Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beltran's Foot- Something Or Nothing?

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

The off day yesterday gave everybody a chance to step back and reset the ST landscape after a busy first 2 weeks.  Part of that resetting is updating all the injury/health issues in camp and Chad Jennings was generous enough to compile every update on every player into one post.  Most of this stuff is common knowledge to anybody who's followed camp with any kind of consistency, but there was one name and one ailment on the list I wasn't aware of.  That name is Carlos Beltran, who's apparently been dealing with a sore left foot.  Jennings was quick to call it "a complete non-issue," but his description of the situation doesn't exactly read as reassuring:

"After playing last Sunday’s game, Beltran had an ice pack on his left foot. He said his toes bother him occasionally, especially if the dirt in the batter’s box is too firm. Said it’s not a problem, and he’s been able to play since then."

Maybe this is my non-medical brain overreacting, but a player's toes bothering him when he steps into the batter's box simply because the dirt is "too firm" this early in the year doesn't sound like a complete non-issue to me.  Not when the player is Beltran's age and not when the player has Beltran's checkered injury history with his legs.  Hell, I don't even think I would be able to judge a dirt's firmness from inside a baseball cleat.  To be able to do that and then discern that it's firm enough to bother your toes, while impressive, is also a bit concerning.

The Yankees have managed Beltran's ST playing time carefully if nothing else over the last 2 weeks.  He's played in 6 games, some as the DH, and he was scratched from last Thursday's game after the rain delay as a precautionary measure to keep him off the wet outfield grass.  The Yankees have every reason to treat Beltran with care this year.  When they agreed to give him the 3rd year on his deal, they basically committed to getting at least 1 year out of him in a regular outfield role before transitioning him to a more full-time DH, and they obviously need him as healthy as he can possibly be to play the outfield regularly.  A sore foot that's bothered by dirt firmness sounds like it could be the start of a bigger issue considering Beltran hasn't even played back-to-back games in the outfield yet.

If I really wanted to go over the top with concern here, I could bring up how Beltran only has 2 hits in 17 plate appearances this spring and suggest that maybe this sore foot is affecting his swing.  But Beltran's been through more than enough spring camps to earn a free pass on his results and the 2 hits have been home runs, so I think it would be premature to speculate that much based on one report.  What I don't think it's premature to do is be concerned, however, and I do think this bears watching through the remainder of ST and the start of the regular season.  While the Yankees are well covered defensively in the event Beltran can't play as much right field as they anticipated, something as small as a sore foot now could turn into something much worse later in the year.  Just ask Jeter.

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