Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Walker Wounded

Friday, September 2, 2016


Neil Walker's season is over. His Mets career could likewise be done.

 

Now, the team is hoping their playoff chances aren't toast as well.

 

Walker confirmed Thursday what was feared Wednesday, saying he will opt to have season-ending surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back. The procedure will have a three-month recovery period, ruling him out for 2016 regardless of how far the Mets might go should they qualify for the postseason, but Walker should be fine for the start of the 2017 season.

 

Walker said the deciding factor in what he called a "very difficult decision" was second and third medical opinions he received from outside specialists.

 

"There were a lot of factors that were involved -- the way the team was playing, the way I felt," Walker said Thursday afternoon. "I did everything I could. Twice I played a couple of days, tried to give myself a couple of days off, and the biggest issue with it was that it was hitting a nerve. I still can't feel my toe. That's caused just a chain reaction."

 

The turn of events was sudden and seemingly caught team officials off-guard Wednesday. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins had both expressed belief that Walker would be able to play through the injury, and Collins, in speaking with reporters late Wednesday, admitted to being surprised by the second baseman's decision.

 

"After all the evidence has been gathered, he thinks that's where he's probably headed," Collins said Wednesday. "... All of the stuff that has to come together to reach a decision, for me it's mind-boggling -- all the different pieces that have to be put in place. He'll give you the whole diagram tomorrow, but we're certainly very disappointed that it comes to this. He's had a tremendous year for us. Certainly he makes the decision, and it's in his best interest."

 

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The blow is a big one to a Mets team that currently averages the third-fewest runs per game in the league, ahead of only the Braves and Phillies. The 30-year-old's season ends with him hitting .282/.347/.476 with 23 homers, 55 RBI and 57 runs scored.

 

In his stead, the Mets are expected to lean on a combination of Kelly Johnson and Wilmer Flores, with potential call-ups T.J. Rivera and Matt Reynolds logging some innings at the keystone as well. None, though, possess the offensive ability of Walker, who will be a free agent at season's end.

 

The team traded away potential second baseman of the future Dilson Herrera in acquiring Jay Bruce at the trade deadline, leaving the future of the position in question. Shortstop prospect Amed Rosario could push Asdrubal Cabrera to second base, or the Mets could attempt to keep Walker, either with a qualifying offer or by re-signing him as a free agent.

 

Those questions are for another day, though. For now, the Mets will attempt to fill the void as best they can while clawing for a spot in October.

 

It's the time of year that can win or lose a fantasy championship, so be sure to keep refreshing Rotoworld's constantly-updating player news page for all the latest. And while you're at it, follow @Rotoworld_BB and @nate_grimm if you are on Twitter.

 

Puig, Kershaw Set For Return To Dodgers

 

Two Dodgers stars are on their way back to the club this month.

 

Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, both of whom the team has been without for an extended period of time -- for Kershaw, due to injury; for Puig, attitude issues, it seems -- are trending toward returns in short order. Puig, per Los Angeles Times' Andy McCullough, will be recalled by the club this weekend, while Kershaw is expected to make his first rehab start with High-A Rancho Cucamongo this weekend, Bill Shaikin of the Times reports, with an eye on a return sometime this month.

 

Puig's return coincides with the end of the minor league season and the expansion of major league rosters, but the timing is conspicuous given that he was sent out in early August for issues that weren't performance-based. The team reportedly tried to move him before Wednesday's waiver trade deadline to no avail, but if Puig was a clubhouse nuisance before his demotion, as some reports claim, and he likely didn't grow a ton during a month-long stay in Oklahoma City -- a week after his demotion Puig posted a Snapchat video of he and his teammates partying on a party bus -- what changed?

 

Whatever their reason, Puig offers an intriguing proposition for fantasy owners over the season's final month. His talent is undeniable -- Puig hit .358/.422/.605 in 24 minor league games and owns a career .288/.362/.468 line in the bigs -- and if he's around anyway, it would behoove the Dodgers to use him if he's one of the three best outfielders on the roster. Owned in just 49 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Thursday evening, the 25-year-old is a worthwhile flyer for owners with a bench spot to burn.

 

The much more-owned, less controversial Kershaw isn't as close as his teammate to a return, but a rehab start is a step in the right direction. Kershaw has been out since June 26 with a herniated disc in his back, but he threw a two-inning simulated game on Tuesday and came out feeling well enough to make a start. Despite not having pitched in over two months, the 28-year-old is a veteran and could move quickly to be back on a mound in Dodger Stadium. It wouldn't be surprising to see Kershaw pitching for the team next week, and at worst he'll likely only need two rehab outings before deeming himself good to go. Fantasy owners, take note.

 

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National League Quick Hits: John Lackey (shoulder) is expected to rejoin the Cubs' rotation on Sunday against the Giants after getting through a bullpen session Thursday with no issues. The Cubs won't officially name him Sunday's start until seeing how he feels Friday, but things are looking up. Lackey has missed the last two and a half weeks of action with a strained right shoulder ... Bob Nightengale of USA Today heard from the Diamondbacks front office that the earliest they would consider trading Zack Greinke is July 2017 because they intend to compete next year. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported late Wednesday that the Dodgers made a play for Greinke before the waiver trade deadline, but also that "discussions were not substantive and did not advance." Presumably because the Diamondbacks quickly rebuffed their division rival. Greinke, who turns 33 next month, owns a relatively disappointing 4.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 114/29 K/BB ratio in 136 innings this season with Arizona. He was signed to a six-year, $206.5 million free agent contract last winter ... Marcell Ozuna (wrist) was out of the Marlins' starting lineup Thursday versus the Mets. Ozuna injured his left wrist while making a diving catch in the third inning Wednesday night. There's no exact diagnosis yet, but it's looking like this could be a lengthy absence ... Justin Bour (ankle) could be activated from the disabled list sometime next week. Bour's recovery from a high right ankle sprain has come along painfully slowly, but he's felt good after a two-week shutdown period. He resumed baseball activities last week and will hit against Wei-Yin Chen (elbow) in a simulated game on Friday. Bour will give the Marlins a big weapon against right-handed pitching once he's ready to go ... Yoenis Cespedes (quad) was out of the Mets' lineup Thursday. He hasn't had a setback with his nagging quad ailment but is going to require some extra maintenance days off until he gets to 100 percent ... Christian Yelich finished 3-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and two stolen bases to lead the Marlins past the Mets 6-4 on Thursday. With Giancarlo Stanton done for the year, Marcell Ozuna sidelined and Dee Gordon not hitting, Yelich has had to take the offense on his shoulders. He's done just that in recent days, homering in three straight games and going 6-for-10 with seven RBI and four runs scored. The 24-year-old is batting a robust .310/.386/.499 with 18 homers, 83 RBI, 70 runs scored and eight steals overall ... Addison Russell hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh inning as the Cubs edged the Giants 5-4 on Thursday. With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Russell muscled an inside pitch over the infield that dropped in front of left fielder Angel Pagan, plating two. It was his only hit in four at-bats, but the 22-year-old seems to constantly find ways to contribute even when he's not having a big night. Russell now has 88 RBI, fifth-most in the National League, to go with a .243/.326/.425 line in 126 games ... Mallex Smith (thumb) will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Mississippi on Thursday. There had been some worry that Smith could be done for the season with his recovery from a fractured left thumb going slowly. However, it looks like he might now be back sometime next week if all goes well. He's worth stashing in leagues where he's been dropped if you need a boost in steals.

 

American League Quick Hits: Mike Trout traveled with the Angels to Seattle on Thursday afternoon. Trout was involved in an automobile accident on the 55 freeway in Santa Ana, California following Wednesday night's game against the Reds, but he came away uninjured. "I have spoken with Mike this evening and he feels fine," Angels GM Billy Eppler said in a statement late Wednesday. "He is at home with his roommate and is planning on traveling with the club to Seattle tomorrow afternoon. We will update as more information becomes available." The team provided no further update throughout the day Thursday, so fantasy owners should keep an eye on Friday's lineup to see if Trout is in it ... Yan Gomes (shoulder) will DH at Double-A Akron on Friday and then again on Sunday. He should begin catching after that, assuming all goes well this weekend. Gomes has been on the disabled list since mid-July with an AC joint separation in his right (throwing) shoulder. He is eligible for activation September 16 and seems likely to return to the Indians on that exact date ... Byron Buxton hit a three-run home run in his return to the Twins on Thursday, helping guide them to an 8-5 win over the White Sox. Buxton was recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, but he drew his first start Thursday against lefty Jose Quintana. And in his first at-bat, Buxton waited on a hanging curveball and lifted it into the second deck in left field. It was his only hit on the night and just his second homer in 200 at-bats this year, but the 22-year-old is too talented to be hitting .195/.248/.330 at the major league level. Here's to hoping Thursday's jack will spur a resurgent month of September for the top prospect.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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