Spring training is a time to see how the team plays together and get everyone back in the rhythm of playing consistent baseball day-in and day-out. However, it also is a time when players get serious injuries that leave teams scrambling at the last minute to find replacements.
The Detroit Tigers are feeling pressure after having to send Andy Dirks into back surgery and putting him on the disabled list until June. Rajai Davis is his projected replacement.
Although it isn't an issue of Davis being an incapable outfielder, the Tigers will likely suffer offensively. Davis is strong against lefties, but he struggles against righties, hitting .255. The pair of Davis and Dirks in the outfield provided the option of Dirks playing against right-handed pitchers and Davis against the left-handers.
The Tigers have already had to shift around their defense due to Miguel Cabrera shifting from third to first this season and filling the void at third with Nick Castellanos, leaving his position in left field. The Tigers are now at their third option for left field this season by having Davis play every day until Dirks is able to return.
Already having one position on the third option and the season hasn't yet started is not a start that any team would like to see. The remaining outfielders must stay healthy in order to keep the team strong throughout the season and into the postseason.
The Kansas City Royals just lost Luke Hochevar to Tommy John surgery, which will keep him sidelined for the entire 2014 season. Last season, the relief pitcher had a 1.92 ERA and was a crucial piece to the Royals rebuilding their team.
Royals manager, Ned Yost, spoke to ESPN of Hochevar's injury:
'This is a kid who's played his heart out for the Royals in this rebuilding process,' Yost said. 'He's given us everything he's got. He's a phenomenal young man, he's a tremendous teammate, and you really, really want to see him be a part of this. It's extremely hard.
Dayton Moore, the Royals' GM, said his absence would likely be filled from within the organization.
Moore told ESPN, "We feel like we have the depth and the numbers necessary. I don't know if it'll be as outstanding as Luke was last year. But we have some talented arms."
There is no doubt that the Royals will be able to fill Hochevar's position, but it now raises the question of how big of an impact this loss will have on their season.
The St. Louis Cardinals are hoping to speed up the recovery for starting pitcher Jaime Garcia.
Garcia felt soreness in the same shoulder he had surgery on and hasn't thrown since the second week of spring training. The Cardinals were hoping to have him pitch in the starting rotation this season, however, it doesn't appear that he'll be ready for the start of the season.
A veteran with five seasons behind him, Garcia holds a 3.45 ERA. The Cardinals will need to fill his position for an undetermined period of time while he recovers.
The Cardinals have several young pitchers on the roster, however, some of them lack the experience and consistent numbers that Garcia is able to bring to the rotation. Depth to their rotation is critical in order to set the tone for the season and have momentum heading into October.
Garcia has been very optimistic about the situation. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I'm going [to camp] to see if there are some things I can add to my program to remain healthy. I'm willing to do anything that's going to help me."
The issue isn't over when Garcia returns to the starting rotation. He must be able to stay healthy by giving his shoulder plenty of rest between starts and hopefully being able to keep his pitch count low in games until he has fully regained his strength in his shoulder.
With some injuries affecting teams more severely than others, it is always worrisome when a crucial member of a team hits the DL during spring training and erases much of the hype that surrounded them heading into a new season.