So another spring training is drawing to a close. That means Opening Day is just around the corner, and teams are in a frenzy trying to finalize their 25-man rosters before the March 31 deadline.
Managers and general managers are reviewing the performances of players who are on the cusp of a minor league assignment and a trip to the big leagues. Finishing touches are being put on before the big show, and there are still a lot of questions to be answered.
But along with this madness as each spring training camp comes to an end, star players are slated to open the new season on their team's disabled list, which throws an even bigger monkey wrench into the organization's Opening Day plans.
So as we inch closer to the start of the 2013 regular season, it's time to check out which superstars will miss the start of the new campaign thanks to an injury. And these aren't just any superstars. These are the 2013 Opening Day Disabled List All-Stars, consisting of the very best, albeit disabled, players (one player at each field position, five starting pitchers and three relief pitchers).
Hopefully for these players' clubs, their injuries will heal fast and they will be on the field in no time.
After the Atlanta Braves were eliminated from the playoffs in 2012, All-Star catcher Brian McCann opted to have offseason surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder. The injury had been with McCann for most of the 2012 campaign, and in October, he had surgery performed by Dr. Xavier Duralde.
Early reports had McCann actually being ready for Opening Day, predicting he'd be hitting off of a tee by mid-February. However, as spring training began to evolve, McCann settled with the fact that he would indeed not be ready for the April 1 opener against the Phillies.
The six-time All-Star has been participating in batting practice and has been throwing at 120 feet. Yet recent reports have said that McCann will not see any minor league action before April 16 (the first day he would eligible to be activated off of the disabled list). This would seemingly put McCann's tentative return somewhere toward the end of April at this point.
In McCann's absence, offseason free-agent pickup Gerald Laird will get the bulk of the starts for the Braves.
Well, the New York Yankees' 2013 season has certainly not gotten off on the right foot. The team has three representatives (two starters) on this All-Star roster, starting with first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Teixeira injured strained a tendon in his right wrist while taking a swing off of a tee in the batting cage, preparing for Team USA's exhibition game against the White Sox in early March. Teixeira was slated to be USA's starting first baseman in this year's World Baseball Classic. No such luck.
Instead, Tex will be on the sidelines until at least mid-May and possibly longer. Presently, the team is concentrating on being able to avoid surgery, but since wrist injuries can be particularly tricky, extreme caution is obviously being used.
Fortunately, the Bombers have a number of potential fill-ins for Teixeira (of course, there aren't many players who can replace the thunder that Teixeira provides). Juan Rivera and Dan Johnson are likely to start the year off in a platoon situation. Kevin Youkilis also has experience at first base, but he's already filling an injury-created void at third base as well.
Teixeira is a two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove recipient.
Backup first baseman: Corey Hart
Logan Forsythe was a first-round draft selection of the San Diego Padres in 2008. By 2011, he was playing in the major leagues, compiling 150 at-bats in his debut season. He had a nice finish to the 2012 season, hitting .280 over the final month with 12 runs driven in.
But he will start the 2013 season on the disabled list, suffering from an inflamed plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He had been dealing with this injury all spring, but it did appear that he had gotten past it just two weeks ago. But on Tuesday, playing in his first game since March 7, Forsythe was removed after three innings due to a recurrence of the foot injury.
The 26-year-old was slated to be the starting second baseman for the Padres in 2013. Instead, Alexi Amarista will likely make most of the starts until Forsythe is ready.
With all due respect to fellow third baseman David Freese, the San Diego Padres will miss Chase Headley a lot more than the St. Louis Cardinals will miss their hot-corner man.
Headley suffered a fractured left thumb while attempting to break up a double play on March 17. He is expected to miss the first two weeks of the season. Headley is coming off a breakout 2012 campaign that saw him smash 31 home runs and lead the National League with 115 RBI. He finished fifth in the league MVP voting last year and is looking to carry that success into the new season.
Logan Forsythe, if in fact deemed healthy enough himself, will likely man the hot corner until Headley is able to return to action.
Backup third basemen: David Freese; Alex Rodriguez
There was a large gasp coming from the city of Los Angeles last Tuesday night. In the championship game of the World Baseball Classic, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez was manning third base for the Dominican Republic team. While trying to field a base hit, Ramirez dove to his left and wound up jamming his right thumb.
That jammed thumb actually resulted in a torn ligament, which required surgery to repair. Ramirez will be sidelined for at least two months. It's a pretty large blow for the Dodgers, who were expecting Ramirez to be the fifth batter in a lineup that also includes Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp.
Now, Luis Cruz will slide over from third to fill in at shortstop, while Juan Uribe, Nick Punto and Jerry Hairston Jr. make a timeshare out of the hot corner until the three-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year is healthy.
Backup shortstops: Derek Jeter, Rafael Furcal, Stephen Drew
Back in January, the Philadelphia Phillies signed slugging outfielder Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 contract. But the 27-year-old is currently recovering from November ankle surgery to repair a microfracture that has been bothering Young since 2011.
The newest Phillies outfielder is currently working his way back into game-ready action and recently appeared in a minor league game, his first game action of the spring. It's a step in the right direction, but he still has a ways to go before he's ready for the new season, so he will start the year on the disabled list, with a target of late April or early May for a return.
John Mayberry Jr. will take over in left field primarily, and this will likely be an audition for Mayberry. After several chances to prove his value to the Phillies, Mayberry is now out of options and may find himself in a bit of a predicament once Young is healthy enough to resume left-field duties.
The Arizona Diamondbacks got some bad news the other day when they learned that Adam Eaton sprained his left UCL and will miss six to eight weeks. Eaton was given the opportunity to be the team's starting center fielder and leadoff man.
But this All-Star bid goes to the Yankees' Curtis Granderson. Granderson was hit by a pitch in the Yankees' second game of the spring and suffered a fractured right forearm. He will miss the start of the season and will likely not be back in the lineup until some point in May.
Brett Gardner will slide over from left to cover center field until Granderson is ready to return. With all of the injuries riddled throughout the Bronx Bombers' lineup, the Yankees recently finalized a deal to acquire outfielder Vernon Wells from the Los Angeles Angels. Once the Yankees are fully healthy, it's going to be one crowded clubhouse in the Bronx.
Backup center fielder: Adam Eaton
The Arizona Diamondbacks seemingly came out of nowhere when they signed outfielder Cody Ross to a three-year, $26 million deal back in December. However, his signing allowed the club to trade youngster Justin Upton to Atlanta for a decent return package. Ross was expected to take over right-field duties for the Snakes, joining Adam Eaton and Jason Kubel in the outfield.
But the D-Backs have been bit hard by the injury bug, as they've already lost Eaton for six to eight weeks. Kubel has been hobbled all spring. And it's been announced that Ross will start the season on the disabled list. Ross is currently suffering from a lower left leg strain, which occurred earlier in the spring. Arizona will be able to backdate his DL stint 10 days, so he may only miss a handful of the team's opening games.
Still, it has to be worrisome that the 32-year-old is part of a crippled outfield before the opening salvo has been shot. There's still plenty of talent on the Diamondbacks roster, and they should still be among the top teams in the division. But they will need to get healthy quick if they hope to stay in contention.
As a free agent this past offseason, David Ortiz re-upped with the Boston Red Sox on the backings of a two-year, $26 million contract. Big Papi has been a fan favorite in Beantown since his arrival and postseason heroics in 2003/2004.
Now entering his age-37 season, Ortiz is succumbing to nagging injuries. The latest of which is an Achilles injury that has been bothering him since the second half of the 2012 season (he appeared in just five games after last year's Midsummer Classic).
Papi is working his way back, making small but positive steps toward returning to the lineup. But he has yet to start running, which will be an important milestone in determining his actual timetable. In the interim, he will be out indefinitely, and by all accounts, he will miss the start of the regular season.
Manager John Farrell will likely use a combination of Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp and Mike Napoli in the designated hitter role. Jackie Bradley Jr. is also a possibility if the Red Sox decide to start his arbitration clock early.
In late January, the St. Louis Cardinals' 2013 season was dealt a huge blow. Ace Chris Carpenter reported he had felt numbness and discomfort in his right shoulder and neck during a bullpen session. The announcement was made shortly thereafter that the former Cy Young award winner would likely be lost for the entire 2013 season, and his career may also be in jeopardy.
When Carpenter hasn't been bit by the injury bug, he's been one of the finest hurlers of the last 10 years or so. He's a three-time All-Star and has been a horse for the Cardinals, helping them to two World Series titles in a five-year span.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, they are loaded with talented arms for 2013. Adam Wainwright immediately becomes the ace of the staff. And top prospect Shelby Miller will join the rotation for his much-anticipated big league debut.
In 2012, Santana threw the first no-hitter—and 134 pitches—in Mets history as part of a rather remarkable comeback season after missing the entire previous season recovering from left shoulder surgery in 2013. But his resurgent campaign came to an abrupt stop in August after his back tightened up on him during a bullpen session.
After throwing a 20-pitch bullpen session in February, Santana was hoping to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, a request that was ultimately declined by Mets management. He was initially diagnosed with left shoulder weakness, but that has since changed.
Last week, it was revealed that Santana's anterior capsule in his left shoulder has once again torn (this was the same injury that required surgery in 2010, costing him the entire 2011 season). He will more than likely miss the 2013 season, which very well may be his last in a Mets uniform. His guaranteed contract expires at the end of the regular season, and it's hard to see a situation where the Mets pick up his $25 million option for 2014.
Santana is leaning toward another surgery in hopes of continuing his career. It's a disheartening story for the Mets, but most of all, for Santana himself.
Jon Niese will make the Opening Day start against the Padres at Citi Field, and Jeremy Hefner will take Santana's place in the rotation. With newcomer Shaun Marcum also dealing with nagging injuries, the makeup of the Mets' rotation is still very much in question for the long haul. Zach Wheeler, anyone?
In 2012, the plan was for the Texas Rangers to move former Rookie of the Year and All-Star closer Neftali Feliz to the rotation. And, for a while, that seemed to work. Through the middle of May, Feliz had made seven starts and sported a 3.16 ERA. He even recorded a complete game. But after a May 18 start, he was placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, and the Tommy John watch was on.
After working hard to rehab in minor league camp, on July 31, Feliz was diagnosed with a torn UCL and would require Tommy John surgery to repair. His season was lost, and as such, he will begin the 2013 season on the DL. It was a crushing blow to a 24-year-old who has an immense amount of talent.
Matt Garza had a rough 2012 campaign. The Chicago Cubs' right-hander missed the entire second half of the season, dealing with a right elbow injury. He spent the offseason rehabbing and was given a clean bill of health heading into spring training.
But it didn't last long. While pitching live batting practice for the first time since his 2012 injury, Garza suffered a strained lat muscle, and he has not taken the mound since. The Cubs are hoping to have him throw a bullpen session in early April, with the goal of him making his season debut in early to mid-May.
The Cubs are also without offseason acquisition Scott Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. His recovery is not going so well, and he was recently shut down for at least another month before throwing again.
Chicago White Sox left-hander John Danks had a season to forget in 2012. When he was healthy (nine starts through May 19), he pitched to a 5.70 ERA with a 3.9 BB/9 ratio. But his May 19 start would be his best but final start of the season.
He was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder strain that eventually required arthroscopic, season-ending surgery in August. Despite the seemingly never-ending rehab process, there is still no timetable for Danks to return to the Sox's rotation, and he will begin the season on the DL. Dylan Axelrod will likely be taking his place in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Danks owns a lifetime 4.12 ERA over six major league seasons.
Backup Starting Pitchers: Daniel Hudson, Phil Hughes, Kyle Drabek, Cory Luebke, Colby Lewis, Michael Pineda, Brandon Beachy
A collective "gulp" came out of the St. Louis Cardinals organization this past weekend when closer Jason Motte received an MRI that revealed a mild muscle flexor strain in his right elbow. The team announced on Saturday that the 30-year-old will start the season on the disabled list, with Mitchell Boggs becoming the interim closer.
Motte saved a league-best 42 games for the Cards in 2012, his first season as a full-time closer. His rehab schedule and return timeline are still undetermined, and Motte will be out indefinitely until he is pain-free.
After several years of toiling in the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen, Ryan Madson seemed to have finally arrived following his magnificent 2011 season. That year, he saved 32 games for the Phils, recording a 2.37 ERA in the process. He was a free agent at the end of the season and latched on with the Cincinnati Reds with a one-year deal in January 2012.
However, Madson couldn't make it through spring training with the Reds before requiring Tommy John surgery, ending his season (and Reds tenure) before it ever began.
Fast-forward a year later, and Madson, once again a free agent, signed another one-year deal, this time with the Los Angeles Angels. And although it's been a year since his surgery, Madson is not quite yet ready to return to game action. Most recently, the Halos have had the right-hander throw several bullpen sessions to gauge his comfort level. So far, so good.
He is expected to miss at least the first month of the season while getting his arm up to game-action speed. Ernesto Frieri will likely be the closer of choice for manager Mike Scioscia until Madson is deemed healthy.
Just as we approach the finish line of spring training (or the starting line of the regular season), the Atlanta Braves were dealt a big blow to their bullpen. Left-handed reliever Jonny Venters exited Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Tigers with a left elbow sprain.
Venters has had elbow troubles in the past. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005, suffering several setbacks before fully recovering. He missed some time last year dealing with an impingement in his elbow as well. Now, Venters will almost certainly be placed on the disabled list once the season starts and will be out indefinitely. He is slated to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.
Fortunately for the Braves, their bullpen is one of their strengths. Fellow southpaw Eric O'Flaherty will take a step up in the pecking order, and right-handers Jordan Walden (if healthy himself), Anthony Vavaro and Cristhian Martinez will also be expected to deliver in Venters' absence.