Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Early ST Injuries Could Be A Problem For MiL Teams

We're a week into the Spring Training game schedule and the best news so far is that there's nobody at the Major League level dealing with any injury issues.  Derek Jeter hasn't suffered any further/new setbacks with his ankle or the rest of his 2 legs, Brian Roberts has managed not to trip over anything and shatter his whole body, Cervelli's throwing hand and elbow are A-OK, and the entire pitching staff's elbows and shoulders are fine.

That's not to say that there haven't been any health problems though, and strangely enough it's the younger crowd that's feeling the effects of the injury bug.  A handful of early ST injuries have delayed the start to multiple top prospects' seasons, and depending on how quickly they're able to recover or how long the injuries linger, there could be some MiL roster problems come Opening Day.

The most notable of these MiL injuries is a double-whammy to 2 of the top starting pitchers.  Nik Turley has been out since the start of camp with soreness in his pitching arm.  It sounds like rest will be enough to get him back into action, but the amount of time he's already missed could result in him not being fully stretched out and ready to go when the regular season starts.  Jose Ramirez at least made it through a few bullpen sessions before his body started acting up again.  He's been on the shelf since getting shut down with a back/oblique problem when he was warming up to enter his first ST game last week.  As far as I've heard, the MRIs didn't reveal any significant damage, which is good news.  No timetable has been set for his return to action, however, and the odds are even greater for him that he won't be available come Opening Day.

Keeping in mind that the projected Triple-A rotation will also feature Manny Banuelos coming back from TJS and it's somewhat problematic that the Yanks have another 40% of that rotation in question right now.  I'm sure they can plug holes with guys like Bruce Billings and possibly Michael Pineda early in the year, but the hope was that ManBan, Turley, Ramirez, Vidal Nuno and Shane Greene would combine to give the RailRiders a formidable starting 5 and the Yankees a deep pool of spot starters to choose from should one be needed.

Further complicating the SWB situation is the latest injury rehab for outfielder Slade Heathcott.  He just started baseball activities after recovering from offseason knee surgery and as of today those activities consist of just dry swings and playing catch.  Double-A outfielder Tyler Austin is in the same boat after feeling pain in his wrist early in camp, the same wrist that caused him problems last year, and both he and Heathcott will not get a full slate of spring work in to properly prepare themselves for the season.  That lack of prep time combined with their recent penchant for getting banged up could lead to further injuries as the season progresses.

Injuries were just as big a part of the MiL season as they were in the Majors last year, and the prevailing thought was that the Yankees could bounce back as an organization with a return to good health and return to form by some of their top prospects.  While the news has been positive on that front for guys like ManBan and Jose Campos, it's been the exact opposite for Turley, Ramirez, Heathcott, and Austin.  Hoepfully this is nothing more than bumps in the road and isn't the start of another frustrating rash of MiL health problems.  If it is, Mark Newman might have to look at more than just changing some scouts around to get the farm system back on the right track.

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