Nathan Grimm

Spring Training Daily

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ST Daily: Injured Tiger's Paw

Monday, March 20, 2017


The Tigers on Sunday shook their Magic 8 Ball and asked about the near-term fate of J.D. Martinez, but the answer wasn't definitive.

Ask again later.

The club got the MRI results on Martinez's right foot, but manager Brad Ausmus refrained from disclosing anything, instead choosing to wait until after Martinez sees a foot specialist.

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"I can’t really say because we’re waiting for an expert to look at it,” he said Sunday. “I’d tell you, but I might be misleading you.”

The outfielder injured the foot during Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Marlins. It was initially diagnosed as a mid-foot sprain, and Martinez was reportedly on crutches after the contest.

The timing of the injury is unfortunate for the 29-year-old, with just a few weeks before Opening Day. Even a less-than-mild sprain could necessitate a short stay on the 15-day disabled list to make sure he doesn't injure it further.

If it's even more severe, though, the injury could cost him weeks or possibly even months.

Any extended absence would be a big blow to the Tigers, who are counting on Martinez to hit in the middle of their order once again. In 120 games last year, Martinez batted .307/.373/.535 with 22 homers and 68 RBI.

If Martinez can't go, the club would turn to Steven Moya for the lion's share of playing time in right field. Moya offers pop but little else, and the occasional power isn't enough to make the batting average drain worth the reward for fantasy purposes.

Wacha Wins Starter Job

He might have backed into the gig anyway, but Michael Wacha made sure he earned what he got this spring.

The right-hander was officially tapped as the team's fifth starter Sunday, a job he's been the front-runner for since the Cardinals lost Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery earlier this spring. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed Wacha's role Sunday.

"He looks good," Matheny said. "I think we have all been pretty clear, we need him healthy. If he's healthy, the results will normally be there. It's been a good spring for him."

Healthy and effective. Wacha has struck out 15 batters over 17 innings in five Grapefruit League starts.

Still just 25 years old, it's been a rollercoaster of a few years for Wacha. After bursting onto the scene in 2013, Wacha posted a 3.20 ERA in 19 starts in 2014 and finished 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 2015, earning his first All-Star nod.

But shoulder issues have plagued him, and last year he owned a 5.09 ERA through 138 innings while losing his rotation spot. With Lance Lynn returning and Reyes proving he could more than hold his own, a starting job was far from a guarantee entering this spring.

There's still cause for caution -- Wacha's K/9 has decreased in each season since his 2013 debut, and his earned run average has gone up every year -- but his talent and environment are intriguing. There are worse late-round flyers for fantasy owners.

Brantley (Shoulder) Ready For Debut

Michael Brantley's next step will come Monday, and it's a big one.

Brantley will make his Cactus League debut Monday, playing left field in his first MLB game action this spring. Brantley did play in a few minor league games last week.

There are more hurdles to clear -- playing on back-to-back days, for example, part of what hindered him last season en route to playing just 11 games all year -- but seeing game action with a few weeks of spring left is promising in regards to his readiness for Opening Day. If nothing else, it suggests he's not far off from being ready, even if the Indians play it safe in the early days of the season.

There are few higher risks, fantasy-wise, than the 29-year-old, and also few with higher upside. His current average draft position, 228, allows for some value to be had if Brantley can approximate a full season's worth of at-bats. It's a big if, but his progress is well worth watching in the coming days.

Quick Hits: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sunday that Corey Seager will go through two more full days of workouts on Monday and Tuesday before returning to game action. The Dodgers have an off day on Wednesday, so his return would be on Thursday, either to Cactus League action or a minor league game. As long as he meets that expectation and doesn't suffer a setback along the way, he should be ready in time for Opening Day ... Carlos Carrasco (elbow) will pitch in a minor league game on Monday. A previous report said that Carrasco would throw a bullpen session Sunday and return to Cactus League action Friday, but he actually already threw off a mound without issue on Saturday. Pitching in a minor league game would allow the Indians to backdate a potential disabled list stint should Carrasco suffer a setback. It looks like he'll be fine after last week's elbow scare, although it's possible the Indians could delay him until April 15 when they need a fifth starter ... Carlos Rodon tossed four scoreless innings Sunday in his Cactus League debut against the Angels. Rodon yielded just one hit and one walk while striking out five. He was eased into Cactus League action this spring after battling arm fatigue in 2016, but the White Sox have been stretching him out properly in simulated games. After this sharp outing Sunday against real competition, we can probably lock Rodon in to start Chicago's fifth or sixth regular-season game ... Sonny Gray (lat) is hoping to gain clearance from Dr. Anthony Romeo on Monday to resume a throwing program. Romero is known as a latissimus dorsi expert. Gray is only two weeks into his prescribed three-week shutdown period, so he's a little ahead of schedule. The righty has been receiving treatment and says he's felt pain-free for the last 10 days. If Gray does gain clearance to resume throwing, he could return in mid-April instead of late-April as initially expected ... Drew Pomeranz departed Sunday's start against the Twins after two innings with tightness in his left triceps. The Red Sox are calling Pomeranz's removal precautionary, so there doesn't appear to be concern at this point that it's overly serious. However, the left-hander was already behind schedule after being given a stem cell injection in his elbow last October. This setback, even if it's indeed small, might make it hard for him to be ready by Opening Day ... Jason Kipnis will be sidelined for another 4-5 weeks after a second opinion confirmed that he has inflammation in his right shoulder. The diagnosis doesn't appear to be any worse here, as we already knew Kipnis was nursing soreness in his rotator cuff. The 4-5 week timeline does give us a bit more clarity, though, and in all likelihood it appears Kipnis will at least miss all of April. The Indians are considering moving Jose Ramirez to second base and using Giovanny Urshela and/or Richie Shaffer at third. They could also simply install Michael Martinez and/or Erik Gonzalez at second base ... Tyson Ross (thoracic outlet surgery) will throw a live batting practice session on Wednesday. It will be the first time he's faced hitters since he underwent thoracic outlet surgery last October. Ross has hit every benchmark in his recovery to this point, but obviously he has a ways to go. The Rangers are hoping he'll be ready to join their rotation at some point during the first half.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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