with injuries fairly often, and is no stranger to suffering injuries during spring training sessions.
Bray sustained a left groin injury a couple of weeks ago, but reports indicated that his injury was not suspected to be serious.
While pitching in his return from a brief period of rehabilitation for his groin, Bray dealt with a setback when he experienced discomfort during a simulated game and was shut down again.
With the return of his injury, Bray still believes that he will be ready to pitch on Opening Day. He said that he felt good while throwing in the bullpen on Wednesday, and he thinks that he will be fine.
Bray's arm is in good shape, and once his groin injury has healed, the coaching staff should be able to aggressively work with Bray to prepare for the beginning of the 2012 season.
Pitching is the key to a successful baseball club.
Having three relief pitchers sustain injuries that keep them out of spring training is difficult to swallow, but they all appear to be on the road to a quick recovery.
The unfortunate fact about shoulder, elbow and groin injuries is that they're easy to re-injure.
Madson, Masset and Bray will have to be very cautious, and the pitching coaches will have to keep close eyes on them.
If all goes well and they recover and remain healthy, the Reds will have a solid bullpen for the 2012 season.