Wednesday injury roundup: Royals' rotation set with Felipe Paulino to DL
Nightly roundup of minor injuries and updates for ongoing issues in spring training.
So why, then, am I leading off with it here? Because it de facto sets the Royals' starting rotation to open the season. Bruce Chen has been announced as the opening-day starter, with Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez to follow. With Paulino out of the way, Danny Duffy and Luis Mendoza will fill the final two spots until Paulino is ready to come back. From there, surely performance to that point in the season will be weighed heavily.
The unlikely member of the group is Mendoza. He's a 28-year-old right-hander with only 16 career major-league starts. Last season he made two starts for the Royals, going 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. That came on the heels of a big Triple-A season (12-5, 2.18 ERA), so maybe the Royals have a late bloomer on their hands.
• The MRI on Curtis Granderson 's sore elbow came back negative -- he tweeted from his personal Twitter account -- so he's just day to day.
• It has been headed this way for several days, but Nationals closer Drew Storen (sore elbow) and outfielder Mike Morse (strained lat) are "expected to open the season on the disabled list," (CSN Washington) though neither is expected to miss much time. If both do start the campaign on the DL, they'd be eligible to come off April 10.
• Indians closer Chris Perez was one of the first injured players in camp, going down the first week with an oblique injury. After back-to-back outings in minor-league spring games, Perez is now ready to jump to a Cactus League game Thursday. Assuming no setbacks, he'll be ready for opening day afterall (MLB.com).
• Brewers right fielder Corey Hart went 2-for-4 in a Triple-A game Wednesday, just over three weeks since having his knee scoped to repair torn cartilage. He served as DH and will have the same role Thursday in a Triple-A game (MLB.com).
• Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is fighting through discomfort in his right shoulder, and he actually had a cortisone shot to help alleviate the issue Tuesday. Manager Buck Showalter is hoping Hardy can play Friday (MLB.com).
• Chris Carpenter will have surgery in order to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow. No, not that Carpenter (he'd get a stand-alone article for that). This one is the Red Sox reliever who was the compensation for Theo Epstein jumping ship and heading to the Cubs (ChicagoTribune.com).
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• More Jays: Starting pitcher Dustin McGowan has been completely shut down. The immediate reaction is clearly uh oh, considering McGowan's history of arm troubles. But he actually has plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He won't likely be ready to begin the season as the fifth starter, but this doesn't sound serious (MLB.com). Still, with McGowan it's hard to not fear the worst.
• Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie sprained his right thumb in Wednesday's game. X-rays were negative, so one would imagine this is an injury of the day-to-day variety (MLBlogs Network).
• More Astros: Injured center fielder Jordan Schafer will be out "at least a couple of more days" due to the nerve issue in his left hand. Fortunately, a visit to the hand specialist brought news that there is no major damage (MLB.com).
• Braves relief pitcher Jonny Venters has been cleared to pitch an inning Thursday. He's been inactive the past week and a half with "normal Spring Training soreness." (MLB.com) The Braves haven't exactly been secretive this spring that they'll attempt to keep Venters and Craig Kimbrel as fresh as possible for the regular season.
• Injured Red Sox starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is progressing in his return from Tommy John surgery. He threw in a controlled intrasquad game Wednesday and a "June 1 return to the major league team is not out of the realm of possibility." (Boston.com)
• Reds relief pitcher Nick Masset will begin the season on the DL with shoulder inflammation (via Associated Press). With closer Ryan Madson already down, the Reds will enter the season thin in the bullpen. It has yet to be determined, but I would expect Aroldis Chapman to end up down there out of necessity. So far, Reds manager Dusty Baker has said (via AP) that he'll go with closer-by-committee, so the smart money is on Chapman sharing those duties with Sean Marshall .
• For the majority of the offseason, it was known that Cardinals utility man Allen Craig wouldn't be ready for the opening-day roster, due to his mid-November knee surgery. In the past week, though, there was talk he was making a late push to be ready. But now we're back to having him not make it. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Craig's workload the rest of camp will be in minor-league appearances, which signals rehab.