The New York Yankees were dealt an early scare as MLB "Summer Camp" began in earnest this past weekend.
Masahiro Tanaka was squaring off against Giancarlo Stanton on Saturday afternoon when the slugger drilled a liner straight back at the mound, striking the right-hander in the head.
While Tanaka was eventually able to get up and walk off the field, he was transferred to the hospital for further testing. Fortunately for the veteran and the Yankees, it appears he avoided serious damage.
Manager Aaron Boone gave an update on his condition Sunday night, telling reporters—including Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News—he suffered a mild concussion and remains in protocol. Boone added the team is confident the 31-year-old will be ready for the start of the season.
Some of his teammates were concerned for his privacy after videos of the incident surfaced online, and they also questioned the ethics of camera crews on the scene:
Luckily, it seems Tanaka should make a full recovery in due time. He is a crucial figure in the middle of New York's rotation and, in a contract year, also has the opportunity to enhance his value in the free-agent market with a strong showing.
Meanwhile, a Yankee whose status was previously in question is feeling healthy just over nine months removed from undergoing Tommy John surgery.
"I feel good. I feel like my hitting has been going well, my throwing is going well. Every day, I get stronger and stronger. Obviously, I have days I don't feel great, but overall, the process has been really good and really quick. I've been throwing longer and throwing the ball a little harder more consistently as my progression has been going on. I've been able to lift heavier weights. Everything's just been going really well."
Most players who undergo Tommy John surgery are on the shelf for a full season, at the very least. Such is the case for Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard, but Hicks will not have missed a single game if he cracks the Opening Day roster.
As Hoch noted, the only player to return from the surgery without missing a single game is former big league infielder Tony Womack in 2004. Naturally, such an accomplishment would put Hicks in rarified air, though he had added time to rehab with the season suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Having the 30-year-old available for the start of the season would provide some added insurance for a Yankees outfield that has often been susceptible to injuries.
It seems Hicks is tracking well in the hopes Boone will write his name on the card when New York plays the Washington Nationals on July 23.
Jimmy Nelson to Have Back Surgery
While Hicks has been able to battle through an assortment of injuries in his career, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Jimmy Nelson cannot seem to shake the bug.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reported the 31-year-old is having surgery on his lower back, effectively ending his 2020 season.
Nelson looked like a player with breakout potential after a 2017 campaign in which he went 12-6 with a 3.49 and 3.05 fielding independent pitching mark in 29 starts with the Milwaukee Brewers. But that season ended on a sour note, with him having to undergo surgery on his throwing shoulder in September.
The former University of Alabama star would miss the entirety of the 2018 season, though he hoped to reassert himself as a front-end starter for the Brewers after Milwaukee made its surprising NLCS run.
He began 2019 in the minor leagues, but he soon received his shot when the Brewers called him up in June. Things did not work out for Nelson, who gave up 13 earned runs in 12 innings in his first three starts. He then went on the injured list with an elbow issue.
Although Nelson would get an opportunity to come out of the bullpen in September, his time with the Brewers was at an end, and his career seemed to be in jeopardy.
The Dodgers signed him to a one-year deal in January, with up to $2 million in roster bonuses, per Spotrac. He might have given L.A. a valuable spot starter in the absence of David Price, or even served as a long reliever.
Instead, Nelson will have to watch from home yet again as injuries continue to take their toll on his career.
All stats obtained via Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.