Just barely over a year ago, Steven Souza suffered a pectoral strain during spring training that wound up sabotaging his 2018 season. Another late-spring injury might wreck his 2019 campaign.
Souza suffered what looked to be a serious left knee injury on Monday when he stumbled while crossing the plate against the White Sox. The outfielder immediately fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Souza eventually stood up but had to be helped off the field while not bearing any weight on the injured leg.
For now, the Diamondbacks are only saying that Souza has a left knee injury and will undergo an MRI Tuesday. We’re not trying to play doctor, but it’s probably fair to say it would be a pleasant surprise if he avoids a long-term absence.
To make matters worse, the team has already placed Socrates Brito – who was the final cut from their bench – on waivers. The D-backs will hope Brito clears so they can re-add him to the roster, but there could be some interest in the 26-year-old.
If there is some good news, it’s that Arizona signed a pretty capable fourth outfielder earlier this month in five-time All-Star Adam Jones. Jones is now 33 and coming off his worst OPS (.732) since 2008, but he could still be a league-average bat for the Diamondbacks and a decent deep-league power source in fantasy leagues. The veteran outfielder had been set to bounce around to all three outfield spots but might now settle in as the right fielder if Souza does miss significant time.
While it’s hard to imagine anything killing the good vibes the Angels created with their long-term extension of Mike Trout, it’s looking like they could be without another key member of their outfield on Opening Day.
Justin Upton had to leave Sunday’s “Freeway Series” exhibition game against the Dodgers after colliding with the outfield wall and injuring his left big toe. Initial X-rays of the toe came back negative, which is good news. However, he still wasn’t feeling too well Monday and an MRI has been ordered. The results of the test have not yet been revealed.
Remember, Upton also missed a large chunk of spring training with tendinitis in his right knee. He’s accumulated just five games and 12 plate appearances this spring, which isn’t ideal even for a veteran hitter who might not need a ton of at-bats. Even if the MRI doesn’t reveal anything too bad, the Angels might play it safe and go ahead and place him on the injured list.
Upton has been extremely durable in his career, playing at least 145 games in eight straight seasons. The only time he’s had to go on the disabled list during that stretch was last season when he missed a week and a half after cutting his finger on a wine glass.
If Upton does have to miss some time, the options to replace him are less than inspiring. Peter Bourjos appears poised to make the team and would pick up some playing time. The last time the soon-to-be 32-year-old was decent at the plate was with the Halos at the beginning of this decade. The Angels could also consider bringing back Jarrett Parker, who posted a .902 OPS this spring before being sent out.
Bullpens with interchangeable parts and undefined roles are all the rage these days. It appears that new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is the latest to buy into the trend.
Baldelli on Monday said that he did not plan to have a set closer at the beginning of the season, preferring to let game flow dictate who he uses and when.
Trevor May and Blake Parker have been widely presumed to be the top two options to close out games, and Baldelli did say that he thinks “both of those guys will accumulate saves this year,” adding that “we could see either one of those guys out there very, very late in the game on Opening Day.”
However, the skipper also noted that he might want to use May and/or Parker earlier in the game in a key situation, going on to list Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger as possibilities to see save chances in those instances.
May has been viewed by most as the likely favorite to land the closing gig and has been drafted as such, going off the board in NFBC drafts at 239, 135 spots ahead of Parker. The latter does have the edge in experience, though, having closed out 22 games for the Angels over the previous two seasons. Baldelli figures to eventually pick a preferred option for the ninth as most managers do, but for now both May and Parker need to be owned in fantasy leagues while we wait to see how this situation shakes out.
Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith have understandably drawn much of the headlines in Mets camp with their big springs as they fight for the first base job. That said, there’s another young Metropolitan who has torn up the Grapefruit League, as well.
Jeff McNeil slugged his fourth home run of the spring and reached base in all three plate appearances Monday versus the Orioles, adding a single and a walk in addition to the bomb. The 26-year-old has put together a .352/.375/.630 batting line across 18 games. His 1.005 OPS is right on the heels of Alonso’s 1.007 mark.
McNeil’s big spring is a carryover from a monster 2018 campaign that saw him post a .342/.411/.617 line with 19 home runs and six stolen bases over 384 plate appearances between Double- and Triple-A to earn his first big league promotion. He then went on to hit a blistering .329/.381/.471 with three longballs and seven steals over 248 trips to the plate for the Mets.
Fantasy owners have been slow to come around on McNeil, perhaps worried that he wouldn’t have a starting job after the team traded for Robinson Cano. However, while McNeil’s long-term position might not be set in stone, at-bats shouldn’t be hard to come by. He’ll be the Mets’ regular third baseman until Jed Lowrie (knee) is ready, and at that point he should slide into left field. Yes, Yoenis Cespedes (heels) is due back eventually, but McNeil has plenty of time to establish himself and has the versatility to bounce around to multiple positions if need be.
McNeil is barely going inside the top 300 picks in NFBC leagues, but he should keep rising.
Quick Hits: Jose Ramirez (knee) fielded grounders at the Indians' spring training complex Monday and is looking like a good bet to be ready for Opening Day. … Chris Paddack will make his major league debut on Sunday against the Giants. … Nick Senzel exited a minor league game Monday with an ankle injury. X-rays came back negative, but he will have an MRI Tuesday. … Enrique Hernandez will be the Dodgers’ primary second baseman this season, with Chris Taylor serving in a super utility role. … Luke Weaver allowed just one unearned run over six innings to the White Sox on Monday to finish the spring with a 1.04 ERA. … Steve Pearce (calf) will begin the season on the injured list. … Yu Darvish (blister) is lined up to pitch the second game of the season for the Cubs on Saturday against the Rangers. … The Orioles placed Mark Trumbo (knee) on the 60-day injured list. … Mike Foltynewicz (elbow) and A.J. Minter (shoulder) will begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Gwinnett on April 4. … Lonnie Chisenhall was lifted from Monday's game against the Astros after being hit on the right hand by a pitch. … Clayton Kershaw (shoulder) threw a successful simulated game Monday. … Dwight Smith Jr. went 3-for-3 with a pair of solo homers against the Mets on Monday. … Troy Tulowitzki hit his fourth home run of the spring on Monday. … Tyler Skaggs (forearm) will make his season debut Sunday against the Athletics. … Andrew Heaney (elbow) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session Monday. … Luis Severino (shoulder) threw from a distance of 120 feet on Monday in Yankees camp. … The Marlins released Dan Straily … Jorge Polanco is battling some shoulder fatigue and isn’t a given to be on the Twins’ Opening Day roster. … Rhys Hoskins (shoulder) returned to the Phillies' Grapefruit League lineup on Monday … The Giants claimed Tom Murphy off waivers from the Rockies. … Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Monday that Albert Almora could get more playing time against right-handers this season. … Jake Arrieta pitched six innings of two-run ball and struck out eight Monday against the Rays. … The Orioles placed Alex Cobb on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain … Devin Mesoraco plans to retire rather than accept a minor league assignment from the Mets. … Spencer Turnbull has won the final spot in the Tigers’ rotation over Daniel Norris. … The Royals released Brian Goodwin.