Many MLB Pitching Staffs Will Start the Year Short-Handed

Dan SiegelSenior Analyst IMarch 10, 2008

Mets' fans are already prepared for the possible absence of Orlando Hernandez from the starting rotation.  As long as Johan Santana is healthy, the others can fall into place.

Are Red Sox fans ready for Josh Beckett to miss the season opener and have an injury hampered campaign in 2008?

XM Radio’s MLB Home Plate channel is reporting that Beckett is suffering from back spasms, likely due to off-season weight gain that is putting too much strain on his muscular system.

Red Sox Nation has to be pretty put off by this.  With Curt Shilling’s timetable unknown and now Beckett’s season looking like an uphill battle, Dice-K and Jon Lester really need to kick it up a notch.

Oh yeah, Dice-K’s got a kid on the way and also might miss the opening season.

Beckett’s off-season weight gain and arrival in camp generally out shape is inexcusable.  He is expected to be the leader of the Red Sox pitching staff both on the stat sheet and in the locker room, but will now only be the leader to the post-game spread.

The San Francisco Giants will also be without starter Noah Lowry until at least mid-April, as he recovers from off-season arm surgery.  An already bleak situation on San Francisco just got bleaker.

The Atlanta Braves are hoping Mike Hampton can return to the rotation for the first time since August of 2005.  However, a groin injury has Hampton limited to simulated game action.

Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson has a different viewpoint, as he doesn’t think that fans should worry when they hear their favorite pitcher is working a simulated game instead of real game action, as Pedro Martinez has done thus far.  Peterson joined Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy on XM 175 this afternoon and explained that many times teams have some of their regular pitchers work simulated games in Spring Training to avoid over-exposure to rival teams.

The Rays’ Scott Kazmir has been limited to bullpen sessions and batting practice duty while nursing an elbow injury.  He hopes to return by the first week of the season.

The Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson saw his first game action this spring, also being limited to bullpen and batting practice sessions.  Johnson is a far less pivotal figure on the Diamondbacks’ staff this season, but is still someone that could influence the D-backs going deeper into the post-season.