Fresh off their surprise National League West crown and first playoff appearance since 2007, it seemed like nothing could kill the good vibes of the 7-3 Diamondbacks. Sure, Justin Upton’s thumb injury was still lingering, but he’d kept himself in the lineup, and Arizona had kept up its winning ways despite their star player’s ugly .212/.350/.273 batting line.
Then Tuesday happened. Upton’s pain finally forced him to the bench, while .410/.500/.897 hitting center fielder Chris Young banged his shoulder into the wall as the Diamondbacks lost 5-4 to perhaps the worst team in the league.
But if Tuesday was the low point, Wednesday wasn’t much better. With both Upton and Young absent for the club’s matinee against the Bucs — another loss to a team that’s averaging 2.2 runs — Young’s “contusion” was upgraded to a “deep” bruise/”slight” ligament tear. Upton’s injury, meanwhile, was rebranded as a “bone bruise,” creating the very real possibility he could soon join Young on the shelf.
Young’s prognosis is vague. GM Kevin Towers was evasive when pressed for details, but hinted at a 2-3 week timetable. That would seem to be the best-case scenario after Young remained down for several moments as he writhed in pain on Tuesday.
Gerardo Parra will take Young’s place in the outfield, but the Diamondbacks could be forced to make 2009 first-round pick A.J. Pollock, who made his major-league debut Wednesday, an everyday player if Upton is also sent to the infirmary. If Pollock doesn’t pan out, 2010 19th-round pick Adam Eaton could be summoned from Double-A much earlier than expected.
Upton’s status should come into focus no later than Friday.
Down Go The Stars
The Diamondbacks’ rough afternoon was just a prelude to an evening that saw the loss of a number of stars, however.
Most surprising was the turn of events with Brett Gardner, who went from “dealing with minor elbow soreness” to being placed on the 15-day D.L. in a matter of hours.
Aside from a weekend case of the flu, Gardner was not previously known to be injured, and it’s entirely unknown how long he might be out. It’s a particularly poorly-timed injury for fantasy owners, as a slow-starting Gardner had easily his best game of the young season on Tuesday (2-for-3 with two doubles, three runs and a stolen base).
Andruw Jones manned left field in Gardner’s absence Wednesday, and should find himself there most days for the foreseeable future, with the occasional Raul Ibanez start likely to be sprinkled in.
While Gardner owners found themselves blindsided by a mysterious new injury, Berkman owners were confronted by one they’ve quickly become all too familiar with.
In just his second game back from a four-game absence, Berkman aggravated his left calf ailment dashing from first to third in the fifth inning. He admitted afterward it was “possible” he’ll land on the disabled list, but the more apt word would have been “probable,” as there is little reason for the 9-3 Cardinals to mess around with one of the anchors of their lineup, especially with reserve Matt Carpenter swinging such a hot bat.
At the very least, Berkman will miss this afternoon’s matinee with the Reds, but the odds are high he’s played his final game of the month. Carpenter is the man to add in NL-only leagues.
Cuddyer was forced from Wednesday’s win over the Padres after fouling a ball off his left big toe. That's the bad news.
The good news? He was able to belt a two-run homer in the same at-bat, meaning it’s possible his removal was just a precaution. There’s a better than 50-50 chance he’ll be ready for Friday’s game against the Braves.
Sun Sets on Pudge
Ivan Rodriguez will announce the end of his 21-year career on Monday. Signed by the Rangers as a 17 year old out of Puerto Rico in 1988, “Pudge” went on to become one of the greatest defensive players in major-league history, and will retire just 156 hits short of 3,000.
A 14-time All Star, 13-time Gold Glover and 1999 American League MVP, Rodriguez was also accused of steroid use in Jose Canseco’s infamous 2005 tome “Juiced.”
A career .296/.334/.464 hitter, Pudge ripped 311 home runs and notched 1,332 RBI during his 2,543-game career.
Game Notes: Cliff Lee threw 10 shutout innings against the Giants...and took a no-decision. He was the first pitcher to record 30 outs in a game since teammate Roy Halladay and Aaron Harang both did so in 2007, and the first since Mark Mulder in 2005 to post 10 scoreless frames. … Opposing Lee was Matt Cain, who allowed just two hits in nine scoreless innings. Cain was, of course, coming off a one-hitter of the Pirates. It would appear his new deal has not dulled his focus. … Hanley Ramirez homered for the third straight game. His slow start is a distant memory. … Mike Napoli abused Red Sox pitching for the second straight day, going 3-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBI. He finished Texas’ two-game jaunt through Boston 6-for-9 with three home runs and eight RBI, upping his triple slash from .125/.267/.250 to .273/.375/.667. … Justin Morneau homered twice in Minnesota’s 6-5 win over the Yankees in New York. Absurdly, his seven home runs in 12 games at new Yankee Stadium give him two more than he's hit in 80 career games at Target Field. … Bartolo Colon threw 38 straight strikes against the Angels. No, we don’t know how that’s possible either.
National League Short Hops: Brian Wilson will undergo the second Tommy John operation of his career on Thursday. The other came in 2003. He’s far from a guarantee to be ready for spring training 2013. … Omar Infante (groin) will remain sidelined until at least Friday. Donnie Murphy homered in his absence Wednesday. … Chien-Ming Wang (hamstring) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week. If all goes well, he’ll push Ross Detwiler to the bullpen sometime in May. … Kerry Wood received a cortisone shot in his ailing shoulder, and could resume setup duties as early as Friday. … Brad Lidge is dealing with “acute” vertigo, but will for now avoid the disabled list. Henry Rodriguez’s stock is climbing.
American League Short Hops: Two days after throwing 10 fastballs without incident, Doug Fister felt “renewed discomfort” in his abdomen during a Wednesday bullpen session. He’s no longer a candidate to return in the month of April. … Grady Sizemore (back) has been cleared to resume baseball activities within the next week. Excellent news, but with Johnny Damon now on board, the Tribe will not rush their porcelain vase of an outfielder. Sizemore remains a tenuous stash in mixed leagues. … Carl Crawford (wrist, elbow) went 1-for-3 with a home run in an extended spring training game. As long as he continues to progress without setbacks, he should be manning Boston’s outfield by early May. … Mark Melancon, he of the 49.50 ERA, was sent to the minor leagues. It’s an unlikely to be a short stint as the former closer irons out his command issues. … Erick Aybar and the Angels agreed to terms on a four-year, $35 million contract extension. Batting .190/.227/.262 through his first 44 plate appearances, the 28-year-old shortstop is off to the worst start of his career.
Incomplete list of players who have homered in 2012: Darwin Barney, Jordan Schafer, Freddy Galvis, Daric Barton, Jose Lopez, John Buck, Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady, Omar Infante (four times), Gerald Laird, Matt Diaz, Brandon Inge.
Incomplete list of players who have not homered in 2012: Albert Pujols.
Most Touching Tributes to the Titanic’s Centenary:
Pedro Alvarez: .074/.107/.296, two HRs, two XBHs, two RBI through 28 PAs.
Adam Dunn: .195/.313/.366, one HR, six XBHs, nine RBI through 53 PAs.
Scott Rolen: .171/.209/.244, zero HRs, three XBHs, two RBI through 42 PAs.