D.J. Short

Spring Training Daily

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Wright Gone Wrong?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Team USA fell to the Dominican Republic by the score of 3-1 on Thursday night in a thrilling second-round matchup in the World Baseball Classic. And they did so without their hottest hitter.

David Wright was scratched from the lineup with what was described as soreness in the back of his left rib cage. He has been playing through the pain for about a week, but finally decided to shut things down. The plan calls for him to return to Port St. Lucie on Friday so that he can be examined by Mets doctors, but his status for the rest of the tournament is in doubt. These types of injuries can be particularly tricky, so it's highly doubtful that the Mets will risk making matters worse and put Opening Day in jeopardy.

Wright is hitting .438 (7-for-16) with a one home run and 10 RBI during the World Baseball Classic. In his absence Thursday, Team USA manager Joe Torre was forced to turn to Diamondbacks utility man Willie Bloomquist to fill in at third base. And that's far from ideal. However, Team USA can't add a replacement for Wright unless they advance to the next round.

Because Team USA lost to the Dominican Republic, they will have to defeat Puerto Rico on Friday night at Marlins Park to stay alive in the tournament. With Thursday's win, the undefeated Dominican Republic squad has already punched their ticket to the semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

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Waiting on Greinke

While the Dodgers are confident that Zack Greinke's elbow issue isn't serious, we're still awaiting some clarity on his status for the start of the season.

Greinke doesn't have any structural damage in the elbow, but he received a platelet-rich plasma injection earlier this week and was also put on anti-inflammatories. The initial indication was that he would resume throwing by the end of this week, but FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reported Thursday that it won't happen until next week at the earliest.

Greinke is quickly running out of time to get stretched out for the season and he conceded as much during an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Thursday, saying that there's probably a "zero percent chance" that he would be at full strength if he was asked to start the second game of the season. The Dodgers have $147 million reasons to be careful with him, so a trip to the disabled list appears likely, even though we could only be talking about a week or two.

It will be interesting to see where Greinke falls in drafts in the coming days and weeks. I try to play things as safe as possible if I'm investing an early pick in a starting pitcher, so I'd prefer to draft one who isn't nursing a sore elbow, even if the Dodgers are just playing things safe here. There's a point where everybody should be willing to draft someone with the upside of Greinke, but let's just say that I wouldn't be disappointed if someone else took him first.

Competition in Cards' Camp

The Cardinals moved Trevor Rosenthal back to the bullpen last week, leaving Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly as the finalists for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Each had a chance to state their case for the job Thursday afternoon against the Braves, as Kelly made the start while Miller came on in relief.

Kelly may have clinched the spot with his performance, limiting the Braves to one run on four hits and no walks over four innings. He threw 32 out of 50 pitches for strikes. Miller wasn't nearly as impressive, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk over 2 2/3 innings. On the bright side, he did notch four strikeouts. Kelly now owns a 2.25 ERA and 2/5 K/BB ratio over eight innings this spring while Miller has a 7.04 ERA and 8/2 K/BB ratio in 7 2/3 innings during Grapefruit League play.

While there's no question that Miller has the greater fantasy upside between the two, Kelly was solid as a rookie last season and should have some relevancy in NL-only leagues if he gets the job. Miller will get his chance sooner or later and has all the makings of a top-of-the-rotation starter, but don't overlook 2012 first-round pick Michael Wacha's chances of making an impact soon. The 21-year-old was reassigned to the minors Thursday after posting a ridiculous 15/1 K/BB ratio over 11 2/3 shutout frames this spring. The Cardinals are locked and loaded with excellent young arms.  

Crawford Back in the Swing of Things

Thursday was a good day for Carl Crawford, as he served as the designated hitter in the Dodgers' minor league game against Meiji University of Japan. Crawford batted for both teams and went 3-for-5 with a double, two singles and a walk.

While it was a controlled environment, this was Crawford's first game action since he underwent Tommy John surgery last August. And he came out of it just fine. In fact, Crawford played catch after the game for the first time since he was shut down two weeks ago with soreness in his forearm.

It's unlikely that Crawford will be ready for the start of the season at this point, but he's beginning to make significant progress and it's not unrealistic to think he'll be in the Dodgers' lineup at some point in April. Given how much his stock has fallen over the past two seasons, chances are he won't cost a high pick on draft day, so he might be a smart stash for a DL spot in fantasy leagues.

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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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