By Norm Elrod
(CBS Los Angeles/CBS Local) — As Spring Training carries us toward opening day, the injuries continue to pile up. The usual bumps and bruises are to be expected in actual games, even those that don’t count in the standings. But some injuries are left over from off-season training. And a couple, to pitching aces on likely contenders, will probably affect their opening day starts.
Spring Training Report looks at injury status of some of MLB’s more high-profile players, as well as the rebuilding Baltimore Orioles and proposed updates to All-Star Game voting.
Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to start opening day against the Diamondbacks. But the Dodgers ace is dealing with a sore left shoulder, which has limited his pitching during Spring Training. The left-hander threw off the mound in a recent bullpen session for the first time in weeks. With the season’s first game on March 28, that seems a little concerning.
Luis Severino, who isn’t throwing the ball at all, probably won’t make his season debut until late April at the earliest. The Yankees ace is being treated for rotator cuff inflammation, which the team assures everyone is the only issue.
Francisco Lindor is dealing with a strained calf injury, injured in the lead-up to Spring Training. The Indians shortstop is fielding ground balls and taking batting practice, but isn’t moving laterally. It seems unlikely he will take the field on opening day, which is March 28, against the Twins.
Shohei Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery last October, which seemed to end his 2019 season then. But the Angels two-way player also hits, and not just pitchers have to in the occasional game against a National League team. Ohtani could return to the batter’s box as a DH some time in May.
The Orioles were MLB’s worst team last season, with a record or 47-115. And while projections have them winning more games this season, they could easily win fewer. All of their headline-worthy talent is long gone. Manny Machado, of course, was traded to the Dodgers last July and signed with the Padres last month. Jonathan Schoop and Zack Britton were traded for prospects at the deadline. And Adam Jones is now a Diamondback.
So who’s left, besides the under-performing Chris Davis, that is? Trey Mancini is still learning to play outfield and could have a bit of a bounce-back season at the plate, as he gets more comfortable. So could Mark Trumbo, after only playing 90 games last season. And the speedy Cedric Mullins, who received his break last August, will likely continue starting in center field, especially if his hitting improves.
Beyond them, look for a many Orioles prospects to see time in the majors, including outfielder Yusniel Diaz and third baseman Ryan Mountcastle. Though they will likely start their seasons in the minors.
The Orioles won’t win many games; this is what rebuilding looks like. But they will field a team that includes players worth rooting for.
Possible Changes to All-Star Game Voting
MLB and MLBPA are close to finalizing changes to the rules governing the All-Star Game and voting. The size of each team’s roster will increase to 26 players, 13 of whom can be pitchers. The voting process may also be tweaked a bit. Online voting will happen as usual. But upon completion, the top three vote-getters at each position in each league will compete in an ‘Election Day’ runoff to determine starters.