When Avisail Garcia left Wednesday's game after attempting to make a diving catch, no black cloud appeared to hang over the White Sox. The initial diagnosis was a side injury, and after the game the team clarified that he'd sustained a jammed left shoulder. Preliminary X-rays came back clean, showing no fracture, separation or dislocation of the shoulder. Things were looking up.
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Thursday told a different story. An MRI on the shoulder showed a torn labrum in Garcia's left shoulder. The White Sox announced Thursday that Garcia will undergo season-ending surgery to repair the labral tissue later in the week, and he'll try to be ready by the time spring training rolls around next year.
“It’s not the kind of thing he can’t come back from,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s not going to have lingering effects on his ability or his ceiling. It’s just an unfortunate development that has pushed him back a year in terms of being an everyday guy in Chicago.”
The injury would be devastating at any stage, but it's especially disappointing given Garcia's recent play. The young outfielder started slow but showed his promise in the team's lopsided 15-3 win over the Rockies on Tuesday, going 4-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI. It was that kind of ability that convinced the White Sox to trade Jake Peavy for him as part of a three-team deal at the deadline last season.
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Garcia's loss is Dayan Viciedo's gain. The outfielder, once prized within the Sox organization, fell out of favor last season and led the team to explore deals for him over the winter and during spring. Still just 25, Viciedo has an opportunity to make a statement and secure his place as a starting outfielder -- somewhere -- in the future.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura has already stated Viciedo will get the vast majority of the starts in right field, with Alejandro De Aza staying in left and Adam Eaton patrolling center field. Jordan Danks, who was called up to take Garcia's spot on the roster, will serve primarily as the fourth outfielder but could see playing time in the event of injury or ineffectiveness.
But Viciedo is the primary beneficiary here. It was just two years ago that Viciedo hit 25 home runs and collected 78 RBI as a 23-year-old. His batting average will continue to leave something to be desired, but the power alone puts him back on fantasy radars. Viciedo should be owned in most AL-only leagues and makes for an interesting flyer in deep 12-team mixed leagues.
Strasburg Changes Things Up
Stephen Strasburg dazzled in Thursday afternoon's win over the Marlins, but his success didn't come as a result of an overpowering fastball.
Strasburg held the Marlins to just three hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings, striking out 12 in the victory. And although Strasburg possesses a high-velocity heater, the right-hander's domination Thursday resulted from his devastating changeup.
Of Strasburg's 12 punchouts, seven came via the changeup. It's a pitch he's thrown less than both his four-seam fastball and curveball over the course of his career but with greater success -- in terms of pitch value, per Fangraphs' PITCHf/x, it ranks slightly behind the curve, but his career 26.2 percent swinging strike percentage on the changeup is more than double the percentage of any of his three other pitches.
Nationals manager Matt Williams explained what makes the pitch so effective.
“You want to get any hitter in swing mode, and get them looking for fastball, and throw them something else,” Williams said. “But you have to establish that first, and he did that today. It’s 95-plus, and it’s got a little movement, and then when he can throw his change-up off of it, it looks like a fastball coming out of his hand. And it’s got some depth to it, so you end up swinging over the top of it.”
Strasburg's name has lost some of its luster in recent years as he's dealt with injury worries and the burden of high expectations, but Thursday was a good reminder of the 25-year-old's ceiling. He's still got the ability to be the best pitcher in baseball on a given day and, if he can put it all together, in a given year.
Rangers Still Waiting On Beltre
After a few anxious days wondering about the status of Adrian Beltre's left quad, the Rangers got a small dose of good news Thursday.
The third baseman was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his quad, a diagnosis mild enough that the team is holding off on placing him on the 15-day disabled list for the time being.
“It wasn’t as severe as we originally feared,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “It was a mild Grade 1 strain. We’re going to play it conservatively and give it a few days Then we will make a determination on whether it needs to be a DL move or if Adrian can manage it.”
While the team's cautious optimism about the quad is nothing but a positive, Beltre will still likely remain out for the team's weekend series against the Astros at the very least. Beltre hasn't played since leaving Tuesday's game with the injury, as he flew back to Texas on Wednesday to have an MRI of the leg taken.
Josh Wilson, who has also seen time at second base in the battered Rangers infield, started at third in Beltre's place Wednesday. Kevin Kouzmanoff was recalled as insurance at the position, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him get more than one start at third while Beltre is sidelined after being one of the team's final cuts in camp this spring. Kouzmanoff hit .370/.443/.593 in 54 Cactus League at-bats.
National League Quick Hits: Andrelton Simmons was scratched from Thursday's game with a jammed right wrist, and he'll likely miss Friday's game as well ... Cole Hamels might need just two more rehab starts, putting him on target for an April 22 activation ... Hamels' teammate Mike Adams could be activated even sooner, shooting for a Monday return to the Phillies ... Chris Young (quad) played in an extended spring training game Thursday as he nears a rehab assignment ... In Young's stead, Eric Young Jr. stole three bases and scored four times in the Mets' win over the Braves ... Justin Upton did his best to lead the Braves to victory, homering twice in the loss ... Amid questions about the first base position, Mets manager Terry Collins reaffirmed Lucas Duda as the team's primary first sacker.
American League Quick Hits: Michael Pineda's first win since 2011 was marked by questions of a foreign substance on his pitching hand, a question the Red Sox -- Pineda's opponent on Thursday -- are no strangers to as well ... Michael Bourn (hamstring) is likely to be activated from the disabled list on April 15 ... Danny Salazar struck out 10 batters, the only 10 outs he recorded, in a loss to the White Sox ... An X-ray of Steve Delabar's right leg came back negative, meaning he sustained only a bruise after taking a comebacker off his leg in Wednesday's game ... Grady Sizemore started in left field and batted leadoff Thursday, two looks that may be temporary ... As the Rangers await further clarity on Beltre's situation, starter Colby Lewis will remain in the minors until early next week. The right-hander will likely rejoin the team in time to start Monday or Tuesday against the Mariners.