Say you got the 12th pick in a 12-team mixed league. You now have back-to-back selections, but aren’t thrilled with any of your options. You don’t want to take a pitcher, don’t trust David Wright or Evan Longoria to stay healthy and aren’t interested in Prince Fielder because you’re a White Sox fan.
You spend what seems like an eternity agonizing before you realize the timer for pick one is down to 0:14. What do you do? You let go of your inhibitions and say, screw it: I want some dingers. SELECT PLAYER: Giancarlo Stanton. SELECT PLAYER: Jose Bautista. You think it’s a bit early for Stanton, but then again, is it really ever too early to take a 23-year-old slugger with a career .903 OPS and 14.2 HR/AB? No. It’s not.
And then Bautista. Yes, he “struggled” to a .241/.358/.527 line through an injury-plagued 2012, but we’re talking about a guy who’s hit 124 home runs since Opening Day 2010. He’s only one year removed from a preposterous .302/.447/.608 slash. His 2012 .215 BABIP was unreasonably low, while his HR/FB percentage was still above 20 percent. Things are going to be alright.
Which brings us to one month later. What hath your "best laid" plans — which were made in a frenzied draft-time hallucination — wrought? .167/.342/.233 for Stanton, and .200/.282/.486 for Bautista. A lingering shoulder injury for Stanton, back and ear — yes ear — issues for Bautista. They’ve combined for three home runs — zero of which have come off the bat of Stanton — and have twice as many missed games (12) as RBI (six).
So what’s the deal? We’ll start with Bautista. Last in the lineup on Sunday, he was supposed to return on Tuesday. Didn’t happen. Then he was supposed to return on Wednesday. Didn’t happen. Thursday? Maybe. “I’m not in control of it,” Bautista told Sportsnet.ca. “I wish I was. I just have to rest, take my medicine and do the rehab in the least invasive way it can be so you don’t disrupt that again, and it restarts.”
Bautista’s absence comes after he missed three games with a sprained ankle just three games into the season, and after a lingering wrist ailment cost him all but 92 games in 2012. He will be back — likely no later than Friday in New York — but Bautista’s increasingly lengthy injury history suggests this won’t be the last time he misses 3-4 games in a row this season.
Stanton? An MRI has ruled out structural damage, but the young slugger missed his sixth straight game Wednesday. He took some swings before Tuesday’s tilt with the Nationals, however, and is tentatively expected to return this evening, where the Fish will take on the Reds and top prospect Tony Cingrani. Like Bautista, Stanton’s recent injury history isn’t exactly reassuring, but it’s not yet a concern.
As for his horrid batting line, does .247/.286/.342 ring a bell? That’s what Stanton hit last April — before he hit .343/.432/.769 in May. It’s a reminder that if you're fretting about a sample size, it's usually small, and that all Capital H Hitters will eventually hit.
Your draft day maneuverings? They’re not guaranteed to pan out. Nothing in this world is. Well maybe this. But even though your two most important picks were made in a panic — and have paid off as such thus far — they were sound in principle, and should still prove as such in the long run.
The Bourn Stupidity
Michael Bourn did a dumb thing on Sunday. Something he’d probably done countless times before — slide headfirst into first base. Whereas sliding headfirst into first usually just slows you down, Sunday it knocked Bourn out.
Matt Thornton clomped down on Bourn’s right index finger, creating a gash that required 5-7 stitches to close. Instead of playing short for the better part of a week, Cleveland decided to give Bourn the maximum time to heal, placing him on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday. He’ll be eligible to return on April 30, and should almost certainly be able to do so.
Drew Stubbs — who’s hitting just .220/.289/.293 with three extra-base hits and two stolen bases — will see the biggest uptick in playing time in Bourn’s absence. Stubbs is capable of divine roto hot streaks, but it would be unwise to count on one.
It’s not all bad news across baseball, especially in Atlanta, where the 12-2 Braves lost just their second game of the season on Wednesday.
Off the field, the Braves got word that Brian McCann (shoulder, wrist) should begin catching games in extended spring training as early as today, and that Freddie Freeman (oblique) will likely begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday.
McCann is probably still the better part of a month away from returning, but Freeman is on track to suit up when first eligible on Monday. Players in weekly leagues need to be ready to activate Freeman over the weekend.
American League Short Hops: Mark Teixeira (wrist) took swings underwater on Tuesday, and could take “dry” swings any day now. It’s not outside the realm of possibility he’ll be ready to return by May 1. ... The Rangers couldn’t find a trade partner for recently designated for assignment OF Julio Borbon, meaning he’ll hit waivers. He’s unlikely to get by the Astros. ... Joel Hanrahan (hamstring) is already throwing off flat ground, but Red Sox manager John Farrell won’t commit to reinstalling him in the ninth inning once he comes off the disabled list. We should know more this time next week. ... Jason Kipnis (elbow) is expected to return against the Astros on Friday. ... Jesus Montero: now with 33 percent more Kelly Shoppach.
National League Short Hops: Cameron Maybin (wrist) was sent to the disabled list. He was hitting an absurdly poor .091/.167/.121 before going down. ... Wandy Rodriguez (hamstring) is on track to return against the Braves on Friday. ... Danny Espinosa (wrist) is "50-50" to suit up against the Mets Friday. ... K-Rod is back, baby. Francisco Rodriguez has signed a minor-league deal with the Brewers. He could eventually get an opportunity to close if the ninth inning remains a trouble spot for the Brew Crew. ... Chris Capuano (calf) hit the D.L. He could return when first eligible on May 2. ... Domonic Brown is day-to-day with a back injury.
Game Notes: Bryce Harper returned from a nasty case of the flu to go 4-for-5 with a double and RBI against the Marlins. ... Harper’s teammate, Ross Detwiler, allowed just one run in seven innings to lower his ERA to 0.90. ... A.J. Burnett no-hit the Cardinals for 6 2/3 innings before surrendering a double to Carlos Beltran. He’s now the owner of a 2.62 ERA and 35/8 K/BB ratio through four starts and 24 innings. ... Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer had a duel for the ages. ... Bud Norris could record only two outs. ... Mike Leake had a nice night.
It’s been a rough week. Here’s the happiest song I could think of off the top of my head.